3 Things You're Probably Wondering About Escort Cards

Etiquette

If you're working on wedding reception seating (or have seen people working on their seating charts!) you know it's a somewhat stressful situation. Once you figure out the puzzle of assigned seats — if that's the kind of reception you're hosting — it's time to figure out escort cards. We put together a helpful, three-point decoder to writing, arranging and assigning escort cards to all of your guests. Read on!

How do escort, place and table cards differ? Do I need them all?
If you're having designated seating, you'll need them all. An escort card, typically situated on a table near the entrance to your reception room, lists a guest's table number. It's often tucked into a miniature envelope with the guest's name written on the outside (right). A place card is put at his specific seat; write the guest's name on both sides of the card so everyone knows who their tablemates are. A table card is the piece of paper that identifies the table, usually with a number. Alternatively, you could name the tables after your favorite vacation spots, flowers, love songs or other things meaningful to you.

What's the best way to arrange the escort cards?
If you're doing assigned tables at your reception, you'll need to have escort cards (sometimes called "seating cards"), which direct a guest to his or her assigned dining table. Usually, they are printed or calligraphed with the guest's first and last name (titles such as "Mr." and "Mrs." are optional) and the table number. All of the cards are then displayed on a special table near the reception entrance, where the guest can easily access it. For guests' ease, the cards should then be arranged in alphabetical order by last name. Traditionally, you would write one escort card per couple (married or unmarried), one card for someone with a guest, and one card for families. Here are some examples of how these cards should be addressed:

For a married couple (formal):
Mr. and Mrs. John Stevens

For a married couple (less formal):
John and Jane Stevens

For an unmarried couple, alphabetize the guests according to their last name:
Elizabeth Harris and Thomas Smith

For someone with a guest:
Andrew Chan and Guest

For a family:
The Craft Family

I'm about to write out the place cards. Does each unmarried guest get his own? Does the same rule apply to table cards?
First, let's get the types of cards straight. Place cards mark each seat at the bride's and parents' tables, but are optional elsewhere, except at very formal weddings. If you want to designate each seat, every guest will need his own place card, whether he's single or not. Table cards (also called escort cards) direct people to their tables; solo guests should all get their own, but a couple can share one.

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