Escort Cards vs. Place Cards

Lately, we have had a few brides ask us about the difference between escort cards and place cards.  We’re lifting the veil on this mystery… and with a spiffy infographic at that!

escort card vs. place care wedding planning infographic

Simply put, escort cards let your guests know at which table they sit (they “escort” them to their table), while place cards inform your guests of which seat is theirs.

If you’re unsure whether you want or need to plan a seating arrangement for your wedding reception, consider the following scenarios:

  • Do you mind where your guests sit?  Pointing people in the right direction can help to avoid empty seats at tables; it’s pretty typical for someone “finding” their own seat to leave a chair between them and a person already seated of whom they don’t know.  Assigning tables and/or seats will ensure that every guest has a spot to call their own without any awkwardness.  Meanwhile, creating a seating chart will allow you to play matchmaker for any single pals!
  • Will your catering company serve guests at their tables?  This is a biggie!  If so, they will appreciate knowing who will be where.  Likewise, indicating each guest’s meal choice on their place card will be incredibly helpful for your serving staff.  They’ll be able to deliver dishes without interrupting the party!
  • Do you have family members that just don’t get along?  Chart your seating arrangement and sit them across the room from one another to make sure there aren’t any brawls on your big day!
  • Is it important for family to have seats near the action?  Yes, of course, it is!  Grandma and Grandpa might not do the electric slide, but they certainly wouldn’t want to miss a second of you two on the dance floor.  Similarly, you might want to group all of the little kids together, at a back table where they can play and make a mess out of the way.
  • What kind of reception are you having?  Seating arrangements certainly aren’t necessary if you’re not providing a meal.  If you’ll have passed hors d’oeuvres all evening, forgo the seats and opt for several cocktail height tables instead.  Buffet style dinners don’t require seating arrangements either, but you can still assign tables and/or seats if you prefer.  Aside from satisfying your caterer’s needs, there really aren’t any hard rules for how you seat your guests.

Can you have one without the other?  Escort cards, yes.  Place cards, no.

  • Escort cards can pull double duty, directing your guests to their assigned tables while allowing them to choose and mark their own seats.  If your caterer needs to know what to serve where, indicate guest’s meal choices on the escort cards themselves.  (Do this if you want to assign tables, but not individual seats.)
  • Place cards, on the other hand, you will not want to use alone.  Setting these out without any direction of who should go to which table will lead to chaos!
  • LOOPHOLE: If you want to send guests to assigned tables (regardless of the place card situation), you can substitute one single seating chart for dozens of escort cards.

What are the pros + cons of a seating plan?


  • Everyone knows just where they need to be.
  • Making escort cards, place cards, and/or a seating chart can be fun.
  • Extra table stationery provides useful decor.
  • Your cutie pie grandparents will have a front row seat for your first dance!


  • It can be a headache to figure out.
  • Someone will need to be responsible for setting out these extra pieces.

TIPS for getting your guests where they need to go!

  • Display escort cards (or seating charts) near reception entrance.
  • Make it easy on guests by displaying alphabetically by last name.
  • Get creative with your presentation: colorful cards, a chalkboard list, or a custom seating chart.
  • Make your table cards (numbers or names) easy to find + read on each table.
  • Let The American Wedding help you design your perfect table stationery*!

*You’ll find on our website that we have a category for “place cards,” however, they serve both purposes depending on how you prefer to use them.

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