Table Cards and Place Cards: What's the Difference?

Everyone loves good directions, especially at a wedding reception

Photo: KT Merry

Wedding reception stationery leads a double life: On one hand, the cards are decorative elements that add polish and style to the setting; on the other hand, they're practical items that help guests navigate the dining room, specifically, at a seated meal. Without escort and place cards, your family and friends are left to fend for themselves, and the results won't be pretty, especially when a group of five can't find enough available seats at one table. So to avoid your reception guests playing an adult version of musical chairs, plan on using table and place cards. Here's the lowdown:

Escort Cards

Purpose: to direct guests to the table they've been assigned. They're also referred to as "seating cards" or "escort cards."

Where to put them: on a table near the entrance to the reception, in alphabetical order by last name. Give guests easy access to the cards, which they'll pick up on their way to the dining room.


Style: These small cards could be tented or flat, with or without an envelope. Popular styles are basic white cards with a silver or gold border or in a color and motif that match your wedding decor. Most brides write out the cards themselves, use a calligrapher, or have them printed.

What to do: Write the guest's name and table number on the card. If you're using flat cards with an envelope, write the guest's name on the front of the envelope and put the table number on the card tucked inside; for tented cards, also put the name on the front and the table number inside.

Wording: One option is to use a guest's title (Mr., Ms., Dr.) but omit their first names ("Ms. Eastman"). Or use their first and last names minus a title ("Hannah Eastman"). For married couples, list both on one card ("Mr. and Mrs. Westmore"); if unmarried, list the woman's name first then the man's underneath. If someone is bringing a plus one, find out the person's name so you can put it on the card rather than write "and Guest," which doesn't convey much of a welcome.


Place Cards

Purpose: to let guests know which is their designated seat at a table.

Where to put them: On a folded napkin, which rests on the dinner plate at each place setting, or on the table just above the dinner plate.

Style: For continuity, the place card should match the table card-same paper, font, and color. Handwrite them yourself, hire a calligrapher, or print them.

What to do: Write out a place card for each guest, even if they're part of a couple or a child. If the card is tented, write the guest's name on the front and back.

Wording: Keep it simple-write the guest's first and last names ("Hannah Eastman"). As you did with table cards, find out the name of a single guest's plus one rather than give him or her the generic label, "Guest."

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