Place cards or Escort cards – What’s the difference?

Did you know that there is a difference between escort and place cards? When planning a wedding, there are some things that indicate how formal an event should be. Many times, these things can be overlooked by people who are not familiar with the difference.  I, too, was one of these people. Let’s take a look at it together.

Many people think place cards and escort cards are the same thing, and use these terms interchangeably. However, there really is a difference! If you don’t want to confuse your caterer, calligrapher, or guest – it is important to learn the role each plays at your wedding reception.

Believe it or not, the more formal of the two is the place card. Place cards are usually used at events with plated meals. They are used for assigned seating. This means that the hosts have taken the time to decide exactly where each guest will sit. Place cards are set out at each place setting before the event starts.  A large seating chart will be available in the lobby to direct guests to their table number. Once they receive that information, they then find their place card and have a seat at their table. 

For many formal weddings, there are three or four different entrees available to guests. To keep the staff from having to ask each guest what meal they have, place cards are often color coded to signal the dish to be served to that person. This is a very efficient way to make sure everyone gets the right meal, and a classy move that makes the caterer look more professional. It is also an impressive touch to the guest who has their filet mignon set out in front of them without the server having to interrupt a conversation to ask who ordered the filet. 

Escort cards tend to be used at semi-formal weddings. They do not assign guests to seats, rather they assign them to tables. Their function is very similar to a place card but the biggest difference is they are often set up on a table with a flower centerpiece. Another difference is the guest’s name will have a number after it, for instance “Noelle Matthews -14”. 

Escort cards can also be color coded for plated meals. However, they are also used quite a bit at buffet dinners. Brides are becoming more and more creative with how they display their escort cards. I’ve seen everything from magnetic escort cards, to jars of jam with guest names on them. (Having favors double as escort cards is cost effective and looks great!)  

The differences between place cards and escort cards are mostly in function instead of form so it is easy to think that they are the same. Think about which ones will suit your event the best and then contact me today! Let’s work together to make your vision a reality!

Happy Planning!


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