Place Cards and Escort Cards - What’s The Difference, and Why Does it Matter?

If you’re in the process of planning your wedding, your head is probably spinning with ideas, and your Pinterest page is without a doubt the most active it has ever been. I got married in the “dark ages” before Pinterest, so I was basically on my own when it came to the little details like favors and centerpieces and all that stuff... Not. Fair.


Honestly, there are days where I wish I could have a do-over. Do I want the stress or financial burden all over again? Hell no. But, I do want to have a cute chalkboard sign that welcomes my guests and a wildflower crown to wear at my reception. As it stands, I’m ridiculously happy being married to my soulmate, so a “round two” probably  isn’t in the cards for me. So it goes. 😉

That means I get to live vicariously through all of the kickass couples I’m lucky enough to work with. There are so many fun ways to make a wedding completely unique, but I have to say the place cards and escort cards I’ve hand-lettered for my client’s weddings are some of my favorite pieces I’ve worked on so far.


Escort Cards vs. Place Cards

So let’s talk about place cards and escort cards. I’ve noticed that sometimes when people say they want place cards, they really want escort cards, and vice versa. Even though they seem like the same thing, they’re each used for a slightly different purpose. 

Lets me break it on down for ya:

Escort Cards

You’ve probably been to a wedding reception before that had a table set up near the entrance full of cards with names on them. These are escort cards. In the past, they were almost always made out of cardstock folded in half to look like little tents, but these days people are getting pretty creative with them. They can be made out of anything, like wood slices, sea glass, driftwood, tile… just to name a few. 


When guests walk into the reception, they find the card with their name on it.  As an escort card, the card will also include a table number. The guest can then look for the right table number, pick a seat, and put their card down. That way, they’re free to mingle and enjoy cocktail hour, and they know they have a seat for dinner. This allows you to seat guests with (or away from) other guests, but still gives them the freedom to choose their own seat at the table.

A  similar alternative is the seating chart, which is placed in one location and lists the guest names along with their table assignments.  This performs essentially the same function, except guests do not have a place marker for their specific seat at the table.

Place Cards

Place cards, unlike escort cards, are already placed on the tables when the guests arrive. There is sometimes a seating chart set up at the entrance to the venue to help guests find their seat at the correct table. 

Utilizing place cards isn’t only convenient for when you want to make sure total strangers don’t end up having to sit together (although this can be kind of fun sometimes), it’s also helpful when you have plated meals. Making sure everyone is in an assigned seat makes it super easy for the waitstaff to deliver the correct dinner to the correct guest.

This method of seating is more rigid, as you are determining exactly which seat every guest will be occupying.

Get Creative with Place Cards and Escort Cards

No matter which option you choose, know that there’s no limit to how creative you can get. The little whimsical touches that you infuse into your wedding are the details your guests will remember years down the road when they think back to your wedding night.

Here are some fun ideas to consider to add some personality to your place cards or escort cards:

Choose something other than paper. What about having your guest’s names hand-written on ribbon, rocks, agate slices, or leaves? Bonus points if you can tie it into your love story, for example, using shells if you both love the beach.

Get creative with table numbers! Like, maybe think about using something other than numbers? I’ve heard of people using country names to represent the places they’ve visited (ugh, I wish) or movies they love, or cute pet names they’ve given each other. It will give your guests something to talk about when they’re trying to break the ice before dinner starts.

Kill two birds with one stone by making place cards or escort cards that can double as wedding favors. Put your guest’s names on a tiny terra-cotta pot and put a little succulent inside. Make old school mix tapes on cassettes and have the guest’s names hand-written on the label. There’s no limit to how imaginative you can get with these! 

I love creating place cards and escort cards, and I have done some pretty sweet ones… check out these wood slices I did this summer! In addition to place cards and escort cards, I also offer a full suite of wedding products, like invitations and signage, all fully customized for your event. I’d love to talk to you about your fun ideas! Let’s hop on a Skype call or grab some coffee and hash it all out!