I was talking to my fiance the other day about the escort cards that I had just ordered, when half way through the conversation, he asked, "What are escort cards, exactly?" I giggled a little bit at first, but really, if you're not planning a wedding yourself, then why would you know what escort cards are? The question inspired today's little guide to wedding escort cards.
Most people who have attended a wedding have seen and used an escort card before. Escort cards are also sometimes called "table-assignment cards" or "seating cards." Often confused with place cards, escort cards are usually lined up together on a table at the cocktail hour or reception in order to inform your guests of the table where they will be sitting. Once the guest arrives at his/her designated table, the guest will then search for their place card, which is usually sitting on or near each place setting so your guest knows exactly which seat is theirs.
Many couples are now opting to forgo escort cards or table assignments at their weddings, because they think that their guests will enjoy the opportunity to select their own seats. Personally, I think this can be a mistake, whether your wedding is big or small. I actually like the comfort of knowing that my seat is already there waiting for me at the reception right beside Dale, at a table with other guests that I know. Your out-of-town guests, in particular, will appreciate not having the added pressure of finding someone they know in the crowd of 100 guests to sit with. Further, no table assigments means that you are running the risk of your parents getting stuck at the back table because they're too busy greeting guests to save their seats early on.
Place the escort card table in a location where guests can approach it from all sides - near the entrance to the cocktail hour, or in the center of the reception space, for instance. When arranging your escort cards, put them in alphabetical order so it is easy for your guests to locate theirs. For a larger wedding, alphabetize by last name, for a smaller affair, either first or last works.
You don't necessarily have to make one escort card for each person - one card per married couple is fine, as well, but never use "and guest" on your escort cards. Use formal titles like "Mr. and Mrs." on your escort cards for a more upscale, black tie affair, and use first and last names for a more casual wedding.
The most traditional escort cards are simply folded cards sitting on top of a table, but I think it's a great opportunity to be a little creative at your reception. Some fresh presentation ideas include:
- Hang ribbons that have been tied to a tree or pin them up on a laundry line running between trees using wooden clothes pins.
- Arrange the escort cards on a cork or magnetic board, or create your own board by running ribbons vertically and horizontally across the center of a large, empty frame, or by adding some padding and fabric to the center of an ornate mirror.
- Position the cards in a shallow box filled with sand, dry legumes, jelly beans or even popcorn. Placing the cards in a grass arrangement is also a cute idea for an outdoor wedding.
- Pin escort cards to lemons and limes or to small pumpkins or gourds for a Fall wedding.
- Slot the cards into individual wine corks.
- Attach the escort card or tag to a flower or a thin vase using ribbon.