The terms Place Cards and Escort Cards are often used interchangeably, but did you know they are not the same? This is misconception I've encountered a lot as a wedding calligrapher.
Escort cards usually contain couples grouped together on a single card and a table number. They are meant to 'Escort' your guest to the table they are to be seated at. In essence, they function the same as a seating chart, but are in an individual card format.
Here are examples of Calligraphy Escort Cards:
Place Cards, on the other hand, contain only a single guest's name and inform the guest which particular seat they should sit in, at the table. They are used when you have assigned seating at a table. Place Cards are already situated at a guest's place setting before they arrive.
Here are examples of traditional Calligraphy Place Cards:
Do I need both Escort Cards and Place Cards?
This is a question I often get asked from my calligraphy clients.
As a rule of thumb, if your event is small and has less than 30 guests, than only place cards are necessary. Your guests can easily walk around the tables to find their name on a place card.
If your event has more than 30 guests than escort cards (or a seating chart) is required. However, place cards may not be necessary unless you have assigned seating at a table. Some venues require you to have place cards so you can indicate a meal choice for your guest.
If you do require both place cards and escort cards, I highly recommend either of the following options:
1. Use a seating chart instead of escort cards. Guests often bring their escort cards to their table, resulting in two cards that can look similar and a cluttered place setting.
2. Ensure your place cards and escort cards look different, the reason being the same as above. You don't have to go with a traditional tented card for your place card. Instead, opt for something unique that can add to your decor such as place card leaves, stones, tiles, etc. These unique items are often cherished by your guests and can even function as personalized favors!
So there you have it, the difference between place cards and escort cards. Escort cards inform your guests which table they are sitting at. Place cards inform your guest which seat they are sitting in, at the table.