Today we’re going to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves – when paper goods are not functional. Yes they might be beautiful and the calligraphy stunning, but if you can’t read it and use the information it’s trying to communicate, then what good is it? So today you’re going to learn how to create the perfect escort card and place card, because it involves a little bit of art and science.
First, the Science:
The purpose of an escort card is to escort, or direct, your guests to their assigned table at a large group event or wedding. So right there, the card serves a purpose. Without including the proper information, the card won’t be doing its job, so it at least needs to include the guest’s full name and table number or table name.
In addition to the escort card there is the place card. A place card is placed on the table and indicates where the guest should sit. Typically the place card will also indicate the guests entrée selection so the catering staff knows what to serve them (if the guest has a food allergy or restriction, it’s a good idea to include it on the place card as well).
Before we get into the art, let’s talk about two scenarios where you could use just an escort card, or an escort card and a place card (the choice is up to you!). The first example is an escort card only. Your guests would approach a beautiful display of escort cards, arranged alphabetically by last name, and select their card to indicate their table assignment. Once they arrived at their table, they would be able to select the seat of their choice at that particular table. If you prefer to control who sits next to who, then the second example is going to be best for you. Make sure your day-of coordinator or wedding planner checks your seat assignments before the day of and communicates any updates with the catering company and/or venue. You certainly don’t want Aunt Lou to end up sitting next to your fiancés crazy college roommate Steve.
Designing the escort card display is one of my favorite design elements that I work with my clients on. It’s a chance to highlight the look and feel of your wedding and get creative. Check out our Pinterest board to see a few of our favorites that we’ve either created, or been inspired by others.
Our second example is an escort card + a place card. This is pretty straight forward, but once the guest arrives at their designated table (which they discovered via their escort card), there would be a place card at the exact seat they are assigned to. This is a great option to ensure certain people, like your parents, have the best view in the room, or certain x’s aren’t seated next to each other, etc. It’s certainly more work, but your guests will appreciate the extra thoughtfulness. They’ll all feel very comfortable that they’re at the best table with the people they know and love.
If you’re looking for a fun way to design your place cards, think about integrating it as part of the favor. You could also combine the place card with the menu (two for the price of one!). The “cards” can be printed on any medium you can dream up: paper, rocks, driftwood, marble tiles, leaves, etc.
Now, the Art:
So you know which type of card you’d like to use for your big event. You have all of the information compiled, now you need to design it. We prefer to work with a graphic designer or a calligrapher for this (Francis & Co., La Happy, Spruce Stationary and Design and Songbird Paperie are some of our favorites), but it’s important to know what you want and what to look for in each design to ensure it’s functional (cause of course it will be beautiful).
For the escort card, depending on the medium you’re working with, you’ll want the guests first and last name to be the largest font, followed by the table number or table name.
If you don’t have enough room to list both the first and last name next to each other, than you have a couple of options. I prefer to have the first name in a larger font then the last name, but it’s up to you and your personal preference.
Depending on the design you’re going for, you can align the text to the left, center or right. Just make sure that the text covers at least 70% of the card. Sometimes this is hard to do with the size of card, but that’s why we recommend printing out each sample you receive so you can see what it will look like in real life.
Think about how the escort card is going to be displayed. If it’s attached to ribbon, you can use more of the space and don’t have to worry about anything being covered up. If the card is displayed on a table, don’t put any of the text too close to the bottom because it will be hard to read once it’s set on a table.
For the place card, as it relates to the entrée selection, some choose to get creative and include a symbol for the food item instead of listing the name. Same rules apply as the escort card, the guests name should be in a larger font than the entrée selection (and of course if there is no entrée selection, then their name will be the only thing on the table). Here is a misconception some people get hung up on. You don’t need to note the table number on the place card because remember, the card will already be at that table, no point in repeating the information.
No matter what, make sure the catering staff can read the entrée selection. I’m sure your catering company or venue would appreciate it if you sent them a sample ahead of time so they knew what to look for.
Another option is to make the color of the place card to correspond with their entrée selection. For example: pink = salmon, tan = beef, cream = chicken, etc. See, the creative possibilities are endless!
One more helpful hint, if you’ve hired a day-of coordinator and you are using place cards, here’s a little trick we tell all of our clients. To keep things organized and save yourself some sanity, place each tables place cards in its own Ziploc bag (the sandwich size or smaller is sufficient). You can write on the Ziploc bag which table it is, and then organize the place cards inside in order going clockwise around the table. Your wedding planner will think you are an organized genius!
Bottom line: think about how the card will be used and print and cut an example to actual size.
Keep these things in mind when selecting your final design:
- Can I read it?
- Does it include all of the necessary information?
- Is the overall look in line with my design?
- Do I love it?
If your answer is yes to all of the above, then congratulations! You’ve found your escort card or place card and you should purchase!
Hope this has helped you solve the mystery of the difference between an escort card and a place card, as well as unfolded the art and science of this beautiful paper product. It’s the little details like these cards that have a large impact on your wedding day.
Design, Florals, Props & Photography: Jen Leslie Events
Stationary/Calligraphy: Francis & Co.