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When it comes to seating your guests at your wedding reception, there are a number of questions couples typically have.  Do you even need a seating arrangement?  What’s the best way to let your guests know where to sit?  What information do I need to include?  The most common is the escort card and it’s easier than you may think.  Today I’m sharing with you the basic etiquette and the dos and don’ts of your wedding escort cards.

Before we get too far, let’s answer a few of the questions above first.

Do you need seating assignments at your wedding reception?

The simple answer to this question is yes.  Unless you are hosting a very small, intimate wedding, (less than 50 people), you should plan some sort of seating arrangement.


What’s the best way to let your guests know where to sit?

The answer to this question will vary from wedding to wedding and comes down to personal preference, the style of your wedding and if your guests have selected meal choices on their RSVP cards.

Common options are the traditional  escort cards (what we’ll be talking about today), place cards, or some form of seating arrangement sign or display.

wedding escort card etiquette

What is an escort card and what is a place card? Are they the same or are they two different things?

Escort cards and place cards refer to two different things but the difference isn’t in the card itself, it’s in how they are used.

Escort Cards are often arranged near the entrance of the reception that include the guest’s names and the table they have been assigned to.  The card simply escorts them to their table where they can  then choose their seat at the table.

Place Cards on the other hand, are placed directly at each place setting and not only assign a person to a table, but also to a specific seat.

tatiana coral monogram crest wedding escort card

What to include on a wedding Escort Card.

Wedding escort cards are typically pretty simple and should include your guest’s name and the table where they are to sit.  If guests have also selected a meal choice on their RSVP card, you also need to include some form of indicator letting the caterer or venue know which guest selected which meal choice.

Escort Cards can include one per individual or one per family or couple, but remain consistent.  Just keep in mind that if your guests chose meals, you should have one for each individual.

Pro Tip: When it comes to meal indicators, always check with your venue or caterer. I’ve found that they often have a preferred way they like to see meal choices indicated. Also work with your stationer or calligrapher to make sure these indicators are large enough to be seen by the wait staff as they serve the meals.

Keep in mind that however you choose to do your escort cards, keep them consistent.  While it’s proper to address each one using a person’s full first name, you do not have to to include titles.  If someone is a Dr. then I recommend using titles for everyone.  Consistency is important.

Lastly, if you are inviting a friend or relative and “guest” it is not appropriate to put “guest” on the escort card.  Be sure to either take the name from the RSVP card or contact the friend or family member for the correct name to put on the escort card.

Remember that while this is your day, you want all your guests to enjoy themselves and feel welcome so taking this small extra step will help ensure this is the case.


Below are some additional dos and don’ts when it comes to Escort Cards:

Dos for Escort Cards:

  • However you plan to design and display your escort cards, make sure it is easy for your guests to read their names.  This not only helps avoid a “log jam” at the entrance to your reception,  it also helps avoid confusion.
  • Locate your escort cards in an obvious location near the entrance of your reception and decorate the table or display to make it stand out.
  • Work with your calligrapher or your wedding stationer to create your escort cards to keep the look of your stationery consistent throughout.
  • Be organized and avoid stress.  Ask for help in creating your seating chart so that it’s easy to order your escort cards on time.  Begin making notes as soon as your RSVPs are returned so that you keep the stress levels low.
  • Get creative and have fun with the presentation.  Escort cards can be traditional flat or folded cards or they can be custom shapes hung like tags or hung on favors.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and create something truly special.

Don’ts for Escort Cards:

  • Don’t group by table; instead group alphabetically.  This is the most common mistake couples make whether it’s escort cards, a seating chart or other method.  Grouping by table can slow the process of finding names down which can create a jam at the entrance of the venue.  Take the extra time or organize alphabetically to make it easier on everyone as they enter the venue.
  • Don’t Create a bottleneck.  Just like organizing my table can slow things down, so can poor placement of your escort cards or making it too complicated.  Allow ample space for your escort card display so that more than one person can access at a time and while it can be beautiful, don’t make it too complicated that it slows people down creating a backup at the door.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute.  I’m a planner and stress this to all the couples I work with. Proper planning is the key to avoiding a lot of stress with your wedding and this task is no different.  Just like I mentioned about staying organized, not waiting until the last minute (take a few minutes the day or two before to group your escort cards the way they will be put on the table or display.  Organize them in ziploc baggies by row or whatever makes sense so they are ready to go when it’s time to set them up.

I hope these etiquette tips have made more sense of Escort Cards from what they are to how to design them.  Following these simple dos and don’ts will help lower the stress and make the final days of your wedding planning go a lot smoother as well as ensure a smooth and streamlined process for seating  your guests at your wedding!

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etiquette series dos and don'ts of wedding escort card