Place cards indicate to wedding guests where they'll sit. While this isn't required etiquette, it's strongly encouraged. Using place cards ensures guests are seated with people whose company they enjoy, and also, that all guests have a place to sit, no matter what time they arrive.
Why Place Cards are Important
- Choosing seats for wedding guests requires a tactful approach. For example, feuding exes can ruin a happy occasion and should never sit at the same table, Likewise ex-friends who continuously snipe at each other. If certain guests can't be trusted to behave, it's best not to put them in a position where they can make others uncomfortable.
If guests don't have assigned seating, it can also create a stampede once the reception area's doors open as they rush to find "good seats." Late arrivals may find themselves separated, as only single seats are left over. Having place cards ensures a harmonious event.
Table Cards vs. Seating Cards
- There are two different types of place cards. Seating cards, which are placed at every seat, and table cards, which only assign tables but allow guests to sit where they like. They each have their pros and cons, and both are a matter of preference.
Table cards only indicate the guests' names and their assigned table. These cards are usually arranged on a small table set up just outside the reception area. Sometimes they're attached to a wedding favor. Guests appreciate this scenario because it allows them to sit where they like. It's also easier for the bride and groom to set cards upon one table than to place cards individually.
Seating cards allow the happy couple to have complete control over where each guest will sit. This ensures guests who don't get along won't sit near each other, even at separate tables. It also helps to accommodate guests with special needs, for example if they need to be close to a bathroom, aisle or exit.
Escort Cards for Unnamed Guests
- Wedding invitations addressed to single guests might read "Mary Smith and Guest." This may work on an envelope, but how should the host address a place card if she doesn't know the guest's name? If a guest is bringing a friend, it's acceptable for the host to write out a place card also for "Mary Smith and Guest" and place it between both seats.
Wedding place cards aren't mandatory but it's easy to see why they're a good idea. The last thing a bride and groom want is drama from tablemates who don't get along.
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