Wednesday, October 9, 2013

All About Place Cards

Really pretty, classy place cards.  Available on Etsy or a good DIY project.

As the previous Wediquette Seating Chart Post explained, assigning your guests to a seat- or at least to a table- makes for a smooth, pleasant, welcoming and thoughtful dining experience for all, so the first step is to figure out the seating chart, and the next step is to tell guests how to get to their tables! There are many ways to do this, and different venues/caterers may have specific requests for you, so pay attention to your event's needs, but here are a few thoughts and ideas when it comes to cards and charts for your guests.

Place Cards and Escort Cards: 

⦁ Technically, escort cards aim to get you to your table, and place cards sit atop a specific place setting, assigning guests an actual seat at the table. In the U.S., it has become the norm to have one set of name cards (which we often call place cards, even though they're actually escort cards- whoops!) which get guests to a table, where they choose their own seat and place their own card at their setting for staff to see.  I know it's wrong, but since so many of us call them place cards (myself included), I'm just going to refer to them that way from here on out to avoid confusion.

⦁ Since these cards serve as escort and place cards, there should technically be one for each guest, so you should know the names of all of your guests and plus one's.  Some brides and grooms have taken to having one place card per couple or one per immediate family.  Although this is not traditional and can be tough for staff members to decipher for serving purposes, as long as everybody on a card is seated together and all names are on the card, it is acceptable...and you should still have the names of all of your plus one's!

⦁ If your wedding/party is a formal affair (or if you just want to give it a formal air), you'll want to add prefixes to each name.

Here's a quick run-down:

   Mr.- Mister first name+last name works for any man, above age 18, who isn't a doctor, general, mayor, etc. (see below).
   Master- For males under age 18, you can use Master first name+last name. 
   Ms. - Ms. first name+last name is the accepted/default form for women in business, but an individual may be using Ms. (professionally) and Mrs. (socially) at the same time. Could also be for a woman who is divorced (either Ms. first name+previous last name or first name+maiden name), or a married woman who does not take her husband's last name/has a hyphenated last name (Ms. first name+maiden last name, or Ms. first name+hyphenated last name). When in doubt, it is acceptable to ask for the woman's preference, as female prefixes can be tricky.
   Mrs.- for a married woman. You can write Mrs. first name+married last name or, if combining husband and wife onto one card, you have the option of writing either Mr. & Mrs. husband's first name+last name OR Mrs. first name+and+Mr. first name+last name. 
   Miss- an unmarried woman, young lady, or child. Miss+first name+last name.

   Other Titles: Judges (Honorable), clergy (Reverend, Rabbi, etc.), political figures (Governor, Mayor, Senator, President, etc.) and those in the military (Lieutenant, Colonel, Captain, Major, General, etc.). If a high-ranking individual from the military individual is retired, you should include (Ret.) in parenthesis. For example, General (Ret.) John Smith. You should never abbreviate high-ranking military titles, as it is a sign of disrespect. 

*Guests: You should know the name of each guests and should never write "and guest" on your place cards. If you're putting couples together, you'll put your guest first and their guest 2nd. For example, Mr. first name + last name and Ms. first name + last name or vice versa.

⦁ Your cards should state the name(s) of your guest(s) and the table at which he/she/they will be sitting. You can put all of this information on the front of the card, or you can create a tent card with the name on the front and table inside.

⦁ Place cards should be displayed at the entrance to the venue so that guests can grab their cards upon entry to the cocktail hour or even to the ceremony if it is on-site. They should be arranged alphabetically by last name, and if someone has a guest and they're sharing a card, you should place it by the last name of the person who is closest to you. Cards can be arranged in straight lines or in a circle around a centerpiece on a round table (if guests can approach the table from all sides).

⦁ Sometimes, a coordinator or staff member at your venue will set up your place cards for you. Out of consideration, please alphabetize (and double-check) your ABC order before drop-off. 

⦁ If you have a wedding theme or color scheme, there are many ways to tie your place cards in.  Consider a certain color, design, pattern, or set-up backdrop to make them truly unique.

⦁ Simple, clear and classy= the way to go when it comes to place cards. Unique and creative cards can be fun, but are not imperative.  NEVER hand-write your place cards, and NEVER use the words 'and guest' if it can be avoided. If they're special enough to be a part of your big day, you should at least know their names.

⦁ Place cards do not have to be expensive. There are printables in stores like Michaels, AC Moore, Party City, JoAnn fabric and more that you can easily make yourselves.  *$aving Tip- Michaels always has 40% coupons available on that you can pull up and scan in the store. There is a free RetailMeNot app for smart phones, and I highly recommend it if you're making a wedding purchase.

⦁ If you can find a way to attach your escort cards to your favors, more power to you! Use ribbon, colorful elastic cord or thumb tacks and kill two birds with one stone- er...set two lovebirds free with one...well, you know what I mean!

⦁ Some venues and caterers request that you indicate on each place card/escort card what the individual will be eating (if there are multiple entree selections).  You may want to use different color markers or stickers to make a dot based upon the person's RSVP order, or you might want to get stickers with little fish, chicken, cows, pigs, or veggies for a laugh.  In this case, you'll want to make sure that all guests have their own cards (preferred), or that you have the correct number of dots/stickers for people if you have more than one guest per card (still potentially confusing, unless you cap it at 2 people who will definitely be sitting together).

⦁ If you have any special instructions for your guests when it comes to place cards, consider making a sign and placing it on the table with your place cards.  One couple at the venue where I work made their own wine, bottled it, personalized a sticker and stuck it on (it looked great!), then placed about 200 bottles, laying on their sides, into 3 wooden racks that the bride's father had made, and used green thumb tacks to stick escort cards into the corks straight on. It was so brilliant and special.  The couple made up a poem and placed it on the table, basically asking guests to take the card ands leave the wine for the end of the night, so that they wouldn't have to carry it around.

⦁ For a house party or smaller affair where everybody will be sitting at 1 or 2 tables total, you may actually want to have place cards, in place, before guests arrive.  This can alleviate confusion and hard feelings later.

A Seating Chart Board or Display: 
⦁ A list or a diagram on a large board, showing each table and the names of the guests who will sit there.

⦁ You may choose to create a seating chart board in addition to place cards, or just place cards. If you only have one entree option and you do not need to indicate meal choice on place cards, you may only want to use a seating chart, but it is nice for guests to have something to bring along with them to find their seats. 

Here are a few ideas that I found Pinteresting. Enjoy! 
A color-coded seating chart board

An alphabetical seating chart board.  

A magnetic place card board with fancy magnets holding cards on.  Grab and go. 
It looks like these are available on Etsy for about $375. Wow! 

I love this board with round 'tables'. If you do this, be sure to place tables on the chart in their proper location. Consider adding a 'you are here' spot if the board will be placed at an entrance from cocktail hour. 

Love the rhyme! 

Pretty tree chart. 

Formal, yet casual. 

Place cards with cow and fish. LOVE! 

Another animal place card option. Cute!

Place cards that guests replace with pictures- fun! 

Seasonal pine cone place cards. 

Seasonal ornament place cards. 

Wine wedding place cards (sitting in corks with slits, with wine stickers) 

Coral & Cream (or your choice of colors) place cards based upon food choice. 

A fun idea for a photo booth wedding. Frame starts out as a place card/thank you note, then changes to a favor with a photo strip inside. Love this! 

Teal place cards with jewels. Pretty :) 

So Many Options:
   Have fun with it, but don't let it be too time consuming or overwhelming.  Pinterest has lots of great ideas, and a visit to your local party or craft store should give you some inspiration to get started with ease.  Good luck!

By the way...

Want to check out some great wedding tunes? Check out this post, which is updated often!

Putting together bathroom baskets? Click here for great tips and inspiration! 

Are you (or your wedding party members) in a wedding party and not quite sure what to do next? Check out this post  to get prepped and rock it! 

Have you thought about what you'll do with your dress after the big dayThis post has some great ideas!

Check out the most popular posts along the sidebar (scroll up!), including Weddings Across the Board- a series devoted to the cultural & traditional awesomeness that goes into wedding celebrations around the world- with coordinating Pinterest boards.

Don't forget to check out, follow & share the Wediquette Pinterest page!  

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