“Where am I supposed to sit?”
Oh, Cousin Bob, I am sure there is a very special seat assigned to you so let’s go find it before you fall over ya old drunk. Wedding guests like to sit down – that’s a fact, trust me. So when it comes time for your guests to take a seat at their designated tables, how are you planning on telling them where to go? Here’s a rundown on some options…
The simplest way to inform guests of their seating assignment is a seating chart. A seating chart is a display with all of the guest’s names and table numbers listed side by side. When it comes time to sit down for their meal, guests gather around the seating chart to find their name and discover where they will be seating. A seating chart alone does not have any escort or place cards attached, it simply states information.
I say seating charts are the simplest option because they are usually the easiest to make, set up and take down. Instead of writing or printing a card for each guests, a seating chart is only one large object. Once is it made, it only needs to be placed once and the job is done. No need to worry about tiny pieces of paper getting blown away or lost or alphabetically organized.
A seating chart doesn’t have to be a piece of poster board or paper (although it could be and that would not be a problem). There are many ways to get creative and make something beautiful. I have seen seating charts written on chalkboard signs, mirrors, windows, and even projected onto walls! If you want your guests to have more direction, a seating chart can also be paired with place cards but we’ll get to those in just a moment.
Most people do not know the difference between an escort card and a place card. I’m going to tell you now so that you can sound very intelligent the next time someone uses these terms incorrectly. An escort card is one that a wedding guest picks up and takes with them to find their table – in this way it “escorts” them to their seat. A place card is set at the designated “place” a guest is meant to occupy. An escort card assigns a person a table whereas a place card assigns a person their seat.
Escort cards are all set up in one place where guests can easily find them and pick them up to take with them when they go to find their table. Some people like to organize escort cards by table number but this can be confusing since guests won’t know what their table number is and will have trouble finding their name (they will also be drunk thus enhancing their confusion). This is why escort cards should always be in alphabetical order.
When it comes to escort cards PLEASE remember this: paper escort card tents and the outdoors to do not mix. There will be wind. There will always be wind. If you are planning on setting up your escort cards outside, it is best to have them weighed down or in a display. I have seen them hanging on strings with close pins or stuck in some sand. Another option is to use something other than paper – write your guests names on some rocks, wood, actions figures, whatever you can think up!
As I mentioned before, place cards are set at each individual seat. This means that you made a seating chart and decided exactly where you wanted each of your wedding guests – mostly so that Cousin Bob was as far away from the bar (and you) as possible. I also mentioned that place cards can be used in conjunction with a seating chart. A seating chart will stop your guests from having to go from table to table in order to find their seat.
If your caterer requires you to designate what meal a person is supposed to receive, place cards can be a great way to go. You can write (or print) a small symbol on the corner of each guest’s card to show if they are eating chicken, beef, gluten-free-kiss-my-ass-meal, etc. This can also be done with escort cards but guests tend to lose those or put them in their pocket once they sit down instead of placing them directly in front of them, so place cards are a safer bet.
Something fun that can be done with place cards or escort cards is to have them attached to your favors. Let’s say you are giving each guests a cute little jar of homemade jam. If you tie your place cards around this jam, you are killing two birds with one stone! This would also help to weigh down any place cards you are setting up in the wind turbine outside.
Maybe you don’t want a seating chart, escort cards, or place cards? THAT’S OK! The no-plan plan can work if you do not want to spend your precious time organizing your guests by who you like best and want sitting closest to you.
The no-plan plan works best in a few scenarios – if you are not having a formal “dinner time” and/or if you have under 100 guests. If your guests are being released to a playground of food trucks (as seen in the above photo), they probably won’t be sitting down at assigned tables all at the same time. Getting 200 guests to find seats without being told where to go can be done, but it would be less of a hassle with half the people.
Things to consider when deciding how to tell people to sit down:
Your crowd. Actually you should consider this when making pretty much all of your decisions, wedding related that is not just in life…that would be weird and kinda lame. Although if you want to do something wacky, like use action figures as your place cards, and you think people will think it’s strange – do it anyways! Consider your crowd in the terms of: do you have people you want close to you and those you really don’t? Will it be easier on your wedding day for all your older guests to have a specific sit? Is Cousin Bob passed out in the bathroom and the only way anyone will notice is if his designated seat is empty?
What kind of tables are you using? This can affect what type of seating designation will work best. If you are having long family style tables, it is usually best to have place cards as the distinction between table numbers can get blurry and leave someone the odd man out. If you are having round tables, it is easy to move around the room to find your seat making a seating chart or escort cards a good choice.
Have fun with the way you are telling your guests to get their ass in their seats. Be it a seating chart written on an upcycled window or escort cards printed on jam labels, your guests will be sat, fed, and happy before you know it and that is what really matters!