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Traditions and Etiquette of Seating at the Wedding Reception

When seating your guests at your wedding reception, the first thing you need to decide is if you need place cards, escort cards, a seating diagram or some combination of the three.

For casual dinners or those that feature buffets and stations, you might choose to assign guests to a specific table, but let them choose their own seats at their tables. Assigning tables is a courtesy even at the most relaxed weddings as it takes the pressure off of less social guests and helps encourage mingling.

Your tables may be traditionally numbered, or you can get creative and assign each table a name or theme. These table numbers or names usually reflect either the overall theme of the wedding, or something that is meaningful to the couple such as cities they have visited together, sports teams they enjoy watching or favorite books and authors.

To inform guests of their table assignments, you will need to post a seating list or use “escort cards”. The seating list can be organized by table for smaller weddings or alphabetically for larger guest counts, and escort cards should be alphabetized and displayed at the cocktail hour or at the entrance to the dining area. It is acceptable to assign one escort card for each couple or family seated at the same table.

If you are having a seated meal and have more than one entrée option, you will need to assign every guest a specific seat in order for servers to locate them easily. Guests will still locate their table number on a diagram or via an escort card, but an additional “place card” at each place setting is also necessary. One place card is needed for each guest, and you may wish to indicate the meal preference by assigning an ink color or special symbol on the cards to the guest’s choice (i.e. beef = blue ink and seafood = white ink). 

Escort cards and place cards may be carefully handwritten, inscribed with calligraphy or printed professionally or at home. Advantage Bridal carries many different styles of place cards, including themed cards, classic white and ivory, place card frames and printable varieties so be sure to start your shopping today!