Organizing a seating chart and all the details that go along with it can be one of the most tedious parts of wedding planning. However, if you’re having a formal sit-down reception, it’s a must. One of the details that goes along with seating guests is the place cards. Sometimes confused with escort cards, which direct guests to their assigned tables, place cards are typically set on the tables at each guest's designated place setting. There can be some variation in wording etiquette, but it's important to keep it consistent, whatever you choose.
The most formal and traditional way to word the guests’ names on place cards is to list title, first name and last name. For example, Mr. John Doe might be sitting at table 12 next to Mrs. Jane Doe. It is also considered proper to list only title and last name, such as Mr. Doe, if there will only be one person by that name at the table.
Some couples might plan a large but informal wedding that necessitates seating place cards for practicality. However, a more laid-back reception doesn’t necessitate formal wording like a black-tie event does. In such a situations, it is appropriate to simply list first and last names on the place cards. John Doe can be listed next to Jane Doe.
Perhaps less common and even more informal, first names alone may be used when only one guest by that name is sitting at the table. This type of wording is acceptable but is obviously not practical in every situation, such as when there happen to be multiple Johns assigned to sit at table 12.
The “and Guests”
If you’ve given single guests the option of bringing a date to the wedding, it is important to find out the names of their dates, as correct etiquette is to provide an individual place card for each person in attendance. If the name of someone's date isn't listed on the reply card, you should contact the single guest to find out.
Place cards can be handwritten with calligraphy or even printed on a computer. If you’re using an artistic font, make sure that it is readable for guests. Tent-fold cards are often used, and it is important to remember that the guest’s name should be written or printed on both sides of the card so that it can be easily spotted.
Other couples choose something other than traditional cards to indicate guests' seats. For example, if your guests have a choice of entrée, necessitating the need for menus, you can opt to provide personalized, individual menus for each guest. Guests' names are printed at the tops of the menus and placed at the appropriate place settings. You can be creative with what you use as a place card as long as you remain consistent with how you word the names.
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Kristie Lorette started writing professionally in 1996. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and multinational business from Florida State University and a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Her work has appeared online at Bill Savings, Money Smart Life and Mortgage Loan.