Wedding Seating Plans: Etiquette, Escort Tables, Place Cards and Seating Charts

A table and name cards ata wedding

So you’ve organised the wedding seating plan, well done! You’ve managed to complete that age-old task of who should sit next to whom, and in a way that will make everyone happy.

You thought that the hard part was over, but now you have another challenge ahead of you and that is how you are going to tell your guests where they will be seated.

Many people are unaware of the differences between escort tables, place cards and seating charts, so we have put together a guide, explaining what they are and the pros and cons of each.

Escort Card Table

Escort card tables are pretty self-explanatory. They are literally tables that have been set up to hold individual name place cards of all the guests at the wedding and the table number that they have been assigned to.  Guests will then find their name on the escort table and take it over to the table that they are sitting at.


Escort tables by themselves are slightly more casual than having place cards on the tables in that they direct the guests to their table, but allow them to sit where they would like to on that table, instead of allocating each of the guests a set seat, (unless you combine them with place cards.)


Escort tables tend to be creative and some can make a great statement piece to show the guests a taster of what they can expect to come before they enter the main reception area. 


Not all brides choose to have the traditional place cards on their escort table. It is becoming increasingly more popular to have unique and fun place cards such as champagne bottles, cake pops, vintage keys and so on.


Seating Chart

Seating charts are often part of a wedding seating plan and are good for brides who are on a budget , or would prefer to do minimal work when it comes to the seating arrangements, (unless paired with place cards).

seating chart

You can set out your seating charts in various ways. If you are dreaming of an informal wedding you can allocate a table to each of your guests and write their names down under a table name on the seating chart, then let the guests choose a seat for themselves. If you’d prefer to have a more formal seating arrangement you can allocate a table to each of your guests using the seating chart and then they can find their seat on that table using the place cards that you have assigned to them.


Seating charts can have an advantage over escort tables as it is usually easier for guests to find their name. Plus there is no chance of someone else taking it by accident.


Seating charts have also become increasingly more creative over the years with many being created on mirrors, window panes, chalkboards and so on.


Place Cards

Place cards are generally the same as escort cards, except that they are already on the tables where that guest will be seated. This is a good choice for a bride who is not, or does not have the time to be creative.


In the past place cards were generally quite plane, usually  just a folded bit of card with a name on. However, over the years the majority of name places have become more and more imaginative.


Without a seating chart in your wedding seating plan it can be confusing for the guests trying to find their seats. To help with this issue you can always get a member of the family, bridal party or groomsman to shout out which guest is on which table as they enter.

Organising guest seating is one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. The logistics of a seating chart can be tricky, especially if you have friends, or family members that don’t speak to each other. To make sure that everyone has a good time follow this simple guide.

Table Design


Before you start planning where each guest is going to sit you should first consider how you are going to set your tables out. Are they going to be long, rectangular, round or a mixture? And how many people are you planning on fitting on each?

The ideal number of guests for a table is eight. You should try to avoid putting odd numbers of guests at a table so that a good mix of conversation can be had and none of your guests are left out.

Seats or Tables?


The next thing you need to decide on  is whether you want to assign seating, or just tables. There are pros and cons to each of these. Firstly assigning tables rather than seats is a lot less work for you, and it allows guests to sit next to who they want. It also allows you to save money by not having place cards. However, a lot of guests tend to prefer being seated in specific places as they usually like the guarantee that they will be sat next to someone that they know rather than a stranger.



Before you decide who is sitting where, you first need to know who is coming to the wedding. This means that you should send out your invitations a few months before the wedding date. In these you should include your RSVP’s, which you should request to get back from guests a few weeks before the wedding. This will give you plenty of time to put your seating chart together.

Seating Arrangements


When considering your seating arrangements you should think about the type of people that you are seating. You should always try and seat your guests next to at least one other person that they know and make sure that guests with similar interests are seated together.

Then there are the obvious things that you need to think about, for example, don’t seat one guest next to another guest that they don’t like. This means no ex’s should be sat together, unless they get along, and no family members who no longer talk.

Escort Card Tables, Seating Charts & Place Cards

Whether you have assigned seating, or just tables, there are plenty of creative ways for you to tell your guests where they are sitting.

Escort card tables are pretty self-explanatory, and are literally tables that have been set up to hold cards with peoples names and the table number they are sitting on written onto them. These are great if you have only assigned guests to tables, but they can also be used along with place cards if you have assigned seating.


Seating Charts

Seating charts set out which guest is sitting on which table. Unless you have decided to pair this with place cards, or make really creative seating plans, seating charts are ideal for brides and grooms who want to make minimal effort, or who are on a budget.

Make your own seating chart with website Canva and choose from a selection of stunning templates to complete your seating chart in minutes.


Place Cards

Place cards are similar to escort cards, except that they are already on the table. Place cards can become quite confusing if they are not combined with either a seating chart or escort table to tell guests which table they will be sitting at.


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