Seating charts versus place cards – the pros and cons.

So there is this ongoing battle of what’s better, what’s easier to read and what your guests may prefer….a seating chart or place cards.  I get this question often and to be honest, it’s a toughy!  There are pros and cons to each option.

First, a little clarification on place cards and escort cards.  When you walk into a wedding reception and you are welcomed with a large table display of pretty cards that include all the wedding guest names and table assignments, these cards are called escort cards.  Escort cards are essentially “escorting” you to the correct table.  Once you arrive at your table, you have free rein to choose what seat at that table is yours for the evening.

Place cards, on the other hand, are displayed at the actual place setting of each guest’s seat.  Place cards essentially tell you what chair is yours at your assigned table.

Listed below are my opinions on which option takes the cake on each situation.  These are my opinions and in no way am I persuading you in one direction than the other.  I am a lover of all things wedding stationery and day-of-details and if it makes sense to choose one over the other for your wedding day, it will be the right decision.

Initial Presentation – The Cupcake Preference – Seating Charts

Escort cards looks awesome, initially, but once your guests start to rummage through them to find their name, your display starts to look extremely sloppy.  Seating charts however, always appear the same.  There are no cards to sift through, just a beautiful large print complimented with a beautiful frame inclusive of everyone’s names.

*Cupcake Tip – Have your florist compliment your seating chart with a floral spray that can be hung on the corner of the frame (or mirror).  Adding florals to #allthethings at your wedding is always a good idea.

Room for Error – The Cupcake Preference – Place Cards

Once your seating chart is printed, there isn’t a whole lot of room to make changes unless you reprint the entire chart.  At least with place cards, if your cousin Tom and his girlfriend Tina break up a couple days before your wedding, you can easily either write a new place card or have another one printed without having to reprint everything else.

Convenience and Legibility – The Cupcake Preference – Seating Charts

Place cards tend to be displayed on a large table, hung on a tree or placed into place card holders that don’t exactly hold the cards at the best angle.  There’s normally very dim lighting with a lot of candles surrounding the area.  The shadowing from the candles and the small print tend to make the cards difficult to read.

Seating charts, at least the ones that I design, are displayed in a very large frame at dimensions up to 26” x 38”.  The size of font used to display everyone’s names and table assignments are normally larger than the place cards.  Seating charts also have alphabetical headers.  For example, if your name starts with an “M” all you have to do is look for the large “M” header on the chart, and your name will appear underneath.  With place cards, you have to search for the “m’s” and hope that someone else didn’t already pick up your card, think it was theirs and then put it back down in the wrong place once they realized they had the wrong card.

Reusability – The Cupcake Preference – Seating Charts

Place cards are a one-time deal.  There really isn’t any desire for you to save everyone’s cards, however, if you chose to have a seating chart designed with one of your engagement photos in the background, this makes for memorable wall décor for your home.

Versatility – The Cupcake Preference – Place Cards

You can do a lot with place cards.  You can tie them to your wedding favors, whether it be a champagne bottle, a wine bottle, a wine stopper and so on.   I’ve had clients tie them to vintage keys, or hang them on miniature lanterns.  All options call for a really beautiful presentation and a great way to add personalization to your wedding day details.

One aspect that you can’t avoid with either option is the crowd of people surrounding the area looking for their seat.  Whether it’s place cards or a seating chart, the crowd of people will always be there.  There is no avoiding it.  The tables can only be so big and same with your chart.  Guests know this and will patiently wait their turn to find their seat.

So there you have it.  My take on seating charts versus place cards and the pros and cons to each.  Like I mentioned before, I am a lover of all things wedding stationery and day-of-details and if it makes sense to choose one over the other for your wedding day, it will be the right decision.

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