Everything you need to know about place cards, escort cards, tent cards versus flat, place card holders, and more.
This guide contains everything you ever wanted to know (and probably more) about our product: place cards! And while of course we think the best way to make place cards is to use our free printable place card maker, we have tried to make this guide as unbiased, informative, and comprehensive as possible.
We hope you enjoy it!
Here's the basic description of a place card, courtesy of Wikipedia:
A place card is a piece of paper indicating what table a guest at an event, such as a wedding or banquet, is assigned to sit. Place cards generally have the guest's name and table number, and frequently have some design as well to add style.
Doesn't get more straightforward than that!
Not all weddings use place cards. Here's how you can decide whether or not you need them for yours.
First off, do you have assigned seating? If you don't then you almost certainly do not need place cards. Stop reading here and go celebrate—you just checked one more item off your wedding planning list!
If you do have assigned seating you still don't need place cards. Another option you can consider is a seating chart. At its simplest, this is basically a piece of paper that lists all of your tables and for each one shows which guests are seated there. Seating charts are typically easier to make and cheaper than place cards, so they can be a good alternative to place cards if you don't have any reason not to use them.
If you have assigned seating and don't want to use a seating chart then you will probably need place cards or escort cards. What are escort cards? Keep reading to find out.
There are actually multiple ways of sending your wedding guests to their tables. If you're planning on using individual cards with names on them your options are place cards and escort cards. What's the difference? Well according to brides.com, "a place card not only directs guests to the table where each will sit during the reception, but also points each guest to his or her particular seat at the table."
From a practical perspective what this typically means is that if you use escort cards you will put them all together somewhere (often on a table but you can get more creative) and your guests will pick them up and take them to their tables. In contrast, if you use place cards the cards typically are already set on the tables. Since you might not want to send your guests wandering to each table looking for their names, place cards are often accompanied by a seating chart (see above) as well.
The "place" versus "escort" card terminology is confusing and in reality it doesn't really matter what you call them. Many resources on the internet will use the terms interchangeably and "place card" is a more common blanket term that often applies to both types of cards.
Your place cards will typically come in one of two types: flat or tent. Flat place cards are—well, flat, and are often used in conjunction with a place card holder. Tent cards, on the other hand, are meant to be folded in half and stand on their own. They are also sometimes called (at least by us) foldable cards.
The big advantage of tent cards is that they are free-standing, so you don't have to find something else to hold them and can just arrange them on a table. However, if you've got the time and budget to do something more creative with your cards then place card holders are a great way to add a bit more flair to your event!
There is a third option to the flat versus tent card choice, which is to do something totally unique! For some inspiration on some of the more creative place card ideas checkout our favorite ideas for wedding place cards and escort cards.
In general you have a few basic options for wedding place cards.
If you already know calligraphy, know someone who does, or just love the handwritten touch then calligraphy is a great option for your cards. You can buy blank cards at most stationery stores or online and have them written out by hand.
Doing them yourself or through a friend will be very cost-effective, though hiring a professional calligrapher is also possible. Costs vary significantly but you should expect to pay $1 per card or more to have them professionally done. Etsy is a good place to find calligraphers online, or you can use Google to find some local to you.
When making printable place cards you will typically use a template that you will either make, buy, or create yourself. Once again, Etsy is a great place to buy templates, though you can find free ones on Google as well.
We also offer a number of free and paid templates on our site, which also allows for advanced customization of fonts and colors and automatic layout and creation of your cards using our automatic place card maker.
If you don't use our site, you'll have to enter the names by hand into the template, or—if you know how to use it—do it with mail merge.
Printed place cards are the last option—you typically upload your guest list somewhere and the cards will be mailed to you. Printed cards are typically more expensive than printable ones and you need to plan a a bit further out since you'll have to wait for them to be shipped to you (or pay a large shipping premium). That said, printed cards can be higher quality overall—you just pay for it.
There are several popular sites that offer printing, with the most popular ones being minted.com, Michaels, and printed.com. They all have a decent selection of templates and cards and so you can probably pick based on the template / cost you prefer.
Place cards and place card templates come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. However, our experience is that choosing a layout containing six tent cards (or twelve flat cards) per standard letter-sized paper is the simplest and most versatile. With these layouts your final cards will end up approximately business-card sized (about 2 x 3.5 in or 5.5 x 8.5 cm). This is also the standard size provided by many templates, calligraphers, and print offerings.
Hopefully this gives you the ground work for handling the place (or escort) cards for your wedding! If you're looking for the fastest and easiest way to make place cards we recommend trying out our free printable place card maker, but we won't be offended if you prefer one of the other options.