3 Sep

All You Need to Know About Escort Cards & Place Cards

One of the greatest debates in the event hospitality industry is the argument of escort cards and place cards. It’s not a matter of if they are needed, it’s their definitions and how they are used. With many different definitions available online, and some from our favorite planning resources, the true meaning of these tools is often lost.

These terms may seem most familiar in reference to weddings, but corporate events and other social occasions are not limited by these hospitality norms. There is a good chance that nearly every large event will have one or both cards, but for the few events that offer entirely open seating, neither may be used. They may not seem like a big or important aspect of the planning process, but these two items, if done incorrectly, can make or break the success of your event from how easily your guests are able to locate their seat to how seamless the meal service is completed.



Chances are, if you are getting married in the next two years you have read one of the many popular wedding websites and blogs available. Even if you are not, but are planning for an event, digital planning sources play an important role in preparing and can give you great advice on how to handle everything from RSVPs to unexpected guests. One point of contention we have with those helpful sources is that their definitions of place cards and escort cards are all different. Don’t believe us? Using your preferred search engine, type the word ‘place card’ into an image search and view the results. Compare what you find to the proper industry definitions below.

Escort cards are the cards guests use to identify which table they are to be seated at. These cards are typically displayed during cocktail hour or right before guests enter the main reception area. An easy way to help you remember the meaning of escort card is to think ‘escort to the table’. Escort cards can be presented as tent cards, on a poster, or as part of a favor for your guest. Every event that uses assigned table seating will offer escort cards or an escort board to assist guests in finding their table.


Place cards, on the other hand, are used in addition to escort cards. These cards are required by any event offering a choice of meal. Place cards are preset on each table at a guest’s place setting and not only tell them which seat is theirs, but also assist their server in knowing which meal is theirs as well. See the dot on the place card below? This colored dot signifies that the guest is to receive a specific meal.



Without either of these two tools… expect a bit of chaos. Guests will be unable to find their seats taking twice as long to be seated. Or a guest with an allergy may not be given the correct meal. As part of our promise to give you an enjoyable dining experience, we require place cards and escort cards, respectively, to help keep the pace of the event and to keep our staff from auctioning off meals. Think how much more enjoyable dining will be if we can avoid having to ask “Who had the chicken? Who had the beef?”


You may have gathered by now that escort cards and place cards communicate some important information. Each card not only includes different types of information, such as table number and meal, but how the information is organized prior to the event helps tremendously during the setup process. It allows the team setting and managing your event before it begins to spend more time on all of the other important details of your event room instead of focusing solely on organizing cards.

The escort card must include first and last name information and their table number.  Because the information that escort cards and place cards communicate is an important aspect to the success of an event, it is also important this information is organized well before the cards are given to an event specialist. Escort cards should be organized by the guest’s last name. This allows your guests to easily find their card and locate their seat quickly. It helps prevent any mix-ups with other guests that may have the same first name as them. Also allowing the flow of traffic into your event to be more consistent by preventing backups at the escort card table or escort board. If you were to organize escort cards by table number it would take twice as long for guests to find their name because they have to scan all of the escort information just to find their own. The longer it takes guests to find their seat the longer dinner service will be delayed which can diminish the quality of your meal.

The place card will include their first and last name and their entree selection. Kahn’s Catering requires entree selections to be identified by a dot using a color coded system: yellow – chicken, beef – red, fish – blue, vegetarian – green, or child’s meal – purple. Place card organization should be by table number and presented in the way you want your guests to sit. Your place cards should mimic your seating chart. Our setup team will set your place cards at each place setting in the order that you provide them. If you want certain individuals to sit next to one another, the way you organize your place cards will help.

Get Creative

As more and more events take on the challenge of truly immersing their guest in the event experience, the ways in which escort cards and place cards are presented are becoming more intricate. If you don’t believe us, take a look at Pinterest. Even with creativity, organization still remains a vital factor in event success. Regardless of how you choose to present your escort cards or place cards, the same information and methods of organization need to apply.

kahns-catering-placecards-escortcardsPart of our promise as one of the finest caterers in Indianapolis is to create a dining experience for your event that exceeds your expectations. That begins with our service and the work that is done behind the scenes in the planning process. Both you and our staff have responsibilities to make your event memorable and enjoyable for all in attendance including you, the host. Join us on Pinterest to find inspiration from our previous events.

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