So you’ve gotten the rest of your RSVPs in advance of a large event, and now you have to decide whether to utilize place cards or not. We asked the experts to weigh in on this etiquette quandary.
Is it really necessary to have place cards? Not often, it appears, although there is one general case in which party planners insist on non-negotiable place cards.
“If you’re having a seated meal, then place cards, whether little or large, are required,” says Tiffany Pilgrim, owner of August Events, an event planning business in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “They’re both utilitarian and attractive on the table.
If you’re going to have a sitting experience, I believe you should always have them.”
They are not only beautiful complements to any tablefrom the holiday table to dinner parties and weddingsand beautifully customizable to any party theme, but they also do a lot of the heavy lifting to keep the party moving well. Here’s what place cards can accomplish for your event, particularly if it includes a sit-down lunch.
Hosts can take control of their party’s narrative by employing place cards. Not only will hosts have more say over who sits at the head table with them, but they will also be able to select how to organize their guests to encourage friendly dialogue and avoid confrontation.
Use name cards to ensure that couples stay placed together, that people who you know have things in common are close by and can chat the night away, and that incompatible visitors are put as far apart as feasible.
When visitors arrive, they simply go over to their assigned seat, which is marked by a place card.
With this system in place, the visitors have no decision to make and may avoid any social consequences that would have resulted if they had to make that decision on their own.
Guests won’t have to search for a table large enough to accommodate their groups, and there won’t be one too few chairs to accommodate everyone a group meant to sit with.
While some visitors may still want to choose where they squat for the evening, others will be relieved that embarrassing situations have been avoided.
If you’re afraid to impose assigned seating, Nashville event planner Christina Logan suggests a seating chart near the entry is the bare minimum. Guests are assigned a table but not a specific seat under this approach.
“At the very least, I usually do a seating plan so folks have a place to sit,” Logan explains. “I despise the fact that there is no seating chart.
That irritates me. A seating map is usually useful, and place cards are an added bonus.”
Caterer’s Hidden Weapons
Place cards also carry a lot of weight behind the scenes. Event planners deliberately employ place cards to make caterers’ lives easier and meals go more smoothly.
Place cards may identify dietary requirements so that staff is aware and can ensure that the correct individual is served the correct food. The cards could potentially reflect a pre-order that was submitted with the RSVP.
“If we’re doing plated service, especially if your guests have RSVP to a particular entree, the place cards are really helpful. “They assist our team in determining which food item belongs to which person,” says Vibrant Occasions caterer Leah Seale.
We recently catered a plated dinner wedding where we provided a beef meal and a chicken entree that the guests picked between, but they were also able to fill in if they had any allergies or any special requirements.
Then, on the place cards, the couple hosting included not just the guest’s name, but also a little cow if they had chosen beef and a little chicken if they had ordered chicken.
If they ordered the vegetarian or vegan option, they even got a carrot. It was only a subtle method to convey what that person had bought, as well as symbols for certain sensitivities.
The Advantages of Place Cards
Place cards are not required. Similarly, depending on the formality of your print wedding programs card and your approach to your dinner, you don’t have to go with table or seating allocations.
However, designated seats and place cards will make life easier for your guests in many circumstances.
Here are a few advantages to using place cards (and, by extension, having assigned seats):
- Place cards eliminate uncertainty by allowing guests to find their seats quickly and simply.
- They can be used in conjunction with seating charts or escort cards to help guests find their places more quickly.
- You save your guests from potentially embarrassing seat selection moments.
- You also save your guests from embarrassing situations like forgetting someone’s name.
- You stay away from empty seats.
- If you serve plated meals, your catering staff will rely on place cards to ensure that the proper dishes are served to the right persons. This is especially crucial if there have been any special requests or if a guest has dietary allergies.
- Place cards can enhance the visual appeal of your table decorations.
· Your wedding theme and personality can be reflected in your place cards. They can bring a feeling of playfulness to your décor or improve the formality and elegance of your wedding.