Escort cards help tell your guests where their wedding homebase will be during the reception. These seating cards can also be a fabulous way to express you and your partner’s personalities and love story.
But, how do you ensure that your escort cards stand out on the day you say your “I dos”? Zola’s got you covered with this guide to unique escort card ideas.
This guide will first detail some basic design elements to consider for your escort cards, then walk through four unique approaches:
For each approach, we’ll also describe three example concepts of how you might make the idea come to life for your special day. But first, let’s take a deeper dive into exactly what escort cards are and why they’re so important.
Escort cards are what couples use to direct guests to their designated tables at the reception. Escort cards usually between the size of a business card and an index card and they state a guest’s name and their intended table. These are different from place cards, which are typically peices of stationery positioned at each place setting to let wedding guests know where they need to sit at a table.
While escort cards aren’t strictly necessary in the way a formal invitation might be, they offer another chance to showcase your style and make the wedding reception even more special for your guests.
Your escort cards can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. But, no matter what, they generally need to provide the following basic information:
Aside from these basics, anything else that goes on your escort cards is completely up to you. A creative couple might include unique identifiers for each guest, or even for the table or seat. For example, the tables you arrange might have unique names that can help add fun and flair to your wedding reception and your escort cards.
Escort cards may seem simple, relative to other paper details such as enclosure cards or the wedding menu card placed at each table setting. But, they’re definitely more than just what the simple text on them says. Consider the following components to their design:
The sections below will take you through the characteristics of different approaches to escort card design, then provide sample concepts based on the components—one each for text, imagery, and material.
Classic, traditional designs for escort cards are usually understated, prioritizing easy legibility. These cards also prioritize straightforward language so that your wedding guests can find their seats and continue the celebration without much confusion.
Classic escort card designs will:
A classic approach to escort card design should blend in seamlessly to your theme, color palette, and decorations to create a cohesive design experience.
There’s nothing more straightforward and classic than a simple, subdued card with a clear font, names positioned front and center, and little to no distracting design elements to draw guests’ attention away from what really matters: the wedding itself. Consider a white or bone colored card with glossy black text, in a script-like font (or hand-written) for a look that will never go out of style.
If you want to take this idea to the next level, consider text-based design elements, such as calligraphy or ornate first letters (like in old fashioned books and articles) or even lamination for a tiny keepsake that guests can fit in their wallets.
With just a touch more flair than a plain white or off-white card, choose patterned paper stock for your escort cards.
For example, depending on the season, you could print or emboss (see below) a version of a traditional fabric pattern, such as herringbone or houndstooth. Or, you might choose a subtle monotone checkerboard print, such as in white-on-white or grey-on-grey. Pastels and lighter colors work especially well for this approach, especially if paired with neutral whites, grays, and blacks.
One last approach to the traditional approach is to go beyond basic printing methods and elevate your cards (literally!) with embossed or impressed text and designs. Technically an approach to the escort card paper (material), this can increase the overall price of your cards without much of a difference that can be seen from afar. However, once your guests hold the cards in their hands, they’ll be blown away by the literal depth of detail you’ve committed.
Tip: If you’re searching for timeless, classic wedding stationary (from invites to menu cards), find some inspiration at Zola. Take a look through our Elegant & Classic paper selections and you’ll fall in love (again) with these timeless designs.
Modern weddings are elegant, stylish, and totally memorable. If your wedding is going for a modern theme, your escort cards should feel as chic as the rest of your wedding vibe. Some key design cues for a modern escort card are:
The modern approach to escort cards (and weddings) gives you free reign to say “no thanks!” to convention and embrace a new and different wedding style that your guests will talk about for years to come.
If the hallmark of a more classic or traditional approach is understated text, one concept for a more modern take is flipping that on its head and going big (or going on your honeymoon!). To express your modern, contemporary flair, consider making the lettering the star of the show with long, bold letters that take up nearly the whole card face, on one or both sides.
In addition, this lettering can say “to heck with convention” with touches such as ampersands or plus signs in place of the word “and” (for couples), or all-lowercase lettering (even for names). No need for serifs, either.
Another classic modern design element to consider for your escort cards is “color blocking,” or using different bold colors together (often primary colors) to make a striking statement. Think Andy Warhol’s big color statements, but on your escort cards.
Most often, these designs also feature the colors in relatively large and simple geometric shapes or patterns, such as squares. You can mix this technique with bold white or black text on blocks of color, or use text in one color on a block of another color, to maximize the contrast and modern feel of this Art Deco or Mid-Century Modern-inspired concept.
One final concept for the modern couple is to make your escort card into a memento of the day.
Rather than limiting yourself to an actual paper card, why not turn whatever party favor or gift you were going to give each guest into their escort card as well? We’ll detail different takes on this just below, but for now consider anything your guests receive as a potential card.
A shot glass helps set a lively, party-like tone, whereas you could use customized sunglasses or even hats for an outdoor wedding in a very sunny area. All it needs to do is tell the guests where they’ll be seated, which is easy to print on anything.
Tip: Much like a modern escort card, A modern take on the old pen-and-paper guest lists can also take the stress out of so many guest list tasks (from managing meal choices to sending thank you notes). Check out Zola’s Wedding Guest List manager to add even more modern flair to your wedding planning.
Just because they’re called escort cards doesn’t mean that they have to be actual cards. Taking a cue from the last modern concept above, the material approach begins from a premise that the escort card doesn’t need to be (and in fact shouldn’t be) a simple piece of paper. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about this approach:
On that last note, it’s important to think about how the material you choose can also impact the imagery and even the text on the cards themselves—as in all three concepts detailed below.
You can print your guest’s names on sticker paper and adhere it to the seed packets, or paint your guests’ names on tiny terra-cotta planters with the seed packets (or entire plants) inside.
For a cost effective and sustainable solution, you can use local or seasonal materials to make gorgeous escort cards.
For example, weddings during spring or summer could make use of natural, ideally local flowers for escort cards. Just attach a ribbon to a stemmed flower. Or, for a beach wedding, consider using shells or beautiful rocks from the coastline (just brush off the sand). A wedding during fall could make use of the fallen orange, yellow, and red leaves; while a winter wedding could incorporate conifer needles or pine cones alongside or as the cards.
One last material approach involves making the escort card into an hors d'oeuvre or a mini cocktail—or both. Similar to the souvenir concept above, this concept goes beyond the empty party favor shot glass or snack dish and actually fills it up with a beverage or snack.
If you anticipate guests will meander in from the cocktail hour with a drink or plate in hand already, consider packaging the beverage or snack in a closed or resealable container. For example, you can brew your own beer for the wedding and give a customized bottle to each guest as their escort card. That way, they can choose to enjoy the drink during the ceremony or save it for a later date.
Tip: Excited by the idea of innovative material for your wedding stationary suite but still want to stick with paper? Explore Zola’s premium paper types which include:
Finally, the last unique approach to escort card design involves thinking beyond the cards themselves, no matter what material you use, and focusing instead on their presentation.
Keep in mind the following considerations when perfecting your wall (or gallery) of cards:
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the quirkiest, most unique ways to display your cards—including cards that forgo traditional card stock in favor of unique materials.
Your wedding will be many things: a celebration of love, a de facto family and friend reunion, an excuse to dance the night away, and so much more. It might also be one of the most elegant and beautiful (dinner) parties that many of the guests will ever attend. Why not lean into that in your escort card display?
For example, your escort cards can be displayed on a formally set table, amongst various plates and silverware—or the cards can be the tableware or glassware itself. As an added touch, these can correspond to “missing” pieces of tableware at the respective tables or seats, meaning that guests need to pick up their escort card to have a full place or table setting. It raises the stakes.
Another unique presentation nods to the escort cards’ functionality as a distributed seating chart. You can play up the wall that they’re placed on as a seating chart, with escort cards hung or pinned to a corresponding place in the chart. You can also make a copy of the cards’ content underneath them, so that guests removing their own cards won’t disrupt the whole chart.
If you’re using full-stemmed flowers as your escort cards, why not arrange them as a bouquet? Guests will pick their own flower out, with a small ribbon-attached card bearing their name(s) and seat or table, then insert the flower into a centerpiece bouquet at the table when they sit.
You can color-code the tables, with all white roses at one and all yellow or red roses at another. Or, you can create diverse arrangements at each table by making sure that each guest has a unique different flower. For tables of six, select six that go together and arrange your chart accordingly.
Tip: However you choose to display your escort cards, don’t forget to decorate the table to make every moment of your guests’ experience special. Explore Zola’s table decorations to add the finishing touches to your escort card display.
Details such as escort cards might seem tiny when compared to other considerations of your wedding day, or the months and weeks leading up to it. But, these and other overlooked details are often the most important to focus on, for that very reason. Putting together a card and display that wows your guests is all the more special, if unexpected.
Here at Zola, our suite of wedding paper solutions caters to any design approach or concept that you have in mind. Browse our pre-made designs and expert advice, or get in touch to help us customize a solution for you.