Seating Arrangements

By Sharon Naylor

July 1, 2015 4 min read

You may have seen guests crowded around a reception table, searching for their alphabetically arranged place cards. That shoulder-to-shoulder press of guests has long been a scene at weddings, and today's innovations help eliminate the long line and discomfort of trying to read those small cards.

Now, the traditional card kerfuffle may be replaced by a new display. It's a top wedding trend, and a popular place card option seen on Pinterest is to eliminate the printed card and write guests' names on a tall, vertical display such as a glass window or mirror. Guests' names and table numbers can be displayed on signs installed behind the bar or hung in frames gallery-style on the walls at the cocktail party. These vertical, card-free table assignments become decor pieces as well as easy-to-use directions for guests.

Vertical displays have also given the tradition a twist by listing guests' names according to table number, not alphabetically. It's easy for guests to spot their names under, say, Table 7, and they can see names of the other guests with whom they're seated. No more standing by the place card table, little card in hand, asking their friends, "Where are you sitting?" Jenny Orsini, wedding planner, says that this place card display creates better momentum for your celebration, allowing guests to move right into the cocktail party or reception without that "pileup of name-searching at an entry table."

If you do wish to have printed place cards, use pretty cardstock and gorgeous fonts that coordinate with your wedding invitations and other print items at your wedding. Decorative borders, seasonal colors, theme motifs and elegant handwriting or print on the cards are all great options. ("Just no computer-printed labels, please," says Orsini, pointing to the lack of elegance in that method.)

As an alternative to the tented card, flat cards are also used -- perhaps stood up in sand-, grass- or floral-filled trays for a pretty presentation. These flat cards may be attached to take-home favors like ornate keys or charms. And flat cards are also being affixed via ribbon to mini bottles of bourbon, tequila, chocolate liqueur or other take-home tastes that work double-duty as place cards and favors. And another trend in wedding place cards is writing guests' names in metallic pen on shiny green leaves or on polished river stones, for a natural feel to complement wedding decor. This natural style is a thrill for guests, since they can take the "card" home and put it on display, perhaps next to a framed photo of themselves taken at the wedding. That adds more appreciation for your chosen design than a simple printed card they're likely to leave on the table at the end of the night.

Speaking of keepsakes, a framed display of guests' names and table numbers becomes a wonderful keepsake for you. Perhaps a dating or engaged couple who originally met at your wedding, seated together at Table 7, will want the display to be shown at their wedding someday.

Sharon Naylor is the author of "The Bride's Guide to Freebies" and three dozen additional wedding books.

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