Le Menu Du Jour

By Sharon Naylor

July 1, 2015 4 min read

When printed menu cards first showed up as wedding table additions, guests loved reading those delectable descriptions of the courses to come during the dinner. There was, at first, one printed card per round table, then four or so spaced apart on long tables. Guests took turns looking at the elegantly printed cards with the dazzling print script. Soon, individual menu cards were placed on each guest's plate for easier use, and now, those individual menu cards are being personalized to each guest.

"Your tablescape offers countless opportunities to wow guests with custom details, and personalized menu cards are functional and beautiful, while making guests feel like an important part of your big day," says Vanessa Wicks, event sales director at Weylin B. Seymour's, a historic event venue in Brooklyn, New York, that has been the site of celebrity weddings and events.

When guests arrive at their tables, they find their names printed on the menu cards, showing that you value their presence on their big day. And the artistry of their name, handwritten in calligraphy, complements the loveliness of your wedding design. You've taken great care with the smallest of details, elevating your wedding as a whole.

Another advantage of customized menu cards is the ability to tailor guests' special menu requirements, such as a gluten-free, vegan or kosher meal. When guests see their menu card, they know right away that you've heard and honored their requests. They don't need to be anxious about their special meals.

To help you create your personalized menu cards, keep the following tips in mind:

--Spell names correctly. Triple-check your invitations list, looking at guests' social media pages for backup, to be sure each guest's name is spelled correctly. It would be an awful faux pas if you created a card for "John" when he goes by "Jon."

--Plan for dim lighting. Your reception ballroom may be dimly lit, illuminated by candles, and that low light can make light-colored print difficult to read. Larger script in a good contrasting shade makes your menu card easier to see. Not all guests bring their reading glasses with them. Metallic print will capture candlelight, so consider shimmery lettering.

--Create personalized menu cards for children as well. Theirs can be designed differently than adult guests' cards, using kid-themed colors and motifs. Add a print game to the back of the card to provide a fun activity.

--Add an accent to the back of guests' menu cards. A personalized note from you may be extra work, but it goes a long way to making your guests feel like VIPs. Or, if a personalized message isn't realistic for your time and budget, print an inspiring and romantic, or a foodie-themed, quote on the back of each card.

--Ask your chef to help. Make your menu card mouth-watering with chef-provided dish descriptions of each course.

--Include drink pairing choices with each course. Again, your chef or bar manager can provide pairing ideas using vintages and cocktails that will be served at your wedding.

You might be wondering whether personalized menu cards at each guest's seat will tell each guest where to sit at the table. While guests are free to switch seats, it is a good idea to put your guest menu cards in order by table, so that staffers handling your wedding's table setups can place cards in the order you prefer, seating spouses and families next to each other.

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

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