Reception Seating Formats

Dallas Arlington Hall Wedding: Caroline + Barrett

John Cain Photography

Dallas Weddings | Reception Seating Formats

It’s starting to feel official: you’ve booked the venue, sent out invitations, and are starting to collect guest RSVPs. Next on your list: planning the reception layout and guest seating assignments! There are a few ways to format seating at your reception… it all just depends on your preference and style. Take a look at the list below to find the most popular ways to format reception seating:

  • Place Cards: Place cards are the most formal way to assign guest seating. A card with each guest’s name is placed on or above their place setting at each table. This format assigns a particular seat to every single guest—so you have more control over the seating arrangements. The only drawback is less flexibility; it’s not easy to shuffle table assignments at the last minute when each seat has been carefully predetermined.Place cards may be tented or flat, depending on your preferred aesthetic. Traditionally, place cards use formal name formatting with the Mr/Ms/Mrs title (i.e., Mr. Jonathan Smith) Place cards may be used in combination with an Escort Board if desired.

  • Escort Cards: Escort cards are another traditional choice, with slightly more flexibility than place cards. This tends to be a popular choice for our brides! Escort cards list the guest name with their assigned table number. Escort cards are usually addressed individually (i.e., Mr. Jonathan Smith — Table 2), but can be addressed according to couple to save room in your escort card display (i.e., Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith — Table 2).This format allows you to assign tables, but not individual seats. This can be ideal so guests can choose where they sit at each table… and you don’t have to worry about assigning who sits next to who!Traditionally, tented cards are arranged on a table at the entrance to your reception (or at cocktail hour). However, there are plenty of creative ideas if you’re looking for an interesting focal point!

  • Escort Boards: Escort boards are a great option for most of our couples! This large display board lists all couple names (in alphabetical order), along with their assigned tables. It is usually displayed at the entrance to your reception, often near the guestbook or cake display. In this case, it is usually best to combine couple names (i.e., Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith — Table 2). It saves room on the display board, making it easier for guests to locate their names.We recommend a 24″x36″ board, which can be designed to complement your event decor. We can also add frames and floral design for added impact!

  • Open Seating: Open seating can work on rare occasion, but this option should usually be reserved for venues that are designed to accommodate it. Open seating works best in a large venue with a buffet dinner. If you choose open seating, be sure to provide extra tables and chairs (as it is not likely that guests will perfectly fill each table).


In all of these cases, most couples choose to have a head table for wedding party and/or family (or a sweetheart table just for the happy couple). All other tables will be assigned numbers. Or, if you want to get creative, we can help you brainstorm some fun alternatives!

What do you think? Which of these seating assignment options is right for you? Let us know! And let us know how we can help. It’s not always easy to figure out where guests will sit or how many tables will fit comfortably in your venue space. Luckily, that’s where we come in! Our team of planners is happy to help create a layout custom-tailored to your event.

Send us a note using the contact form below to start planning!


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