The invitations have been sent and you are now receiving response cards in the mail from excited guests. You are already writing thank you notes for wedding gifts that are arriving on a daily basis. However, the paper trail does not end here. The day of wedding needs, including the guest book, programs, escort, place and table cards, and menus are just beginning. Stylish trends for these items abound. They blend the continuity of color, style and formality of your wedding with new and fun personal embellishments.
Traditionally, the guest book is placed at the entrance to the ceremony and is a wonderful way to capture your guests’ well wishes and impressions. Today’s couples are creating fun and stylish options to replace the traditional lined guest book, including using single cards that guests place in a glass bowl. The bride and groom enclose these cards in envelopes and in turn, paste into a book. Each time you pull out a card, it feels like a surprise. Another option is to ask someone to take Polaroids and have guests sign the borders. Or, ask your florist to create a beautiful arrangement of flowering branches, have guests write notes on die cut paper leaves, and tie their notes onto the branches with beautiful ribbon.
The ceremony program guides the guests through the service, giving the overall structure of the ceremony, names of the family members and everyone involved in the wedding party. Many guests save the ceremony program as a keepsake from your wedding.
The front page announces the bride and groom’s name, place of ceremony, and the date. The inside left page lists the names of the wedding party in the order they will walk down the aisle. Also include the officiant, readers, soloists, musicians and the pieces they will perform. The inside right page contains the order of ceremony, including the prayers and rituals. Your program can include brief descriptions of military, ethnic, or religious practices, remembrances of departed loved ones, and thanks to families and friends for support. Couples are customizing their programs with meaningful touches such as an engagement photo, songs, poems, and quotes as well as matching motifs, ink colors, paper, initials, and monograms to complement the wedding scheme.
Gather information at least two months before your ceremony so you and your custom invitation designer have time to customize your program. Save money by printing the inside on your own computer and assemble the programs with your bridesmaids.
Escort, Place and Table Cards
A seating plan for your guests is needed if you are having a sit-down dinner. Much planning goes into grouping your guests. Perhaps you will group younger single friends together or family friends together. Be sure to double-check your list to ensure everyone is seated somewhere and always plan for changes in case of last-minute cancellations from your response list.
Escort cards are placed in alphabetical order at the entrance of the reception area to escort guests to their table. Escort cards are traditionally done with an envelope inscribed with the guest’s name on the outside and a card with the table number inside, or are folded, or flat, and decorated. Seating charts are large displays showing where the tables are arranged and who is seated at which table. Seating charts can be used alone, or in addition to escort and place cards.
Place cards are used at the bride and groom’s table and the parent’s table. Place cards are also used on all other tables if you are placing guests in a specific seat. If you choose to use place cards, be sure to budget extra time and expense because you will spend time seating Aunt Mary next to family friend Mr. Jones and will need a calligrapher to address these extra cards. If you are using tent place cards, consider having these cards addressed on both sides to make it easier to start conversations for those who don’t know each other.
Table cards are displayed in frames, table tents, or can be artfully incorporated into the floral centerpiece. Table cards can be quite elaborate by decorating with crystals, pressed flowers, or using metallic ink. Check with your floral designer to ensure that the table cards will complement the centerpiece arrangements. You can save on costs by checking with your floral designer or site coordinator to see if they provide table cards.
Menu cards are a wonderful addition to your meal, especially if you are having unique dishes, special preparation or are using a fabulous caterer renowned for their food. Menu cards are also useful if your guests have the option of choosing their meal on site, rather than asking them to indicate their choice on the response card. Consider having your names, date, reception site and even the chef’s name on the menu. Along with the scents of the delicious meal, your menu card will bring back many wonderful memories of the reception.