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Seating Cards for Weddings

Martha Stewart Weddings, Volume 5 1998

Usually arranged on a special table near the entrance to the reception, seating cards display guests' names along with their table numbers.

Size and Style
Traditionally, seating cards were presented in diminutive envelopes. Now, most stationers favor tented cards, which are often embossed or edged in silver or gold for a more formal look.

Calligraphy
Many brides assign the task of writing the cards to the person doing their calligraphy, whereas others write their own. If you prefer, you can have the cards printed.

Wording
When addressing married couples, it is traditional to use the husband's first name, but a simple "Mr. and Mrs." preceding the surname is equally correct; if more than one couple share the same last name, include the first names of the men to avoid confusion. Using each person's full name without a title is another option; it is customary to start with the wife's name.

Unmarried couples are typically listed with the woman's name first in the United States and the man's name first in Europe. If you leave off titles, this format will work for either an unmarried couple or a married couple with different last names. Single women may be addressed with or without titles, depending on your preference, but be consistent. Don't address male guests as "Mr." if female guests won't have titles.

Single women of any age can be called "Miss," although it is also common to use that title for girls under 13. Addressing boys as "Master" until their thirteenth birthday is appropriate for a formal reception. It is always acceptable, however, to use children's names without titles.

A common question is how to address friends who bring guests you don't know. It is surely easier to write "John Smith and Guest," and while some argue that it is more proper, because it avoids implying a relationship that may not exist, others disagree. "If you can find out what the guest's name is, it's nicer to do it that way," says Joy Lewis, owner of Mrs. John L. Strong Fine Stationery in New York City. "It just makes people feel more welcome to see their names on the cards."

Displaying the Cards
Arrange your seating cards -- either tented cards or flat cards with envelopes -- on the table in alphabetical order, in rows that are short enough for guests to scan.

Comments (1)

  • hv3333 3 Jan, 2009

    I'd also recommend against using titles unless you know how how *everybody* prefers to be addressed: my mother hates to be referred to as "Mrs" and prefers "Miss" (though "Mr" seems to be acceptable on some formal letters - go figure), whilst I've always objected to being anything other than a "Ms". My family may be the exception, but we can't be that rare!