Finding your table at an event used to be as modest as picking up a white, tent-shaped escort card featuring your name and table number. Now, they’re seen as an opportunity to make a captivating first impression. “Escort card displays are the chance to create a ‘wow’ factor,” Carrie Darling, owner and designer of Naples-based Carrie Darling Events, says. “We like to build anticipation.”
Carrie often dreams up 3D escort card walls. Recently, for a golf-pro groom, she fashioned a display wall from white turf with acrylic golf balls touting guests’ names and table numbers. For another event, she created a faux brick-panel wall to match the Italian-inspired architecture at the Mediterra venue, with names printed on individual bricks in fanciful calligraphy. “We added a fabric banner with their monogram along with beautiful growing vines and florals from Tom Trovato,” Carrie says.
Megan Miller, owner of Luster Designs, says the most memorable displays result from collaborations between vendors. She has teamed up with planners, designers and florists to create Instagram-worthy name cards, such as retro, coral-tasseled room keys for a penthouse micro-wedding on Marco Island and a library card catalog that guests flipped through to find their table assignment. “Escort cards have also transitioned into favors and drinks,” she says, pointing to examples of grab-and-go keepsakes, like personalized cutting boards and cocktail shakers.
The pros are getting creative with materials, too. Anna Lucia Richardson, founder, executive planner and designer of Anna Lucia Events, created an escort card wall of tiny, terracotta planters, staked with custom vegan leather tags. Other displays have featured chinoiserie-inspired bud vases, Mexican tiles and bamboo.
Calligrapher Lorena Gillispie of Fort Myers’ Script Me Pretty admits her imagination is constantly stretched. “I thrive on doing things that haven’t been done before. I have a lot of flexibility because I do most projects by hand,” Lorena says. She’s impressed guests with everything from handpainted watercolor oyster shells to pink Himalayan salt shot glasses that revealed the table number at the bottom of the glass: “Anything we can write on is doable.”