Are place cards necessary? Yes, Assigned seating is so much better but are you really asking if you should have assigned seating or free seating?
Whether it is place cards, a seating board display (windows, poster board, mirror etc) or a list, it is one of those details that can make your event run more smoothly. An arrangement of cards might become disheveled if they are not secured, so plan ahead on the design you love.
The free seating option is awkward and messy. For example: if the parents are busy taking pictures and arrive late, they could be seated in the back. Or, if friends are saving seats by tilting chairs or placing napkins on the chairs, it looks unorganized and be dangerous. Or, if someone has a larger party, they might be forced to split up into multiple tables.
However, the best reason to have assigned seating is that the guests are now free to mingle and enjoy the day without worrying about where they will sit and who they will sit with.
Here's what to do to make the process easier. Create a schematic of the tables and how they will be arranged. Have the parents assist you arrange who should sit with who. Inevitably, there is a family member that requires a little extra assistance, having that addressed prior to the wedding will keep you stress free and the guest (s) happy.
At the Estate, I work closely with each Bride and Groom to create that special seating presentation. Here are just few:
By bringing out your style and creativity into the seating plan, it is sure to work out nicely.
The Jones Victorian Estate (714) 343-1964