These two terms should have probably gone in my "wedding terms decoded" post, but I figured I'd dedicate one post to both of them.
"Escort cards" and "place cards" commonly create confusion as you go through the planning process, especially when you meet with your stationer and discuss seating details with your fiancé!
So today's (very) short post is dedicated to the difference between escort cards and place cards.
Escort cards lead you to your table.
Place cards tell you which chair to sit in.
Escort cards are small cards that are usually placed in small envelopes that inform each guest where they are sitting. Usually arranged alphabetically, the envelope will have the individual guest's or couple's name on it and inside the card will list which table they are seated at (i.e. "Table 9").
Escort cards are traditionally placed on an escort card table that is accessible at the entrance to an event, or during the cocktail hour.
You can get creative with your escort cards so that the "card" isn't actually a card. And you can buck tradition and present them in many different ways. But more on that in another post...
Place cards are a small card, printed or calligraphed with an individual guest's name, that is placed at an individual place setting to indicate exactly where the designated guest should sit.
Place cards are optional. Many hosts these days don't want to deal with individually seating large groups of people and avoid creating place cards all together. But if tensions run high in your group of invitees, or you don't want surly Uncle Bill sitting next to the Rabbi that just performed your wedding ceremony, place cards are a great way to ensure those people stay apart.
They are also a great way for you to get different guests to talk to each other and interact throughout the evening. That's why they are a wonderfully useful tool for small dinner parties!
So there you have it -- the difference between escort cards and place cards. Stay tuned for another post on creative escort card displays!