The terms “place card” and “escort card” are often considered interchangeable even though they are technically two different things. Place cards feature the guest’s first and last name, and they are set out next to each place setting so guests know exactly where to sit at the reception. (Here at Ann’s, we don’t offer a true place card.)
Escort cards are used to “escort” guests to their tables. An escort card features the guest’s first and last name as well as a table number. These cards are placed near the entrance of your reception venue so guests know where to sit right away. (Here at Ann’s, we offer escort cards but we call them place cards because “place card” is the more commonly used term among customers.)
Whether you use one or both depends on the style of your wedding. If you’re having a casual, buffet-style reception, you may choose not to use either. It’s perfectly fine to put up a sign requesting that guests seat themselves anywhere. You can even include a cute saying like, “We’re all family now. Sit anywhere you like.”
Escort cards and place cards are typically used at wedding receptions where a plated meal is being served. Some couples will choose to use only escort cards and allow guests to sit wherever they like at their specific table. Other couples will use both escort cards and place cards, especially if they are offering multiple meal options because the place card is often used to indicate a guest’s meal choice. The place card may have the meal choice printed on it or it may be color-coded to indicate meal choice. Some caterers won’t even worry about the place card. They will instruct the wait staff to ask for the guest’s meal option. You will want to talk to your caterer about what method they prefer to use.