When I ask my brides about their plans for their escort cards, I almost always get a puzzled look. "You mean place cards?" they ask. Most brides seem generally unfamiliar with the term "escort cards" and just use the term "place cards" as a catchall for all seating designations. While escort cards and place cards are related, they actually serve entirely different purposes. Here is the difference so you can sound like a planning pro:
Escort cards are used to designate which table each guest will be seated at. All of the escort cards are usually set up together right outside the reception room so that guests can easily find their tables as they enter the reception. Written on the card will be the guests' names and their table numbers. Couples should be on the same escort card. For example, a card might read: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Table 4.
Place cards are used in conjunction with escort cards. Once guests have found their assigned tables, place cards are used to designate where at the table each guest should sit. Though certainly not necessary, place cards are handy if you want to ensure that certain people sit next to each other or if you need to indicate to the waitstaff who should receive certain meals. When they are used, there will be a place card at each place setting, showing who should sit there. Each individual guest will have a separate place card. For example, the place card will simply read: Mrs. Jane Smith.
Using the proper terminology, you'll certainly impress your vendors, showing them you are a bride who knows her stuff!