[EDIT: Many people confuse place cards and escort cards, and even the most experienced wedding professional on TV/in a bridal magazine will mix them up (I've seen it happen many times). And unfortunately, I have done the same exact thing! ESCORT cards are pictured below. They tell the guest what table they are seated at. PLACE cards are set at each place setting and tell the guest exactly what seat to sit in. Please excuse my mistake! I have corrected the following blog post accordingly.]
One of the cutest aspects of reception decor (in my opinion) where you can really let your creativity shine through are (edited) escort cards. Escort cards are those little cards that tell your guests what table they are seated at and they are pretty much necessary unless your guests will be sitting wherever they please. The cards are normally placed in a common area at your reception facility (i.e. on the table alongside your guest book and/or gift card basket).
I was looking at Southern Weddings' blog (found via Oh So Beautiful Paper's blog) and saw the best array of escort card options. Here are three of my faves:
1) Escort card tiles. I love this idea! The color and design of the tile's face is so bright and festive, while the terra cotta back is perfect for writing your guests' names and table numbers. The picture below is from Laura Hooper's Calligraphy website and shows calligraphied names. You could recreate this look by handwriting guest names yourself, or having a friend with neat handwriting help you out.
2) Escort cards hung on a horizontal string. I don't know what it is about clothespins, but I love 'em! For an outdoor wedding, this would look so cool! String a line of "whatever" (ribbon, rope, sturdy thread) between trees, posts, etc, and pin the escort cards to the line. Easy peasy! [This idea comes from InStyle Weddings.]
3) Escort cards hung on a vertical string. I think this idea works better than #2 for indoor spaces (but, of course, there are ways to make horizontal work if you really love that look). Hanging strands of clear crystals or beads in your wedding colors would look so amazing when attached to the ceiling of your reception's foyer... just attach placecards and you're set! You could also add flowers (or something else... you could include some pictures of the bride & groom & guests between the escort cards) like the picture below from Brides.com.