Place cards are not a necessary accessory for your wedding reception but you might want to use them if you are having a really formal affair.
The way that they differ from escort cards is that each one has the name of a guest and they are put at each place setting.
In order to use these cards you need to have the name of each guest attending your wedding reception so that a card can be made for every single person. If this is not possible then you can just use escort cards.
The simplest and probably least expensive way to incorporate them into your wedding reception is to use tent cards.
You can get a pack of tent cards from an office supply store like "Staples" or "Office Max" for less then ten dollars and print them out yourself.
You can dress them up with ribbon or small appliques like craft gems to make them stand out.
Another option is to use decorative cardholders that match the theme that you have chosen for your wedding.
Here are a couple of current ideas that you could use for your place cards.
The cards should help dress up your wedding reception tables.
You may also want to kill two birds with one stone by having the cards also double as wedding favors.
And to keep your reception elegant, you will want to use the full proper name of each guest when wording the cards not nicknames.