Booking a block of rooms for your wedding guests can be a complicated, stressful process. The more information you have ready before you make phone calls to hotels, the better. But just what will you be expected to know? Here are some important things to consider.
How Many Rooms Will You Need at the Hotel?
This is, of course, a major question that’s essential to know before you start to actually book hotel rooms. Although you can’t necessarily know for sure ahead of time, a good frame of reference would be to go through your wedding’s guest list and tally the number of out-of-town guests on the list, then divide this number by two and set aside that many rooms. You don’t want to overestimate, as you can sometimes be charged for the empty rooms, but it’s also a good idea to ask about their policy on adding rooms later if it turns out your estimate was under the needed amount.
How Many Hotels?
It’s considered good practice to book a block of rooms in at least two separate hotels. Keep in mind the difference in pricing (you’ll want to have one budget-friendly option and then perhaps a mid-level or higher-tier second option) as well as location and proximity to your wedding venue. You’ll also want to make sure the places you choose have a variety of room-type options, with rooms suitable for couples and families alike.
Talk to the Right Person at the Hotel
When you begin making calls to hotels in the area of your wedding, make sure you’re not just talking to someone at a call center or even the hotel’s front desk. Ask to speak to the person who manages group rates—they will be the right one to direct your questions to, as well as give you the best rates possible for your guests.
Will There Be a Cost Associated?
There are a few different ways to book rooms—a guaranteed block and a courtesy block. A guaranteed block ensures that whatever numbers of rooms you set aside will be available to you for your wedding day. Essentially, with this option you are booking that amount of rooms, which means you (or your guests) will be paying for that amount of rooms. This type of booking often requires a deposit when you make the initial reservation. A courtesy block will still set aside your desired number of rooms, but generally with a cut-off date associated (anywhere from 30 to 90 days before your event, depending on the venue). This type of block generally does not require any prior deposit. A courtesy block is the option most couples tend to use when booking a block of rooms ahead of time, as it doesn’t cost them any money up front and there’s no fee for not filling all the rooms. However, this option definitely requires clear communication on cut-off dates with your wedding guests, as the rooms will be released after the cut-off date passes.
Do You Need Additional Services?
Many hotels offer additional services when you book a block of rooms, but it is up to you to decide what services are important to you and then negotiate them. Would you like to make sure a breakfast is available to your guests on the morning following your event? Are you hoping for early check-in on your wedding day so folks can drop their things in their rooms, get ready, and head to your venue? Does the hotel have shuttle service available to get your guests to and from your event safely and in a timely manner?
Some or all of these may be an option for you, with or without an additional cost, depending on how you and the group sales manager negotiate rates and needs for your event. If you have an idea of a service you’d like (dropping off welcome bags, for example) but you’re not sure if the hotel offers this type of service, make sure to ask in your conversation with the manager and see if they’d be able to make something like that work. You may be surprised by how much the hotel will work with you to help facilitate this process.
Make Hotel Details Clear to Your Wedding Guests
Once you’ve booked rooms in one or more hotels, make sure your guests are very clear about where and when they need to book their rooms. If you have a wedding website, this would be key information to add there. Also, make sure important people (like parents, in-laws, and others who will probably be fielding questions on the subject) know the ins and outs of your plan and can help spread the word to out-of-town relatives and friends.
Although booking a block of hotel rooms for your wedding guests can seem like a complicated, overwhelming process, it can also be a huge help to your guests who are coming from far away to celebrate you and your partner’s special day. If you head into the conversation prepared and confident, you will come out of it with rooms booked, ready to fill with your favorite people for your favorite day! Good luck!