If you’re not having a destination wedding, finding accommodations for your guests probably hasn’t been a big priority throughout the planning process. However, you’re almost guaranteed to have at least a few out-of-town attendees at your wedding, so it’s something you and your S.O. need to consider!
One of the best ways to ensure guests have a place to stay is by booking a block of rooms at one or more hotels that are close to your venue. The policies will vary from place to place, but a room block is typically a reservation for 10+ rooms.
“Hotel room blocks are ideal when you want as many people as possible in one place for logistical or transportation reasons, or if you’re hoping people will stay near the actual wedding to prevent having a scattered crowd,” says Meg Ryan, Hotel Manager at The Hotel Weyanoke. “They’re also a solution if everything else is going to be completely booked, or if you just want to offer your guests some guidance.”
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The best part about blocking hotel rooms for your wedding? You (and ultimately, your guests) will likely receive a discounted rate. How much of a discount you receive will depend on the hotel, but according to Group Travel, those who book with a group rate typically receive a 24 percent discount. It’s not uncommon for that rate to be even higher, either!
Keep reading to see if you and your S.O. could benefit from booking a hotel room block or two, and how you can go about getting the reservation process started!
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To Book or Not to Book
According to Ryan, there are a few different questions you can ask yourself to figure out if you really need to book a hotel room block for wedding guests.
First, take into consideration how many guests will be traveling to your wedding. This doesn’t necessarily mean any sort of travel — if they live just a 30-minute drive away, they probably won’t need to stay overnight unless they plan on drinking. The minimum number of rooms that have to be booked varies from hotel to hotel, but 10 is a pretty common number.
Also remember you’re not just counting guests, but also you and your S.O., the bridal party, groomsmen, and close family members like your parents. This group of people alone can add up quickly, so make sure to talk to everyone ahead of time about their plans.
When (and Where) to Book
…which brings us to our next point: just how early you should start having these conversations. If you’re having a destination wedding, the sooner, the better because you’ll know with 100 percent certainty that guests need a place to stay.
For other couples, first consider whether or not your wedding is taking place during peak travel season. If it is, make sure to start calling hotels at least six months in advance. Also, evaluate the location. Is it a small town with limited accommodations, or a big city with almost too many places to choose from?
You’ll also want to consider selecting more than one hotel if you have a large number of guests coming in from out of town. If that’s the case you should select two hotels with varying price points (IE: a higher-priced and lower priced option) to make sure you can accommodate all types of budgets.
Thinking through these different factors should give you a better idea of whether or not you’ll need a hotel room block.
Types of Room Blocks
After you sort out a timeline that’ll include talking with guests, research, contacting hotels, and confirming reservations, you’ll need to carefully consider what sort of accommodations you’re interested in. Luckily, Ryan again has criteria for what sort of situation you’ll need to set up.
Namely, are you opting for open blocks or closed hotel room blocks (also known as courtesy and contracted room blocks, respectively)?
Open vs. Closed
“Courtesy blocks are usually free of clauses holding you financially responsible for unsold rooms within the block,” Ryan says. “Generally, the biggest requirement with a courtesy block is that all reservations are made prior to a cutoff date (about thirty to ninety days in advance). Rooms that are not reserved by the cutoff date are released and sold at market price.”
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This means that you won’t have to put a deposit down and risk spending money on unused rooms. While it sounds ideal to choose the option that doesn’t require a financial commitment, courtesy blocks typically aren’t available for couples looking to reserve a large number of rooms. Instead, this type of hotel room block will be ideal for those having smaller weddings or who don’t know how many out of town guests are coming.
Others will be given the option of a closed hotel room block, which is often secured with a contract and a credit card on file. In a contract, there will likely be an attrition rate clause. According to Ryan, this refers to the percentage of rooms that must be filled in order to avoid paying a penalty.
She breaks it down with this example: Let’s say you make a block of 20 rooms for your wedding. However, only 13 rooms are booked by your guests, and your contract states that your attrition rate is 75%. This means you now have to pay for two unused rooms.
You don’t necessarily have to be stuck with an open or closed block, though. Some hotels offer middle ground solutions, like Hotel Weyanoke.
“We offer wedding rates that are attached to a discount code, instead of holding a block of rooms. This means there is no contract for the [couple to sign], and they are not financially responsible for any rooms that go unused. This can be a big question to ask before making a down payment or signing a contract,” Ryan explains.
“Room rates for Hotel Weyanoke are typically locked in and available to book up until 30 days before the wedding. An agreement is sent to the [couple] with guidelines outlined as discussed, and all they have to do is simply sign the agreement to confirm the discount.”
Even if a hotel doesn’t advertise a service like this, it’s always a good idea to ask. You don’t know what you could be missing out on!
Making the Reservation
There’s more to consider beyond the type of hotel room block you’ll be reserving. Here are a few questions to ask yourself courtesy of Ryan:
- Will the wedding party and/or family members be staying at the hotel? Again, don’t forget to count each bridesmaid and groomsman, along with immediate/close family members like you and your S.O.’s parents.
- Do you want a suite to get ready in? You’ll have to either get ready on the day of the wedding in your room or a bridesmaid’s room unless you book a separate one where you can all hang out. Don’t skimp on space, especially if you have people like hair and makeup artists coming in!
- Do you have guest transportation to the wedding venue and/or rehearsal dinner? You don’t want to book a hotel that’s too far away from the venue. It doesn’t have to be walking distance, but should at least be easily reached by a short car ride. Some hotels offer shuttle services, so be sure to inquire about that (and any other possible perks!).
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