(2 Months to 3 Months before the Wedding)
Finding great rooms with affordable pricing is an essential part of the wedding experience for your out-of-town guests. More than likely, at least a third of your invited guests are going to be driving in from other places. It's important that you cater to their needs and make their stay pleasant, exciting, and convenient.
There often is plenty of stress for your out-of-town relatives and friends who need to take care of issues like getting off of work, finding a flight that does not break their budget, getting a babysitter, finding someone to take care of their pet, etc. You can be of tremendous help by helping them find a hotel and helping them to connect with old friends and making new ones.
Most hotels will offer you a group discount for blocked-off rooms. A simple phone call and a little foresight could end up saving you and your wedding guests a couple of hundred dollars. You may have to act quickly though. At many of the upscale hotels, at least ten rooms would need to be booked and the cut off for booking generally is about one month prior to the booking date.
When you enter into a booking plan with the hotel, the hotel informs you how your guests should connect with the discount plan. They may give you a code to provide to your wedding guests or use your name. About a week before the cutoff date of when the hotel will open the rooms back to the general public, you should contact the hotel to find how many of the rooms have been booked and by whom. If there are still empty rooms available, you want to contact some of your wedding guests and remind them that if they have an interest in staying at the hotel, they just have a short amount of time left to book the room for a discount.
It may also be that when you contact the hotel, most of all the rooms are booked and you may have to find more rooms, either at that hotel or you need to find another hotel. When making arrangements for a hotel for your wedding guests, your goal is also to find a hotel that is convenient. The hotel location should be as close to your key locations as possible. Close to the airport or train, close to your wedding ceremony site, close to your wedding reception venue, and close to nightspots.
When you are investigating the hotels, also check out their transportation service. Is there a shuttle service from the hotel to the airport and back. Also if the hotel is far from the wedding ceremony and wedding reception sites, consider arranging a shuttle bus service or party bus that can transport the guests to and from the venues. Getting rental cars and carpooling, with one person driving four or five others is another possibility.
Before booking a hotel for the group discount plan, make a visit to the hotel in person and check out the hotel rooms and amenities. Try and get in one of the block of rooms the hotel would provide you and inspect it and ask yourself if the room would be one you would like and is good for your guests. Check out other hotel amenities too, what does the hotel offer, fine dining, a pool, a gym, a spa, gift shop, etc. If you call any wedding guests you can tell them a little about the hotel. Pick up a brochure that describes amenities and services too.
Be considerate in choosing which hotels to book. Your wedding guests will be in varied financial situations. You should select a moderately-priced hotel as well as a 5-star hotel so that your wedding guests will have a choice of places and options. If there is a larger contingent of out-of-town guests you might want to book three or more hotels. You may want to influence some of your guests more to a certain hotel, you may not want the fraternity guys to be hanging out with Aunt Sue.
If you do get the ten rooms booked in the hotel as is the case with many hotels, the group gets a discount and sometimes even the wedding couple gets their room for free. If you are one or two short on the rooms, see if you can get somebody on the wedding guest list, maybe someone local can book one of the rooms. They are helping you get everyone a discount and they may get a chance to meet and party with some of your friends. Some singles in your wedding may meet, you just never know.
If it can fit into your budget, arrange to leave a small gift basket for your out-of-town guests. Give baskets filled with local treats or specialties from the area will really be a kind gesture to your guests. Picking up munchies at hotels, tend to be costly, having a gift baskets with some munchies will really be appreciated. You might include a little bit of chocolate, gum, crackers, cheeses, salami stick, trail mix, jellies, peanuts, popcorn, bottled water, etc. Leaving a bottle of wine may be a treat too. Almost every city has a couple of gift bag companies with local treats, or you might find a cheese shop in your local community. If you make your own gift bag a good web site for fabric bags is http://www.bigpromotions.net/ .
Include in the gift basket, an itinerary of all the weekend activities. It may include a handwritten dinner invitation to the rehearsal dinner. You may also organize a little cocktail hour at a room at the hotel, just specify the date, time and place. You may even consider an organizing a wedding week activity or excursion. A one last time get together, maybe organize a hot air balloon ride, white water rafting, trip to a dinner show, or off to see a ballgame. An out of the ordinary activity that will add to your wedding guests memory.
Also you might include a magazine, a local area map, and transportation information in the gift bag. You might be able to pick up information at no cost from your local Chamber of Commerce. The brochures often will provide places to see and things you can do and may provide a free magazine offering coupons. If the gift basket is all wrapped up when it arrives, from you ordering it, you can staple a note with a little bag of information attached.
There are a couple of websites around that you can use to help you get the best offer for a block or rooms for a hotel in your area. Two of these websites are http://www.hotelplanning.com/ and http://www.grouptravel.org/ . Still if you use these companies, still go in person to check out the rooms and meet with the hotel to work out the final details. These websites tend to charge a referral commission though, in some instances they may save you a bundle and in other situations, they may not save very much. Most major hotels do offer group discounts for blocking rooms.
There may be a couple of people coming to your wedding in which their funds are very tight. It may be very much appreciated if you can connect them to stay at a friend's house instead of a hotel. They will very much appreciate your and your friend's generosity and the gesture they will always remember.
So take care of your out-of-town guests for your wedding and it will add to the enjoyment making your wedding fabulous. Always check out the rooms personally before you book.
See you on the other side!