Hotel insider info: How to book a block of hotel rooms for your wedding guests

September 18 | Guest post by firework22
Vintage postcard from Van Orman Hotels By: mpclemens
Vintage postcard from Van Orman Hotels By: mpclemens
I have worked in hospitality — at hotel front desks, bars, and even housekeeping — for years. I've also worked at both small luxury hotels and larger big brand hotels, like the ones that rhyme with Shmilton and Shmarriott.

Over the years I've picked up a few pointers on making the wedding-and-hotel experience go a little smoother.

Here are my recommendations on booking a block of hotel rooms for your wedding guests:

  1. Get a good idea of how many rooms you will need before you make the block.
  2. The more accurate you are up front, the less trouble you'll run into. Hotels charge for "attrition," so make sure you know how many rooms you absolutely must fill without being charged, otherwise it can negate the low room rate for your whole group. Usually at least 10 rooms, or 80% of the rooms reserved must be filled.
  3. Check Uncle Google for events like conventions, sports events, graduations, etc. happening the days around your event. (More on that over here.) When hotels are less full, they can offer significantly lower rates, make your requests more likely to be fulfilled (rooms on certain floors, close together, etc.), and make sure guests booking outside the blocked dates can book a room.
  4. If it's allowed, add in "shoulder" days. If your event is Saturday, most guests will arrive Friday and depart Sunday, but some people may want to come in a day early and leave a day later. See if you can add a few rooms for Thursday and Sunday nights.
  5. Find out your cut-off date and stick to it. The block will close for booking a few weeks before your event, so make it very clear to your guests when they must book by. Late reservations aren't guaranteed to be available at the same rate or available at all, and can sometimes only be made through Sales — no more easy online booking or quick phone calls.
  6. Ask about a comp room for the night of your wedding. Many hotels will offer a complimentary room for the wedding night if you book enough guest rooms or hold your wedding in the hotel.
  7. Consider if you want to include breakfast or shuttle service. Not all hotels include breakfast, especially some of the larger brands. If most of your guests are coming from out of town, or if the hotel isn't within easy walking distance of restaurants, including breakfast can be a really convenient addition and give you a little extra time with your out-of-towners. Shuttle service to and from the event is not expected but it is a convenient, timely, and safe way to ensure transportation for your guests. Keep in mind service cannot always be added on last minute and ask upfront.
  8. Start your wedding after check-in time, or make sure your guests are prepared to get ready in the hotel lobby bathroom. Most guests expect rooms to be ready whenever they arrive — even if it's three hours early or before it's even check-out time. Sometimes rooms will be ready early, but it is not something hotels can always guarantee!
  9. So have your guests request an early check-in when they make their reservation (again, it's just a request), then call the hotel the day before or morning of to get an idea if the early check-in is available. This gives the hotel a chance to prepare rooms early if they can, and gives your guests time to find a back up plan. If a guest absolutely needs to have a room guaranteed for very early check-in, I would suggest booking (and yes, paying) for the night before.
  10. My final piece of advice is to remember hotel staff with a thank you note (they are considered vendors, too!), especially anyone who stood out at the front desk, with housekeeping, or in the restaurant.

If you've found a good deal and a nice place for your guests to stay, you've done your job. Go have fun!


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  1. Great list!! My sister works in the hospitality industry as well and one thing I'd like to add to this list is:

    If you plan on getting ready in the hotel, if you have a lot of out of towners, if you don't want people just hanging around in your hotel room – try to book a hospitality suite. They are basically just large rooms with only couches and tables in them, with a mini-kitchen (sink, coffee maker, microwave, fridge). I plan on getting snacks and drinks to stock the fridge so I don't get a case of the Hangry on my wedding day while my girls and I are getting ready.

    My sister got married last year and her biggest regret was not getting a hospitality suite – everyone was in and out of their room, and while it was large, it was certainly not large enough for five bridesmaids, a bride, grandparents, and any other family member who decided to wander in.

    If you have a hospitality suite, only the people you want to know your room number will have it, and they can still visit together and have a nice place to mingle. Our block of rooms is at a Sheraton and they are giving us the hospitality suite for a really great deal. Everyone I know who has had one highly recommends it, and I think it will make my day a lot less stressful.

    6 agree
  2. This is great. i worked at a Bellman for 8 years and the only thing that i would add is to make sure you TIP. To Insure Promptness/ To Insure Prompt Service. i know tipping started way back when as, essentially a bribe. BUT… today, people live off of tips and some folks make it a career. if you ever get bad service on a long vacation, ask yourself, am i "paying thanks" to everyone. Concierge, bellmen, ballroom staff, bar tenders, servers, front office… they all talk. sometimes, theyre related, roomates, dating, great friends even with people at neighboring hotels.
    i may or may not have heard stories of properties that had a system for Good, Bad and average tippers. Lighting bolts, happy faces, sad faces, X, Check, star, ….. their way of saying who is worth the effort and who needs to be left alone……

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    • OK experts, here's my question. If I only have a maximum of ten rooms potentially being booked (not a lot if out-of-towners, and most stay with family when they visit) is it even worth booking a block?

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      • That depends on the size of the hotel, how in demand rooms at hotels in your area are expected to be on your wedding date, and how sure you are that those 10 people will want to book at the hotel you are getting a block at.

        If it is a bed and breakfast, 10 rooms might be close to all their rooms, so they would not see that as a small group and have a problem with it. Ditto for a small hotel, or even some larger ones that might be surprisingly accommodating to small groups. If your wedding is on a holiday weekend or there is a major event in town, even a small group should have a block to make sure that they will be able to get rooms at all.

        On the other hand, if your group has people who want room at lots of different price points and different types of hotels/inns/bed and breakfasts/hostels/etc, then it is really not worth doing a block of rooms for a small group, since everyone will pick what works for them on their own.

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      • We just had our wedding and booked a 10-room block. At first I didn't think it was that worth it, but the advertised bargain rates went up about $20 per night about 6 weeks before the wedding, so people did end up saving money by locking in the rate. Also, it can be nice to have a single location for at least some of your out-of-towners for purposes of giving directions, doing shuttles, planning meals, etc.

        *We booked at a chain hotel, they weren't offended by 10 rooms. Likely not as good of a rate without promising more rooms, but they were happy to lock us in. Some chains weren't up for such a "small" block, but we had 3-4 to choose from.

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  3. The hotel I booked at (Courtyard Marriott) didn't charge attrition rates (or so they said – all the rooms booked out and we actually had to add to our block, so I never found out if their verbal promise was true or not).

    We didn't get a room comp – I went the standard way of booking a regular double room and hoping they'd do the typical/nice thing and upgrade us to a suite at no extra charge (I don't feel comfortable asking for those kinds of perks, so I just go along with things and am thankful when they come my way). And they did! Because we had a suite, we had enough room to get ready, but if we'd just gotten the double a hospitality room would have been a great idea.

    1 agrees
  4. A somebody who's just left a job in housekeeping I'll just add this:

    Regardless of the reason why you're stopping at a hotel, please be considerate in how you leave your room! Housekeepers don't really get tips in the UK but I'll happily take a room that hasn't been trashed as a tip.

    If you can, get a chance to view the room you'll be staying in and just check there is in fact enough room for your needs. It used to really annoy me when I'd get into a room to find the guests had pushed together two singe beds or feng-shui-ed the furniture to meet their needs when we could have offered them a room better suited for their needs.

    If you can, try to keep your room tidy as you get ready. The reason for this is when the housekeepers come to service your room while you're off getting weddinged, they'll be able to make it look completely fresh, rather than working around the hair products everywhere etc. There's only so much tidying of your personal items that they'll willingly do, after all it's your private stuff and we don't want to forage through it. This sounds like a complete pain in the ass when you're trying to get ready but it could be as simple as having a bridesmaid or helper cram all the bits and pieces into an empty suitcase or giant bag before you leave. It'll help you get a lovely fresh presentation of your room if you're using it again

    2 agree
    • This! I travel for work a lot, and at one conference, I always have the same roommate. Because we are both working on our talks/presentations up to the day of, the room tends to get pretty disordered. Two years ago, we agreed to stop having the room cleaned on the "high work days" – we get extra towels when we arrive and leave the "do not distrub" sign up – so neither we nor the cleaning staff have to deal with the chaos.

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  5. Hi, this is great advice! I am getting married next summer in a place that has a busy summer tourist season. I am wondering how far in advance most hotels will start to reserve blocks of rooms? Or how far ahead of time is optimal to book rooms?

    Thanks!

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    • I'm getting married in June and I've already set up my hotels. Both people who booked the rooms told me this was a great time to do it, because rooms can book up fast. They're held until about a month before my wedding, so it's not a big deal.

      I'm pretty certain graduation weekend is happening the weekend I'm getting married (we have four local high schools that could potentially take up hotel space) and I wanted to make sure that I reserved rooms for my guests before the hotels started filling for graduation.

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  6. As a fellow rhymes with Shmarriott employee, long time front desk agent, and one time events coordinator, I whole heartily approve and agree with this post!

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  7. Ask if having the date guests have to book by can be made early to lock in a lower rate/no minimum. I had a GREAT rate with a fantastic Hotel in DC (The Churchill) in September. But the cut off date was early. I made that clear to people several times and many took advantage of the great rate.

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  8. SO I'm totally new to this whole wedding planning business. The groom's family is mostly out of town, so I know that hotels will definitely be needed.

    What does blocking hotel rooms out actually cost ME? We are in an extremely tight budget, and I'm trying to get the logistics of this down. Do I HAVE to block rooms out for my guests? I would love to because they are coming up here for us but is it a must?

    Please let me know! :)
    Thanks!

    4 agree
  9. So, I live in Colorado and I just called the Marriott to block rooms for my wedding. I was shocked when they wanted a $500 deposit and a signed contract to get the group rate and if the rooms didn't book, I would be responsible for the one that did not get filled…WHAT!!!! I of course said HELL NO!! I have enough expenses. Am I out of line for thinking this is crazy?

    1 agrees
    • I don't think that's crazy for not wanting to. That's a lot of risk for something where you aren't charging people to potentially cover the expense (like a conference or something would). I get that there's an issue of their risk if they hold rooms and then don't book them, but when I'm seeing cut-off times on the holds at 4-6 weeks out I simply cannot believe that the hotel has that much risk. If they were going to sell out anyway then they have plenty of time to do that after they release any of your unbooked rooms, and if they weren't going to sell out anyway then who bloody cares?

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  10. I am having my wedding in the Philippines and I asked the local hotel what the procedures are for making a block booking for my guests who will be paying separately for themselves.

    I was then told they will require 50% downpayment of the total amount for rooms reserved to consider it "securely reserved". The remaining 50% will be paid in full upon checking in. Separate payments, therefore, do not apply.

    Any thoughts how to deal with this? I cannot afford paying 50% of all my guests' accomodation expenses but I need to keep the rooms reserved for my guests.

    0 agree
  11. We did all of these except the thank you notes. I will add those to my post-wedding to do list – thanks for the advice!

    0 agree

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