In choosing to have a destination wedding, you are asking your guests to make travel plans in addition to attending the wedding. Therefore, brides and grooms face more work during the planning process since everyone will look to them for suggestions and questions regarding their travel plans (especially if it is a destination they are not familiar with).
Blocking hotel rooms for a wedding is, therefore, a must for most destination weddings. A hotel room block is the best way to ensure your guests have a place to stay near your reception. Hotels often give a discount on the room rate, which you can then pass along to your guests. This will make your life easier as you can pass along a link for your guests to make their own travel arrangements, allowing you to focus on your wedding planning.
However, this being said, there are a few things you should know about blocking hotel rooms for a wedding:
PROS: BLOCKING HOTEL ROOMS FOR A WEDDING
This is the biggest benefit for sure. Hotels and resorts will offer a discounted rate for you and your guests if you decide to do a hotel room block contract for your wedding.
Another benefit is the special concessions you and your guests will receive by booking the hotel through a room block.
Some examples are free upgrades, (most hotels upgrade the bride and groom to a higher room category), special amenities for the bride and groom such as champagne, strawberries or a romantic turndown on the wedding night. Some hotels offer special discounts on food and beverages, spa and gift shop.
Some resorts offer free hotel rooms if a certain number of rooms are being reserved by wedding guests. As an example, a resort may say that they will give one free room for every 20 room nights reserved under your wedding room block.
Anniversary Complimentary Stays
Some resorts offer a complimentary stay for the bride and groom on their first anniversary.
Everyone pays the same
All your wedding guests get the same rate if they book within your hotel room block. Doing so guarantees that all guests have the same cancellation policy, the same deposit (usually one night) the same concessions and amenities.
If you block hotel rooms, your guests will only have to put down a small deposit when they reserve rooms. Some hotels ask for no deposit at all, they give the option to pay upon check-in.
People are terrible at getting their RSVPs back on time. If you block hotel rooms at the resort, you can call and find out how many rooms have been reserved under your room block. This will give you an idea of how many people will be attending.
Everyone staying in one place
If everyone books their own rooms, they will all book rooms at different hotels all over the place. Imagine how much of a headache it would be to coordinate the wedding weekend events, especially if the wedding is at a venue outside the hotel. With a room block, everyone is at the same hotel/resort and organizing is simple. Making sure no one is late or getting lost en route to your wedding.
You know there is a room for everyone
If you block rooms at a resort, there is no danger of the resort being sold out. Once the rooms have been blocked, they are taken out of general inventory and are not available to the public. Only after your cut off date (usually 30 days before the wedding), do they get released to the general public if they haven’t been booked by one of your guests.
CONS: BLOCKING HOTEL ROOMS FOR A WEDDING
If a certain number of rooms are not used, or if you cancel your wedding, the deposit is generally non-refundable.
We all get those emails with last minute deals from travel websites. In some cases, those last minute deals turn out to be cheaper than the group rate you and your guests are paying at the resort.
If you’re blocking hotel rooms for a wedding without exclusive use, you or your guests may at some point (usually long after you’ve negotiated your room block rates), find cheaper room rates for your hotel online. Unfortunately, this is the nature of online flash sales and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. If this happens, you may want to chat with your hotel sales rep about whether your guests can utilize the cheaper time-limited rate and still count those rooms toward your minimum bookings.
It is a little frustrating, but it’s the only way hotels can fill rooms that most likely won’t sell otherwise.
If you see this happening, then call the hotel and insist that they match the rate being offered or else your entire wedding party will be canceling reservations and remaking them at the discounted rates.
Important things to take into consideration
It’s common for hotels to charge fees for things like delivering welcome bags to guests’ rooms and receiving packages on your behalf. This should all be stated in your room block contract. These fees are typically non-negotiable.
Food and Beverage Minimums
Food and beverage minimums are a common requirement when blocking hotel rooms for a wedding, as they ensure the hotel will meet their sales goals in lieu of the fact that a large percentage of guests will be attending off-site events.
If you plan to host all of your events off-site and have a large minimum to meet, you may be able to get creative with this spending by offering guests a bottle of wine at check-in, ask the hotel to include breakfast in the rate and have it accounted towards the minimum, adding a turndown treat, etc.
If you commit to doing at least one event at the hotel, they’ll be easier to negotiate with in regards to the minimum, as it’s a win-win for everyone.
Attrition is a clause some hotels use to ensure that their group block bookings are committed. The bride & groom must pay for a specific minimum number of rooms regardless of how many are actually booked by guests. If a group block isn’t hitting that minimum number of rooms by a particular date, the party signing the contract may face a financial penalty or the empty rooms may be released to the public for sale.
Make sure you understand this and read this clause on your contract carefully so you have no financial liability. Attrition rates vary widely among hotels, and many hotels bypass this but may have other ways of guaranteeing a particular number of bookings.
Cancellation Policy and Force Majeure
This is another clause in the contract you need to pay special attention to when blocking hotel rooms for a wedding. It’s in your best interest to be sure that the cancellation policy is very clear in your hotel contract.
It’s unlikely that your wedding will be canceled due to illness, acts of God, war, a hotel strike, or for personal reasons. However, you should know what you and your guests would be on the hook for financially if anything happened. While you’re going through this part of the planning process, it may also be worth looking into wedding insurance.