As a Hudson Valley and Catskills wedding planner, my specialty is what I call the “mini destination” wedding. A lot of our couples (and their guests) come from New York City and the surrounding areas. So, while we’re not arranging destination weddings to the likes of Mexico, Italy or other international destinations, most of our couples are bringing their guests for a great wedding weekend experience upstate.
Because of this, one of my couple’s primary concerns when planning their weddings is lodging. Where will their guests stay? Can some (or all) of their guests stay at their wedding venue? Are there enough options in varying price points? How far away from the wedding venue will the guests have to stay?
I know that this is a concern for a lot of you, too, so here are my best tips and tricks for securing room blocks and lodging for your wedding weekend.
STEP ONE – Make Your Guest List
- How many guests are you expecting to invite;
- How many of those guests will be local to where the wedding is happening.
Before you do anything else, you need to know 2 things:
First, we need to calculate how many guests may need overnight accommodations, which we’ll get by subtracting the number of local wedding guests from the total number of guests you’re inviting. For example, let’s assume that you’re planning to invite 200 people, and 20 of those people live locally. That would leave 180 guests needing overnight accommodations.
STEP TWO – DETERMINE HOW MANY ROOMS YOU NEED
Let’s take those 180 guests who would need lodging, and determine how many rooms that would be, assuming double occupancy in a room. That gives us 90 rooms needed for your guests.
At a minimum, I recommend that you block or reserve enough rooms for 50% of your guests’ needs at double occupancy. In this case, we’d be looking at a minimum of 45 rooms. However, depending on the location of your wedding, you may want to secure more. For example, if I have a client getting married near Hudson, NY (where I know there is a limited number of hotel rooms available, especially during popular seasons like summer and fall), I’ll recommend that they aim to block/reserve rooms for 75% of their anticipated total room needs.
STEP THREE – VENUE SELECTION
If you have yet to choose your wedding venue, you’ll want to consider availability of hotel rooms onsite and nearby when you’re deciding what venue is the best fit for you.
When I’m scouting venues for my couples, two data points that I am ALWAYS including in my search are: 1) how many rooms there are at the venue where guests can stay and b) how many hotels there are/number of rooms near the venue.
For example, let’s say you find a great venue that checks off almost all of your boxes – the rental price is right and you love how it looks. But then as you do more research you discover that there are only 4 rooms available for guests to stay onsite, and the nearest selection of hotels with rooms available is an hour away. That might make you rethink your venue choice in favor of a spot where lodging is more readily available.
STEP FOUR – LODGING VARIETY
If it’s possible to do, I recommend that couples provide their guests with several “tiers” and types of lodging experiences. I mean this in two ways:
First, if it’s possible, try to arrange for both 2-night lodging experiences and 1-night lodging experiences. In the Hudson Valley and Catskills this can sometimes be hard to come by, but when you have guests who are traveling, but from not that far away, some may appreciate the ability to stay in the area of your wedding for just the night of the event. Others may choose to make a weekend getaway of it, but it’s a nice gesture to give your guests options so they can choose what suits them best.
Second, I recommend having multiple price range tiers for the rooms that are blocked. For example, if your wedding is taking place at a more luxurious resort where the room rates onsite are pricey, I would recommend arranging for a block of rooms at a nearby chain hotel (like a Courtyard Marriott or Holiday Inn Express) where the room rates might be more affordable.
STEP FIVE – CUT OFF DATES + FINE PRINT
As you are arranging hotel blocks for your guests, read the fine print of the contracts you are signing. Two items you should be looking for in these contracts are:
- When is the cut off date for the block? In other words, at what date do any unbooked rooms in your block get released back to the public for booking?
- Booking guarantee – some hotels will require that you guarantee the booking of some (or all) of the rooms in a block. Be sure to under stand what your responsibility is, if any.
STEP SIX – LET YOUR GUESTS KNOW
The best way to let your guests know where to book hotel rooms? Your wedding website! Be sure to load this up with the different hotel options, average room rate/night, the cut off date for the block and how to book a room in your block. Some hotels will provide a special link, and others will need your guests to call or email the hotel directly and mention your names. Leave as clear instructions as possible on your site.
Also, if you are getting married in a popular spot, encourage your guests to make their reservations early.
I hope this list will help guide you as you reserve rooms for your guests for your wedding weekend!