How to Block Out Hotel Rooms for Your Wedding
A wedding hotel room block, also known as ‘blocking out’ or ‘block booking’ hotel rooms, refers to the act of reserving a large number of hotel rooms for your wedding guests to use – usually the night before or after the wedding (or both). These rooms can either be at your wedding venue itself (if it offers accommodation), or at a nearby hotel.
Almost all hotels will offer you a discount if you reserve more than 10 rooms. The precise discount will vary from place to place. Some will only offer a 5% markdown, whereas others may reduce the room rate by up to 50%. Usually, you can also barter, to try and knock a bit more off the price.
If all of your wedding guests live nearby, you may not need to arrange accommodation. But if you’ve having a destination wedding, or many of your guests are from out of town, reserving a hotel room block can be very useful. Our guide will talk you through exactly how to do it.
Who Pays for Hotel Rooms at a Wedding?
Usually, the bride and groom are only expected to pay for their own hotel room. However, some couples also opt to cover the cost of accommodation for their wedding party – such as the bridesmaids and best man.
Whether you do this is up to you. But if you’re asking them to stay in the hotel (so they can get ready with you in the morning, for example) then you should pay. If you don’t offer to pay, you should give them the option of getting ready at home (or coming to the hotel on the morning of the wedding).
Guests who aren’t in the wedding party typically pay for their own accommodation. But if you organise a hotel room block, they should be able to get a discount. All they’ll need to do is phone up and mention your wedding when they book.
When Should You Block Out Hotel Rooms for a Wedding?
At this point, you may be wondering: how early can I (or should I) reserve a hotel room block? Generally speaking, the earlier you do this, the better. Some hotels can become fully booked quite quickly – especially if:
● The hotel is in a popular location (such as a big city, or a tourist hotspot)
● The hotel has another event going on around the time of your wedding (a conference, for example)
● You’re getting married at a busy time for the hotel industry (during the summer, or on a Saturday at any time of year)
But if you book your rooms too early, you might be jumping the gun. Don’t try to book a block of rooms until you have a general idea of how many guests are coming, and how many of them will need accommodation. You don’t want to accidentally reserve too few rooms, but you may face a fee if you over-book and not enough rooms are taken.
If possible, try to get the ball rolling around 8 months before your wedding, and absolutely no later than 3 months in advance.
How to Reserve a Hotel Room Block
So, how do you actually go about blocking out hotel rooms for your wedding? It can be a little confusing, but this step-by-step guide will talk you through the entire process from start to finish.
1) Research Hotels in Your Area
First off, you’ll need to do some research as to the accommodation situation in the place where you’re getting married. Have a good look at all the hotels in the area, and focus on the ones closest to your venue.
Ideally, the hotels you choose for your room block should be within walking distance of your ceremony venue. This is to accommodate guests that can’t drive (or won’t have their cars with them), and is particularly important if you’re marrying somewhere with unreliable public transport. If there aren’t any within walking distance, choose hotels that are no more than a 30 minute drive from your venue. Find out how many rooms they each have and a rough price range.
2) Get a Rough Idea of Guest Numbers
Next, make a list of all your wedding guests that will potentially need to arrange accommodation. This may be easy or difficult depending on where you’re getting married, and how many of your guests are travelling! The best way is to telephone each guest and ask them whether they’ll need a room.
The good news is that you only have to provide the hotel with a rough estimate of the rooms you’ll need. At this stage, the number of rooms doesn’t need to be exact. If you are unsure of the number, it’s best to slightly overestimate.
3) Select Hotels for Different Budgets
It’s unwise to block out rooms at only one hotel. This is because some of your guests may have different financial situations to one another. Some people might prefer to stay in a swanky suite, whereas others might have a stricter budget and need more affordable accommodation.
Ideally, pick 2 hotels, each at a slightly different price point. You should choose a maximum of 3 – any more than that and you might struggle to fill up all your room blocks, and be hit with fees if many of the rooms are left unbooked. You also don’t want to confuse your guests by overwhelming them with choice.
4) Request Information
Contact each hotel directly and ask them whether they have a policy in place for mass booking hotel rooms for events. Even if they don’t, they should be willing to work with you once they understand what you’re asking for. Ask them what kind of discount they’re able to offer. It will likely be between 15 and 40%.
Some hotels will also match prices with their competitors. So, ask around and find the best rate, and see if your preferred hotels are willing to budge. Bigger chains are usually less willing to cooperate than independent hotels. You’ll also get a better deal at unpopular times – at peak season, they’ll be less eager for your custom.
5) Negotiate the Contract
Once you’ve agreed on a discount, discuss the contract. Questions you’ll want to ask include:
● What’s the minimum and maximum number of rooms I can reserve at the discounted price?
● What happens with unbooked rooms, if I overestimate how many I’ll need? (Most contracts will have an ‘attrition clause’ that allows for a certain number of rooms to go unbooked without you having to pay.)
● If I underestimate the number of rooms required, will I be able to increase the block size at a later date?
● What are the check in and check out times? (If your guests will be checking in on your wedding day, ensure they’ll have enough time to get changed and travel to your venue.)
● What is the cut-off date – the latest date that my guests can book their rooms? (It’s usually 21 to 60 days prior to the check in date.)
It’s also a good idea to find out their cancellation policy, just in case. When you’re happy, you can go ahead and book.
6) Inform Your Guests
Once you have reserved your rooms at your chosen hotel(s), you now have to inform your guests. You have a few ways of doing this. The most popular is to include a note card along with each wedding invitations. This card should contain the name, address and telephone number of each hotel, along with the room price. Make sure to tell guests to mention your wedding when booking, so they’ll be offered the discount rate.
Alternatively, you could have an accommodation information page on your wedding website. Just include a link to your site on each wedding invitation, so your guests know where to go.
7) Remind Guests Before the Wedding
As the room booking cut-off date approaches, you should find out how many rooms have been booked and which guests have neglected to do so. Chances are, some of them will forget, or choose to go with a different hotel and not tell you.
First, phone the hotel to ask how many rooms have been booked in your block. If they’ve all been booked, that’s great. But if there are some left over, it’s time to get phoning your guests. Give everyone a courtesy call to ask them if they’ve booked their room yet. If they haven’t, but they still plan to, remind them of the cutoff date.
If you realise you’ll need fewer rooms than you originally thought, call the hotel and tell them your new estimate. That way, they can free up the rooms that you won’t need, and you won’t be charged a fee for unused rooms.