Inviting all your friends and family to share in your big day is an exciting thought, but when it comes to the logistics of booking a hotel block for a wedding, things can get stressful fast. How early should you start planning accommodations? Are wedding Airbnbs something you’d want to consider? Exactly what should you look for in terms of transportation to and from your wedding ceremony and reception?
Below, a professional wedding planner and a newlywed reveal their secrets to booking a wedding hotel block, what to ask when vetting potential hoteliers, and how early you should actually hunt for lodging to make things easier on your guests — and yourself. Plus, they reveal their tips for booking transportation for the day of your wedding that’ll save you money and the hassle of over-planning.
When Should You Actually Plan The Hotel Block & Transportation?
“It’s an easy thing to do and offers peace of mind for family members eager to book,” Dunn says. “I recommend two hotel blocks: one at a standard, familiar, hotel chain that is affordable for guests traveling to the area; the second, if you want to offer a boutique or more curated option that reflects you as a couple or the city you’re getting married in.”
When booking a hotel block, Dunn says to always ask about upgrades, available transportation, if any, welcome baskets, included breakfast, discounted group rates, and whether or not the hotel can extend the book-through date.
Once the hotel blocks are booked, then you can focus on transportation for your guests. “For transportation, the timing can be a bit trickier as you need to have a bit more of your timeline figured out,” Dunn says. “The earlier the better, but about three months out is usually a safe bet as you need to take into account how many guests will need [transportation] and where they are staying.”
Of course, if you’re looking for something other than a traditional hotel, Dunn says you can scout Airbnbs to accommodate your guests. Most importantly, when booking a hotel block for a wedding, Dunn says it’s important to remember your guests’ expenses.
“Offer variety so they don’t feel put out,” Dunn says. “Offer a place that includes breakfast or is close to the venue or other fun options for their trip.”
How It Worked IRL
Danielle, 27, hosted her recent wedding in New Jersey with 214 guests. She booked room blocks at two different hotels with shuttle service from each. She says this was the only part of wedding planning that didn’t stress her out.
“It felt like the one thing where I had zero control,” she says. “I did my part and got the room blocks and reserved the transportation, but it was on my guests to book and make sure they were ready for the shuttles on time.”
That being said, Danielle suggests telling your immediate family and bridal party to book their rooms as soon as you have the wedding block saved. “Send an email to everyone with the details, even if it's months before invitations go out,” she says. “This way everyone has the opportunity to secure their rooms. Then, once they’re all locked in, don’t be afraid to nudge your other guests.”
In addition to kindly reminding guests to book their rooms, Danielle had welcome boxes ready in every guest room that included a timeline of the day. It included a reminder of when the shuttles would leave for the wedding, so no one was late or left behind.
As for the one thing she says to avoid, it’s to not get caught up in wanting your guests in a fancy hotel. “Weddings are expensive all around, even for guests. The last thing you want is for a guest to be overwhelmed at what it is going to cost them to be at your wedding instead of getting to be present and enjoy the weekend.”
The Best Hacks To Cut the Hassle
While booking hotel blocks for weddings and coordinating transportation should be relatively painless, Dunn has a few tricks to help cut the hassle overall. Her secret? Work with a travel planner.
“The travel agent doesn’t charge; they get paid [by] the hotel, so it’s a super easy task to outsource,” Dunn said. “They are usually able to get you bonus perks or upgrades due to their relationship with the hotel and transportation companies.”
It’s also a good idea to ask if the hotel has a partnership with a transportation company. This is Dunn’s preferred way to cut added stress as this company would have some familiarity with the travel, timing, and people working, which she calls an “added bonus.”
Willa Dunn, wedding planner and owner of Wild Heights Events