Whether you’re having a full-on destination wedding, a ceremony and reception in different locations, or you’re getting married just a few hours away from your home, you’ll want to have a plan in place for accommodations. There are lots of things to consider when planning where you’ll guests will stay and you will LOVE hearing some expert advice from Sarah Carroll at Small Shindigs. In this post you’ll find what to look for when choosing accommodations, transportation logistics and ideas for tokens of appreciation.
Important Items to Consider
This may seem obvious, but it’s one of the most important factors! Before you drive yourself crazy with googling, you should start by asking your venue for recommendations. Typically, venues will have a list of hotels they send to clients regularly. If you’re not in a saturated city where hotels might be within walking distance, try to choose ones that are under a 30 minute ride away.
I like to recommend two options for types of hotels—luxury and modest. Some guests will treat a wedding as a special occasion/reason to splurge and opt for a nicer hotel. Others will be happy to have a place to rest, but not care as much what their digs look like.
Once you figure out which hotels you’re most interested in, reach out to the sales manager (you can often find this information on the hotel website) and ask for rates and room block options for your date range. Room blocks work differently at each hotel, so don’t assume the information you get from one place is the same across the board. Sometimes, a hotel requires that you either put a deposit down or a credit card, and they will charge you for any unbooked rooms. Other hotels will block a set number of rooms to begin with and then open up another set if those all get booked (availability permitting). The hotels that don’t hold you financially responsible will give you a contract to sign stating any unbooked rooms will be let go by a certain date.
An advantage of doing a room block (aside from giving your guests a discount), is you’ll get a list of booked guests from the hotel. This makes it easy later when working on things like transportation and welcome bags.
Encourage your guests to book early by putting the information on your wedding website.
Looking at amenities outside the room could be important depending on your location. For example, if you are asking guests to stay in a more remote area, you’ll want to make sure you book a hotel with things for guests to do like a pool, spa or game room.
It’s also a good idea to ask about event space. If the majority of your guests are staying in one place, it might make sense to hold your rehearsal dinner there. They may even offer you a discount for booking both an event and a room block.
The types of transportation available to you will be dependent on your location. If you’re in a major metro area, guests may be able to walk, take public transportation, or get a ride share.
If you aren’t securing a shuttle, that doesn’t mean you can’t cover your guests’ transportation costs! If you’re in NYC, consider providing subway cards for everyone. Both Lyft and Uber have programs where you can create a unique code and essentially open a tab so that everyone gets their rides for free (or heavily discounted).
For the shuttle route, look at all your options (buses, vans, limos) before making a decision as prices vary greatly!
When shuttles are necessary, make sure you speak with the hotel first. Some hotels have restrictions as far as the size of vehicle that can fit, or instructions for where they should park and wait. The hotel will often help you by putting your shuttle schedule on their front desk for guests to see.
Figuring out shuttle timing is one of the trickiest parts of wedding planning. It becomes more complicated when you have multiple shuttles, or one shuttle that has to make multiple trips. Here are some tips to help you plan accurately:
-Factor in 15 minutes of loading time
-Factor in traffic, so add another 10-15 minutes on to the driving time (if the distance is super short, this may not be necessary)
-Estimate 5-10 minutes for unloading (it could be on the higher end if you have folks who need assistance)
-Work backwards—when do you need the last shuttle to arrive?
-If you’re booking two shuttles, stagger the times they will leave by 15-20 minutes.
-Make sure your venue can accommodate those that arrive on the first shuttle. Nothing is worse than a group of people having to stand around not knowing where to go!
-Have an early and a late shuttle for the end of the evening. This is especially important if you’ll be having your after party at the same location—you’ll want to give people the option of leaving earlier.
-If you do not have a wedding planner, it’s important that you designate someone to be the drivers’ point of contact. This should not be you on your wedding day!
Tokens of Appreciation
Welcome bags are a great accessory to give your out-of-town guests. Aside from snacks and treats, it’s a way to provide important information about the weekend. You can include an itinerary, along with suggestions of places to eat and sights to see during down time.
Pre or Post Wedding Gatherings
Gatherings do not have to be in the form of formal rehearsal dinners or brunches. If you and your S.O. love the outdoors, organize a group hike. If you’re staying somewhere with warm weather, perhaps you can all rent canoes or tubes and picnic by the water. Additional time spent with you will be so appreciated by your guests and it’s a great way to make them feel extra special.
Putting together a Spotify playlist for your guests to download before they travel is a great way to get everyone excited! You can even ask your guests to request one song when they send their RSVP and surprise them by adding it to the playlist.
Thanks Sarah for sharing Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Guest Accommodations!