Your guide to making travel arrangements for long-distance guests

Whether you're getting married close to home or in a destination celebration, you're bound to have many guests traveling for the big day. Don't leave out-of-towners to fend for themselves. Before you suggest hotels or book a block of rooms, consider these six points to ensure the accommodations you select will work for everyone.

The minimum number of rooms needed.

Although guests will likely book their own rooms, you should try to get a rough idea of how many people will need a place to stay before you look into options. Some wedding venues include lodging-especially if you're tying the knot in a hotel or bed-and-breakfast-while others don't have any on-site accommodations. In either case, you'll need to have an idea of how many people will be staying the night before you can look into and discuss room rates and block options.

What kind of accommodations guests will want.

Are your guests looking to turn your wedding into an excuse for a vacation, or are guests traveling to your hometown just for the nuptials? Figure out what kind of accommodations your guests will likely want based on the area. If you're tying the knot somewhere tropical, you may want to look into resorts with beach and pool access. If you're getting married in a big city, finding affordable hotel options or coordinating Air B&B rentals between groups of guests might be a better bet.

If a hotel room block makes sense for you.

If you're tying the knot at a venue with a limited number of accommodations, these rooms will likely all be made available for your guests. With that said, on-site rooms are generally saved for the bride and groom, their parents, and wedding VIPs. For the rest of your guests, you'll want to look into a room block at a nearby hotel. Although some wedding attendees will choose to find their own place to stay, offering options (especially at a discounted rate) is seen as a thoughtful gesture.

Any special requests.

Do you envision welcome bags on each guest's pillow? Many hotels are willing to satisfy special requests-often for an additional price. Call ahead to plan the details, and if desired, try to negotiate the fee (which usually falls around $2-$4 per bag).

Check-in and check-out times.

Does your check-in time conflict with your ceremony start time? Consider finding other arrangements or negotiating an earlier check-in if so. If you're looking at private homes, discuss an earlier arrival time with the owner. No matter what, you want to give guests a few hours to comfortably unpack and get ready before reporting to your venue. Similarly, inquire about check-out times. If your guests will all be attending a post-wedding brunch, make sure your loved ones will have time to get ready before checking out.

The fine print.

If you're booking a block of hotel rooms or coordinate housing rentals, make sure you read your contracts closely. Closed hotel blocks guarantee a large number of rooms, but they often require a deposit, and the couple must pay (either partially or in full) for the rooms that aren't filled during the block time. Open hotel blocks offer more flexibility, but they generally allow only a handful of rooms to be reserved at once. No matter what kind of accommodations you're working on for guests, always ask about terms and conditions first, and make sure you understand the hotel or owner's policy on cancellations, deposits, late reservations, and other restrictions.


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