Lucky for visitors and wedding guests alike, there are many hotels in the Washington DC area. This post has everything you need to know about securing a block of hotel rooms for your wedding guests. The Washington DC area is a tourist destination, as we all know, and therefore weddings in this area tend to have more out of town guests than most areas. Why not make a mini vacation out of it, right!? But, with out of town guests, comes a need for hotels. There are just a few things unique to the DC area that you need to know before you get stuck playing travel guide to your guests! We have local DC area wedding planner, Sara, owner of Bella Notte, here to give us the scoop on blocking hotel rooms for your guest. She is giving us everything you need to know and then some! Take it away, Sara…
Photo Credit: Theresa Choi Photography at The Westin Georgetown
The Washington, DC area is a great place to be married! But, with special events, conferences and tourism going on all year round throughout the region there are a few locally specific things that you need to know about blocking hotel rooms for your wedding guests.
The purpose in block hotel rooms for your guests is to provide a convenient lodging option for your guests. Guests can stay overnight at a hotel knowing that the hotel is close to your wedding ceremony or reception site. If you are providing transportation to and from the hotel, or hosting additional wedding weekend events, a hotel that you have a room block at will serve as a great hub. While arranging hotel room blocks for your wedding guests is not required, it can be exceedingly helpful for your guests, particularly since many guests travel to DC weddings from out of town may not have visited before.
What is a Block
Most hotels in the Washington DC area will allow you to “block” or reserve a set number of hotel rooms at a special rate. Your guests will have to call to book their own hotel room and mention your block information to take advantage of the special rate. The special rates vary by hotel and by season.
When to Secure
When securing rooms for your guests, it is ideal to set the room blocks as early as possible. This is typically anywhere from nine to 14 months before your wedding date.
Number and Location
It is ideal to block rooms at two to three different hotels that are in different price points. You will need to analyze your guest list and try to determine how many guests will need to reserve rooms. Ideally, the hotels should be convenient in location to either your wedding ceremony and/or reception site. You want to make sure that you have options that are financially reasonable for your guests, so you should use your guest list to determine what price points will work best for your guests. I often recommend a high end option, a mid-range option, and a budget option.
How to Block
When you set up a room block, you should call the hotel and ask to speak to the sales office regarding a “social room block.” Most hotels in the Washington DC area will offer you a “courtesy” room block option. This means that you will get a contract to sign, indicating the number of rooms the hotel will hold for you and the rates, but the hotel won’t hold you financially responsible for rooms in the block that are not booked. Most hotels will offer courtesy blocks of 10 to 20 rooms.
Some hotels may ask you to sign a contract with an “attrition” clause. This is common in corporate and conference room block contracts, but attrition clauses are rarely used in weddings. However, if you want to block a large number of rooms, say 45 to 60 rooms, and you are confident that your guests will book all of the rooms, you may opt to sign a contract with an attrition clause. In this case, if your guests do not reserve a certain percentage of rooms within your block, you will be financially responsible for some or all of the outstanding rooms. While I do not recommend room blocks with an attrition clause for weddings, if you do opt for one read your contract very carefully and make sure you fully understand it before you sign it. (Hopefully you’re doing this with all of your wedding contracts too!)
Most hotel room block contracts will have an expiration date that is about a month before the wedding date. This means that the rooms that are not reserved within your block will be released to the general public on that date. When you get your hotel room blocks secured, it is important to get the information out to your wedding guests and encourage them to book their hotel rooms earlier, rather than later. If your guests fill up your room block early, this allows you time to add additional rooms to your contract, assuming the hotel has availability.
Room blocks are a wonderful convenience for out of town wedding guests that many guests really appreciate. Keep in mind, however, that if your guests stay at a different hotel outside of your room block, that’s fine! Some people will always book their rooms based on their own personal preferences. More importantly, if a guest waits until after the room block expiration date has passed to secure their room (and someone will, I promise you!) and the guest is unable to get a room, or to secure the special rate, remember that resolving that issue isn’t your responsibility. If you’ve established a room block and provided that information to your guests, you’ve done everything you need to do. The final booking of a hotel room is your guest’s responsibility.
Who is ready to book a hotel?? Thank you so much, Sara! If you are looking for a wedding planner in the Washington DC area, please be sure to check out Bella Notte.
For more on how to take care of your out of town guests, you can read this post on tips for out of town bags for Washington DC weddings or get one of these cool welcome to DC stamps for your bags! You can also find loads of DC area specific wedding planning advice and browse for the best DC area wedding vendors.