Hey brides, we hear you, planning an Orlando destination wedding and pleasing all of your diverse family members and wedding guests is tough!
Chances are this is your first time organizing such a HUGE event, if so, there are many, many things you'll learn along the way.
Shameless plug alert: We'd LOVE to work with you to lead you through all of the decisions, promise we'll make it fun, keep you on track, and manage every detail, staying organized along the way!
Once you book your venue and set your date, it's time to start a wedding website and take care of some basic accommodations for your wedding guests!
Two Types of Room Blocks: Closed vs. Open
Closed room blocks aka Guaranteed room blocks:
Attrition penalty (you're charged for a percentage of the hotel rooms that are left unbooked in your block), this fee is applied on your booking cutoff date.
Rooms that aren't booked by the cutoff date become the host's responsibility. Your attrition rate (usually 80-90%) refers to the percentage of rooms that must be filled in order to avoid paying the penalty fee.
An easy way to remember this type is that you are guaranteeing that the hotel will get paid for those rooms, because if they aren't filled by your guests, you're still paying a fee per room.
Open room blocks aka Courtesy room blocks:
No deposit required.
You will not be held financially responsible for any unbooked rooms.
Typically you'll have a cutoff point for this type of block (usually 30-90 days out, depending on the hotel).
Rooms that aren't booked by the cutoff date will be released to the public, so you'll want to make sure you're communicating the accommodation information with your guests via a wedding website and word of mouth well before you send your invitations.
When should you block?
Consider the time of year and location. Is your wedding in the summer by the beach, in New England during prime fall foliage, or a holiday weekend? If it is a popular time for travel, then book early and if you have many out of town guests on your guest list, book a block when you book your Orlando wedding venue!
Do your research
If there are quite a few hotels in the area, we suggest choosing 1-3 hotels, to cover a variety of price points. Also, consider:
Additional fees and parking beyond the group rate (taxes, parking fees, etc).
Checkin and out times (Are they conflicting to your wedding times?). Minimum length of stay.
On site bar or restaurant (For your rehearsal dinner or a fun meet & greet social hour!).
Amenities (shuttle service, breakfast, fitness center, pool).
Bonus points if it offers transportation to your Orlando wedding venue.
How can you add on additional rooms? When is the cutoff time to do so?
Is there a minimum or the maximum number of rooms for either type of block (open or closed)?
Welcome bag delivery, is there a fee?
Any perks such as a free room if you book a certain number in your block?
After party availability & options.
Post-wedding Brunch availability & options.
When should guests book?
With an open room block cutoff dates are applied, so make sure your guests book sooner than later! Sending your invitations out at the 6-8 week mark, makes for guest reservations taking place a month out... the same time as the cutoff. The key is to communicate to your family and friends about your block early in the planning process (Save The Dates can lead your guests straight to your wedding website)! If your wedding is here, an Orlando destination wedding, some guests might still book outside of your block if they're coming early or staying late to visit the theme parks.
Spreading the word
Your wedding website is the first place to start when getting the word out about your hotel block. We also recommend including accommodation information in an insert in your wedding invitations (Please note, not on the main invitation itself!). Especially if your wedding is an Orlando destination wedding where guests aren't familiar with the area, include transportation suggestions from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel to the venue. You'll also want to make sure you're letting your guests know if transportation to your wedding will be provided from the hotels, adding this amenity will encourage and reward your guests for booking at your preferred hotels.
Our Blue Ribbon suggested wording: A block of standard rooms and suites have been set aside for our wedding guests at XZY Resort. We'll be providing transportation from the hotel to the wedding venue and back for all guests who chose to stay at this resort, so while it's not required, it's encouraged (and rewarded)! They are oering us Standard Guest Rooms for $ and Suites for $$. Reserve your room by calling the group booking line (123-123-1234) by x date and ask for rooms in the Bride's Name-Groom's Name wedding block! This rate expires on x date, so we encourage booking as soon as possible!
Keep your guests informed upon checkin with a welcome letter, or welcome bag. Additional information about transportation details or timeline of wedding festivities should be included, and even left at the front desk for your guests to be in the know.
Things to do: As your Orlando wedding planners and lovers of all the small businesses and local restaurants Orlando has to offer, we can make suggestions of attractions, shopping districts, etc to add to your website to keep your guests entertained and exploring outside of the tourist traps ;)
Need more help?
Skipper and Hotel Planner are two websites that can assist you with the hotel hunt, doing the research for you! Beware of websites like Expedia and other third party service sites. If guests book through a third party, rather than directly through the hotel there's no guarantee your guests will receive the group rate or be accounted for in your block.
As Orlando Wedding Planners, we're very familiar with area hotels, let us help too!
Whether your wedding is in Central Florida or beyond, we have connections with all of the best hotel brands and some great boutique hotels as well. We include hotel research and block negotiation in our Sapphire Full Design & Planning package and can add this service on to any of our custom planning packages!