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Wedding night lodging tips for family and friends

The Comfort Inn in Bay City is located at 501 Saginaw Street. (Photo courtesy of Comfort Inn)

BAY CITY, Mich. – Setting up a block of rooms at a nearby hotel can be the easiest part of your wedding planning… next to saying “I do”. Making sure lodging is available for your family and friends who will be attending your wedding is one of the simplest components of your wedding day, says Shari Tiede, Director of Sales at Comfort Inn in Bay City.

First things first, don’t wait to book your block of rooms until you start getting RSVP’s back. It will be much more effective for you, your guests, and the hotel if you include an insert with your invitations outlining all the lodging details. “Your guests will have all the lodging information they need and won’t have to spend time searching for a room in a city they may not be familiar with,” says Tiede. Guests can complete their RSVP and immediately make lodging reservations as well. Many hotels will even personalize a URL so your guests can reserve their rooms with just a click.

Where to start…

  • Choose a hotel close to your church and reception site. “If they are not close together, choose a hotel close to the reception site since that is where everyone will be at the end of the day,” says Tiede.
  • Call and speak with the sales department or the person who handles “group room blocks”, typically 10 or more rooms. Hotels like Comfort Inn can help schedule an appointment to discuss your needs and set up a tour of the hotel.

Make sure you set aside enough rooms for out of town guests. Typically, ten to 15 rooms is a good starting point for a wedding of 150 to 200 people. But if you have lots of family and friends travelling from out of town, that number will be higher. If you anticipate guests from farther away arriving a day earlier, you can request a smaller number of rooms for the night before the wedding. Tiede suggests asking the hotel to provide a mix of double and king rooms so your guests will be able to request the type of room that is appropriate for them.

The hotel will try to keep your rooms close together, but that may not always be possible due to the type of room requested by your guests or layout of the hotel.

Questions to ask the hotel…

  • “Is there any financial obligation on my part?” This will vary for each hotel. Typically, it’s based on the number of rooms you are requesting. If your block of rooms is filled, hotels usually can add more rooms if needed.
  • “Will the group rate be available if wedding guests come in a day early or depart a day or two later?”
  • “What is the discounted wedding rate?”
  • “What is the cut-off date?” This is the last day the group rate will be available. Unreserved rooms will not be held beyond this date.
  • “Are there any complimentary upgrades or a suite available for the bride and groom?”
  • “Is the hotel shuttle available to bring wedding guests to and from the reception site?” If there is not a shuttle available, you should consider arrangements for guests who have been drinking. Do not let your friends and family drink and drive.

Request that everything be put in writing so there are no misunderstandings.

Many couples will put together “welcome bags” for their out-of-town guests to give them suggestions of things to see and do or favorite restaurants. The bags typically also include an itinerary for the weekend and any additional information the bride and groom feel will be helpful. “If you are doing this,” says Tiede, “please let the hotel know in advance. Don’t just show up with them a couple days before the wedding. The hotel will need to make sure they have a storage area and a plan for distributing the bags.”

While it may seem like a lot, booking your hotel can typically be accomplished within a day or so. That will give you more time to relax and enjoy your special day.

The Comfort Inn in Bay City is located at 501 Saginaw Street.

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