Of all the questions I receive, the most often relate to money. That’s certainly understandable if you consider the expenses involved in planning a wedding. All too often prospective brides get lost in the process, and that’s when parents start to sweat. (I’ve been there, so I know how things can snowball and really get out of hand.) To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, sometimes you just have to put on the brakes, step back, and breathe.
Bradley asks: “Our daughter is getting married in a private community setting where we have to purchase all of the guest accommodations as a package. Are we responsible for everyone’s lodging? Or can we enclose, with the invitations, the option to purchase a limited number of on-site accommodations? Please advise… it seems the expenses are becoming overly excessive!”
Dear Bradley: This is one of those financial details that can be a bit awkward and/or expensive. I’ll begin by saying that, categorically, you do not have to pay for the accommodations for your guests. The usual procedure with most hotels is for them to set aside (i.e. block) rooms for you; they’ll take your credit card number (but not process it). By a certain date, you’ll either have to “pay” for those rooms (your guests will need to take them), or the hotel will release them for sale.
First, ask your immediate family and close friends if they’re staying at the hotel. If so, tell them to contact the hotel, ask for your “block” of reserved rooms, and switch from your credit card number to theirs.
Inside the invitation, you can include a card that “offers” accommodations; usually it’ll list instructions for the guest to call the hotel and ask for the “Smith Wedding,” for instance. The person at the hotel’s front desk asks the caller for a credit card number, and the hotel will change the booking from your card to the guests. In order for your guests to move on this quickly, you can indicate the date on which the block will be released. Guests who don’t act on reserving a room will have to find their own accommodations.
You can also pay for a minimal number of rooms and then, when the guests arrive at the hotel for the wedding, the hotel will do the credit card switch. Whatever rooms you had blocked that don’t get transferred to guests will be your responsibility to pay.
From your note, it seems that the hotel insisted you pay for the rooms in advance. If that’s the case, talk to the hotel manager and make sure that when guests arrive, the desk clerk confirms that they’re booking a room for the “Smith Wedding.” Guests will be asked for their credit card number, and you can get a credit back on your card.
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