Accomodations<br><a href= target=_blank>Alina McGinty</a>

As I’ve flipped through wedding magazines and scrolled endlessly through bridal blogs over the last few months, those ubiquitous “wedding checklists” have mostly been in agreement about what to do and when.

One exception: blocking hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. One site recommended completing this crucial task 2-3 months before the big day. Most of the others, including Seacoast Weddings, Brides and Real Simple, suggest a safer window of 6-9 months.

My bride brain apparently locked onto the procrastination-friendly 2-3 month timetable, probably because I’ve been overloaded with other, more pressing wedding day details. You know, like pinning super-cute paper poms on Etsy to Pinterest or scoping out wedding dresses for one of my lovely bridesmaids who just got engaged.  (I haven’t bought the poms yet, but I’m totally planning to. As my sister/MOH pointed out, “Jackie, pinning is not DOING.” Must. Prioritize.)

Curiously, I can’t seem to put my hands on the wedding website that recommended the 2-3 month window. I definitely didn’t imagine it though. Definitely…

So with four months to go until our wedding, I thought I was ahead of the game last week when I called around to hotels in downtown Portland to set aside 15 rooms for our guests. I phoned one hotel within easy walking distance of the reception site. Sorry, they told us, room blocks are all booked up that weekend.  Individual rooms are available, but there’s a two-night minimum.  (Our wedding is on Columbus Day weekend).

A second hotel was also sold out of room blocks, and required a three-night minimum on individual rooms. On the third try, we found a hotel still selling room blocks, but we had to reserve at least 20 rooms. That’s probably more than we’ll need, and if fewer than 20 rooms ultimately get booked, we have to foot the bill for the difference. We’ve decided to say “I Don’t” to that arrangement.

I’m now realizing that we should have planned much further ahead – we’re hosting our wedding in beautiful Portland, Maine on a holiday weekend in autumn. You know who did plan ahead? Those resourceful leaf peepers, who scooped up many of the room blocks in town. Too bad I didn’t heed the advice in that post, which I wrote, about booking extra early.

The other complicating factor is that downtown hotel rooms average about $250 a night for that weekend. With a two-night minimum, that means asking our guests to spend in the neighborhood of $500 to stay close to the reception site. That just won’t be in the budget for many people.

We’ve decided the best approach is to send out our invitations early to let guests know they’ll need to make room reservations soon. We’re planning to book 5 rooms in town for Nick and I and guests who wind up in a pinch, which we can cancel with a day’s notice at no charge. We’re also reserving 10 rooms at a hotel about 15 minutes from our reception site. It’s further away, but will free us of the two-night minimums and come in about $100 cheaper per room.

The last piece of the accommodations puzzle is likely renting a townhouse situated a short cab ride away for the wedding party. That option should be more affordable, and would also give us a sweet spot to hang out post-reception with less worry about any after-party raucousness.

After all, I don’t see “get busted by the cops for a noise complaint” on any of those wedding to-do lists.

Read the previous posts in Jackie’s wedding planning series:

The proposal

Will you be my maid?

Dress shopping

Engagement portraits

Torn between virtual planning tools

The food

Planning snags

Getting dressed

Posted in Inside Peek

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  1. Love and Lobster
    14/06/2012 at 11:57 am Permalink

    My wedding is at the end of September in Portsmouth. If my mom didn’t nag me about booking a block – our guests would not have rooms. I ended up booking a block in February. Trying to find in Downtown came with high price tags and conditions. Many of the cheaper options informed me they were full up for the weekend. Thankfully, the hotel I block I reserved for guests comes with shuttle service to Downtown and our wedding venue – no need for deposit or minimum stays. I booked my suite at a B&B shortly after to be sure I had a room for the weekend.