One of the best parts of a wedding is seeing all of your out of town guests you don’t visit often, but they will need a place to stay. As mundane as it may be, room blocks can be one of the most important bookings you will make for your guests. We’ve put together some tips to help make this task go as smooth as possible.

LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING

First of all, what is a room block? A room block is a group of rooms a hotel holds for your wedding guests, typically at a discounted rate. Guests are responsible for booking and paying for their rooms, while the couple is responsible for reserving the block.

START EARLY! 

The sooner you begin your hotel searches, the better chance in finding availability. Keep in mind any weekend events happening around St. Joe, as hotels will book much more quickly than a non- event weekends.

AVAILABILITY

Check hotel availability before booking your venue. All of the hotels near your venue are booked for your date? Try to have some date flexibility so you have plenty of hotel options. The last thing you want is to have no where for your guests to stay during your wedding weekend.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Keep in mind the distance between your wedding venue and the hotels you make room blocks at. Would you like to travel another 25 minutes to a wedding when you have already come in from out of town? Probably not and chances are your guests wouldn’t either. Safety also comes into play for returning to the hotel after the wedding. In short, the closer, the better.

ASK QUESTIONS

Contracts are typically required for reserving a room block, so always know what you are signing off on. Is there a minimum number of rooms you can block? Is there a maximum number you can block? Are there any fees for unbooked rooms? If not, how many rooms can go unbooked? What is the typical booking deadline before the unbooked rooms become available for regular hotel guests? Is there a deposit for making a room block? Are there any rules or restrictions regarding room blocks? What amenities does the hotel offer to guests? Does the hotel offer shuttle service for guests?

 

Last, but certainly not least, get everything in writing! If there is anything you discussed with the hotel, but is not explicitly stated in the contract, wait for an updated contract before signing anything.

START SMALL

Most couples have no idea on exactly how many rooms they should have in their room block, which can be frustrating. Begin by booking a small amount of rooms and add if needed, especially if there are any fees associated with unbooked rooms.

ROOM TYPE

Along with how many rooms to reserve, know your guest list to book appropriate types of rooms in your block. Think of how many families versus couples will be coming in from out of town.

KEEP COST IN MIND

One of the best options you have is to make room blocks at two to three hotels in different price ranges in the area for guests to choose from. This will help make accommodations accessible to (hopefully) all of your out of town guests. Along with this, look at the big picture. Including the room rate, are there any extra fees (parking, late check- out, etc.) that your guests may need?

 CHECK- IN TIMES

Don’t forget to keep check- in and check- out times in mind regarding other wedding weekend events. Guests will appreciate having some time before any festivities to check into their hotels and freshen up.

COMMUNICATE

You finally have your room blocks set, now tell your guests about them! Include hotel contact information and any specific instructions they will need to book from your room block.

Setting a date is one of the first steps in planning a wedding and it can be one of the most daunting. Trying to accommodate guests, while planning around your hectic schedule can be a feat in itself, so here are some tips to help you get started.

PERSONAL DATES

While you are concerned with guest schedule, always check for previous engagements on your own calendar. Many family events, reunions, graduations take place in the summer months, so make a list of personal dates to avoid. Think about any busy work seasons as well. Trust us, you don’t want to be preparing for your wedding in the middle of a hectic work schedule.

 

Along with this, ask yourselves if there are any meaningful dates you would like to book your wedding on or around, such as the date you and your fiancé first met or your grandparent’s wedding anniversary. If this is the case, then including this detail in your wedding will make your day even more special for both you and your guests.

HOLIDAY WEEKENDS

From Mother’s Day to Halloween, below are the 2018 holidays to keep in mind while planning your big day.

 

Mother’s Day Weekend: May 12-13

Memorial Day Weekend: May 26-28

Father’s Day Weekend: June 16-17

Fourth of July: Wednesday, July 4

Labor Day Weekend: September 1-3

Halloween: Wednesday, October 31

SPECIAL EVENTS

The summer months in Saint Joseph are packed with events, so we’ve compiled a list of events that will be taking place in downtown Saint Joe this upcoming 2018 summer.

 

BBQ, Blues, & Blue Grass: Saturday, May 19

Memorial Day Parade: Friday, May 25

2018 Senior PGA Championship: May 22- May 28

Fourth of July Fireworks

Krasl Art Fair: July 14-15

Mike Yore Memorial Car Show: Friday, July 20

Chalk the Block: August 3-5

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead: Sunday, August 12

6th Annual Fall Fest: Saturday, September 22

Roots & Brews: Saturday, September 22

 

Keep in mind that hotels book quickly for holiday and special event weekends in St. Joe, so make sure to check hotel availability before you book a date!

VENDORS

Vendor availability can drive a decision on your final wedding date. If you have a vendor in mind that you just have to have, start a conversation with them earlier rather than later, so you are on their radar. We suggest booking your must- have vendors before setting a final wedding date, which will ensure you the vendors of your choosing.

 

Budget can absolutely play a factor in choosing your wedding date in that pricing can differ between days of the week. If budget is a driving factor in choosing vendors, think about a Friday, Sunday, or even Thursday for your wedding date, as these typically book at lower rates than Saturdays.

There are so many opinions when it comes to the best way to plan a wedding, especially now with all of the Pinterest ideas at your fingertips. Pinterest is a super helpful tool to help you plan a wedding but it can also be an added stress to your long wedding to-do list. Here are some ups of planning a pinterest wedding:

POSITIVES:

Your options and inspiration guides are endless

If you are having any sort of design issue, you can quickly search for inspiration on pinterest, you will never run out of design ideas for your wedding.

You can easily share your ideas

Pinterest lets you share your boards with your family and friends, which gives them access to all of your dreams and visions for your big day. You are also given the option to give your friends access to pin to your board, if you choose, allowing for ultimate collaborating. This is also a great tool to use when collaborating with your vendors. As wedding planners, it is so helpful to be able to view someone’s vision of their wedding. Wedding Planners love to pin too, we love to help give our brides ideas and guidance!

Your one stop shop for weddings

 Most pins lead you directly to the website or give you ideas of where you can buy or how you can make the item you pinned. When you find your dream dress, it’ll take you to the shop who sells it, find a cute DIY escort card design, directions will be linked right there when you click on it.

Private vs Public Boards

Another great feature of pinterest is that you can choose to have your board be public or private. This is helpful, if you are pinning a lot and you do not want everyone to see all of your pins, choose the private setting, or if you want to share your planning and ideas you can make it public.

We all love pinterest and it comes in handy for a lot of different aspects in our everyday lives, but everyone has to admit there are some downsides. Here are some downsides to planning a pinterest wedding:

NEGATIVES:

Lacking Originality

Even though it feels like pinterest is filled with millions of new, creative, and original ideas, it is highly likely you will hear your female guests say “I have seen this on pinterest”. Pinterest trends tend to be seen over and over again.

Too many pins

As stated above, your options are endless, this can also be a bad thing. Sometimes when pinning ideas for your wedding, you can get a little over excited, pin 200 ideas in 20 minutes. Then you look back and become more stressed because now you have to narrow down all of your favorite pins to a realistic amount of crafting ideas that you and your wedding planner or bridal party can handle.

Planning a Pinterest wedding can be a great way to keep your ideas stored in one area and share them with others in your family or bridal party. Ideas can easily become overwhelming, so making sure that we are pinning only serious visions and ideas is the key to keeping your Pinterest wedding simple and easy.

More than likely the wedding weekend will be packed with to-do lists and last minute details, so brides and grooms may not be able to welcome all their guests as they arrive to town. If this is the case, then think about putting together welcome bags for those guests traveling in for the big day. I’ve put together a few of my hometown favorite welcome bags that will make guests feel at home.

LOCAL FLAIR

Southwestern Michigan has so many local treasures, so create a welcome bag that highlights some of the local favorites. Located in downtown St. Joe, Purely Michigan offers everything from food to handmade items from Michigan artisans. If food is your thing, then check out Jollay Orchard’s fresh fruit, Kilwins fudge, South Bend Chocolate Company’s popcorn, or olive oil from the Olive Cart. Of course, include a list of things to do and local attraction for your guests to enjoy during weekend downtime.

A BOTTLE OF WINE

Need I say more? A bottle of a local wine is a great way to welcome anyone into town. A few local favorites to try are 12 Corners Vineyards, Lazy Ballerina Winery, Dablon Winery & Vineyard, Tabor Hill Winery, and Round Barn Winery. Attach a thank you note and you have a wonderful welcome gift!

A SWEET TREAT

Keep it short and sweet and give guests a box of local chocolates or baked goods. Southbend Chocolate Factory and Kilwins are great go-to’s for a sweet treat.

BEACH BAG

One of the biggest draws to southwest Michigan is, of course, Lake Michigan. Throw together a welcome bag full of beach essentials, such as sunscreen, bottles of water, and sunglasses, even if your ceremony won’t be on the beach! The beach is a great activity for any down time during the weekend as well.

SURVIVAL KIT

It is going to be a long weekend, so make sure guests have everything they need. Water, snacks, ibuprofen, band aids, toothpicks, and granola bars come in handier than you think!

A LITTLE R&R

Pack a bag full of items for your guests to relax with. Include a “Do Not Disturb” sign to hang on their door, a candle, some bubbly, and chocolate. With such a busy weekend, everyone will appreciate a little comfort.

HONEYMOON SUITE

Create a welcome bag with specialties from the couples’ honeymoon destination. Whether it is Cape Cod potato chips and Nantucket Nectar or a couple of Florida oranges, guests will be able to feel like they are you (without actually being with you) long after the wedding weekend ends.

HIS & HER BAG

Fill a bag (or a box!) with a few of the happy couple’s favorite things. Whether they are local favorites or maybe an activity they like to do together, guests will appreciate anything that is special to the couple. Add a list of local spots the couple loves to visit as well!

Wedding welcome bags will make guests feel greeted and they are a nice thank you for sharing an unforgettable weekend. Whichever kind of welcome you choose, always be sure to include a thank you and an itinerary for the weekend’s activities.

Between the hair appointments, travel, and keeping to the timeline, mishaps can very well happen, so make sure you are prepared with these bridal suite essentials. Does anyone really want to run out to the store for hairspray? Doubtful.  One safety pin can save the day. Hopefully this handy little kit won’t be needed, but just in case it is, here are some bridal suite essentials to keep on hand throughout your big day.

WATER, WATER, WATER

It is so easy to forget to stay hydrated with all the excitement on your big day! Make sure to have plenty of water on hand throughout the day, so none of the gals (or guys!) get dehydrated. Encourage everyone to bring a water bottle with them, but have extras just in case. Small bottles are the perfect size for a quick drink.

SNACKS

Just like staying hydrated, make sure everyone has at least a little something to eat throughout the day. No one wants a sugar-low in the middle of the ceremony. Stock your suite with quick, no-mess snacks that people can grab and go.

FIRST AID KIT

Blisters are inevitable. Whether it is the shoes, dress, or a stray pin, it is always better to have Band-Aids, antiseptic, ibuprofen, tweezers, and antibiotic ointment on hand just in case.

SEWING KIT

Wardrobe malfunctions do happen and the last thing anyone wants is a stray bra strap sticking out or a pantyhose run. Keep basic sewing items on hand for when you need to make things work. Thread, needles, buttons, safety pins, clear nail polish, stain-remover, and fashion tape are essential.

HAIR ESSENTIALS

A little hairspray can fix almost anything (right?!), so put together a hair essentials kit and add bobby pins, clear hair elastics, a curling iron, and a brush. You can never have too many of these items.

EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS

Bring some of those everyday essentials that you may not think about until you are in a moment of need. Lint rollers, feminine products, baby powder, deodorant, lotion, and mints are items we really don’t give a second thought about, but are important things to always have.

PHONE CHARGERS

Phone batteries will run low early in the day, so bring a few extra chargers along for those important last-minute phone calls and must-have photo moments.

TISSUES

For, of course, those happy tears.

CATCH-ALL BAG

By the time everyone is ready, there (more than likely) won’t be much time to pick up the bridal suite and by the end of the night everyone is ready to head home (or to the after party), so pack a catch-all bag to throw everything in for a quick clean up.

LIGHT

The bridal suite is a wonderful place to take those must- have getting ready photos, so great lighting is essential.

Stock your suite with these ten bridal suite essentials and you will even find a bonus within the day- peace of mind!