There can be so. many. things to worry about when planning and executing a wedding/commitment ceremony. If yours happens to include setting up a block of rooms at a hotel, then I have some tips for you! I work at the front desk of a big hotel in a major city, and have seen a lot of frantic brides come blazing through our doors. It seems like there are a few key things that often get overlooked and inevitably seem to throw a wrench in the works for our couples (and usually their parents, in-laws, and BFFs).
Here are some of my TOP TIPS for making your important day run just a little smoother. Because seriously, an hour before your wedding you should be thinking about your vows and finding your stress-free happy place, not worrying about gift bags…
1. If you reserve a block of rooms, make sure you know what time check-in and check-out are.
This is my MOST important tip. If your wedding is at 3pm and all your guests come into town the morning OF your wedding, be aware that they probably will not have access to their rooms to get ready. Most hotels have a check in time of 3pm-4pm, which means all your guests are getting ready in the lobby bathroom. This isn't because we are mean, it is because the rooms are usually occupied until about 12-1pm, and then we have to take time to clean them thoroughly for you.
If you have an afternoon wedding it is a very good idea to encourage your guests to come into town the day before your wedding. This way they can get ready in a relaxed and stress-free manner.
Also, if the Sales Office at the hotel promises you “It'll be just fine!” to come in at, say, 10am for check in… go ahead and do two or three blind calls to the front desk and ask them about their early check-in policy. That is where you will get the truth because they aren't trying to sell you anything. If three people tell you it is a-okay then it will very likely be fine. But if they try and find a nice way to say “that's probably not going to happen” then take their word for it.
2. If you have transportation picking your guests up from the hotel and taking them to the wedding, make sure that two times are listed in your welcome sheet/itinerary/invitation:
When the shuttle is ARRIVING, and when it is PULLING AWAY. If it just says “Shuttle at 10” then it is unclear whether it is STARTING to pick people up at 10 or leaving at 10. Chaos ensues.
3. Give two copies of your schedule for every person working the desk. At least.
See three desk clerks? Drop off 10. Inevitably, when folks are confused they come to the desk for help. That's what we're there for! But 99% of the time the wedding party has not given us a copy of the schedule, so we have no idea what is going on, much less when or where. I say drop off extras because there are usually more people working than just the couple you see on the desk. Plus, if we have a copy and one of your guests needs one, then they usually take ours.
4. Making gift bags? Here are some tips that will save you time, stress, and money.
- Make them all the same. Less confusion, less mix ups, less work and stress. Trust me.
- Don't spend lots of time and money on the bag decor. I have given out hundreds of gift bags, and I can tell you that a great many people just don't appreciate crafty talents. I know that is sad, but it's true. Most folks just blindly take them.
- If you're on the fence about having them at all, then SKIP THEM. I know that sounds a bit like a Debbie Downer, but I'm telling you — very few people are excited about their gift bags, and they seem to be a big source of stress for our couples. I can't tell you how many times I've had the couple who's getting married at my desk in a tizzy about whether Al or Denise have picked up their bags. Remember, it's just snacks.
5. Something that would be way more useful would be a stack of itineraries at the Front Desk.
You could make these super pretty and crafty even. Give us a bunch extra and have us hand them out to all your guests with the key packets. Having an itinerary makes everyone feel less stress and more in control of their day.