the wedding chronicles | decision #13

THE HOTEL

once you all figure out how many people are going to be coming to your wedding, you then have to figure out where to put all of them!  how you go about figuring out accommodations depends, i think, largely on where your wedding is.  if you are having a destination wedding, your options might be very specific and limited.  if your wedding is going to be in a rural part of town, you may need to consider if there is lodging nearby or if guests will need to drive a little to get to the ceremony and reception.  luckily for phillip and me peachtree city has a good number of options for where our guests can stay, so based on his local knowledge and his mother michele’s recommendations, we (along with grandma lorraine because she was in town from ohio) began the hunt for the perfect hotel for ourselves and our guests.

the first place we looked was the crowne plaza.  michele mentioned it is a popular spot in town for conferences and of course visitors but is maybe best known for their Easter brunch.  well, any spot that serves a good brunch sounds like it’s worth a look!  we all piled into the kia and drove to the plaza and were initially in “like” with it because of the beautiful landscaping and tucked away feel.  so far so good.  after parking we then walked into the lobby and unfortunately were very underwhelmed.  per the front desk employee (who was very nice and informative), the plaza was undergoing renovations and, for us, was in too much of that “renovating” state for us to see past it.  not wanting to write the plaza off too soon, we took some time to walk the grounds and check out everything.  the plaza does have a picturesque water feature that is overlooked by the dining area, but this pro could not outweigh the biggest con for us, which was that the guest buildings felt very spread out and disconnected.  i truly think it would take you almost ten minutes to walk from one end of the property to the other, which would be unfortunate if our guests weren’t all booked in a block of rooms close together.  so, just like that we hopped in the car and carried on to our next destination, the hilton garden inn.

hilton garden inns tend to be one of my preferred lodging choices, mostly out of habit from work and also because i have a hilton rewards account.  🙂  the hgi in peachtree city is located off highway 74 and is easy to find, two things that seemed like positives to me.  just like at the crowne plaza, though, i was disappointed in the hgi right upon walking through its doors.  its lobby is tiny!  with a guest list of at least 150 and assuming maybe half of them stay at the hotel for the wedding, there would be no way people would be able to gather comfortably in their downtime.  in addition to a small lobby, the dining area for breakfast and the bar area were pretty tight as well.  out of courtesy to the employee who was showing us around, we still took a look at their larger gathering spaces (which of course come at an additional cost) and their rooms (which were pretty standard).  if i were visiting peachtree city on my own or with a small group of people, the hgi would be a great fit.  but for an event where nearly half of the guests are out-of-towners, the hilton garden inn wouldn’t work at all.  shall we press onward?

we shall!  and to the hotel that is going to be a great fit for our wedding weekend, thank goodness!  our final stop on our hotel tour of peachtree city was what is now known as the peachtree city hotel and conference center (formerly the wyndham).  now, this property is also quite large and covers a lot of ground but it has what all the others do not:  great gathering spaces!  you walk into the hotel and are welcomed with a spacious lobby (big enough to fit my dress, lol), plenty of comfortable seating, a checkers board, a fireplace, and an inviting bar.  i could have said “yes” then and been done with it!  but not wanting to get ahead of ourselves we checked out one of the guest rooms (again, pretty standard) and some of their other amenities.  they have a nice workout space for anyone who needs to get a little exercise in over the wedding weekend and even a sand volleyball court if you want to get competitive.  in the middle of the property is the pool area, and even though it might be a little too chilly during april to take a dip, i still like that it essentially counts as extra space for hanging out with the guests.  they even have covered cabanas!  the hotel does have a full kitchen for all your foodie needs and even has golf carts you can rent to get the true peachtree city experience!  if you have some downtime during the weekend, personally i would recommend renting one for a morning/afternoon, grabbing a golf cart map, and going on a little adventure.  who knows what you might find!

now, once you’ve found a hotel you like enough to book, you have to figure out how you can reserve some rooms for all your guests.  the tricky thing, though, is this:  you don’t know how many of your guests will actually need a hotel room.  the number might be more than you expect or (more than likely) less than you expect because people might be renting houses nearby, might prefer to stay somewhere cheaper, or, if they’re local, might just come for the day and go home after the reception.  so, what is an engaged couple to do?  reserve a complimentary room block!  now, i had to do a little research online before we proceeded with this part of the process.  a complimentary room block is the way to go because (at least at the hotel we are using) you can reserve a block of rooms at a specific rate at no cost.  isn’t that great?!  i cannot tell you how happy i was with this news, especially when the hotel told us that if we reserved 20 rooms but only 15 of them got booked that we were not “on the hook” for the five that didn’t get booked.  those unreserved rooms will simply be released for reservation at a certain date for whomever else wants to book.  how cool, right?  i know!  so, a complimentary room block is the first thing to accomplish if it is an option.

next, see if there is anything the hotel can provide to you if you book a certain number of rooms.  for example, if you and your guests end up reserving 30 rooms for your weekend, will the hotel throw in a honeymoon suite for free?  or perhaps the breakfast buffet?  or shuttle service even?  we didn’t have the luck i had hoped for at our hotel, but it really cannot hurt to ask.  the worst they can do is say “no,” and even then at least you tried.

so my overall advice for figuring out guest accommodations is this:  be mindful of who your guests are, where your guests are coming from, and where the lodging is in comparison to the ceremony/reception.  however, do not stress yourself out over being able to book the best hotel in town or reserving the cutest (and most expensive) bed and breakfast you can find.  in my opinion a complimentary room block with a (hopefully) reduced rate is perfect.  doing so gives guests a recommended option, which is especially nice if you have guests who have never been to town and are unsure of where to stay, but at the same time you aren’t locking yourself or others into having to stay there.  the last thing you want to stress about a month before your wedding is unfilled rooms and the impact on your sanity and your budget.  these days there are so many lodging options for your traveling guests and if they don’t decide to stay where you’ve reserved rooms, i bet they’ll be able to figure out something that works best for them.

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