Ask the Bride -- Lodging Guests at an Out-of-town Wedding
Question: My fiancee has an extended family and we would like to have our wedding at an expensive hotel resort out-of-town. We are of limited means, so besides our parents' and our own, we cannot afford to pay for anybody else's lodgings ($300 a night, two nights minimum). Who is responsible for covering the cost of lodging for his brothers and sisters? -- Kati
Answer: Most etiquette experts would advise you that not all of your guests might be able to afford such an expensive hotel. If you expect them to pay $600 for two nights, I'm sure you will receive protests and possibly some hurt feelings or "boycotts" of your wedding. However, there are several ways you can prevent these things from occurring.
You should enquire at the resort if they offer discounted rates for reserving multiple rooms in advance. You would use your credit card to make the reservation (no charges should be applied to your card when you make the reservation). Then when the guests arrive, they ask for their reserved room and give the hotel their own credit card. You're never charged for their room. If they can't come, you must notify the hotel ahead of time. If they fail to show up, then you might have to pay for one night, or give the room to another of your guests. This is the risk involved if you want all of your guests to stay at the same hotel.
However, just because your wedding is at the resort doesn't mean that all of your guests have to stay there as well. Your guests can come to the resort for the wedding and stay at another hotel in the area. Most resorts are near other tourist attractions and other available lodging. If there is a town or city nearby (within 30 minutes or so) you should find another motel or hotel with a cheaper rate and available rooms for that weekend. Here also you can reserve a block of rooms, usually with a lesser penalty for no-shows or cancellations.
Finally, if there are no other hotels around and you can't get a cheaper rate, you might offer to certain people (your attendants, grandparents or brothers/sisters) to split the cost of the room, paying half if you can. It's possible that this is the only way some important people will be able to attend. It's better than living with the guilt of having indirectly excluded them by expecting them to pay up to or more than $1,000 to attend your wedding. Remember, guests who travel to a wedding have not only the expense of the rooms, but also attire, gifts for you, meals, tips and transportation--gasoline or car rental or flying (which could double the cost of the hotel depending on where they're from and where they have to go). If the guests are going to be around for 3 days or so, you also can inform them of other entertainment and fun activities in the resort area that they can do in their free time.
These are all things that you must take into consideration!