how we picked our hotel blocks

Guests that stay here get a complimentary revolving door and shrubbery.

That's a riveting headline, isn't it? But look, if I had stumbled upon this post while I was still in the midst of figuring out whether a king or two double beds are better, I would have Pinterested, Tweeted, and Facebooked the shit out of it. So, you're welcome.

Hotel room blocks for your guests are not (I believe) at the top of most brides' wedding fantasies. Even I, with my pathological-level of planning, did not dreamily imagine whether I would be booking 15 or 20 rooms, or if it would be equal numbers for both Friday and Saturday nights. It's just not that glamorous, let's be honest.

Side note: You know what I AM really excited for? Making those cute little welcome gift bags that magically appear in your hotel room. You know, the ones with a map of NYC, Advil, condoms. I'm think of secretly putting cameras inside them, a la Homeland (or Revenge, for that matter). Maybe I can also secretly wiretap one out of every three guests AND YOU'LL NEVER KNOW WHO.

Anyhoo. As I've mentioned before, we're having a large wedding with quite a few out-of-towners, coming from as far away as the Philippines and Australia (well, I hope so. Hi Gianna!). Obviously room blocks are booked before you send out invitations; they're actually booked before you send out save the dates, for that matter. So there's a little bit of guesswork on your part to figure out exactly how many rooms you need.

That brings us to:

Tip #1: The number of rooms you book is not inviolate. Perhaps that's too strong of a word. In plain English: you can subtract or add rooms from your discount block, for the most part, up until a few weeks before your wedding. Some hotels will alert you when you're close to your limit, some won't, so I would just ask as you're setting it up.

And also:

Tip #2: The majority of hotels in NYC will ask for a credit card to hold the reservation and rate, but you won't get charged for any unsold rooms in the block. Why is this important? We learned the hard way that hotel rates have a pesky tendency to go up the closer you get to your date. One of our hotels raised their rate EIGHTY DOLLARS a night between when we first asked for the quote and when we finally booked. This, obviously, sucks. So don't make the mistake we did and lock down your rates as soon as you can. Most hotels will allow you to lower your rate if the hotel ends up selling rooms for a lesser price.

So where did we end up booking rooms? We opted for three hotels (with a semi-silent fourth option, which I'll get to in a moment), which range the rather limited price range Manhattan offers. They are all within a brisk walk or short cab to The Plaza, which we figured was probably of the greatest importance after price to our guests. They are:

Fifth Avenue Courtyard by Marriott for $209 a night. We did a block of 15 for both nights.

The Helmsley Park Lane Hotel for $245 a night. We did a block of 20 for Friday and 30 for Saturday.

The Plaza for ... yikes, $525 a night. We did a block of 5 for Friday and 10 for Saturday.

We're expecting between 275 - 300 guests, if that gives you an idea of what your own ratios should be.

Another side note: Also, I opted for all king beds as opposed to half kings and half double queens because mostly everyone is coming with a date and if you're not, wouldn't you want a king bed to yourself?

Our fourth option, which I've outlined on our wedding website, is the Jane Hotel. The Jane is noisy, crazy and some rooms share bathrooms, but you can occasionally snag them for a little over $100 a night, which is almost unheard of in Manhattan. I've told our guests that if they're interested, to go ahead and just book on their own as soon as possible. And watch out for the rockstars passed out in the halls.

Lastly, to save time and money on our invitations, we are simply printing our wedding website on the bottom of our save the dates (I really wish I could just abbreviate that, but ...). This way, when we send our our real invites, we don't need to include a separate piece of paper with hotel information. Three cheers for the 21st century!

it's all happening or: how we sent out our save the dates

happy engagement: casserole edition