A wedding is one of life’s most joyous occasions, anevent you’ll want to share with friends and relatives.These days, however, your dearest are not alwaysnearest. To be sure out-of-town guests are part of thecelebration, consider reserving a block of rooms forthe weekend at an inn or a hotel.

Hotel managers and innkeepers offer this advice:

  • • Make reservations as soon as your weddingdate is set. (See “Wedding Dates” for guidance.)A minimum of six months’ noticeis recommended; busier hotels and innsmay require a year. The hotel will hold therooms available (at the group rate) until aspecified cut-off date, usually three to fourweeks before the wedding. After that date,rooms will be subject to availability andthe going rate. Some hotels provide anupdated reservation list every few weeks.

  • • Many accommodation sites offer specialpackage rates if you also hold food andbeverage functions, such as brunch,bridesmaids’ luncheon or reception,on-site. Most also include a complimentaryhospitality suite or bridal suite if youreserve a certain number of rooms. Often,the bride’s or groom’s parents choose tomake the hotel or inn their headquartersfor the weekend of the wedding so theycan relax and spend time with relatives.Don’t forget to include them, or yourself, inthe head count.

  • • Ask what other services, such as transportationto and from the airport, are available.If all your guests are staying at the samehotel, they can assist each other in gettingto and from the various wedding events.Most hotels, however, work with locallimousine or executive car services andwill be happy to arrange transportation foryour guests, whether you need one car ora double-decker bus. Hotel staff can oftenhelp with recommendations on everythingfrom caterers to florists.

  • • Consider your guests’ needs when selectinga site. An inn or bed-and-breakfastoffers privacy and a cozy, homelikeenvironment. Hotels offer other amenitiessuch as exercise rooms and workoutequipment. Will individual rooms sufficeor do you need suites for families withyoung children? Can the hotel providewheelchairs, portable cribs or baby-sittingservices? Visit each site personally. Is theproperty attractive and convenient? Is thestaff friendly, helpful and knowledgeable?

  • • Be considerate of guests’ travel budgets.Offer alternative places to stay, at severalprice ranges.

  • • Provide guests with written room and rateinformation along with a map or directionsand phone numbers. (Some hotels canprovide this for you.)

  • • If possible, plan a welcoming basket tomake your guests’ stay as comfortableand convenient as possible. Helpful itemsmight include snacks, toiletries, fresh flowers,an itinerary of the weekend’s events, asewing kit, aspirin and information on localevents and attractions.

  • • A “glad you can make it” letter outlining theevents of the weekend. Include phone numbersthat might be helpful to people who arenot familiar with the area.

  • • A gift basket in each guest’s room can be theperfect welcome gift . With a small number ofout-of-towners, you may be able to customizeeach basket — perhaps a mini-spa gift certificate for someone who enjoys being pamperedor a gym pass for the fitness enthusiast. It’sprobably best to make standard baskets for allif your out-of-town guest list is large.

  • • For families traveling with children, a kiddypackcould be just the answer your guests arelooking for. Coloring books, crayons andcards may be the perfect stress reliever.