You’re engaged: Congratulations!!! – he/she/they put a ring on it!
And now you’ve decided that you’d rather tie the knot in a tropical location, surrounded by palm trees, beaches, waves, umbrella drinks and your closest family and friends. I’m not mad at you; I did it myself!
Destination Weddings continue to grow in popularity, allowing couples to have a hassle-free ceremony/reception in paradise while giving their loved ones a well needed vacation (especially once coronavirus is a distant memory).
But for the majority of couples, this is your first time planning this type of event and it’s a LOT to navigate: determining where to go, how to get there, how to disseminate information to your guests, and how to work with a resort. Planning a wedding is a LOT without all of these other factors in place. Many couples want to make sure that the cost of the trip is within reach for their family and friends, which leads to the discussion of obtaining group rates for the resort of choice.
There are primarily two types of groups that a couple can choose to set up with the hotel: Traditional/Contract or a Flexible Group.
With a Traditional/Contracted Group, otherwise known as a room block, the wedding couple chooses to hold a certain number of rooms at the resort, designated specifically for their wedding group. Typically, the couple has to hold a minimum of 10 rooms and will pay a deposit to secure them. This deposit can later be applied to their own room/reservation.
A Traditional Group guarantees the rooms at the quoted rates, typically over a span of 3-7 days to include the wedding day. A room block also guarantees that the rooms will actually be available for the wedding guests. Chiiiiile, trust me, it’s not a fun conversation when the father of the bride looks book his room only to find that the resort is 100% sold out. YIKES.
Rooms within the block can be released over time as the true guest list begins to materialize, based on the terms and conditions of the contract.
A Traditional/Contracted group is my recommended type for ANY wedding group that expects to have at 10 or more rooms.
A Flexible Group is ideal for smaller wedding groups (5-9 rooms, including the couple). In this type of group, a promotional code is assigned to the couple, which is then applied to each reservation booked as part of the wedding.
A Flexible Group does not require an initial deposit from the couple, therefore the couple does not need to predict who they think will/will not come to the wedding — but rates and availability are not guaranteed either. Therefore, the prices are constantly changing and the resort can sell out before all guests are booked.
Each wedding group tends to have associated concessions/perks for the couple. Traditional Groups oftentimes having juicier concessions since you’re basically guaranteeing that you’re booking 10+ rooms AND having your wedding at the resort. Concessions often include: free ceremony, private events, comped rooms, air credits, and more.
This is just scratching the surface of the wedding group iceberg, but this is a question I receive frequently and wanted to address. Every couple I’ve worked with has had to make the decision between a Traditional vs. Flexible group. To be transparent, I used to be “afraid” of Traditional groups. I didn’t do one for my own wedding in Mexico (this was before I was an agent), and I led all of my early destination wedding couples toward the flexible type because I understood them better. But the stress that my brides/grooms went through when the resort rates fluctuated or rooms sold out just wasn’t making their lives easier – and that was my whole role as the booking agent. So yes…..experience brings knowledge.
I hope this small bit of information is helpful in understanding the basic differences when planning a destination wedding. And I hope you have someone experienced on your side to help you through it, because there is a LOT to understand!