Where to start with your room block
You’ll want to block the hotel room before you send out a save the date (if you’re planning doing one), so you can give guests plenty of time to book their hotel rooms. Generally, this is around a year or so out, but can certainly be closer to the event date if you aren’t planning on sending a save the date. Ideally, the hotel will be convenient to your temple or party venue. If you have a lot of guests who are shomer Shabbat, being closer to the temple is obviously preferable. Sometimes temples or venues have preferred relationships with hotels which may help you get a better rate for your guests, so make sure to ask. Also, if you’re interested in hosting a Sunday brunch at the hotel, this is a good thing to mention to the hotel up front as it also could help with pricing.
When you call the hotel, ask to be connected to the sales office about a room block.
How do I know how many rooms to block?
Courtesy vs. guaranteed block and cutoff dates
Generally, you’ll need to have at least 10 room nights (which could mean 5 rooms for Friday night and 5 rooms for Saturday night) for them to create a block for you. As far as the rooms, you’ll want to request a courtesy block of rooms vs a guaranteed block of rooms, if possible. This means that you are not financially responsible if not all of the rooms are booked by the cutoff date (the date when the block of rooms will be released to the general population) vs. a guaranteed block, where you’d be required to pay for rooms if not enough guests book.
And speaking of that cutoff date, make sure to communicate it to your guests! Before you sign anything, double check that once they quote you a rate for rooms it is actually a better price than what is being offered online (go to the website for the hotel chain and a site like Travelocity.com). If prices are expensive or you have a lot of guests, you could always have blocks at multiple hotels.
Check with the hotel and nudge those slow relatives to make their reservation before the cutoff.