10/4 Ask Liz: Normal Wedding Rental Numbers & Booking Hotel Blocks

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Dear Liz, 

We’re getting married in December at a  “bare” venue, and we have to bring all of our plates and silverware in ourselves. The rental companies we’ve talked to told us we need to get at least three of everything, since we’re having 100 guests and a buffet. Is that true??


Three Times a Plate-ey

Dear, uh, Plate -ey,

Unfortunately, yeah, pretty much. Especially if you’re having a buffet. If people go back for seconds or thirds, they’re not going expect to reuse their previous plates, they’ll want a new one. You would. If you set the table with silverware, as opposed to putting it on the buffet, then you only going to need 2.5 times more silverware then guests. It’s a psychological thing – folks are less likely to reuse plates than silverware, but some will still want a clean set. Plus, both tend to drop on the dirty ground, break on the hard ground, or just…disappear. You’ll need the back-up. If you have them, your caterer and serving staff should have the final word on numbers.

Plus,  think about what you’re serving, too. Appetizers for the cocktail hour? Are you going to need plates for those? Cake (gonna need another fork that, actually)? Desserts? If you need to save money, keep it simple and multi-purpose minded. A dinner plate can be a cake plate and or  a cake plate can be an appetizer plate, or a cake plate can be a salad plate, and a dinner fork can be cake fork and, and a dinner fork can be a steak fork, and depending on what you’re serving, a dinner fork can also be a spoon! Same goes for bar glasses, if you have to stock those, too. A wine glass can be a cocktail glass and a beer glass, based on what it looks like. Think low with a wide or curved base.

Dear Liz, 

Hotel blocks. All the hotels near our reception site require that we sign a contract guaranteeing that at least 90% of the rooms are booked, and we have to pay for any rooms that aren’t. Is that normal? Is there a way to get around it? Help!


Booked and Blocked

Dear Blocked,

That always seems kind of harsh to me, but depending on the area the hotel is in, and how high in demand it is at that time of year, it’s definitely normal. It’s called a “closed block”. What you would like is a “complimentary block,” where you reserve a certain number of rooms (10-ish is the usual starting point), at a reduced rate, your guests pay for the room, and you aren’t charged for any leftovers. Guests have until a month or whenever from your wedding to book, or the rooms revert to their regular price.

So…how to find a complimentary block of rooms. Now you know to ask for one, so that’s good. Start with the hotels you’ve already contacted, and see if there are any circumstances under which they could give you one. If they are part of a chain, ask if any other nearby hotels in that chain offer complimentary blocks. Look at hotels that are a little farther away from your venue, too. If you really want to  have your guests stay at a certain place, then sign the contract for the least amount of rooms you can, and pimp them like hell. Or, don’t sign a contract, and let your guests make their reservations on their own, at the regular rates. Blocks are convenient, but not mandatory.

Are rentals driving you nuts? Are you wondering how you’re going to fill 15 hotel rooms? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.