Winter wedding timing dilemma

posted 2 weeks ago in Reception
Post # 2
2789 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2017

I’ve never stayed at a hotel where they didn’t let us check in at least an hour earlier than the posted time!  Check out at most hotels is 10-11am, so I typically just plan to arrive after 1pm and have always had a room available.

Do you know how many rooms would be affected?  

I probably wouldn’t change the time of the ceremony, especially if the hotel is your venue.

Post # 3
9922 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

If I’m traveling in, even a 5pm start time would be tough timing to get ready for a wedding. Or are you assuming the guests would be getting ready elsewhere? Generally hotels can accomodate early check in, but if you have a lot of guests who are all going to want to check in early, it might be tough for them to check in, change, do hair and makeup, and get to the venue site on time. Just something to think about! 

Post # 6
2710 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: City, State

View original reply
@an0nb33:  Plan your ceremony for the time that works best for you.  Your guests are all adults, and they can put two and two together.  If hotel check-in is at 4 and the ceremony is at 4:30, they will either call themselves to ask about early check-in (and plan accordingly), or come in the night before and stay two nights at the hotel.   

Post # 7
4779 posts
Honey bee

I think you are overthinking this.

How they choose to travel and when and how to plan their accommodations are their responsibility unless you are paying for them.  Presumably you have given them the information they need (contact information for the hotel including a website that notes when check-in is – 4pm is pretty standard –  and the start time of your wedding).  They can then use that information to plan what is best for them.  If they decide they don’t want to cut it too close, they can decide to come in the day before.  If they decide they want to drive in and show up just before the wedding starts, they can do that.  If they decide it’s easier to just check in after the ceremony and before the reception and leave their luggage at the front desk or in their trunk, they can do that.  If they want to inquire about an early check in, they can do that.  They are all adults – they should be used to planning and coordinating schedules in their daily life.  This isn’t any different.


That said, if you are that concerned about having photos at a certain time, you can always do photos beforehand and start the ceremony even later.  Quite honestly, depending on where you are, winter where I am usually means cloudy and overcast at sunset so I probably wouldn’t have my heart set on it from the start and just consider it a nice bonus if it happens to work out well rather than plan my entire ceremony around it.

Post # 8
925 posts
Busy bee

Could you do first look photos before the ceremony to make sure you get some daylight/sunset photos?

If people are doing an 8 hr drive or flying in, they would probably be more comfortable if they could have a quick shower before heading to a formal event. That said – I would think a lot of people will be coming in the day before because that’s quite a big trek to do for one night. 

Post # 10
6556 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

in The Before Times, an early check-in was fairly easy to get, even with a large group, but these days, you really can’t count on it; hotels are running a skeleton crew for housekeeping and it takes a long time to turn a room over for a new guest.

I wouldn’t recommend changing your ceremony time, but it wouldn’t hurt to identify a guest or two who is checking in the night before and is willing to let someone else borrow their bathroom and mirror for a minute.  That way, folks who need a little extra freshen-up time can have somewhere to go. The hotel should know by that morning if they’re going to be able to get everyone in early; if not, just let the front desk know that Aunt Tilly has offered to let people freshen up in her room if they’re in a pinch.

Post # 11
4628 posts
Honey bee

Have you talked to your photographer about your timing? “Sunset” photos are generally not exactly at sunset, and you may be disappointed if you have not consulted with them.

Post # 12
225 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I’m really low maintenance. Once ran a triathlon in the morning, drove 4 hours, and attended a wedding in the evening (the hardest part was getting the number off the back of my calf). So take my opinion with a grain of salt, but if my hotel room wasn’t ready, I’d just find a bathroom somewhere (hotel lobby) to change, comb out my hair, and get ready. No worries about what time you start and hotel check in for me.

Post # 13
1485 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I would do whatever is best for you, since the hotel is on the same property as the venue… people typically know when check in times are at hotels, so if your ceremony is at 5 then A. they check in the day before, OR the check in after the ceremony… I am super laid back so I wouldn’t find this too weird.. 

Post # 15
3869 posts
Honey bee

As someone who worked in hotels for many years I can tell you that check in STARTS at 4:00 p.m. That does not mean rooms will be ready at 4:00 p.m. If the hotel has high occupancy or is sold out the night before, not all of the rooms are going to be ready. In normal times, some rooms might not be ready until 5:00 or 6:00. Throw in Covid with extremely low staffing, and It’s almost a given that rooms aren’t going to be ready, and they might not be available until even later. 

I would call your hotel contact and ask for an honest estimate of when your block of rooms will be ready for those arriving on the day of your wedding if the hotel is sold out the night before. If your guests have already made their reservations, your contact will know how many rooms are expected on that day. Your contact can also provide a rooming list that will tell you what day each of your guests are arriving.

Once you have all of that information, reply here or send me a private message and I can suggest some options that might help mitigate the check-in issue.

Leave a comment

Find Amazing Vendors