If you’ve attended a wedding where there was a designated room for all of the wedding guests, or sometimes just the bridal party, to mingle and enjoy refreshments, you’ve experienced what’s known as a hospitality suite firsthand. While this might seem like a modern-day addition to the wedding-day experience, hospitality suites are actually anything but new, according to Kimberly Sisti, a San Diego-based wedding planner and owner and designer of Sisti & Co.
What Is a Wedding Hospitality Suite?
A wedding hospitality suite is a place for guests to come throughout the weekend for refreshments, snacks, and information.
“Historically speaking, Homer’s Odyssey of 2,000 years ago discusses this concept at length, as it was very important that strangers and travelers from far away places could find a place where they felt welcomed and at ease,” she tells Brides. “Friendly and generous reception and entertainment of your guests and even strangers promotes goodwill to the fellow human.”
Meet the Expert
- Kimberly Sisti is a San Diego-based wedding planner and owner and designer of Sisti & Co.
- Oniki Hardtman, owner of Oh Niki Occasions, is a wedding planner with offices in South Florida and New York City.
- Christina Mytinger is the account director of catering at The St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah.
- JoAnn Gregoli, of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, is a wedding planner in New York City.
Oniki Hardtman, wedding planner and owner of Oh Niki Occasions in South Florida and New York City, also notes that even in more modern times, hospitality suites have been quite common during corporate or business retreats for relaxed networking and/or ensuring that the company tab is not run up individually at the bar.
What Does a Wedding Hospitality Suite Include?
When it comes to weddings, hospitality suites serve multiple purposes, but mainly as a place where wedding guests are able to come and go throughout the weekend for refreshments, snacks, and information about the wedding, notes Christina Mytinger, a director of catering for weddings at The St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. “Oftentimes, the hospitality suites are outfitted with charging stations, card and board games as well as printed weekend itineraries,” she explains. “For example, a hospitality suite at The St. Regis Deer Valley is conveniently located in one of the resort's stunning suites, such as a deluxe suite, which includes a living room, dining room, fireplace, designer kitchen, full bath, half guest bath, and patios, and can be customized with extra lounge seating, comfortable chairs, coffee tables and extra outdoor seating in which to drink in the pristine cobalt skies of Deer Valley.”
Do You Need a Hospitality Suite?
While not a must-must, experts agree that a hospitality suite is a "nice-to-have" feature at any wedding, and this is especially true if you’re hosting a destination or multi-day wedding. “The ultimate way to be hospitable to your out-of-town guests is to secure a hospitality suite for their comfort and relaxation while on the property,” adds Hardtman.
The Pros of Having a Hospitality Suite
Here’s a look at some of the benefits of having a hospitality suite for your wedding weekend.
It Gives Guests a Communal “Hang-Out” Spot
Whether guests have arrived at the hotel prior to their room being ready or are simply looking for a place to spend free time in between wedding events, a hospitality suite can provide guests a wonderfully relaxing experience in either circumstance, notes JoAnn Gregoli, owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli in New York City. “It shows your true sense of concern for your guests and helps make them feel welcomed to your wedding weekend.”
It Takes Pressure Off the Couple
A hospitality suite can also be quite beneficial for the bride and groom, who tend to be the “go-to people” for any questions or concerns guests may have. Securing a hospitality suite with someone designated to answer those questions on the couple’s behalf immediately takes the stress away and allows them to focus on their upcoming nuptials, Hardtman notes.
It Offers Guests a Chance to Reconnect
For guests traveling from out of town who might be arriving at the wedding destination a few days early, a hospitality suite offers them the chance to reconnect with old acquaintances and even make new ones prior to the actual wedding celebration. “A hospitality suite allows the couple and their parents to pop in whenever they are free to greet guests and maybe make plans, not in the schedule or an invitation,” adds Mytinger. “It is also the one wedding venue where it is not expected that the couple or their parents will be present so there is no pressure to stand and greet as is found at a welcome party.”
It’s a Streamlined Location for Gift Bags
“If you are choosing to include a gifting aspect to a hospitality suite, this alleviates the complexity of welcome bag deliveries, including assembling and then tracking down where every single guest is lodging and having the bags delivered,” says Mytinger. “All of the personal items selected to share with guests, whether because they are special to the couple or the destination, can be displayed and also provide an activity as guests, ever pampered, ‘shop’ through and build their ideal welcome bags!”
What to Consider When Creating a Hospitality Suite
If you’re planning on creating a hospitality suite for your wedding guests, follow these expert tips to make sure it’s useful, enjoyable, and memorable.
Negotiate Costs Ahead of Time
The cost of a hospitality suite may cost more than a standard room, so to score the best deal, Gregoli recommends trying to negotiate the use of one in your rooming block with the sales team at your hotel. “Suites come as a premium, and they offer varying sizes, so ask for pricing options for a few of the available rooms,” she says. “These suites are also usually in high demand, so if you are considering one, you would really book this at the same time as you book your room block.”
Advertise It Well
There's always the possibility that a hospitality suite will go unused, warns Kylie Carlson, owner ofThe Wedding Academy. “For example, if it's not properly advertised well ahead of time, guests may not realize that it's an option,” she says. For this reason, she recommends including a mention of the hospitality suite in the information card that guests receive when they check into the hotel and also adding a few signs throughout the suite floor.
Don’t Connect the Suite to Your Own
While it can be tempting to create one large “party” space, Hardtman does not recommend that the hospitality suite connects to the suite the couple is staying in. “That's the one that should have a ‘do not disturb sign’ respectfully,” she says.
Fill the Suite With Refreshments
When guests enter a hospitality suite, they will most definitely expect there to be some form of nourishment, be it snacks, appetizers, or take-away meals. At the very least, Carlson recommends making sure that water is served along with some extra items. “If it’s summer, consider arranging some fans and sunscreen for guests to take with them to the ceremony,” she says. “Everyone will thank you!”
Make It Fun
All in all, your hospitality suite should be as fun and as personalized to you as possible, according to Hardtman. “This is a good location for those engagement photos and fun personalized items with your wedding branding on them such as beer koozies, insulated wine tumblers for the beach, towels, sunglasses, and more,” she adds. “Think of what will be most useful and reflective of the destination that you are in, too.”