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Tuesday, November 24, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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So Accommodating -- Some Lodging Options For Out-Of-Town Wedding Guests

Anjali and John Lapinski III are no travel agents.

But when the recent Seattle Pacific University graduates decided to get married here last year, the event not only meant dealing with scores of wedding details, but also finding accommodations for out-of-town guests.

The two are examples of an increasing number of contemporary couples whose wedding-invitation lists seem to include more and more out-of-town guests.

Anjali and John solved the problem by finding lodging in family homes, local hotels and apartments.

The Seattle area offers a variety of lodging options for out-of-town wedding guests: family homes, standard hotels, all-suite hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns.

With so many choices, it takes some homework.

As a rule, it's the responsibility of the bride-to-be and her family to arrange accommodations for her attendants and any spouses or children. The bridegroom-to-be and his family do the same for groomsmen and ushers.

In her book, "Emily Post on Weddings," etiquette expert Elizabeth Post suggests families look to neighbors and local friends or relatives when considering accommodations.

Post writes that if hotels are used, the bridal couple or their families may want to help defray travel and lodging expenses, but, basically, attendants and "wedding guests pay their own expenses."

No matter what lodging style you choose, watch for potential sticky situations.

It's easier to separate people in a hotel, but if a home is being used, nonsmokers won't want to be put with smokers; older grandparents may not be comfortable if placed with a family with infants or youngsters running about.

And keep the stays short: two or three days at the most.

If you choose to rent lodgings for guests, here are some considerations:

Should I choose a hotel near the airport, downtown, in the suburbs or close to the wedding/reception?

Have names of two or three accommodations near all these locations handy, but try to keep guests' lodgings within a 30-minute drive from the wedding and reception site.

After guests have accepted your invitation, mail them their choices. Some guests may prefer the shuttle buses and taxis available at an airport hotel. Others may want to be downtown so they can sightsee. Some may prefer to be close to homes of the wedding families, the church or the reception.

How important is transportation?

Make sure all out-of-town guests arriving by air or train have a list of phone numbers for rental car offices, Metro bus and taxi service.

Bridal couples and their families often greet attendants and immediate family at the airport or train depot and drive them to their destination, but they aren't expected to offer wedding shuttle service for all out-of-town guests.

Airport hotels make no sense if the wedding is downtown and guests have no rental car and can't afford taxis.

Once guests have reserved rooms, mail them a city map highlighting their accommodation, your home, the wedding and reception site, and several restaurant and entertainment spots. (Keep extra copies handy in case guests misplace theirs.)

Consider asking in-town friends with large vehicles to serve as drivers for older guests and those on fixed incomes who might not be able to afford taxis or a rental car.

Are these lodging choices affordable?

Decide early if you'll take on the task of making reservations or if you'll just enclose a list of hotels and prices with the invitation and let the guests book themselves.

If you do the booking, you may save a lot of time - and, perhaps, money - if you have all out-of-town guests stay at the same hotel. Most guests will go along with your choice. But, if not, you may want to have some options ready.

The immediate family may want to pay or help pay for lodging for close family and friends, but don't be pressured into booking a five-star room if that's more than you can afford. If the guest wants something nicer, he/she can arrange for another room once they arrive.

Many hotels have special group rates when more than one room is rented. Most discount 10 to 25 percent for 10 rooms or more; smaller hotels will negotiate for blocks of seven or eight. Ask the hotel sales manager.

Many hotels offer lower rates on weekends and during fall and winter.

If a member of the immediate family works for a firm that has an arrangement with a specific hotel or hotel chain for discounts, ask that person to see what price is available to them.

Don't accept the first price quoted - if the hotel doesn't expect to be full, that first figure may be only a negotiating ploy. Don't hesitate to mention that you're checking with a number of hotels and may be booking a number of rooms.

Are rooms available?

If the wedding date is at a time when other events are occurring, book accommodations early. Trying to book wedding guests in the University District on a Husky football weekend can be difficult or impossible. Likewise, downtown hotels can fill up during the summer when large conventions are in town. Last-minute vacancies may come up, but don't count on them.

Do guests have special needs?

Elderly guests may not be able to navigate stairs; some may need a nearby pharmacy. Make sure that physically disabled guests have easy-access accommodations with specially equipped bathrooms. Hearing-impaired guests appreciate TTY telephone access. Guests with special diets may need a hotel with its own restaurant.

Kitchen facilities and cribs are musts for families with infants or toddlers. And parents of older children will appreciate an indoor swimming pool or nearby park.

Have guest conflicts been avoided?

Side-by-side rooms for divorced parents and their new mates isn't smart. Arrange for separate, but equal, accommodations.

Even with the most careful and detailed planning, minor emergencies will happen. Such disasters shouldn't be handled by the wedding couple. Ask an organized friend to serve as "guest liaison."

Such a person can help guests cope with last-minute crises, like finding a baby-sitter for an unruly child, filling a prescription for a sick aunt or picking up a guest whose rental car was towed from a "No Parking" zone.

"Bride's Planner," a guide published by Bride magazine, offers a fill-in-the-blanks form for each out-of-town guest. When completed, the guest liaison will know the guest's name, hometown, accommodation site and its phone number, and any of the guest's special needs.

Suzanne Monson is a Seattle freelance writer.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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