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Midwest Magnolia Lauren Brandt and fiancé Alex Olinger.

When you have a large number of guests traveling for your wedding, it can add a new level of stress to your planning and plotting. In our case, most of my guests are in town, most of my fiancé Alex’s are not.

We would need a hotel block for 80 to 90 guests from as far away as Alaska. Because we wanted a June wedding, we were careful to avoid the College World Series, when hotel availability and cost could be a problem.

I had some locations with fantastic rooms and amenities in mind. I placed a call to the first hotel on my list, and they patched me through to their event coordinator. When I mentioned my wedding date, the coordinator gave a long pause ... Our wedding would fall at the end of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, and no rooms were available.

My stomach churned.

I frantically called other hotels in the area — and got the same response over and over.

By the end of the day I had called 30 hotels and looked at more than 50 on the web. I found three hotels with blocks available, but those were running more than $275 a night, with only 10 rooms in a block.

Two days later I received a call from a high school acquaintance. She’s an event coordinator for a local hotel and had seen my contact information. Her hotel did have rooms available for our wedding weekend, but it wasn't planning to release them for public booking until May. She was able to offer us up to 50 rooms!

I was caught off-guard. We were friendly with each other but not close in high school. She had just recognized my name and reached out to me, knowing that our wedding weekend date was  tricky and expensive.

You can plan, plot and research to the end of time, but you can’t predict or control everything. Having connections can be everything, so use them to the best of your ability. My high school friend provided us with an affordable opportunity to stay in an excellent hotel and enjoy our festivities without unneeded financial stress on our guests.

— Your Midwest Magnolia

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