Laura and Mark,
We had planned for a resort takeover by placing down a deposit for all of the rooms for a 3-night stretch of our wedding weekend. We did this in Feb or Mar of 2011, and with our wedding date of Jan 28 2012, we were able to hold the entire resort for bookings until about 6 months before our wedding date (Jul 2011). During that time, if any of our guests called to book a room, they would then put down a 20% deposit to hold their individual room (essentially releasing our deposit on that room). In July, we had not filled all of the rooms with guests yet (i.e. we had not completed the "takeover)...but based on their policy we were allowed to withdraw our deposit. Their policy is that there would be a 3% processing fee to do so. However, we actually saved ourselves that fee by "withdrawing" the holds on the rooms, but letting the resort keep our deposit money as our "wedding account". So now that full amount will be used to pay for cake, flowers, off-site guest fees, the bands, etc. We also used some as credits towards the cost of the rooms for our bridesmaids/groomsmen.
Just a few things to note about this approach...first of all, you need to make sure you withdraw your money by the date in their policy, otherwise you stand to lose more/all of the deposit (which, considering it's for all the rooms, was not necessarily pocket change...thanks Mom & Dad LOL). So just make sure you're organized and have it as a reminder in your phone, or on your calendar, or whatever, and keep in mind the working hours at their office are central time zone. Another thing I've learned through all this money-juggling was that Miriam and Kim are very on the ball with this kind of thing. Whenever I calculated what the refund should be, or what the remaining amount of our "wedding account", Kim and Miriam always came back with the same amount.
The upside of this strategy was that during Feb - Jul, a time when we felt like we had to put on our sales & marketing caps to convince our nearest & dearest that we couldn't picture our day without them/they deserved to give themselves a vacation/Jamaica is the best place to be in January/this resort is worth every penny.........for all of that time, we didn't have to worry that random strangers were making reservations for our wedding weekend.
So...although we didn't end up taking over the whole resort, and after the rooms were released we do in fact have some "randoms" who will be there, we did take over 2/3 of the resort and I'm happy with that. And, if I had to do it all over again, I would still do it the same way. A lot of our guests booked relatively "last-minute", so I was glad that there were still enough rooms for them to join us.
Jacki - I'm guessing you're already down there!! How exciting Have a great, relaxing, fantastic wedding day!! We are all anxiously waiting to hear how it went and see pictures!!