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Hotel Asks For Proof Of Special Occasion: Fair? – One Mile at a Time

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It’s a pretty common practice to let a hotel know if you’re celebrating a special occasion. But is it wrong for the hotel to ask for proof of said occasion?
In this post:
While reading the FlyerTalk thread about the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, I stumbled upon an interesting recent post that I thought would be fun to discuss. User Fly613 wrote the following about a pre-stay correspondence with the hotel:
In their welcome email the hotel asked if I’m celebrating any special occasion. I wrote back that I’ll be celebrating my wedding anniversary (which is true).
They wrote back: May we please have the copy of wedding certificate to verify anniversary amenities.
I had never heard of a hotel asking for proof in this way, so I asked Ford if he had ever received this request for any reservations he made for clients. He said he’s had it a few times, specifically for stays in the Maldives and Thailand, but not since the start of the pandemic. He said that in the situations where hotels asked for proof, they went above and beyond to actually make the stay special. For example, in one case they offered a couples massage for a honeymoon.
On the one hand, it seems lame to ask for proof of a special occasion. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. A few thoughts:
So yeah, my take is that in the long run it’s fine to ask for verification, but if a hotel asks for verification, there needs to be something actually special offered to guests. I don’t think a cake is sufficient. However, if it’s an expensive bottle of champagne that other hotel guests don’t get, or a massage or free dinner, then I think that’s reasonable.
Those are my two cents, at least.
Lots of people celebrate milestones when traveling, and it’s not unusual for hotels to do something special for guests in that situation. I guess a lot of people lie about special occasions as well, so it’s interesting that at least one luxury hotel is currently asking guests for proof of this.
I don’t think this is unreasonable under normal circumstances if the hotel has the intent to do something material (beyond just a cake, or something similar). That being said, I think in the coronavirus era it’s a bit unreasonable, since many people are celebrating special occasions on a different timeline than before.
Have you ever had a hotel ask for verification of a special occasion? What do you make of this practice?

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I think it is reasonable but a tad tacky.
I also think that celebrating a special occasion not on the day should be recognized. Our 50’th celebration happened last summer. The planned Antarctic trip could only be scheduled for 2022 and has now been delayed to 2023. It is still the celebration of the century as far as I am concerned.
Hopefully they will recognize the same.
It is quite normal for Chinese tourists lie to hotels about their special occasions.In some Chinese travel BBS you will find about 60% hotel reports talked about they told the hotel about their anniversary(most common)or honeymoon or birthday etc.And about 40% of them even made it very clear in the artical they were lying.I remember someone wrote like this:We told the XXX it’s our honymoon AS USUAL.And the same couple had their honymoon at least…
It is quite normal for Chinese tourists lie to hotels about their special occasions.In some Chinese travel BBS you will find about 60% hotel reports talked about they told the hotel about their anniversary(most common)or honeymoon or birthday etc.And about 40% of them even made it very clear in the artical they were lying.I remember someone wrote like this:We told the XXX it’s our honymoon AS USUAL.And the same couple had their honymoon at least in 3 hotels(2 in Maldives 1 in Thailand)in 3 different year.
honeymoon,sorry
Often enough these days when I make a restaurant reservation I’m asked if we’re celebrating anything. It seems to be a thing. I usually just say “life.”
We were asked at the Como Maalifushi hotel for proof for our honeymoon. We actually went about 5 months after our wedding and they told us the cut off was 6 months.
I find this tacky and assumes bad faith on the part of the clientele. Doesn’t seem like a slice of cake and bottle of champagne is worth the possible loss of goodwill. I have been married long enough that I have no idea where our wedding certificate is. We often celebrate a few weeks later for logistics. Will there be a cut off as to when it’s considered our “anniversary trip“?
I guess a lot of people viewed the Friends TV episode and overused the idea.
Simple answer: “No, we’re looking for anything special from you – you simply asked.”
Takes them off the hook graciously.
“We’re not”
It’s one thing to verify a birthday but an anniversary? Do most people have their marriage certificate readily available ? Further a lot of people I know will celebrate their anniversary at a different time then the actual date if they are going on vacation to maximize point use.
I think it depends on the value of the gift.
If its a cake or a bottle of wine, it probably costs them $25 tops, so its tacky to come asking for proof. But if its a 3 course dinner or $100pp spa credit, you can see why they might ask for proof
Slightly off topic but sort of related: A few years ago I checked into the JW Marriott in Lima, Peru, and of course they ask for your passport when checking in. It was a few days before my birthday and we were staying through my birthday, but never made a special request or anything, it was just vacation for us. The front desk person must have noticed my birthday coming up because without any sort…
Slightly off topic but sort of related: A few years ago I checked into the JW Marriott in Lima, Peru, and of course they ask for your passport when checking in. It was a few days before my birthday and we were staying through my birthday, but never made a special request or anything, it was just vacation for us. The front desk person must have noticed my birthday coming up because without any sort of prompting, on the day of my birthday I returned to my room to find a piece of birthday cake and a card from the staff. I asked my husband if he’d mentioned it to them and he hadn’t, so it was completely the initiate of the front desk person. I was blown away by that level of attention. I’ve never had bad service at a JW Marriott, they consistently blow everyone else, even other Marriott properties, out of the water.
I had a special event at the Maldives 4 years ago and was never asked for proof. I have never been asked in 20 or so opportunities, most overseas. I think this is very very rare.
I’m not married, but producing proof of marriage in order to receive a complimentary gift is not something I’d pursue even if I was.
Actually I would rather get cake than champagne
Totally unreasonable. For a variety of reasons, many people do not celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, etc on the exact date, or even approximate date.
Also, the anniversary may have varying significance. For instance, a couple may get married in a courthouse, but then have the actual ceremony with friends and family months later, and perhaps the ceremony date is more significant to the couple.
And what if you’re not married? But you’re in a…
Totally unreasonable. For a variety of reasons, many people do not celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, etc on the exact date, or even approximate date.
Also, the anniversary may have varying significance. For instance, a couple may get married in a courthouse, but then have the actual ceremony with friends and family months later, and perhaps the ceremony date is more significant to the couple.
And what if you’re not married? But you’re in a committed relationship without any official documents?
Anyway, this just seems overly petty by the hotel. Especially a luxury resort in the Maldives.
Nonsense. A lot of people are parasitic garbage who’ll lie without hesitation to get something they’re not entitled to, from a birthday dessert at a restaurant to champagne at a hotel.
And if you’re not willing to take on the challenges and responsibilities of getting married you’ve got no business expecting special treatment for your fake anniversary.
Agreed!
Completely agree. They lie about vaccination status so why wouldn’t they lie about a special occasion. People continue to sink to new lows now.
I’m Titanium with Marriott and like to go to nice hotels for mine and my girlfriends birthday (Ritz Carlton’s). But due to our work schedules we can’t always go on the days of our birthdays but I always inform that we are celebrating that occasion. It’s always within the same month give or take a few days. I do this get a better chance of an upgrade, I couldn’t care less about a free bottle of champagne.
My wife and I were legally married (for insurance reasons) a few months before our actual wedding, so our marriage license has the date we went to the courthouse on it rather than the date we observe. Fortunately, it’s been been an issue for us. Unfortunately (I guess), the most we’ve received is a nice card and some cheap wine in the room.
I think it’s tacky to ask for proof, but this can be abused. You just have to take the guest’s words at face value. Hotels don’t have to guarantee gifts for special occasions, but they can make it look special by special turndown and a welcome amenity (snacks), all at a small cost, but not alcohol and suite upgrades. Small gestures, big impact. That’s what you’re looking for.
In my personal experience in the maldives, I think something in the language gets confused a bit. When staying at Conrad maldives in 2019, I told them we were celebrating our anniversary, they wrote back asking for proof, but it also became clear the person was really asking about honeymoon benefits, which I believe was a free dinner and wine. We stayed at Waldorf maldives this July and told them it was our anniversary. They…
In my personal experience in the maldives, I think something in the language gets confused a bit. When staying at Conrad maldives in 2019, I told them we were celebrating our anniversary, they wrote back asking for proof, but it also became clear the person was really asking about honeymoon benefits, which I believe was a free dinner and wine. We stayed at Waldorf maldives this July and told them it was our anniversary. They didn’t ask for any proof. They decorated the bed with “happy anniversary” and then left us a piece of chocolate cake in the villa after dinner.
Have celebrated birthday in Ritz and St. Regis and both hotels were very stingy, way less than a cake. And it’s actually a Grand Hyatt gave out a high quality cake.
stingy hotels. Oh, and #Bonvoyed
I’ve never even tried to get a bonus because of a special occasion, much less lied about such a thing, but it strikes me as tacky for a hotel to request proof. It’s saying they don’t take the guest at their word. They should either offer the amenity to anyone who asks for it, or not at all.
I read about a Japanese guy who was prosecuted for deception as he had 35 girlfriends and told each of them he had a different birthday in order to obtain gifts. If it’s known the hotel is fairly generous in offering anniversary gifts, it does make sense to ask for proof for proof.
I’m undecided on this. We often don’t travel on the exact date, but on the other hand, I’m sure they get hundreds of special occasion requests that may or may not be valid. It would be nice if maybe they gave members a “celebration” cert that you could use once a year that was good for something above and beyond, and perhaps at higher levels of status you got a second yearly cert.
Love this idea! People may want to celebrate things that they don’t have official proof for (e.g., anniversary for long-term partners who are not married). At the same time, this can be abused. It would be nice if elite members in a hotel chain received a celebration certificate that they could use flexibly once per year.
Feels perfectly reasonable.
We’ll be going on our honeymoon in the Seychelles next year, and 2 out of 3 hotels requested proof of marriage in order to provide honeymoon bonuses.
I was initially concerned as one had explicit conditions saying that the wedding date had to be within X months of your stay (which we would not be, as our bookings were made with the season in mind rather than ASAP after the…
Feels perfectly reasonable.
We’ll be going on our honeymoon in the Seychelles next year, and 2 out of 3 hotels requested proof of marriage in order to provide honeymoon bonuses.
I was initially concerned as one had explicit conditions saying that the wedding date had to be within X months of your stay (which we would not be, as our bookings were made with the season in mind rather than ASAP after the wedding) but when I inquired the hotel told me that it wouldn’t be an issue.
Seemed pretty clear that the request is there to simply screen out the folks who are completely fabricating an event. I can’t imagine that any top hotel would try to nitpick if your anniversary is technically a year off, or if you’re celebrating a milestone with a significant delay because life events necessitated a delay.
Legit question – I have been married for 10+ years and have no clue where my wedding certificate is or how to obtain it ?
is that something that states keeps an online record of you can search and download
Yeah. Your state records agency should be able to produce one for you, probably for a nominal fee.
Sorry, just re-read your post. I doubt it’s available online, I’m reasonably sure you’d have to go in-person.
Depends on where the person got married. Some people get married in places without their state of residence even knowing the details about the marriage.
In some places, proof of marriage can be literally pushed out onto typical printer paper on the printer at your own home or office by accessing a court, tax, or population registration office.
Most states are unlikely to be set up to provide this online (until it’s archival). You can often /request/ the document online, usually with a processing fee (vitalchek has contracts with a large number of states/counties), but expect to get a paper document in the mail. Alternatively, you can usually call the county where the wedding took place and for a much cheaper price order a copy directly. (In MD, it’s $2 directly from the…
Most states are unlikely to be set up to provide this online (until it’s archival). You can often /request/ the document online, usually with a processing fee (vitalchek has contracts with a large number of states/counties), but expect to get a paper document in the mail. Alternatively, you can usually call the county where the wedding took place and for a much cheaper price order a copy directly. (In MD, it’s $2 directly from the court, but $12 + processing fee to order online)
I think this is completely reasonable to ask for verification. First of all, why do people rely on hotels and restaurants to make a special occasion “special”?? You should be able to do this without relying on someone else to do it for you. I know people take advantage of this ALL the time. Let’s be honest, nobody really gives a flying you know what if it’s your b-day, anniversary, etc., etc.!! To quote a…
I think this is completely reasonable to ask for verification. First of all, why do people rely on hotels and restaurants to make a special occasion “special”?? You should be able to do this without relying on someone else to do it for you. I know people take advantage of this ALL the time. Let’s be honest, nobody really gives a flying you know what if it’s your b-day, anniversary, etc., etc.!! To quote a local Dallas Drag Queen – “I don’t care about anybody’s birthday except for my birthday and Jesus’ birthday”!! AMEN!!! Restaurants and hotels feel the same way!!
BTW Lucky, I did notice back when you were reviewing the different Paris hotels and I think you were celebrating Ford’s b-day?? It seems y’all were milking that one for all it was worth. Seriously?? How many times can you celebrate a birthday??
I’m concerned with how this kind of policy will come across. For example, my wife and I took a big trip around the world in 2019 to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary by flying biz/first class flights and 5 star hotels across 4 continents (funded primarily with points, obvi). My wife and I were married in January 2008 but due to medical emergencies with our son we weren’t able to realistically take our 10…
I’m concerned with how this kind of policy will come across. For example, my wife and I took a big trip around the world in 2019 to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary by flying biz/first class flights and 5 star hotels across 4 continents (funded primarily with points, obvi). My wife and I were married in January 2008 but due to medical emergencies with our son we weren’t able to realistically take our 10 year anniversary trip until May/June of 2019 — 11.5 years after our wedding. So, we were nowhere near the actual anniversary date.
I reached out to every hotel proactively and let them know that this was a special trip and I wanted a room upgrade to make it extra special. Fortunately, every hotel was kind in recognizing our anniversary with at least an additional amenity and some gave us room upgrades — The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong came through in a BIG way on that room upgrade *swoon*.
I greatly appreciated our treatment for this anniversary trip and I’m especially grateful that we didn’t have to provide proof of a 10yr anniversary date. I’m concerned with how a hotel/restaurant may apply this kind of policy. Life happens all of the time and delays travel and celebrations frequently. So, for a honeymoon or anniversary each hotel may have to create rules around what they consider an appropriate amount of time before/after a specific milestone date. Obviously, if people aren’t married and are claiming that they are visiting for their honeymoon, I totally agree that the hotel has no right to provide any special treatment, but the waters get murky with policies around milestone celebrations.
Not everyone believes the government should be involved in their marriage. You don’t need to be legally married to celebrate a honeymoon or anniversary
This gets messy. The question becomes how long do you have after an anniversary to actually celebrate it. My wife and I had our 30th last May, but we will actually be celebrating it this January at Le Meridien Maldives. I’ll be happy to show them a marriage certificate, but I hope they ask for it before we leave because we won’t be traveling with something like that.
@Exeter19
Wow, you’re really stretching that elastic band to the limits!
I think any hotel would consider, as they say, “the moment has passed!”
Eh. Our 30th wedding anniversary was in July 2020 and we went on our special milestone anniversary trip in July 2021 due to Covid making the originally planned 2020 trip impossible. As Ben article notes, a lot of milestone celebrations have been displaced. Let’s show a little understanding.
We didn’t stay in the kind of places which necessarily do anniversary amenities, but if we had, I think I could legitimately claim we were celebrating…
Eh. Our 30th wedding anniversary was in July 2020 and we went on our special milestone anniversary trip in July 2021 due to Covid making the originally planned 2020 trip impossible. As Ben article notes, a lot of milestone celebrations have been displaced. Let’s show a little understanding.
We didn’t stay in the kind of places which necessarily do anniversary amenities, but if we had, I think I could legitimately claim we were celebrating our 30th anniversary…or our 31st, if you wanted to be technical. (We did get an amazing upgrade at the apartment hotel we stayed at in Paris, but it wasn’t connected to our anniversary).
Happy 30th, or 30.5th, Exeter19! Congratulations on your milestone.
Completely reasonable for the property to ask for evidence if they intends to recognize your occasion. Anyone who says otherwise Is probably lying to get a freebie.
When we visited the Conrad Maldives as part of our honeymoon, they requested a wedding certificate. This was a few years ago so I have no idea what the policy is given the pandemic, but at the time, we were given:
-a fruit basket and bottle of champagne on arrival
-afternoon tea at Rangali Bar
-bed decoration
-a 3 course dinner
-$100 activity/spa credit
While some of these benefits overlap…
When we visited the Conrad Maldives as part of our honeymoon, they requested a wedding certificate. This was a few years ago so I have no idea what the policy is given the pandemic, but at the time, we were given:
-a fruit basket and bottle of champagne on arrival
-afternoon tea at Rangali Bar
-bed decoration
-a 3 course dinner
-$100 activity/spa credit
While some of these benefits overlap with elite benefits, I felt the list above was quite generous and therefore think requesting proof of the honeymoon was reasonable. They did note that they offered this for couples married in the past 12 months that were staying 6 or more nights.
Other occasion recognition we have gotten has been understandably much smaller but has required no proof of the occasion. This has included macarons to celebrate a birthday at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel and “Happy Anniversary” writing on a desert (that we paid for) at the WA Pedregal.
Funny – I stayed at the WA Maldives in September and got a cake for our anniversary no questions asked. As you said, we celebrated late because of the pandemic. P.S. Lucky – how have you not traveled to this hotel? It’s my favorite in the world!
People lie about their birthday more times than not at restaurants/hotels. This seems reasonable.
How can people lie about birthday at hotels though?
If not having to show ID or birth certificate, some people lie. Restaurants that provide birthday discounts often ask for proof of birthdate for the discount to apply.
In some parts or with some hotels, no ID is shown by guests checking in so a birthday liar may try it.
The premise of this whole article is a classic example of “give an inch, take a mile”. Why do us guests expect anything other than the services or products we are staying at the hotel for in the first place? Shame on us. Hotels should be able to offer nice gestures, big or small, without it being an obligation. If it happens, appreciate the gesture. If it doesn’t, appreciate their services and products because you chose to stay there. C’mon folks.
This!!
Does getting a Christmas tree in my hotel room at Christmas count?
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I find this tacky and assumes bad faith on the part of the clientele. Doesn’t seem like a slice of cake and bottle of champagne is worth the possible loss of goodwill. I have been married long enough that I have no idea where our wedding certificate is. We often celebrate a few weeks later for logistics. Will there be a cut off as to when it’s considered our “anniversary trip“?
It’s one thing to verify a birthday but an anniversary? Do most people have their marriage certificate readily available ? Further a lot of people I know will celebrate their anniversary at a different time then the actual date if they are going on vacation to maximize point use.
I’m not married, but producing proof of marriage in order to receive a complimentary gift is not something I’d pursue even if I was.

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