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  • Writer's pictureEvie West

What does dry hire venue actually mean when planning a wedding?

I can't believe that it has been one whole year since I launched The Country Blush; it's been amazing, exhausting and challenging all rolled in to one, but I have learnt so much along the way. I've been fortunate enough to have assisted an array of highly experienced planners, as well as organising weddings for my own clients; mainly working at dry hire venues up and down the country. One question that I've found has popped up time and time again, is "what does dry hire venue mean?", so here I am ready to answer that for you once and for all!

Bride and Groom with guests after their wedding ceremony.

What does dry hire venue mean?

A dry hire venue is a venue where you are only hiring the space - whether that is a barn, a country house, an event space - or even a marquee. There are no catering teams, bar staff or other services included in the hire; sometimes there isn't even any furniture or equipment included either. The opposite is a 'wet hire venue' where they have their own catering teams and bar staff, and may even include services such as flowers, styling and decor in a package. A semi-permanent marquee at a venue, could count as a dry hire venue - but remember, a marquee wedding at home or in a field requires a much greater level of planning and organisation - see the links below for more help on marquee weddings.

The benefits of having a dry hire venue

Dry hire venues are the perfect option for people who really want to put their own stamp on their wedding day, sometimes even being referred to as 'blank canvas' venues. If you don't have to pick a certain package, or use certain suppliers, you have more freedom to organise your event how you wish, decorate how you like and serve up your favourite food and drink! But like anything, check with your venue first as they all have different levels of dry hire.

Gin bottle table plan on wooden ladder decorated with wild flowers

Questions to ask before you book a dry hire venue

It's important that you ask the right questions when booking any venue, for any occasion; but even more so, when you're looking to book a dry hire venue.

Here are my top 5 questions to ask:

  1. What equipment is included in the hire? Just to make things more confusing - not all dry hire venues are the same! I've been at venues where they have a fully equipped catering kitchen for you to use, and others where there isn't even an oven or fridge! It is essential that you find out what is and isn't available at your chosen venue.

  2. Is there any furniture included in the hire price? Like above, some dry hire venues have furniture included that you are welcome to use; but at other venues you will need to hire in everything from dining tables and chairs to relaxed seating areas for your guests.

  3. Will there be any members of staff on duty on the day? Even if you have a wedding planner or coordinator for your big day, it is important to find out if there will be venue staff on site. Sometimes they are on site, but in an office - there for any essential queries such as dealing with sound limiters that keep going off! At other venues the staff member simply unlocks the venue, leaves you to it, and then locks up at the end of the night.

  4. When do you have access to the venue? With a dry hire venue you will have to organise a larger number of suppliers, and possibly spend more time setting up and decorating. That is why it is so important to find out when you are allowed to have access to the venue. You won't be able to fully style and set up your wedding ready for a midday ceremony, if you only have access from 10am.

  5. Do you have to use certain suppliers? Some venues will give you total free reign to choose the exact suppliers that you want; however, others may ask you to choose from a list of approved suppliers. This can be quite common when it comes to choosing your caterers, as the catering is a large part of any event - and it can help when they know the kitchen that they are working in.

Trestle tables set up with vintage crockery and flowers in a wedding barn.

Things to consider when organising your wedding at a dry hire venue

  • Are there suppliers who work there regularly and know the venue?

  • Who will coordinate your wedding on the day?

  • Are your bar team providing glassware and/or washing glasses on the day?

  • Who is providing any linens, crockery, cutlery etc? This could be your caterers - but double check.

  • Who is responsible for clearing up at the end of the night?

  • How do you dispose of any rubbish?

  • Is there an emergency contact for on the day?

  • Do you need event security?

To summarise 'what does dry hire venue mean?' - it is a venue where you are only hiring the event space, you are not hiring a team of caterers and staff with it. Dry hire venues can appeal to people as the 'cheaper' option, but don't be fooled - there are so many things that you need to hire on top, that the cost can soon quickly add up. Please just make sure that you don't get caught out by this, as that is so often the case! I love a dry hire venue as they allow couples to make their wedding day theirs!

To find out more about catering at a marquee or dry hire venue have a look at my blog post all about Space + Thyme.

Or to find out more about marquee weddings, take a peek at my blog on marquee types or my post on what to include in a marquee budget.

Photographs taken at The Great Barn, Rolvenden by Ashleigh Britten Photography

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