• Lynne Warren

How to plan a dry-hire wedding

Firstly, dry hire is simply the term used for a venue that just offers the building or room for hire, without any other facilities such as staff, entertainment, catering, and decoration. It simply offers a blank canvas.

With a dry hire venue, you are in complete control to put your own personality and creativity on your wedding day which is great if you have a vision in mind of exactly how you want your day to be. You can choose your own caterers, supply your own drinks’, and dress the venue how you like,

moulding it into your perfect event and more importantly allocate more of your wedding budget to the aspects that matter most to you.

Sounds great doesn’t it, so what do you need to think about?

Dry hire offers greater control but demands more responsibility

If you’re considering going this route, then It’s vital you go into it with your eyes wide open as you’re going to have more to think about and organise than at a traditional wedding venue.

Because you are basically hiring an empty building, you will need to bring in all the additional services and have the responsibility of remembering everything and to plan for every eventuality. This is where the services of a professional wedding planner is invaluable; either to plan the whole thing, for partial assistance, or to simply just be there on the day – leaving you to relax and

enjoy everything.


From the very beginning, you should have a clear vision for your event and an understanding of the various elements involved, so that you can establish straight away whether the venue will be able to accommodate you and if your budget is going to match your expectations


A dry hire wedding may seem like a bargain when you compare the price to a curated package at a venue, but they are two different products. Creating a bespoke wedding should not be seen as a cheap alternative as most items need to be brought or hired in. Dry hire weddings will often come with extra costs as they may not have the basic facilities required to cater for guests and it’s therefore essential you do your homework before you make your decision.

Where to Start?

Initially make a list of the suppliers you will need. Obvious ones for your list are registrar, florist, cake, DJ or Band, photographer, videographer, and print. But in addition, you are going to need thing

s that would be included in a traditional wedding venue like tables, chairs, linen, cutlery, glassware and crockery, caterer, waiting and bar staff and drinks. Then you will need to go down to the smallest of details like ice, cleaning equipment, rubbish bags and disposal.

Make sure you know what’s included

Once you have your list you are going to start getting in quotes for all the additional things which make up the total price for the day. You need to understand in advance what’s included so prepare a list of questions for the venue i.e., how long the hire period is, is parking included, are the

re toilets, is there power and light down to where to put the rubbish the following morning – you can now start to see that the costs are mounting up and now is the time to decide what’s most important to you.

Once you know what’s available you can start to think about what food you can offer and decide if it’s a cold buffet,

a hot meal or you may need to bring your caterers in with food vans. The same applies to furniture. What’s available, and does it suit your plan for the day or do you need extra to cater for the ceremony and the reception.

When you get your quotes from your suppliers ensure you ask them for a clear breakdown of what’s included and more specifically what is not included as they are the experts and will know what you should have considered.


You will need to organise this yourself either through your caterer or with your wedding planners help.

Planning staff hours can b

e complicated as you need to plan into their day setting up the room, laying tables, serving the meal, bar service, clearing and breaking down the room then clearing the waste and boxing up the hired crockery, cutlery, and glasses. Ensuring everyone knows exactly what is required of them is vital so that nothing gets overlooked. This is something a wedding planner or on the day coordinator would be able to do in advance to ensure the lines aren’t blurred and there are no jobs that no one wants to do at the end of the night.

Set Up

Create a detailed list of tasks which will need to be undertaken to get the venue ready. Allocate your friends to specific jobs and allow more time than you think you will need for set up – there is always something that takes longer than you imagined. Things don’t always go to plan and putting you

rself under time pressure can be very stressful. Sometimes less is more. Too many helpers can sometimes feel like you are losing control and your day is spent organising the helpers.

Setting up your venue can and should be great fun – make a day of it with your besties and get the bubbles opened.

On the Day

Don’t underestimate how much will be happening on the day of your wedding. If you’ve finished all your set up the day before, there’s still a lot that will only be able to be done on the day. Things like cake and floristry, ice delivery and food preparation.

You will need to create a detailed schedule for the wedding day. What time is each supplier is to arrive and where are t

hey setting up.

Now is the most important time to consider as an absolute minimum having on-the-day assistance for this type of wedding. You will need someone to ensure your suppliers have arrived on time, meet them, and show them where they’re going to be working and deal with any issues or questions they may have. There are so many details to think about including who is greeting your guests, ensuring cars are parked in the right place, replenishing the ice, and checking the loo’s and replacing the loo rolls.

If you’re unsure of your organisation skills or don’t want the expense of a wedding planner or on-the-day coordinator, a dry hire wedding may not be the solution for you. Wedding planners are really experienced at working with dry hire venues and ultimately will save you time, stress, and effort. They have the contacts and the knowledge to support you through every step without taking away the joy of planning your special day

The very best of luck to all of you planning your own dry-hire wedding!

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