In the months leading up to ‘I do’, there’s a lot of planning to undertake. But one of the first steps for any newly engaged couple is finding the right venue. 

Whether you’re planning a DIY wedding or searching for a fully furnished venue to step straight into, there’s a few things to first consider.

As the biggest cost associated with your celebration, it’s right to give due consideration to your chosen venue. After all, the average couple spend £4,354 on this part of the day.

Our Guide to Dry Hire Weddings

However, since it will play centre stage to your wedding, it’s worth investing in the perfect backdrop – you can cut corners on other incidentals. 

Here we look at two of the most popular options – a dry wedding and wet wedding venue. 

What is a Dry Hire / Blank Canvas Wedding?

Those new to event planning may be unfamiliar with the term. Dry hire wedding meaning is when you hire out a space as an empty shell, to ‘dress up’ yourself.

Dry hire wedding definition can mean an entire venue or just a room. However, it is provided without any additional add-ons, this includes; catering, waiting staff, furniture, decoration and entertainment. It’s best to check with your venue to see what is covered.

It can be a more cost-effective way to host your big day, but will demand more of your time and organisational skills. If you’re creative, resourceful or love the idea of a DIY wedding, then this can also be a great way to put your personal stamp on the day. And because every element of the party will be personal to you, it’s guaranteed to be a truly unique occasion, unlike any other wedding you or your guests will have attended.

Why have a Dry Hire Wedding?

True to dry hire wedding definition, if you chose to go down this path there’s a couple of points to consider.

First of all, it can be extremely time exhaustive to find suppliers for all the many elements that need to come together. As well as the fun stuff, like caterers and live entertainment, there’s the not-so-glamourous, such as toilets, transport and generators. Then of course someone needs to be in charge to manage them on the day. This can be a job all on its own, and will need careful delegation to the right person to manage suppliers on the day.

When looking at dry hire wedding venues they are often tipis and marquees which give you that bank canvas, however there are also many brick and mortar wedding venues that allow you to just hire the venue, and then it is up to you to create and use the space how you wish.

However, on the upside, a dry hire wedding venue will allow you to dress the location to your heart’s desire. You can hand pick all your suppliers, which offers you greater choice about every touchpoint of the day. This is a big bonus for food and drink fanatics, who often get a handful of options from prescribed wedding venues.

Hiring Food and Drink Suppliers

There are so many great choices for brining caterers in-house, however there are also some quirky and fun ways to bring food and drink to your guests.

The Cocktail Car company is an old converted and renovated camper van that turns into a cocktail bar, something different, something fun and something that will wow your guests.

Then there’s the cost. Alcohol is just one of the biggest expenses of your wedding celebration. However, without inflated prices of booze, and with no corkage to pay, you might be able to make considerable savings. Additionally, with the added bonus of being able to bring in friends and family to help over expensive suppliers, you can add a meaningful homemade touch and at a fraction of the cost!

From quirky gin and cocktail cars to the pizza van, if you love a pizza then the Pizza Peddlers is a fun way to offer food to your guests.

If you’re looking for a blank canvas wedding backdrop to bring your creative dreams to life, then dry hire might be the best option for you, if you don’t want to handle it all on your own then a wedding planner is a great way to help organise suppliers, and also access to their contacts to find some great local suppliers.

Blank Canvas / Dry Hire Wedding Venues

DIY Dry hire venues are great for making the day and the venue your own, there are many venues that allow you to take over and style how you wish, and hire your own suppliers.

Happy Valley Norfolk has it all, it’s a licensed venue with it’s own pretty lake, bridged island, party barns & and beautiful glamping accommodation. It is in a beautiful location and with few restrictions you really can create and style this area how you wish, perfect for those dreamy outdoor wedding ceremonies, or festival style weddings. Here at this Norfolk wedding venue you can bring in your own food and drink suppliers, and allow your guests to camp on site too.

If you are looking for a DIY venue then the Cow Shed is great backdrop to out your own theme and stamp on things. A beautiful rustic barn in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland.  They have three flexible spaces as well as a lovely courtyard and patio area with views to the sea.

At Sychpwll you can create your very own festival style wedding, the unique site acts as a blank canvas allowing you to design exactly how you want your venue day to look and feel. Located in Wales, Sychpwll is the perfect rural retreat for your wedding event in the countryside. Ideal for clamping, hiring your own caterers and bar you can make this your own.

Situated among woodland, greenland and meadowland, Camp Katur is the perfect place to say ‘I do’ and make it all your own. The dream outdoor ceremony perfect for a boho bride, you can decorate this woodland how you please and with the barn for your reception you have the ideal blank canvas and back drop for your day.

Tall John’s House is a blank canvas wedding venue in their beauitful stone Barn, which has been completely restored to make the perfect wedding venue for up to 150 guests with integral toilets and catering area. Here you can make it you own from decorations, suppliers including catering and bar.

A tipi or marquee venue is ideal for a blank canvas and gives you a great frame work to create your perfect wedding, bringing in suppliers for food and drink you can make this a great DIY wedding.

What’s a Wet Hire / All Inclusive Wedding?

If, on the other hand the thought of a blank canvas wedding is overwhelming, but you like the idea of hiring out a specific venue, there are other options.

The wet hire venue definition refers to hiring out a venue space along with a number of additional benefits, these usually include; catering, staff, drinks, event planners and audio-visual services. Do check with your preferred venue in advance of booking to understand what it covers.

So now you know the difference between the two, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each, to help you make a more informed decision.

Why have a Wet Hire Wedding? 

There’s many benefits to hosting a wet hire wedding. If you’re short on time, or don’t revel in the thought of organising an event, then the in-house coordinator will guide you through it.

There’s also the benefit of having most of the key suppliers organised already – usually these will be preferred suppliers with a proven track record. A bonus only if you don’t mind being limited by some of the choices, especially when it comes to the highly anticipated wedding breakfast.

And of course, there are a few downsides too. Keep in mind that you may have to share your venue with another wedding on the same day or weekend, which may restrict your time there.

It also means that you’re less able to personalise the day, with some suppliers wrapped up in the wedding package. Overall, this tends to have an impact on cost too. It will likely cost more to hire a wet venue rather than a dry hire wedding venue, even with all things considered.

Final thoughts

With a clearer understanding of both wet and dry hire wedding meanings, you should have a better idea of which type of wedding venue hire is best suited to your big day.

Every wedding is different, and there is no wrong or right answer. The best decision will be the one you make, knowing that whatever you choose, you will have planned it with consideration, to create a lifetime of memories to look back on.