You've got the ring on your finger, you've chosen the perfect date and found some beautiful venue options, but now it's time to decide whether to go dry hire or accept all the add-ons that a venue can offer. It's a controversial topic in the world of wedding planning and there are pros and cons to each of them. To to make life a little easier, I'm going to highlight points on both sides to allow you to make an educated decision that's best for you.
The Benefits of Dry Hire...
It's a blank canvas! With dry hire, you have the freedom to do exactly what you want and how you want it. You can bring your vision to life without the venue restrictions and limitations. Whether that's in terms of decor, food or drink, you can make your day your way and have complete control over all decisions. If you're a creative queen ready to be unleashed, then this is the option for you.
It can be more affordable. If your budget is tight and you feel you can outsource suppliers for less money, then it may be more beneficial for you to do the research yourself. You can prioritise the areas that are more important to you and spread your money however you wish.
Often you will be given more time in a dry hire situation, so you can party as late as you please! All inclusive venues often have a quick turnaround and ask you to wrap up sooner.
You will have the venue all to yourself! If you have rented a venue to do with as you please, then you will have full exclusivity of the venue.
The Issues With Dry Hire...
Dry hire is easier said than done. You are essentially doing everything from scratch, which generally will come with a lot more work. You won't have the same guidance from the venue, and you will most likely have to hire many different suppliers, as apposed to them all being in one place.
Be aware that most venues still charge you for things like bringing your own drinks in. This is called a corkage fee and is usually priced per bottle of wine for example. You may sometimes find that it is not actully worth doing this. Find out how much your venue charges for each type of drink first, so that you can do the maths and work out whether the hassle will result in a big saving or a similar financial outcome.
You or your team of minions will have to coordinate and set up the venue yourselves (unless you hire a wedding plannerof course!) You will need to ensure all suppliers are there at the correct times and setting up the way that you want them to. After the event, it will then be your responsibility to tidy the venue and leave it in it's original condition.
The Benefits of All Inclusive
All logistics leading up to the wedding and on the day itself will be figured out for you. Generally these venues will have done the same set up and schedule hundreds of times and the day will run like clock work without you needing to lift a finger.
You will know early on how much you will be spending on the main areas of the day. Without the help of a professional, it can be easy to blow your budget out of the water bit by bit when booking suppliers seperately. With an all inclusive package, it may seem a lot in one go, but you will have the large costs covered from the start without any nasty surprises later on.
All aspects of your wedding day will be well rehersed. From the caterers to the florist and perhaps even the entertainment that they offer, you will (or should) be guarenteed a seamless performance. Unlike outside suppliers, they will have practised their roles time and time again in your chosen venue, smoothed out any cracks and should be ready to deliver you an outstanding service.
The Issues With All Inclusive
You will have little to no control over how the day is arranged. Everything from the table layout to the schedule will be figured out for you with not a lot of wiggle room. It's easier for sure, but if you were looking for a more bespoke day, then this would not be the package for you.
There will be very little freedom of exactly how you are spending your money. Your choices will be limited and the prices will be fixed. You may also find a slightly higher mark up than with independant suppliers.
The venue may only offer services to a certain standard. For example, if you're a real foodie and wanted to have a top chef produce you and your guests a 5* meal, this may not be possible from their in-house caterers and you may be left feeling dissapointed.
You may have to share your venue with another wedding. Dry hire means the venue will be solely yours, but you'll find a lot of larger venues will hold more than one wedding on the same day.
As you can probably see, there are valid points for both options and it really does depend on what type of couple you are, your preferences, circumstances and style. There is no right or wrong, so go with what resonates with you. Always read the fine print and check venue restrictions before signing on the dotted line!