Five Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Dry Hire Barn Wedding

When the days are longer, and spring becomes summer, barn weddings really come into their own. Often found in picturesque locations with characterful interiors, barn wedding venues can offer the perfect backdrop when fully embracing rustic elegance.

After a trying year, confidence in weddings is on the up. We’re seeing a sharp increase in last minute wedding day coordination enquiries from couples planning outdoor and barn-style dry hire weddings. If today is the first time you’ve heard the term dry hire, go ahead and add it to your wedding planning dictionary; in short, dry hire defines wedding venues where you are hiring a completely blank canvas. No packages or all-inclusive options apply, and in most cases, you are simply hiring an empty space for you to make your mark.

In today’s feature we’ll cover the possible pitfalls that couples can face when coordinating a barn wedding, and suggest how you can easily overcome them.

Before we dive into the nitty gritty, it is important to be clear about what we mean when we talk about barn weddings. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? When you look a little closer though, you will see that there are several things for you to consider. When you hear the term ‘barn wedding’ you may picture a stand-alone wooden building in the middle of a field. Or perhaps you envisage it as part of a wider farm (or farm-style) property. While these scenarios may be true for many venues, there are other possibilities and a lot more potential with a barn wedding venue than you may first realise!

You will find several barn wedding venues right here, including those which have all the charm of a rustic setting with the added benefit of contemporary features and modern conveniences. If you want to explore the array of barns on offer in the UK, do check out Lottie’s round-up feature from Wednesday!

But first, let’s focus on the ‘traditional’ dry-hire barn setting, and how you can ensure your barn wedding celebrations unfold effortlessly.

Selecting a Barn with No ‘Getting Ready’ Space

When coordinating barn weddings we always ask our couples whether they have thought about where they will get ready. Some barns, such as Millbridge Court and The Tythe Barn have incredible spaces for both wedding parties, but in many traditional barn locations getting ready space is not available. Ensure that you ask before booking what additional facilities are available for wedding day preparations. If not available onsite then be sure to enquire about options in the surrounding area, such as hotels, B&Bs etc. For couples who are considering an outfit change this will be an important logistical wedding day consideration. Leaving your wedding to whizz off to a separate venue to get changed will interrupt the flow and momentum of your day.

Hidden Costs

Dry hire barn weddings will generally come with extra costs as they may not have the basic facilities which are normally included in other types of venues. Portable bathrooms, kitchen facilities for your hospitality team, and internal heating or air conditioning will all need to be considered when booking a traditional barn venue.

For dry hire barns you will likely have a blank canvas to work with which is a pretty exciting prospect, but as well as decor you may need to consider hiring in additional items such as tables, chairs, linen, cutlery, glassware and crockery. What may appear affordable in your wedding budget parameters could quickly spiral as these extras mount up. Be sure to ask for a full breakdown of what is included in the price, and research some of the basic facilities which you may need to source additionally.

No ‘British Weather’  Option

Make sure that your barn has a separate indoor ceremony option in case of rain. In the summer months we have to be realistic that the UK’s summer could very well be a rainy season. If the barn venue you have your heart set on does not have an alternative wet option, your on-the-day choices will be limited. In the event of good weather you will be able to have an outdoor ceremony followed by an outdoor drinks reception before moving into the barn for the wedding breakfast and evening party. Sounds great! But if it rains the wet option is an indoor ceremony followed by a potentially soggy outdoor drinks reception whilst your ceremony space is being transformed into your wedding reception room.

Bear in mind that the room transformation can take 60 – 90 minutes (or longer depending on the wedding size and planned decor). Whilst this takes place you may have the option of having your guests remain in the room, but it is not advisable. A fantastic solution would be to erect a marquee or stretch tent-type structure next to the barn so that your guests can enjoy the drinks reception under cover and the dining space can be set up in secret!


To avoid your wedding day being interrupted by requests to turn off the music – make sure to check if there are any residential noise restrictions from the nearby areas, if in a rural location. This works both ways! If you’re in a field or close to a farm, then ask about surrounding noise from tractors, farming equipment, and livestock. These could all be very real disruptions on a working farm, and could have a huge impact on your day. We would definitely recommend speaking with the owner of the property to be very clear about whether this is something to be concerned about. If there is a potential challenge, don’t give up your dream barn venue just yet – a bottle of wine or an agreed fee to negotiate a tractor-free day wouldn’t go amiss!

Guest Journeys

Although winding country roads are a joy during the day, they can be both hazardous and frightening for your guests to navigate at night if they are not familiar with the area. If getting to and from your barn location requires guests to travel through remote country lanes, consider transport in the form of a coach or minibus. If there’s a walk through fields or lanes involved, think about illuminating the way when evening falls. This also goes for external facilities such as portable bathrooms so that guests can find their way safely. There are so many gorgeous lighting options available – festoons, lanterns, solar lights etc, all will look totally magical as the sun sets and really add to the atmosphere.


We hope very much that this advice can help you achieve your dream dry hire barn wedding by furnishing you with a few things you may not have considered. Armed with the right information, you can proceed with planning your day in confidence.

In the Venue Finder you will find a stunning range of barn venues. Whether you dream of simple rustic charm (traditional oak beams, hard packed floor, dancing on grass with cows watching over the gate), or a super-chic luxury rural destination with all the mod cons, you will find the perfect barn venue for your wedding.

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