Your Guide to Hiring a Dry Hire Wedding Venue

Written by Caitlin Hoare
While we could name you lots of wedding venues who provide everything that a couple could possibly want and need for their big day, there’s also a LOT to be said for hiring a dry hire venue and adding your own individual touches.

We understand though that while the prospect of booking a ‘blank canvas’ or ‘dry hire’ venue offers enormous scope and flexibility it can also be a little daunting! With this in mind we are delighted to welcome Travis Collins to the blog today. Dry-hire expert and Marketing Manager of cool London venue collection, Shoreditch London, which include Directory members Shoreditch Studios and Kachette within their portfolio.

He is here to walk us through the key details of hiring a ‘dry’ venue, how it could be an exciting, personal and flexible route for many, and answer some of the questions that you might find helpful when considering booking your own dry hire venue.

Over to Travis…

About Dry Hire Wedding Venues

What does ‘dry hire’ mean?

Dry hire simply means that a venue is hired as an empty space, without catering, furniture or entertainment included in the price of the venue hire.

Dry hire venues do not offer fixed all-inclusive packages, so you can build your day around your own ideas and you can work with any wedding suppliers that fit with the vision of your wedding day. Dry hire weddings give you the freedom to ignore all wedding traditions so you can do something different and personal for your wedding.

Dry hire weddings have always been popular with creative couples, event industry staff, LGBTQ+ couples or super organised couples that love to DIY everything. 

Why might couples choose to hire a dry hire venue over a venue that provides everything?

With dry hire you have full control over every aspect of the day. You can work with any caterer you like, you decide on your starting and finishing times, you can get creative with decor, flowers, lighting or furniture choices and you can even BYO drinks too if you like. Dry hire gives you a lot of flexibility in every aspect of your day and also gives you more control in allocating your budget to what matters most to you. 

Dry hire weddings are also much more flexible than traditional wedding venues. If you are the kind of couple that dreads traditions, or if a set menu puts you off, then dry hire is a great option. If you are after a simple, ready-to-book venue with very few decisions to make, then dry hire is probably not for you unless you work with a wedding planner.

All dry hire wedding venues operate a little differently, some venues charge couples corkage for BYO drinks or charge a buyout fee for working with external caterers. At Shoreditch London’s dry hire wedding venues Shoreditch Studios and Kachette, you are not restricted to use our recommended suppliers or caterers, and we don’t charge a corkage fee or a buyout.

What can couples expect to pay for on top of the venue hire fee?

Every wedding in a dry hire venue is completely different, with a different setup, different menu, different start and finish times and unique guest numbers so it’s difficult to compare to a package wedding venue. 

A dry hire wedding might be more expensive than some package or traditional wedding venues but it’s flexibility and the bespoke nature of dry hire that makes any potential extra spend worthwhile. Package venues include staff, furniture and often have kitchens on site whereas dry hire weddings need to be built from an empty room, staffed and packed up on the day so transport and setup costs need to be factored in with supplier costs. Dry hire venues also have access to late licences too so couples can party past midnight for an additional fee which is not always possible in package wedding venues.

Traditional venues and package venues have a high season and low season rates whereas dry hire venues are often the same hire fee all year. But whether you hire a package or a dry hire venue, you still have a budget you have to stick to. With a dry hire venue you have more freedom on where the money goes. You can DIY or we will work with you on a custom package that works for your budget.

How long is the hire period?

At Shoreditch Studios, the dry hire period is 9am to midnight. At Kachette the dry hire period is 10am to midnight. Both venues include an additional two hour period for de-rig. Even the most elaborate wedding can be set up by about 1 or 2pm so couples never need early access. Closing time is up to you, you can finish at midnight or pay a late licence fee to stay open all night.

Many couples choose to stay open later than midnight so we apply for a TEN late licence and charge couples £300 per hour for staying open late. Shoreditch Studios weddings normally open until 1am, at Kachette we host a lot of informal reception parties for couples who love to party until 4am or later.

Are your venues licensed for civil ceremonies?

Both venues are licensed for civil ceremonies with Hackney Council. The council charge a fee of £600 for two registrars to host your civil ceremony and to witness the signing of your wedding certificate.

What’s included in the dry hire venue fee?

Both venues include free high-speed WiFi and PAs in every room. Background music can then be played through the PA for your ceremony and your DJ or band can plug into the sound system for your reception party. At Shoreditch Studios, there are iPads in both rooms too so you can load your playlists on those. At Kachette you can plug your phone or an iPad into the system from the upstairs office or DJ rigging points around the venue.

Our PAs have really great sound. Shoreditch London’s director has been running events and warehouse parties in Shoreditch since the late 80’s so he knows a thing or two about setting up sound systems! 

what staff do you provide and what do they typically help with?

A duty manager is included with the dry hire. They are on site to open and close the venue, manage security and the health and safety of all guests at your wedding. All other staff are hired in according to what you are planning or in regards to your external suppliers staffing costs are often already included. 

Security guards are required for all weddings and events in our venues. Other staff you may want to hire include someone to manage your cloakroom or a bathroom cleaner for later in the evening. Depending on how many suppliers you are working with, it’s sometimes advised to hire a wedding coordinator. 

Do you work with recommended local suppliers?

We have a great range of recommended independent and local wedding suppliers who in a way are part of our team. We have caterers, lighting suppliers and furniture suppliers who we have worked with since our company was founded in 2006 so we have a lot of trust that all our recommended suppliers can provide anything you need for your wedding. Most couples choose to hire our suppliers because they are so flexible and find a way to work with most budgets. 

Some couples prefer to find their own wedding suppliers or caterers which of course they are welcome to do. We brief all new suppliers on how we operate and also welcome couples to hire a wedding planner if needed. We can recommend several great wedding planners that have worked in our venues previously. 

You can find a full list of our recommended suppliers HERE.

What can couples do / not do in regards to décor?

We try not to put any restrictions on what couples can do in the venues. We welcome couples to really customise the venue. You can hang decorations from the industrial lighting truss, the walls, you can put down carpets, staging, anything goes really. Candles are also welcome throughout the venues, as long as the flame is inside a glass.

Shoreditch Studios and Kachette are both two-room wedding venues so you can change over the rooms as many times as you like in order to create new spaces for different aspects of your wedding day. With some decor and lighting changes, your ceremony room can look completely different to your reception meal room or your party room.

Do you charge a clean-up / break-down fee?

End of the night cleaning is included with the dry hire fee. Caterers clean up and pack down their kitchens and bar when they are finished so clearing places or cleaning glasses is included with your catering and drinks quote. Lighting and furniture suppliers also charge a set-up or break-down fee with their quotes. 

If you’re on the search for a flexible London wedding venue, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with Shoreditch Studios or Kachette.

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