Unexpected Wedding Charges when Planning in a Dry Hire Venue

Dry Hire wedding venues have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reason! Whether it’s an old warehouse, a railway arch or an abandoned church, dry hire covers all those fabulous venues that act as an empty shell to house your wedding in, giving you complete creative freedom.

Sticking to your budget is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding- especially in a dry hire venue. To help you manage your budget, and to try and make sure that you avoid any nasty surprises along the way, here’s my guide to the hidden and unexpected wedding costs that you absolutely need to know about.

Venue hire

First things first, ask your venue what exactly is included in your chosen package.

A venue quotation that looks to be on budget can suddenly become unaffordabl when you add 20% to it. The way to avoid unexpected costs here is to ask the questions – does this include or exclude VAT? Will VAT be payable? Will any other service charges be added? Make sure you’ve got all the information to hand BEFORE you sign any contracts.

Most venues will ask for a deposit to confirm your booking. This can surprise couples who weren’t expecting an immediate cost, so be aware of this. Damage deposits for venues may be added on to your total cost. It goes without saying that if you switch venue, you will lose the deposit.

Always check if your dry hire veune charge extra for setup and cleanup? They may handle this in many different ways, especially if the venue must hire extra hands to pick up the flowers, decorations, or rubbish left behind.


After venue hire, catering and drinks is often the next biggest expense for your wedding day. You will want each of your guests to have an awesome time, delicious food and drink, which means that the more guests you have, the higher the overall price of catering, as you pay for each plate consumed. At dry hire venues, (almost) anything goes!

In a perfect world, every wedding venue would come equipped with a full kitchen. Fine dining can be achieved as long as you’re working with a professional catering company who know and understand all the logistics of bringing your most imaginative plans to life. For example, renting a convection oven would cost £80, a microwave would be £30 and a water boiler would be £10, which can quickly add up, especially if there are lots of people to feed.

Don’t forget to account for your guest’s plus ones, make sure you have them in your guest list so you have a total number of guests and your wedding budget will be in shape!


Unlike a hotel or all-inclusive style venue with a team of staff, you will probably need to organise this separately, either via your caterer or sometimes by yourself or with your wedding planner’s help via an agency or similar.

Many catering companies and bartending services can provide wait staff or bartenders for £15-£20 an hour. This depends on a variety of factors like the size of your wedding, if they’re serving alcoholic beverages, and what kind of work the food service entails.

It’s recommended that you have at least one bartender for every 50 guests—or more if you are serving blended alcoholic beverages or specialty cocktails with more than three ingredients like a Long Island Iced Tea.


Blank-canvas wedding venues can certainly look daunting at first sight, and you might be surprised at how quickly the decor costs can rise. It’s tempting to jump in and buy everything you see and like right away, but try not to. Do your research first and really consider the look and feel that you’re hoping to achieve before you start spending money.

Uplighters, festoon lights, and candles are your best friend when it comes to decorating your dry hire venues. These lighting elements are inexpensive, but they make a world of difference.

Flowers add the finishing touch and can raise the bar from special to absolutely spectacular. Hanging foliage is still a big trend.


Hiring chairs, cutlery, crockery, linens and glassware can really add up. Renting wedding chairs may seem pretty straightforward but there are actually lots of chair options available. From standard folding chairs to elegant Chiavari chairs, modern ghost chairs, rustic cross-back chairs, and more, you have many options when it comes to wedding chairs, both from a style perspective and cost. In the U.K., the average starting price for wedding chair rentals is £3 per chair.

Ask that the cost of getting any rentals to and from your venue be included up front; otherwise, the handling fee could reach several hundred pounds if the hire company charges for distance, labor, and number of items rented.

Other costs

These are not applicable to all venues or all weddings but give an idea of additional charges you my incur on a dry hire venue. Security – often insisted upon in places such as galleries/museums where expensive items can be easily accessed and possibly damaged by guests. Budget around £20-30 per hour per guard. Cloakrooms and attendants – primarily for evening events, can often be supplied through catering companies. Some dry hire venues charge for late licences, air con/heating and rubbish disposal.

As your wedding planner I know exactly how to make the most of your budget. I will be able to advise you on what you need to spend money on and what you can economise on or do without. I offer everything from Full Service Planning to Month-of Coordination and many other options that fall in-between. Perfectly Planned 4 You specialise in dry hire weddings, just tell me your vision and I will create what you are looking for.

HI, I'm Cherelle

Welcome to the Perfectly Planned 4 You blog, home to my best wedding tips and inspiration.



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