Hello FWS readers! We hope that you’ve had a lovely week so far, and that you’ve enjoyed the 2 real weddings that we’ve brought you?
Today on the blog, we welcome back resident expert Fabienne – owner of Elian Concept Weddings and Events who is going to answer 8 questions you may have on Dry Hire wedding venue planning – starting with what Dry Hire actually is!
Over to Fabienne…
When the French Wedding Style team asked me to discuss dry hire venues on the blog, I was wondering how many of the newly engaged couples had ever heard of this expression or knew what it meant, unless they were working in the event industry of course. I don’t think it is much in use in the French Destination wedding world and the French translation ‘location sèche’ is not really heard of either except in corporate events.
Country estate orangery – Photo credit: Amandine Ropars
1-What is dry hire?
The rather dull and unattractive expression simply means hiring a venue, a room or a space without any other features, i.e. no furniture (event furniture that is), no catering, no tableware, no creative lighting, no audio system, no staff. It is also referred as ‘blank canvas’, where you start from scratch with an ‘empty shell’ to create your dream event.
So you see, many of you were probably doing it without knowing. A lot of the French wedding venues that attract couples wanting to get married in France are dry-hire, partially or totally.
Provence Luxury Farmhouse Venue – Photo credit: Boheme Moon Photography
2-What is the advantage of a dry-hire venue over an all-inclusive venue?
It does offer a higher level of freedom with more flexibility than venue packages, where the essentials (catering, furniture and tableware), and sometimes more, are provided. There is undoubtedly more control over the way your day will look.
3-Which types of venues are we talking about?
There can be many, from Chateaux or barns, to more contemporary buildings in a city or outdoor spaces such as wood, beach, garden. The ones requiring a marquee, for whatever reason, are typically blank canvas. While some venues are only available to dry hire, others can have it as an option, so don’t dismiss venues that may seem to only do packages.
Industrial style venue – Photo credit: Pierre Atelier
Industrial style wedding – Photo credit: Pierre Atelier
French chateaux, which are very popular for destination weddings in France, are not completely blank canvas of course, as most come with their own indoor features and décor, which is worth keeping in mind when styling your wedding.
Paris Mansion House – Reception room
Paris Mansion House Wedding– photo credit: Krystal Kenney
4-Will it cost less than all-inclusive venue hire?
Initially it may look cheaper, but this is not a fair judgment as, to compare like for like, services that are included in a package should be figured out and added to the space-only hire fees. I appreciate it is more easily said than done, especially when you are at the very start of planning your wedding and impatient to secure your venue, if you feel you found the ideal one. However it is a critical step to avoid issues further down the process. Draft a budget estimating the cost of all the things that are not included. This will lead to another critical step, knowing as precisely as possible what is and is not part of the rental contract.
Country estate venue – Photo credit: Amandine Ropars
Country estate – Barn wedding – Photo credit: Amandine Ropars
5-What is the best course of action to find out?
Like with any other venues, you should do your homework before signing a contract. It just needs to be more thorough when choosing the dry-hire route.
Gathering as much information as possible online and communicating with the venue owners/managers to narrow your choices down to a shortlist of 2 to 3 maximum which I highly recommend visiting in person. These visits should be comprehensive so you leave with a good understanding of what you can or can’t do, also known as the ‘house rules’ and what is and is not included in the price. Do not hesitate to discuss the details of your plans and ideas. It is best to find out if there is any restriction from the very beginning and not risk disappointment or unexpected expenses at a later stage. Once you have booked and pay the deposit, it will be too late.
Photo credit: Authentic Love Photography
Here is our Wedding Venue Visit Checklist to help you with your search –
Ask for clarification when you are not sure and do not assume that what is allowed by one venue, will be by another one. There is no one rule fits all. For this, it helps to have a good idea of what you want to achieve and what is important for you, so you can check it is possible. If you dream about a candlelit dinner, or going down a beautifully flowered staircase, or outdoor garden games, you would not want to discover that the venue do not authorise live flame or plants indoor, and that they don’t want the manicured lawn ruined by too many guests trampling.
Finally, read the contract carefully, and read it again. As importantly, do not assume what is not written and share your concerns. Most venues will accommodate your requests within reasons.
6-Who is dry-hiring a venue for?
It is more suited if you want greater control of your day, in particular food or styling; if you are comfortable with the organisation of an event from scratch (or you have hired a wedding planner); if you have time on your hands, as you will have to deal with much more admin, people, potential issues etc. than you would with a package and if you are confident in hand-picking a team of suppliers which will bring your vision together. You can choose whoever you want, which is great, but they might not be accustomed to the venue you have chosen or they may not have the experience necessary to work in a dry-hire venue context.
7-Will it be wise to have a wedding planner or coordinator?
As explained, it can be difficult to start with a blank canvas and arrange a wedding from scratch, especially if you live abroad and if you have a busy working life. It may indeed be a good idea to get help from a professional from the very beginning, with finding your ideal venue and then along the way. The role of a wedding planner is to bring your vision to life, finding the best suppliers to do so and facilitating all the admin tasks and logistics. You will still keep full control of your day. For a destination wedding in particular, your planner (if bilingual of course) will be a precious assistance to eliminate language barrier, which is important in such an environment.
Provence Luxury Farmhouse Wedding – Photo credit: Boheme Moon Photography
Alternatively if you are happy to go through the whole planning process yourself, you may find a relief to hire a coordinator to manage the few days leading to the wedding and the day itself, so you can enjoy it fully!
8-Dry-hire wedding venues seem a complicated affair, don’t you think?
They are more demanding than all or partially inclusive venues, although far from me to try talk you out of dry hire wedding venues. Personally, I love them. I love the flexibility they bring, I love the challenge that forces you to think out of the box and find solutions to achieve a dream vision, and most of all I love the team work required to make it happen. Yes, they can be trying, but they are immensely rewarding!
Top Photo credit: Pierre Atelier