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Venue Hire - What does it mean?

How much should I pay for venue hire for my wedding?

When you’re planning an event or party and first begin receiving quotes from venues with ‘venue hire’ or ‘venue fees’, some can range from £0 all the way up to 10’s of thousands. We know it can be daunting. Why are some places charging venue hire fees and others are not? What is included in my venue hire? What isn’t included in my venue hire?

Differentiating venue hire fees can make it difficult to easily compare different venues and understand what each venue is providing for the overall cost. We’ve broken it down for you to understand.

The first thing to know is that there are 3 main styles of event pricing that your venue will be offering, and it’s important to establish which way your wedding is being quoted in order to understand your venue hire costs - here's what to expect:

  • Package Wedding

  • Al A Carte Wedding

  • Dry Hire Wedding


A package wedding or event is exactly as it sounds. The experts at the venue have already thought ahead about all the essentials and ‘must have’s’ that their clients would like for their event, and bundled it all into one. You'll usually find a package at a venue that has catering and bar facilities in-house, such as a hotel or country house.

A package can be quoted in the following ways:

  • Venue hire, plus package prices

  • No venue hire, and a package price

  • Packages can be presented in various ways, including; A per head cost for the total wedding; A per head cost for individual aspects such as, drinks package, catering package, entertainment package etc or; A total price which covers a certain amount of people, for example, a cost for up to 50 guests and then a per head price for any additional guests above this amount

However the package/s are quoted, your package will include multiple items, rather than listing them separately.

Now that you understand how package weddings are quoted, what does that venue hire mean and include? This is entirely different for every venue and will vary significantly - and this is where it pays to have the help of a wedding or event planner.

Some venues will not include anything in their venue hire and this is a standard base amount that you pay to host your big day at their venue. Others will include particular items in order to make the venue hire seem less disposable such as:

  • Bridal dressing room on the morning or a bedroom for the event organiser

  • In-house DJ or entertainment

  • Toastmaster

  • Welcome drinks on arrival

Supplies that are included within venue hire will have pre-agreed a lower rate than if you source them yourself direct, so you’re often getting a great deal. However, always ask for the suppliers details so that you can look them up before assuming so. It may sound great to have a DJ included in the venue hire, but if he doesn’t have the image or the songs you’re looking for then you may end up sourcing your own further down the planning process.

Al A Carte

An Al A Carte wedding or event will not include any packages. Instead, it will have each item listed individually and the cost will be completely bespoke to your big day. Each venue will have their own way of listing items, for example, some venues will quote Champagne cost by the glass, others will quote by the bottle with details of how many glasses you will receive from each bottle (this is 5/6 by the way)! You'll often find there is a lot of variation in price between peak and off-peak dates at venues who use this approach to pricing.

An Al A Carte quote will usually include a venue hire as they don’t have a package to build this expense into. The venue hire on a Al A Carte wedding won’t usually include anything other than the dry hire of the venue for the duration of your event, and is essential to cover the costs of heating, lighting and other essentials whilst you’re there. It's also important to remember that for much-sought-after venues, the venue hire will be higher, as you're paying for the privilege of hosting your big day there.

Dry Hire

Dry hire venue costs are the most straightforward of the 3. If you dry hire a venue, you are hiring the venue for a duration of time and no other services are sourced from the venue themselves.

A dry hire option can be beneficial in many ways, most importantly, the option allows you to bring in your own suppliers - including the caterers and bar (which would not usually be permitted under the other options). Due to this, your venue hire for a dry hire option could be significantly higher as the venue will not make any other income on that day through services provided to you.

It’s important to understand that a dry hire option with a venue will mean that you will have minimum guidance or assistance from the venue itself during the lead up and on the day. The venue will be responsible for ensuring the building is ready for you and your suppliers on the day, such as the venue being clean and heated, however they won’t provide any assistance once you arrive. The venue will also provide you will all of the information you need however, they will not assist you with the planning process. This is where it pays to have the help of a wedding planner to help bring your big day to life.

This reason that dry hire wedding venues do not assist is that they are not able to offer any services as part of the agreement contractually. To get technical, the VAT is calculated differently with a dry hire, and as soon as a service is provided, or additional items are added on the rules change.

The one thing you can be sure of, is that they will be there to make sure the grounds are ready for your arrival and everything is presentable and clear for your suppliers. They will also have someone present to lock up at the end of the evening, so you won’t be left with any big responsibilities.

The only other expense that you can expect to pay to a dry hire venue is a damage deposit. This always refundable and is taken prior to the wedding to ensure any major breakages by suppliers or guests are covered.

Navigating your way through venue hire costs can be confusing. Hopefully our simple explanation of the 3 types of venue hire costs will make things a little clearer for you. If you have any questions about venue hire or anything else, get in touch with us and we’ll always be happy to help!

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