Opting for a dry hire wedding is an excellent way to achieve the wedding of your dreams – you can create your day the way YOU always imagined, by shaping an empty space and applying your theme using creative decor choices, alternative catering (think anything from a Thai buffet to a Fish ‘n’ Chip van to Mexican street food) and hiring in everything that you need to fulfill your wedding day vision. This all sounds super exciting right? And, it is! As long as you are prepared to roll up your sleeves, rally up an army of helpers and get yourself organised.
Many couples go for dry hire if they’re planning an outdoor summer wedding. In terms of venue, the options are anything from wild and free (fields, forests and farms) to slightly more conventional (town/village halls or barns). The one thing to remember is that dry hire means… well, exactly what it says on the tin! You are hiring a stand alone venue without contents. So, all those things you take for granted in a fully facilitated space, i.e., tables, chairs and even toilets, will need to be separately hired in.
I worked with a gorgeous couple last summer to help them achieve their dry hire dreams – Phoebe and Nick were married at a fishery in Surrey and hired a tipi as a focal point for their feast and party. They needed to sort everything themselves and work with numerous suppliers and contacts to make their day happen. They organised everything from water stations and toilets, (they got married on one of the hottest days of the year!) to catering, booze and entertainment, not forgetting the small things like cutlery and napkins! Having a coordinator on the day is a really good idea for any wedding, especially a dry hire gig, and I loved being a part of their special day.
If you’re planning a dry hire day, there are some things that you will need to think of to ensure your wedding runs smoothly from set up to take down. Phoebe has kindly shared her top tipi (dry hire wedding) tips to help you plan your way to a successful and stress-free wedding… for you and your guests!
Let’s hand over to Phoebe to give us her best advice on how to plan a dry hire wedding…
Make a Plan and Get a Notebook
“Get a notebook that you can make your own. You will be liaising with lots of suppliers directly, and you will have so many creative ideas that it’s a good idea to keep them all in one book! I had a big spiral bound book that had cut-outs from magazines, printed screenshots, mood boards, leaflets from wedding fairs and anything else that inspired me during the planning process.”
Imagine YOU are the Guest!
“Walk through your day as a guest and try to imagine their experience and what they will take away from the day. We got married in a summer heatwave, so walking through the day made us think about what we could do to help guests be more comfortable, including their arrival to the ceremony, drinks, dinner, dancing and getting home safely. We ended up tweaking our ‘to-do’ list quite a lot after considering life as a guest at our wedding! We created signs for the car park and ceremony area with instructions of how long the walk from parking to ceremony would be (great warning in advance for girls with heels!) and also good to inform our elderly guests of what to expect upon arrival.”
Soft Drinks and Shade
“Make sure (especially if you are hosting an outdoor summer wedding) that there are chilled drinks and lots of water available on arrival. There would be nothing more disappointing than knowing your guests were uncomfortable or thirsty. It’s also important to create shaded spots for people to sit, relax and escape the sun.”
Booze Back Up Plan
“Have a booze back up plan! We went to France to pick up our wine (via Majestic), but while we thought we’d got absolutely loads, it dawned on us closer to the time we had calculated the wine buying completely wrong! We ended up hiring an amazing horse box bar called The Dawdling Duck, which allowed guests to buy drinks as well, and they could provide something for everyone.”
“Make sure you budget for toilets at a dry hire wedding! These can often cost more than you had anticipated so do your research and hire enough toilets for everyone! Also, don’t go for the cheap and cheerful option – no one in a wedding outfit wants to be in a blue toilet with wet floor and no tissue – not at all glam! Equally, ensure guests have information about WHERE to go to the toilet! You can make your own signage or perhaps create a map of facilities on site – managing guests expectations and informing them along the way is key to a successful dry hire wedding!”
Hire an ‘On the Day’ Coordinator!
“The best thing we did was to hire an on-the-day-coordinator. (THANKS PHOEBE!! 😘 ) We hired Laura from Devine Bride to ensure that everything was taken care of. It took so much pressure away from us on the day, and it was so nice to know that everything in hand. With a dry hire wedding, you really need a designated person who can deal with problems and unforseen issues on the day. It’s also great for guests to have a point of contact that doesn’t rely on them having to bother you on your big day!”
Just Say YES!
“Say yes to people offering to help the day before with setup. People LOVE to feel part of your special day, and it’s definitely better to have all hands on deck and finish up early rather than be frantically folding napkins late into your pre-wedding eve!
Bonus Tip – for dry hire set up days, make sure there’s someone dedicated to supplying helpers with water and food so that you don’t feel the burden of everyone’s efforts. People are so happy to help, but they need the basics covered!”
Get Organised and Manage Expectations
“We sent out an email to all our guests two days before the wedding saying how excited we were to see them. We included advice on parking provisions, the nearest train station, taxi company details, how far the ceremony was from the car park, and pre-answered some of those ‘on-the-day’ questions that were likely to come up had we not already answered them. This really helped to put our guests at ease and prepare them for the big day and an outdoors-y wedding.”
Don’t Forget the Clear Up
“Finally, don’t forget the clear up! Setting up is a mammoth task, but pulling everything down and clearing away in the evening or the following day is equally time consuming – you will need your trusty helpers on board for this too! Arrange your team, delegate and then treat them to a giant ‘we did it!’ drink and dinner afterwards to thank them all for their efforts. You really won;t be able to do it without them!
Bonus Tip – ensure there are plenty of bin bags, storage, and boxes for the final clear out. Also take along cleaning products, kitchen towels, tea towels and anything else you will need that won’t be at the venue. Have a good think and imagine the clear-up step by step to ensure you are fully equipped!”
Photography Credits: Charlotte Hu Photography
Thank you so much to Phoebe for her awesome tips! Dry hire weddings, and particularly tipi weddings, can be a lot to organise, but so worth it!
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