For many couples the start of their wedding planning journey starts by finding their perfect venue and I wanted to hone into some of the things that you don’t see that cost your budget dearly.
You often need to consider all the factors that may affect your budget and so making that decision between and wet hire and a dry hire is an important part of the process.
DRY HIRE COSTS CAN ESCALATE
Firstly dispel the myth that a dry hire can be cheaper than a wet hire and I’m basing this on a couple last year that had to employ my services to help them achieve their wedding within their budget having got caught out by the approved suppliers list.
As I do a lot of Multi-cultural weddings, I often see couples believe that a dry hire is the best way for their budget, especially if they have a large wedding and I would generally agree, providing that dry hire does not have restrictions or stipulations in getting your wedding planned within your budget.
So i had one couple due to have a multi-cultural wedding with a very small budget considering their headcount size and I would indeed instinctively be looking at a dry hire for this size wedding, budget and specific catering needs. However, this couple found their own venue already before I was on board and it was the perfect venue for them that ticked all the boxes, and was within their budget "on face value" and they were even told that they had to use the list of their preferred caterers, and this is where the problem lies.
SO PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Some couples will think having a list of preferred caterers for a dry hire is good.
Does it mean they are recommended – YES
Does it mean they are tried and tested – YES
Does it mean the venue has done the hard work for you finding your caterer– YES.
BUT do you know if the caterers on their list can really offer what you need to consider your family heritage? Importantly, are they affordable to your budget, after all you have a dry hire for a reason. As a planner I saw striaght away the list were all high end and expensive, but you may not appreciate that. So ring some of them first to get an idea if they can provide your requirements and get quotes BEFORE you sign up to the venue.
On that point, it is all very well having approved suppliers lists but if you have a £20k budget and your caterers want pretty much all of your budget because the approved list are all high end and expensive, you are now stuck with a venue that you can no longer afford.
So whilst a dry hire hiring can in some cases work out more cost effective, it is only in your control when you get to hand pick ALL of your own suppliers,
This is not an exhaustive list of other dry hire pitfalls, but here are just some others.
Is your venue an approved venue for weddings, if not you may find yourself getting married elsewhere or having to opt for a celebrant led ceremony, so make sure you ask this question.
Does your dry hire have somewhere you can get ready on site or accommodation, or even local accommodation for your guests, as many won’t be located to conveniently.
Do they have car parking enough for your guest size? (or you may find yourself paying for park and ride)
Do you get to use their bar. Some dry hires will only allow the bar to be used if you use them for your alcohol, meaning that leaves you to hire a bar or you just get a table, which looks a bit naff. So just ask the question, what facilities do I need to hire, or what facilities do I get to use here.
I’ve seen dry hires with really small kitchens, meaning the caterers will want to use all the fridge space available leaving you to hire a walk in fridge trailer for your drinks. So check out the catering space. If you have a wedding of 200 and you are going to serve wine with dinner, where is it going to go to be served at the right temperature?
Are there clean up charges? A “dry hire” Palace and other places I have worked at will have a charge to use their bins, these charges can be anything from £150 to £500, with a cleaning charge on top of that after everyone leaves. With the addition that your caterers get all the furniture out and put it all back within a lean 1 hour breakdown time, meaning extra time to pay caterers for the service this all starts to add up.
I am not here to be negative, but to help share with you all the things that you need to consider when trying to find your perfect venue that fits within your budget. If you are unsure, then seek the services of a professional wedding planner; either to plan your entire wedding giving you some peace of mind. we can often cover the costs of our service with the money that we have saved you, meaning we can almost come for free!
WET HIRE - THE COSTS STACK UP TOO
So it is not just dry hires that have issues that you need to consider. You want somewhere lavish, you consider, for example, a wet hire at another London based Palace. Yes it is beautiful, and it already comes at a cost to your valuable budget and has all your food and beverage considered, BUT what you don’t see at this point is that you have to use their list of preferred suppliers (many venues of this kind will all work the same).
However, there are issues that lies here as well.
One, is that the supplier knows that you can’t go anywhere else, so they can name their price.
Two, there is a very high chance that the venue charge them a retrospective commission to be on their books. That 10 or 20% that they have to pay the venue comes from where? Yep… it comes from you and is added to your bill.
I had one Palace suggest that if we need to hire their list of preferred photographers and if we didn’t, then we don’t have access to all the gardens for couple’s photos. This was a new level of restriction to consider and your vision of hiring the venue you have chosen is for the grounds. So if photos are important and you don't like any of their photographers similar style, maybe this venue is not so idyllic after all.
So if you have a venue that has a list of preferred suppliers, you just have to be prepared that your overall cost of your wedding is going to be around 10-20% more for the supplier commissions they have to pay back to the venue, and if you are happy for that, then you are good to book.
This all sounds complicated, but you just need to ask these questions when you first visit the venue. So just ask “what, if any, are the extra costs I have to consider that I may not be seeing from face value?”
BACK TO DOING SOME HOMEWORK
You may just want to check out the recommended suppliers to make sure that they fall within your “style” of wedding or even get the feel for their costs first, as much as you can.
Whatever your venue choice and your wedding vision and regardless if you plan your wedding day yourself or you decide to do hire a wedding planner, the most important thing is that your day is uniquely you, enjoyable and provides you the most amazing memories to last you a life time.
I hope you found this little recommended suppliers snippet I shared today useful and informative in helping you consider your perfect venue and importantly not getting caught out with costs you were not expecting or may not be able to afford.