Why should I choose a dry hire venue for my next event?

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Dry hire venues usually fall into two categories – there are the venue owners who want to hire their venue for a reasonable fee in order to maintain an element of exclusivity and those who are happy to see their venues used when they do not need them, usually at a very competitive rate.  The latter usually encompasses smaller galleries, studio venues and warehouse type venues, whilst the former would extend into some historic buildings such as Livery Halls and venues with a large capacity such as 8 Northumberland and Saatchi Gallery.  These exclusive venues sometimes prefer to hire out to certain industries and clients and to the type of event that suits their ethos and/or image.  As a rule of thumb, these venues have a set hire fee which is non-negotiable as they know very well that because of their exclusivity they are in high demand.  Smaller venues are more than often happy with a minimal hire fee just to see the venue used.

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Dry hire venues can be broken down further into those that are a completely empty shell which need full production, or ones that can provide the basics and all you need to do is appoint caterers, AV companies, entertainment and so on.

Why would you choose an empty shell?  If you have a specific vision for the type of event you are planning, then this gives you the perfect blank canvas with complete control over every element of production, to ensure that your vision can be realised.  You can give a totally free rein to your creative team, enabling you to achieve all of the goals you set for your event.  By using a blank canvas venue, you should find that you are able to plan your event for less than you would pay if you chose a traditional venue which provided you with everything.  You can choose your own tried and tested suppliers and be safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what you are getting.

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As mentioned earlier, some dry hire venues have their own preferred suppliers and so you will be tied into using these.  Always obtain quotes from at least three caterers, three AV companies and so on to be sure that you are getting a good cross-section of what is on offer.  Caterers worth their salt will also offer tastings – they usually charge for these but the cost is knocked off their bill if you choose them as your event caterer.  Remember also that it may be cheaper to hire tables, chairs and linen from the caterer rather than using a specialist furniture company.

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Unless you are bringing in your own AV company, it is best to use one of the venue’s suppliers as they will be familiar with the venue and any foibles or oddities there may be which could affect the set-up etc.

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Apart from various types of corporate events, dry hire venues also work really well for weddings.  You can dress the venue as you please, you can provide your own catering and alcohol (some venues will charge corkage mind) and provide your own entertainment.  Some venues will insist that you cannot sell alcohol to fit in with their licensing, but this is not usually a problem and there are ways around it.  If you are on a tight budget and cannot afford to provide free booze all night, you could charge your friends an agreed amount before the event.   Almost the only thing that the venue will insist on supplying and charging extra for is their own security.  Two reasons for this – to keep unwanted guests out and to make sure that if any guests drink a bit too much or get a bit argumentative, there will be a burly security man to take care of things and make sure that things don’t get out of hand!

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