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  • Upthorpe Wood

Considering a Dry Hire/Blank Canvas Wedding Venue?

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Photo by Camilla Andrea photographer

There is NOTHING better than planning a wedding that is unique to yourselves, creating a day that truly reflects your personalities and style. At Upthorpe Wood there’s nothing we love more than a woodland wedding day that throws all tradition out the window... follows no preconceived ideas and above all is fun and personal.

A dry hire wedding venue is, without doubt, so much more accommodating than a conventional venue. You won’t be told where your tables must be set up or the order in which your day must run. You can choose your own suppliers to suit your preferred style and are free to let your imagination run wild. We LOVE IT when our couples get creative and surprise us with original ideas. If you’re looking for a wedding day unlike anyone else’s then a dry hire venue is definitely for you.

Ok, so this isn’t a list to scare anyone but it does point out the finer details of dry hire venue planning.

We’d recommend starting your dry hire/blank canvas wedding planning journey by setting a realistic budget ... before you’ve viewed any venues! There’s no point setting your heart on a perfect venue if it’s outside your price range... and please, please, please, never stretch yourselves above your limit, it will only lead to stress and upset further down the line.

Note: Dry Hire Venues (depending on what’s included in your hire fee) are not usually the cheapest option whether that be hiring an empty field or venue and aren’t for the faint hearted, as it entails much more work and planning beforehand.

TIP: Decorate specific areas where your guests will spend lots of time during the day rather than trying to decorate the whole venue.

So, together begin by agreeing a wedding budget and remember to include everything:

Venue, catering both daytime and evening food, dress/suit/shoes including bridesmaids/groomsmen, flowers, invites, photographer, hair/makeup, decor, furniture, entertainment, possibly alcohol/glasses/refrigeration, bar, accommodation, wedding insurance, honeymoon, cake and last but definitely not least... don’t forget to include the cost of a Registrar or Celebrant (ours in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk is around £550-650)

Photo Camilla Andrea Photographer & Furniture Anthology Vintage Hire

Here at Upthorpe Wood we’ve included all the extra necessities in with our hire price so you won’t need to factor in additional costs for the basics such as Licenced Barn with bar area and electric, Cartlodge with serving area, Chillout Lounge, Woodland Deck and Den, Woodland Bar, running water, drinking water, flushing toilets and urinals, fairy lighting in all undercover areas, staff, catering prep area with running water and lighting, storage area, camp kitchen, bridal honeymoon suite, firepit, Ceremony Glade seating, licensed Woodland Den with table and seating for your registrars/civil ceremony, informal tables and benches to use anywhere in the venue, right down to the smaller necessary things such as car park lighting, bins, cake and card tables as well as staff to help keep the venue tidy through the day. Many of these things are overlooked at the beginning of the planning process.

TIP: If in a rural area, tell guests to pre-book their taxis.

Once a wedding budget is agreed then, the exciting bit.... venue searching.

Be sure to know approximate guest numbers before you start your search. Here at the woods our maximum is 100 for both day/evening. This allows for a more intimate style woodland wedding, which are concentrated to family/friends/laid back type of day... just what we Love to see! TIP: If you are feeding guests once, rather than twice, during your wedding day, book a later ceremony time.

Remember your budget at this point and find out exactly what’s included in the venue hire. Things to ask if they’re included in the price (dry hire venues):


Water/drinking water


Tent/Marquee and furniture

Dining furniture

Ceremony Area and seating

Catering tent/prep area

Lighting at night




Camping Area and facilities


On the Day Co-ordination/planning advice

Staff to help clean up

Set up/clear down times

TIP: When it comes to the setting up of a dry hire wedding, it will take much longer than expected, so be organised and delegate jobs to family/friends.

When viewing each venue, have an idea of your perfect day to see if the venue will work for you and fire away with questions.... we love them! This is the time for couples to find out all the information that is relevant to your wedding day. One piece of advise... if you think you’ve found your perfect venue, don’t sit back.... we’d recommend booking as soon as possible, dates get taken quickly especially after engagement season (Jan-Feb)

Once you’ve found THE venue, get in touch with your Registrars soon as possible, to check/book their available dates and times.

TIP: Remember lots of black bags for the following mornings clean up!

Now you’ve booked your wedding day, the wedding world is your oyster! From photographers to entertainment, catering to food trucks... it’s time to get searching.

Happy Wedding Planning from Upthorpe Wood ❤️

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