Dry Hire vs Wet Hire Venues: Which is the best for my event?

When planning an event, selecting a venue to hire presents two options: ‘dry hire’ and ‘wet hire’. Each type caters to different needs and styles, influencing the overall experience of your event. So which one is best?

What does Dry Hire mean?

Dry hire venues are event spaces you rent without additional services or equipment. They offer a blank canvas for your event, allowing you to tailor everything to your preferences. This option often requires you to organise and manage details like a venue’s catering and decorations and set up technical equipment yourself. For example, you can choose to hire lighting and audio equipment from STLS after you have chosen your dry hire venue, giving you complete control over the look and feel of your event. 

Pros and Cons of Dry Hire Venue


  1. Cost-effective: Renting just the space often costs less, which lets you allocate funds to other parts of your event.
  2. High Customisation: You can design the event from scratch, perfect for unique or specific themes.
  3. Flexibility: You can set up the space in any way you want for creative or unusual layouts.


  1. More Responsibility: You’re in charge of everything, from catering to decorations, so more tasks and decisions. You’re also in charge of safely setting up equipment around your venue. 
  2. Time-consuming: Planning each detail takes time; managing this well will avoid last-minute issues.
  3. Supplier Dependence: You must find and coordinate with various suppliers for your venue space. Reliable contacts are essential for a smooth event.

Best Events for Dry Hire

Dry hire venues are ideal for events that require a personal touch. Wedding venues are a great example; couples can tailor every detail to their vision. Conferences also benefit from dry hire, where organisers can set up specific audiovisual equipment and layouts. Artistic events like exhibitions and performances need unique set-ups and creative freedom to meet expectations and ensure everything runs smoothly. 

What does Wet Hire mean? 

Wet hire venues, or all-inclusive venues, provide the space and essential services like catering, staff, and equipment. This option is about ease for every aspect of your event. When you choose wet hire, you get a package deal where the venue takes care of many aspects. For example, STLS is the preferred AV equipment supplier of many wet hire venues, such as Denbies Wine Estate and Chelsea and Kensington Town Halls. 

Wet hire is ideal for those who prefer an in-house service and less hands-on involvement in event planning. It’s about simplifying the process, making it less stressful for the organiser and giving you peace of mind.

Benefits of Wet Hire Venue


  1. Convenience: Wet hire reduces your planning burden as the venue will deal with any issues, allowing you to focus on other aspects.
  2. Expertise: The venue’s staff bring experience that can enhance your event’s quality and smooth running.
  3. Predictable Costs: Most services are included in the package, which works for those looking for cost-effective venue hire on a tight budget, making financial management more manageable as you often pay a single price for everything.


  1. Higher Costs: The services provided by wet hire typically come at a premium, making it more expensive than dry hire.
  2. Limited Customisation: Your ability to personalise the event may be restricted as venues often have set styles or themes you must work within.
  3. Dependence on Venue’s Choices: You rely on the venue’s preferred suppliers and their quality of service, which may not always align with your preferences.

Best Events for Wet Hire

Wet hire venues are perfect for events where a hands-off approach and professional touch are important to the organiser. Corporate events, such as networking gatherings and award ceremonies, benefit significantly from the all-inclusive services as this saves time and resources. Large parties, including company celebrations or milestones, also fit well with wet hire, thanks to the venue support when hosting on a big scale. 

What is the difference between dry hire and wet hire venues? 

When choosing between dry and wet hire for your event, consider these aspects:

  1. Tailoring to Theme: Dry hire lets you create a unique event that matches your theme precisely. Wet hire offers less room for personalisation but ensures a consistent, proficient style.

  2. Vendor Selection: With dry hire, you choose your vendors, from caterers to decorators, which requires more research but offers greater variety. Wet hire limits you to the venue’s preferred vendors, which can streamline the process.

  3. Set-Up and Clean-Up: Dry hire often leaves set-up and clean-up responsibilities to you. Wet hire typically includes these services, reducing the tasks you need to manage.

  4. Event Management: Managing a dry hire event can be demanding. You’re responsible for coordinating every detail. In contrast, wet hire venues usually provide a coordinator, easing the management burden.

  5. Risk and Responsibility: Dry hire involves more risk as you’re responsible for all aspects, including handling issues. Wet hire offers a safety net with experienced staff on hand to deal with unexpected situations.

How to Choose the Right Option for You

Assessing Your Event Needs

Consider the size, theme, and goals of your event. Dry hire might suit a unique, personalised occasion, while wet hire could be better for standard formats.

Budget Considerations

Analyse all costs, including venue hire, catering, and equipment. Be aware of hidden fees in both options to avoid surprises.

Personal Involvement and Preferences

Dry hire demands more effort in planning and coordination. With its inclusive services, wet hire might be more suitable if you prefer someone to run the event for you.

Vendor Relationships

You can choose specific vendors with dry hire, whereas wet hire limits this choice but simplifies the process.

Risk Management

Consider your comfort level with handling event risks and responsibilities. Dry hire requires more management on your part, while wet hire offers support and experienced staff to handle unexpected situations.

Start Planning your Event with STLS 

The choice of venue hire will depend on what’s most important for your event: customisation and control with dry hire or convenience and support with wet hire. At STLS, whether you choose a dry or wet hire venue, we offer a range of high-quality lighting, audiovisual and staging equipment and a host of other services you need that will ensure your event is a success. Let us help make your event unforgettable. 

Get in touch today for all your AV and staging requirements. Together, we can create an extraordinary experience for your guests.