The difference between hiring a venue or choosing a hotel package for your wedding

DIY Vs Hotel

There are a multitude of reasons for why you should choose both hotels and DIY venues

But at the end of the day it has to be the one that’s best for you as a couple, not based on the best wedding you have been to to date or what the family think, it has to be what feels right for you as a couple, although I have been present in plenty wedding venue viewings to realize that it often is a family decision.

Pros & Cons

Firstly there are pros and cons to both options for your special day, whether you choose to hire a DIY venue or opt for a hotel package. I would recommend booking a viewing appointment at both types of Venue, when you find your dream venue you will have that gut feeling and you’ll know you have found the place to create your dream day and this, is what it should be! You will either get the sense that you have found the perfect canvas to build your perfect day, with the scope to choose everything from the timing if your ceremony, the theme of your wedding breakfast, whether this be a formal 5 course meal, hog roast or tapas style, or, you will feel the relief when you read the details of the hotel package most suited to yourselves, knowing most of the decisions are already made. There is absolutely no right or wrong type of  venue. You may have been to several weddings by this stage and know exactly what you’re looking for or you may feel as though you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, yes wedding planning may feel daunting at the beginning, as it is one of the biggest moments in your lives, book a viewing and start the process of looking. Websites, social media and brochures are a fantastic way to start but there is nothing quite like stepping foot inside somewhere and getting a feel for the place and the owners/ wedding coordinators, after all you’ll be in contact with them, a lot! At the end of the day this is going to be the place you spend one of the, if not the most ,memorable days of your Life and it has to be the right one. You’ve found the right person to do it with, so make sure you get the right type of venue too.

The Nitty Gritty!

So down to the nitty gritty of venues… hotel packages are fantastic if you would like something that’s half way there, like a ready made pancake mix. Someone has kindly thought out the general timings of the day for you, carefully selected suitable menu choices and put a lot of thought into the wine selection and table layouts too. You will often find that the hotel has an award winning or at least well known restaurant within. Hotels will provide a wedding manager to put your timings and plans into place and will be responsible for all stages on the day, effectively taking all the stress, and some decisions away from you as the wedding couple. The hotel you chose may even have a place in your heart already, and reminiscing may be why you find yourselves drawn back there. If you are seeking high end luxury, you may be looking towards a hotel venue with a spa onsite to use the days leading up to or following the wedding.

Hotels will generally have an in house DJ or a pre selected choice of entertainment for you and a recommended supplier list of photographers, videographers, florists and so on, thus taking the sourcing task out of your hands, relatively like reaching for that packet mix for pancake; researched, balanced and complete with instructions. Packages generally include the first 50 or so guests with the option of adding further guests at a cost per head. Usually you will find varying levels of packages in terms of cost, with differences in ceremony room or location if you are choosing/ have the option to marry onsite. Entertainment may also differ from one package to another and as prices increase, a band may included in additional to the DJ you’ll find in lower priced packages. Thinking of guests attending your special day, you may like to find out if the hotel offers any discounts for accommodation or what your minimum accommodation or bar spend has to be. Hotels are generally on the pricier side so if there is a little saving I’m sure your guests will appreciate this, particularly if it involves a 2 night minimum booking. Look ahead to plans for the evening before, if you have family and friends checking into the hotel it may be worth booking a table in the restaurant or finding out if there is anywhere local you can meet.


Now DIY involves slightly more work and research a bit like finding your own recipe. Pinterest is a great way to start, I may not be married but I’ve spent plenty of time browsing!  You will find that these venues will vary in how much assistance and help is included,  so again, book the viewing and go and visit these places in person. You may find that some DIY venues really do mean do It Yourself; the building may be the only thing in which is included and you may be looking  to source everything from furniture to food. Others you will find, can include a wedding planner to provide advice and guidance throughout your planning and the venue itself may include or be able to provide furniture, staff, a great selection of suppliers and maybe even a bit of décor too, but still with the freedom for you to style it yourself and really add that personal touch. This is where planning is key, find out first of all what is included, what the venue can help with (after all they have seen several weddings planned and perfectly executed before) and therefore what you will need to consider yourselves. Find out if the venue is licensed or if you can provide your own bar. Either way, DIY venue bars generally work out much cheaper for your guests than a nicely (or not so nicely) priced G&T in a hotel.

The Finer Details

Following on from finding your venue you will need to plan and secure your catering, photographer and entertainment and not forgetting any of the finer details such as décor, lighting and those finishing touches. Look into how much space you have for a band or DJ and what time you can party until, you may find you have slightly more flexibility with what time is ‘bed time’, some venues may even have equipment you can use, which with a Spotify list, may just save you a few pennies. When it comes to the setting up for the day, I highly recommend doing this yourselves the day before, whether you have made the decorations yourselves ( I love seeing the personal décor items couples add to their weddings), hiring from a company or the venue itself. Recruit a ‘set up team’ who can arrive the day prior and help set up the room. Have a clear plan of what you would like where and crack open a bottle of fizz and tray of sandwiches. Providing you are organized with what you need and allow yourself plenty of time this can be a really enjoyable day with lots of memories too, plus there’s nothing more satisfying than looking at your complete room the evening before!


Catering… one of my personal favorites. There are so many fantastic catering suppliers out there who can provide your traditional 5 course wedding breakfast, spice it with something a little different and try street food, the good all rounder hog roast or a classy choice of afternoon tea. There is scope here to choose something very different and music to most wedding couples’ ears; all budgets. You may even have a friend or family member who can help out here so it’s worth checking out what kitchen services the venue offers.  Check out the accommodation at your DIY venues, as well as generally being able to work on a tighter budget yourselves as the wedding couple, you may find the accommodation is more affordable for your guests too. It may vary from camping, to pods to self catering cottage style accommodation and therefore may work out pretty reasonable when family and friends group together. This often means a 2 or 3 day celebration, as people tend to make a weekend away of it too with the freedom to arrive prior to the wedding day and hold a get together the evening before with their own catering and ‘refreshments’. Yes, DIY means there is a lot to do and I’m not suggesting otherwise, but heck is it worth it on the day. You can save a lot of money when planning a lot and doing a lot yourselves in the run up to the day and the best part of it all, you create the day exactly how you want it to be. DIY would work out most cost effective for a large guest list, effectively with these types of venue you are paying for things as a whole ( providing you don’t exceed the limit the venue can physically hold or is licensed for) and the band/ DJ will play to as many eyes, ears and dancing feet you put in front of them ( the more the merrier!) the only factor you need consider when reaching larger numbers is the catering aspect and how many mouths you are going to need to feed, although one option for thought is to have one meal/ serving of food later in the day, into early evening rather than the more traditional wedding breakfast and evening ‘buffet’ food.

Breakfast & Beyond

Thinking ahead to the next day, breakfast and beyond. You not only have the opportunity to have your first ‘married’ breakfast with your nearest and dearest, but why not continue the celebration into the next day with a family bbq and day together, particularly if you have hired a DIY venue, make the most of your own space and time together. Within a DIY venue, you can plan breakfast for a time of your choice with a menu of your choice too, whether this is arranged with your caterer or it’s something arrange yourself, which can be very simply organized with a delivery from a local supermarket!

Spoiled for Choice!

So whether you are a packet mix or homemade couple, you truly are spoiled for choice, particularly in Cumbria. Make the most of what the County has to offer, visit a variety of the amazing venues we have here and chat to those who specialize in weddings and events. Most importantly, have fun in searching for your venue, after all,  the viewing and planning is all part of the experience too. Over the course of your wedding planning you’ll become friends with those involved, perhaps as far as saying extended ‘Venue’ family too and I can assure you they will enjoy working with you, getting to know you and helping you along the way, just as much.