Posts categorized: Small Business

blog, Meet the venue, Small Business, venue news /

A multi award winning Truly Quirky Wedding Venue



When things go really well for a Truly Quirky Wedding Venue I want to tell you about it and the venue wants to thank you. Unique award winning wedding venue, Millbrook Estate and Treetop Escape are astounded and truly taken aback about their amazing 2017/18 awards season, they are now multi award winning and are rightly, very proud that their excellence has been recognised in a very crowded market.

They’ve achieved so much in in the last year thanks to the amazing team at the Estate who listen to couples and provide a very personal service. They remember arriving for the first time. The excitement and not believing their eyes that they had managed to create something so beautiful.

“Details are what make this place too good to be true! The smell of the bread, the personal warm letter, the complimentary products in the suite…and this was before the main event”.

They personalise every wedding to your needs. If you want them to be involved they are ready and raring to please. If you want a quiet and intimate stay, you won’t even realise that they are there at all.


Unique Award Winning Wedding Venue Millbrook Estate

Your Day, Your Way!

Millbrook and Treetop escape are set in a 32-acre estate, hidden in the North Devon countryside and their home, they specialise in small intimate, romantic weddings. The ethos is very simple. ’Your Wedding, Your Way’

This lovely lot encourage couples to do things differently. They go against the grain of the usual celebrations from the extravagance and frivolities of the “traditional” wedding industry way.


What an amazing start to the year!

They certainly didn’t expect to have this amazing streak of success and want to say a huge thank you to the couples who have voted for them.


The awards . . .


When it comes to scooping awards, Millbrook Estate and Tree op Escape are having a pretty amazing 2017/18 awards season, a fantastic achievement in a very crowded market place.

Tree Top Escape is a luxury iconic Tree Top location offering exclusive use intimate weddings & a beautiful tree house and Millbrook Cottages offers luxury accommodation in an old Corn mill set in beautiful grounds. Not just offering 5 star gold rated accommodation they also are conscience about the environment and offer fabulous customer service shown in the fact they have already scooped the following awards since October 2017:

South West Wedding Awards 2018 | Millbrook Estate – Winner Country Venue | Treetop Escape – Highly Commended Country Venue

South West Tourism Awards | Sliver for Sustainable Tourism – Millbrook Estate

Devon Environmental Business Initiative Awards – Enjoyed in Devon Winner – Millbrook Estate

Visit DevonGold Award for Sustainable Tourism – Millbrook Estate

Visit England Rose Award | Recognition for Service Excellence from Visit England – Millbrook Estate

Trip Advisor | Excellent for both Treetop Escape and Millbrook Estate

European Holiday Award | Tree Top Escape – Finalist




Advise, Small Business /

Starting a small business | My current view on it all

Starting a small business | Go forth and succeed

Starting a small business is scary and keeping it alive and nurturing it is tough. This time last year I was getting ready to launch this website while running Belle’s Events, I was BUSY and it was tough to convince venues to join up before I had even begun but thankfully a handful did and so TQWV’s as born unto the web on January 1st. I am in a very fortunate situation, I am married to an excellent web developer and designer, without him none of my 3 wedding businesses would have happened. So thank you Joss. I love you truly.

It’s been a busy and exciting 2015 for me, I sold Belle’s Events, my alternative wedding fair business so that I could concentrate on and tap the keyboard frantically to get this site to where it is today. 33 Truly Quirky Wedding Venues are now shining brightly and more are lined up to launch before the end of 2015.

In May I asked Joss, my aforementioned love ‘help me get out there!  What’s all this SEO stuff about?’ luckily for us his role at work has developed so much that he no longer has time to help me with ‘geeky’ stuff like that so I had to step up and book myself on to a course or two to help me get to where I wanted to be. I didn’t expect to get so in to it, but thank goodness I did, it’s become an obsession and this week I confirmed my first Social Media and SEO Support client. I figured, if I can do it for me then I would love to help other small business and do it for them. Who knows this time next year I could be writing a post on my Social Media & SEO Support site!?

I have to give a little shout out at this point because I recently I attended The Hub, part of Chosen Wedding Collective run by the gorgeously inspiring Kiki, I sat with Sue, the new owner of Belle’s Events, listening to a lady with such passion about growing small businesses that I actually got a lump in my throat at the thought of what I CAN DO. This lady was Charlie of The Female Photography Association. She made me realise that I’ve done alright, but, she made me realise that I don’t currently reach my full potential because starting a small business is one thing, growing it is another and I, yes me, I put a theoretical chain around my neck to reign myself in when I get a bit scared. ‘no I can’t do that because it might not work’ ‘what will people think if it goes wrong – oh here she goes again with another idea!’ Well screw that, I can’t think like that any more, when I was starting a small business, each time I was starting a small business I didn’t know it would work, but it did, so I must be doing something right. However, what I learnt that day was, it’s about getting to the scary bits and holding on for dear, dear life.

The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is a perfect time to feel the way I do at the moment, I want to grab that unicorn my the horn and ride off into the future. I will be continuing to grow this site, to promote quirky and alternative venues, there is a list of changes for the site and plans afoot for expansion, and I will go forth and help other small businesses get themselves out there. And, just to make it even more exciting I have just received this beauty, the Day Designer, I asked for it as a birthday gift because if there’s one thing I would advise any small business owner to do it’s ‘plan’ and not just at the beginning.

I often feel like I’m chasing my tail so 2016 will see a much more organised, much more thoughtful time for me and my small BIG business.






Advise, blog, Small Business /

Planning a wedding? Madame B shares her wedding fair survival tips.

Planning a wedding? Don’t know where to start? With a plethora of awesome, unique and ‘alternative’ wedding fairs across the country it can me a mine field. Let’s face it we’re spoilt for choice.

I’m Beth, and I run a small wedding business called Madame B’s Boutique, I exhibit at wedding fairs frequently and would like to offer you lovely lot some heart felt advice.

Planning a wedding and visiting a wedding fair for the first time can seem like a daunting prospect, but armed with these 10 handy tips, you can avoid the stress and make it a fun, productive day that will assist you in planning a wedding you want. 

1) Choose the right type of fair for you.

In the past few years, the number of wedding fairs has increased dramatically, there are vintage wedding fairs, traditional wedding fairs, DIY wedding fairs, you name it! So make this work for you by choosing one that best suits your needs and personal taste. If you’re a non-traditional couple planning a wedding, avoid the traditional big wedding trade shows and look for smaller, indie and alternative events instead.


EWE Wedding Fair


2) Choose your companions carefully.

Maybe your partner wants to come maybe they don’t, let them decide. Invite one or two friends who can offer sensible advice and make you laugh will help with objective decision-making and stop you from feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It can get crowded at wedding fairs too, and it’s easier to move around with a smaller group.


3) Mind your budget

Don’t feel pressured into spending more than you can afford. Get quotes from a few different suppliers of the same product or service so you can do a comparison, and look online as well so you can get a good idea of the average price in your area. Planning a wedding can cause financial stress, we all know that, if your budget is tight, you can save money by sticking with local suppliers so that you’re not paying for travel costs as well. There is a lot of advice out there regarding wedding budgeting.


4) However, price isn’t everything

Chemistry is very important too, particularly when it comes to choosing people like the wedding photographer who are going to be with you for most of the day. Chat to suppliers to get a feel for their style and how they like to work. Go with your gut instinct – if their ideas and yours don’t gel, it’s probably better to try elsewhere.


5) If possible, bring images of the styles, colours you love.

This is really helpful from a supplier point of view, as the more information we have about what you want, the easier it is to make it happen.


Rock The Frock Jenny Rutterford


6) Swap contact details.

If you find a supplier you really like, it may be difficult to have an in-depth conversation about what you want in a noisy, crowded space. Most wedding suppliers will offer one-to-one consultations, so swap contact details ask if you can arrange a meeting at a later date. Add your name to the lists of suppliers you particularly like too, as they will often use these to share special offers and new products just for subscribers. Follow these suppliers on Facebook too!


7) Don’t feel pressured into making snap decisions.

Yes  you have gone to a wedding fair because you are essentially planning a wedding, which is a major project! Wedding fairs are mainly for information and idea gathering, so if you want to go away and think about it that’s perfectly OK. Most wedding suppliers know this and won’t try and push you into buying from them on the spot. If someone does make you feel uncomfortable, just smile and walk away.


8) Collect the details of all the suppliers you like and keep them in a safe place.

Trust me, you won’t be able to memorise the names of all of them and it’s really annoying if you’re trying to remember someone afterwards and can’t find their details! I kept mine in a big folder that I could go back to when it came to making bookings, and wrote notes on some of the cards if I wanted to remember certain details about the supplier. For example you might not be able to find someone again just by searching ‘camper van photo booth’ as there are a few out there.




9) Most wedding fairs will offer refreshments of some sort.

If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take advantage of this and recharge with a cake and a cuppa or glass of fizz!


10) A few days or weeks after the fair, sit down with your friends and family and go through all the cards, leaflets and notes you made.

Don’t try and do this immediately after you get home, as the chances are you’ll be pretty tired, and a bit of space will help you to be more objective.





Advise, blog, Small Business /

Sound advice for choosing a wedding reception venue to P.A.R.T.Y in!

Wedding Reception Choons from Stick It On!


I’m Rob, I run Stick It On, allowing you lot to be superstar DJ’s at your wedding reception. I get a sense that when a venue is selected for a wedding reception party (let’s call it the ‘disco’) is not high on the list of priorities. But why?

Choosing your wedding reception venue should be a priority and as you will know from checking out this awesome site there are some unique and quirky ones to choose from. Obviously, there are a lot to factors to take into consideration to ensure your wedding day is as good as it can possibly be. With this in mind, here are my #top5tips to help when asking questions about the evening disco/soirée/rave-up.


1. Does the venue have a sound limiter or have noise restrictions in-place?

When choosing your wedding reception venue ‘sound limiters’ might be the last thing on your mind, but they shouldn’t be. These beasts are commonplace at the majority of wedding venues and to be completely honest are the bane of a DJ/band’s life. Now I don’t have a problem with them in principle….no I do! They are a massive pain in the bum. The biggest problem I have with them is that some wedding reception venues have them set TOO LOW. It can be a massive anti-climax with the DJ being on the front-line and getting persistent requests to ‘turn it up’, knowing that by doing so will either set the limiter off which will automatically dampen the sound down or worst still cut the power off to the DJ equipment bringing the whole show to an awkward halt until it resets itself. Not great for dance floor or DJ!

My advice to anyone booking a wedding reception venue who is planning to have a DJ or band or both (which is the majority) is to check to see if there any sound restrictions already in-place, and if there are, what are they? Let’s face it, empty rooms are no good, as this will not give a true representation of what it will be like on the day with 100+ guests jumping about and making a noise. So maybe request to witness an event in full swing?

If the venue is perfect for all the other reasons you have on your checklist but fails on the noise issue one way to get around this is to hire in ‘silent disco headsets’ for everyone. It could add a couple of hundred pounds to your entertainment budget but will solve any noise issues (apart from the bad singing) as your guests will each be able to don a pair of headphones to wear on the dance floor and boogie away to their hearts content. A novel but extremely fun way to enjoy good music as it was intended.


Wedding Silent Disco Wedding Reception - Liz Wan Photography


2. Is the bar in the same room as the dance floor?

Ideally, when choosing your reception venue ask yourself, ‘is everything in the same room?’ Nothing splits up a party more than having a bar in another room. Please bear in mind the more areas you have open (garden, games room, bar, room for buffet, lobby etc) to your guests the more they will be dispersed. Sometimes it might be a good idea to close the space down so you can provide a more intimate, atmospheric party whereby all your guests are mingling together.

3. How big is the room where the evening reception is going to take place?

Are your guests going to rattle around in it after the dinner? Think how you can utilise the space. Are you booking other suppliers/services? A photo booth and an evening buffet for instance. Can both be set up in the main room? Another good tip to close down the space is not to remove too many tables after dinner. You can use draping and room separators too, this will limit the amount of floor space people can occupy and help push people together.



Wedding Reception Party

4. Curfews – what is the finish time for your wedding?

From my experience the majority of wedding timings get pushed back as the day progresses with photo shoots taking longer than expected, possible delays in food service and of course the best man’s speech taking forever to finish. This results in the evening reception starting later than planned, so do factor-in these possible delays into your timings as one thing that won’t shift back is the curfew time. That will be set in stone by most venues. If you’ve planned a lot for the evening (i.e. DJ, band, buffet, photo booth etc.) this can all get squeezed into a shorter space of time for you and your guests to enjoy and you may feel that you’ve not got your money’s worth with the evening flashing by in the blink of an eye.


5. Some venues insist on a DJ/band using the in-house equipment. Quite often this is absolutely fine but make sure you ask a couple of questions beforehand;

Q| Is the equipment well maintained and can you have a demonstration to hear/see it in action. Any professional DJ worth their salt will be happy to accompany you.

Q| Is the equipment linked into a sound limiter? More times than not this is the reason they’ve insisted you plug into their system. Please refer back to point 1 above and make sure it’s worthy of your wedding party and doesn’t resemble a portable stereo.

I hope the above points will help you ask the right questions when sourcing a wedding reception venue worthy of your big day to ensure that there are no hidden surprises and you get the party you ultimately want.

I’m happy to help in any way with advice and thoughts although I won’t profess to have all the answers.

However, please drop me a line and I’ll do my very best to assist you.

Over and out. Party on.




blog, Meet the venue, Small Business, venue news /

Meet Becky, Events Manager with Browning Bros.

Becky of Browning Bros. Events

Who are you and what is your role with Browning Bros. Events? 

Becky Kruger- Event Manager at this fabulously unique Essex wedding venue!

How did you get involved with the venue?

I got involved with the company because I was looking for work experience in events having a passion for the industry. As I went to Newcastle University with Nat and Archie I had heard about the exciting business so got in touch in the hope they needed an assistant. Best decision yet! 

The venue is ‘Truly Quirky’ we know that already but what do you feel makes it stand out from the wedding venue crowd? 

Well where can you get married these days and not be told what to do?! Browning Bros gives you the platform and you can do as you please with it. They don’t pressure you to use their local businesses they encourage you to be as creative as you want on your special day. None of this in – out malarkey which you see in many Essex wedding venues, this is why I know they’re so great.

The owners are truly relaxed and add to the ‘quirkiness’ of their unique wedding venue, nothing is a problem for them and they are extremely creative themselves having been to a fair few festivals and parties themselves! (they know what looks good), they have decorated their venue with the most amazing colourful lights which adds a mesmerizing feel, like being at a festival .

Oh and their mega sound ceiling- I mean it’s like being at Glastonbury under that thing but 5 steps outside it the you can hear yourself whispering. It’s neighbour friendly and super fun!! (Yes I have been caught dancing under it once or twice- guuiiiiilty!)

If you could choose one song/album to listen to while you’re doing what you do at the venue what would it be?

Bakermat, Bob, Bobobo, Chris Malinchak, Goldfish – anything jazzy and upbeat is good at work- gets you in da moooood for daaaancing… romaaaaancing!

Browning Bros. Events by night.

What’s the best thing about your job? 

Working alongside the owners – they are extremely funny relaxed guys to work with and make planning events really fun (which is what they should be!). I never felt beneath them but part of a really exciting journey. I enjoyed going to work as each day as every day was so different. One minute we were building a shower, the next we we’re showing clients around the venue.  I mean I couldn’t write down the different things we did. I learnt so much about the planning side of events to- but overall I loved seeing the hard work being put into place and managing the event on the day. Nothing pleased me more than to see smiley happy faces. Each event Browning Bros. created did this and it was magical to watch. I also love a party!


If you were planning your wedding at the venue what would you choose in terms of styling and flowers? 

Ahaha, honestly I have not really thought about this before but at this unique venue I know I could be as wild as I wanted to be and the space is so grand you could literally have a mini festival wedding – oooh this excites me! My friends would love a mini festival for my wedding. Ha. I am however a traditional type of gal at heart so there would have to be white roses everywhere.. down the path, around the arches, on the pontoon.. in my floral crown, you name it.

I would like everything to be white and yellow.. so tents, wedding flowers etc.. it would have to be very personal to me and my future hubby (whoever he is) to incorporate us into the theme. It would be a mixture of bohemian chic, festival wedding with traditional elegance as I think that would create a stunning scene next to the lake and surrounded by woodland. Lighting would be key which Browning Bros are terrific at.

And lastly, have you ever had a sip of champagne on the job? Yeah you  have!

Champagne, beer, cocktails, wine, the list could go on!! haha


Wow Becky, sound like we need a little # here #lovemyjob, I can’t wait to come and visit.

Thank you for your time and telling us about working at this unique wedding venue Essex.



blog, Small Business /

Small Buisness | Brand Protection | What makes a Truly Quirky Wedding Venue

Small Business Brand Protection | Smock Alley


It was inevitable that this would happen and I knew I would hate it. Today I was asked ‘Why can’t we be on your site? Turning away keen customers, and lets face it, cash, is horrible, but it has to be done. Running a small business and brand protection is vital but tough.

If there’s one thing I have learnt in this crazy world of promoting unique and creative suppliers over the past four years it’s small business brand protection is what keeps your business real. Just one oddity and the brand fails.


Thoulstone Park | A Truly Quirky Wedding Venue


Don’t get me wrong, I believe that every couple is unique in their own way. Whatever it is they want, their day will be special to them. If a couple wants to get married in a golf club with beige table cloths and Robbie Williams tribute act then they will love their wedding as much as a couple that want to get married in  a woodland surrounded by stilt walkers with a Mexican band playing in the background.

Suppliers in the past that have wanted to exhibit at my wedding fairs, and now venues that contact me and ask to be on board and are told ‘no’ might feel like I’m being cruel or judgemental. This is not the case at all! There will be a site or an event somewhere out there that will be perfect for them and will get them clients but I HAVE to remember that small business brand protection is key.

One thing I will never do is take money from someone knowing they will get little, if any, interest from the type of couples I want to attract to my site.

So in answer to the question at the top of this blog which I was asked earlier today;

A Truly Quirky Wedding Venue is one like no other. A Truly Quirky Wedding Venue has something about it that makes me want to know more. A Truly Quirky Wedding Venue will attract unique and creative couples. 



(Photos of Smock Alley and Thoulstone Park – two of our Truly Quirky Wedding Venues)

blog, Small Business /

Month one & some stuff about starting small businesses.



Having started three small businesses in as many years I feel like I can share a few of the emotions I have been through. There’s quite a few I can tell you that. There’s fear, excitement, joy, nerves, happiness, nerves again, and then some anxiety sprinkled on top.

Each time I have started out with a new business I haven’t known how it’s going to be received. It’s a nerve racking time of checking stats daily, my inbox, and social media attention become a contstant distraction. I should imagine it’s like this for a first time gardener, planting a seed and watching it appear from the earth, will it thrive? Maybe it’ll die. It’s my job to look after this seed.

My main concern in the early days is always ‘what if people don’t get it?‘. Of course people I know have told me it’s a great idea, a little bit of market research here and there, but I never really know until I get at least one month in. I guess I know people get it when I start receiving positive emails back from people that want to know more and that’s one of the best feelings I ever get. It’s gives me fire in my belly to keep on going.

So, a month into my latest venture, Truly Quirky Wedding Venues, and here I am with a huge smile on my face. You get it. I knew you would!





(photo by Jayne Sacco of Sacco & Sacco Photography)