The best things in life are sweet

We are very excited to tell you about a local Laidley business who may come in handy for your wedding at Branell Homestead. Baked by Brooke creates delicious masterpieces, with each cake individually designed. One thing we admire is that all of the ingredients are locally sourced and the batter is made from scratch (not a packet mix in sight)! We have been lucky enough to steal a few moments with Brooke to find out more about her business. She has also offered some great tips when choosing your wedding cake, so grab a cuppa (or an ice cold drink in this weather!) and have a read below…



Tell us a little about your business… Baked By Brooke is my home-based business, baking all things sweet, decadent and delicious! I truly enjoy turning the simplest of ingredients into something that makes you say “mmm, yum”, before you know the words have even come out of your mouth. My specialties are mudcakes and cupcakes, made using good old-fashioned recipes – some of which have been in my family for years. I bake with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and the eggs I use come from the happiest, most free-range chickens you will ever find, from a farm close by in Gatton.

When did you decide cakes were your passion? Baking is something I enjoyed from the time I was old enough to lick the beaters in my Mum’s kitchen! Growing up, there would always be home baked afternoon teas waiting for my siblings and I after school. Mum taught me how to bake in primary school and I’ve adored it ever since! I first tried making a decorative cake when I had no idea what to get my (now) husband for his birthday years ago. He is a photographer, so I made him a cake in the shape of a camera. My “trial” cake worked so well that he got his cake a week early!

What distinguishes you from your competitors? I’ve often been complimented on my cakes not only looking great, but tasting great as well. I’ve heard so many disappointing stories of cakes for special occasions that looked amazing, but were dry or bland to eat, and left on the plate. All my cakes, and buttercreams are made from scratch. Packet mixes and pre-mixes would be quicker, but they taste nothing like the real thing!

Favourite flavour? I have to admit I like cake mixture more than baked cake! It’s a little hard to give out scoops of cake batter at a party though, so when I’m selecting a flavour for my own celebration cakes, I go for cookie dough cheesecake or a mocha mudcake.

A favourite or funny memory from a previous event/client? I recently created a Thomas the Tank Engine cake for a gorgeous little boy’s first birthday. The cake took hours and hours of crafting and assembly and I was really happy with how he looked. I was sent some party photos of the cake after the event… in the final photo there had been a train wreck and Thomas’ face had been bitten off completely by the birthday boy’s older sister! At least I know Thomas was enjoyed 🙂

What advice would you give couple when thinking about a cake for their wedding? Firstly “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”. There are some stunning cakes that look smooth, elegant and classy, that are decorated with fondant icing (that’s the smooth icing you see on many wedding cakes), but do you like the taste of it? Many couples and their guests peel it off and eat just the cake – so why pay for something that you won’t eat?! Consider other styles and designs, too. Secondly, think about how your cake will be transported and stored leading up to your event or wedding. It only takes minutes in a warm car or room for a cake to become a hot mess, so plan ahead and crank the air-con in advance! Finally, I won’t use the line that the secret ingredient in a good cake is love, but you can tell when a cake maker loves what they do, and this shines through in the taste, texture and appearance of your cake.

Now don’t you wish you had a piece of one of Brooke’s cakes to go with your cup of tea! You can contact Brooke via her Facebook page or email. If you want to taste test some of her creations, she has a cupcake stall at the Laidley markets every Friday.


The morning of…

It’s the morning of your wedding and you are full of a mix of different emotions – happiness, nervousness, excitement, anticipation and just plain pure joy. There has been so much planning leading up to the day and you have everything in place. If you are a list person you will be in your element because this is the best way to stay on top of everything and get a good nights sleep. Here are a couple of tips to make sure nothing is overlooked. (These are mainly directed at the bride because lets face it, they are the ones who will have the most going on!)

You can never be too organised. You will have lots of people involved who will all need to work together. Make sure you have your hair and makeup finished in plenty of time to get dressed, have your photographer take some photos, enjoy a glass of bubbly and relax. Make sure everyone knows what is going on so they are not having to check in with you every 5 minutes.

  • When you get dressed pre hair and make-up make sure you put on something with a zip or a silk robe (this is the perfect comfy and feminine option). Just make sure it does not need to come off over your head.
  • Check with your hairdresser and make-up artist to see how long they need for each person.
  • The space where you are getting ready needs lots of natural light.
  • Organise for someone to be in charge of deliveries – for example: the flowers and the cake.
  • Take the dresses out of the bags and hang them up. This is especially important for your wedding dress – it needs time to breathe! This will be a great opportunity for your photographer to take some snaps.

Food and Drink
It is important to stay hydrated and also have something in your stomach. EAT BREAKFAST! Smoothies are a great solution which tick both boxes. You definitely don’t want your tummy rumbling in the middle of your ceremony. Make sure you have enough for everyone. Fruit or sandwich platters are a good idea to munch on during the morning and can be easily prepared the evening before. According to, these are the best fruits for glowing skin: bananas, lemons, oranges, apples and papaya.

Emergency Kit
Expect the unexpected and don’t panic. Think about everything that could go wrong and pack a kit that can fix all of these problems! You could include things like a sewing kit, scissors, tape, tweezers, extra pairs of stockings, mints, lip balm, moisturiser, pain killers, deodorant, spare toothbrush and toothpaste, nail file, safety pins, hairspray, cotton wool balls, straightener and hair dryer.

Let everyone take care of you. This is the one day you do not have to be thinking about anyone else.

  • Don’t worry about what the groom is doing. You can rest assured his morning will be much less busy than yours! He will most probably be watching TV or sport with his bridal party…
  • Take some music. Create a special playlist for the occasion.
  • Think positive and be yourself.
  • Breathe, laugh and have fun!
We love this selection of photos Just For Love Photography captured of Jade and Sam getting ready for their big day. These photos give the bride and groom an insight to each other’s time before the ceremony and are a wonderful addition to your wedding album. Jade was already on the property at the Homestead, while Sam got ready offsite and arrived at Branell for the ceremony.
~ The Bride ~


~ The Groom ~


Branell Site Map

We have a very unique set up at Branell Homestead. It is often very hard to explain the layout of our property over the phone which is why we encourage people to come out for a visit. Situated on 80 picturesque acres of both farming and bushland, the property offers the perfect setting for a quiet weekend away or to celebrate your wedding. We have developed the site map below which will hopefully make things a little clearer.


We have three distinct areas on the property – The Homestead, Pavilion and Luxury Cabins. The Homestead and Pavilion are the hub of activity on the day of an event. Our covered Pavilion overlooks the dam and offers a private space for wedding receptions, corporate event or parties. Our three luxury cabins are located on a hilltop offering spectacular views over the Lockyer Valley. Imagine sitting on the deck with a glass of wine to watch the sun set – we think this is a pretty good way to spend an afternoon!

If you would like to come out for an appointment to get a feel for Branell first hand, you can make a booking via the home page of the website. Or if you would like to talk to one of our professional team, please do not hesitate to call us on 07 5465 1788.

Make sure you look out for following posts over the next couple of weeks, which will provide details on the accommodation floor plans and Pavilion area.

Spring fever hits Laidley

LC_Spring_Festival_2015_Header_Print_ReadyWe are a proud supporter of all things local, which is why we wanted to make sure everyone knows about the annual Spring Festival in Laidley. It all kicks off tomorrow, with three fun filled days of free family entertainment.

There will be plenty to do for all ages including award winning gardens on display, the Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live stage show, face painting, QN Hotel show and shine, quilt and craft expo, the popular festival parade and much more! There is also a window decorating competition for local businesses, so you are sure to see some impressive displays. If nothing else, it is an excellent excuse to get out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. You can check out the official program here – Spring Festival Program 2015.

After being a part of the festivities you will surely build up an appetite. Why not put your taste buds to the test at one of the local coffee shops or cafes. An insider tip – head to Annie’s Place Coffee Shoppe to check out the special pancake menu that is on offer during the festival. Who doesn’t love a good pancake!

We are proud to be a part of such a fantastic community, so please come for a visit! For further information head to the Luvya Lockyer website.

Event Entertainment with Vavachi

Event entertainment is a tricky thing to lock in, especially when there are so many options out there. Do you go for something traditional and classic, live, recorded, karaoke, or something out of the ordinary that will get your guests talking? Either way, you want to create an atmosphere everyone will remember. We are very lucky to have Roger Davy – the industry guru from Vavachi Entertainment – tell us a bit about his business and provide some tips about choosing entertainment for your wedding or corporate event.


Tell us a little about you and your business…
As Founder and Managing Director of Vavachi Entertainment, I consider myself fortunate to have been involved in the rewarding world of entertainment for more than 25 years, treading the boards of opera, musical theatre, film and television. As a former member of the internationally acclaimed Ten Tenors and industry exposure over many years performing with State and National Opera companies, I have been fortunate enough to be able to bring together the finest group of performers. At Vavachi, we believe passionately in promoting Queensland’s musical talent and use Vavachi events as a platform for talented young Queensland singers to develop their craft and gain invaluable experience. Some of our performers go on to forge their music careers nationally and internationally. With a vast pool of talent at our fingertips, together with our creative, musical direction and experienced production teams, we are able to create an entertainment package to suit your special requirements. We are perfectionists at Vavachi and will work closely with you to ensure that your event meets all your needs and exceeds your expectations.

Why do you think entertainment is an important part of event?
There are many factors in putting an event together including location, food, atmosphere and of course the all important entertainment. Here are three key factors you need to consider when choosing entertainment.

  • When deciding your entertainment, always ensure that it ‘fits’ the event and people attending. For example, a tribute to One Direction or Justin Bieber may be suitable for a corporate family day, but not for a corporate black tie gala or wedding celebration dinner.
  • Choosing the right entertainment for your gala dinner or launch can be the ‘value add’ needed that makes your event. For example leaving your guests with a memorable experience reinforces the company’s image, brand and corporate message and can attract publicity (of the good sort!).
  • When choosing entertainment always consider your budget. The amount of money you spend can affect the quality of entertainment and options available to you. There are plenty of acts and performers geared towards the corporate entertainment market, ensuring that businesses ‘stand out’. But to get the most out of your corporate entertainment you must make sure that wow factor or unique entertainment idea will impress guests and ensure that the event is talked about. Whether its a wedding or corporate event, Vavachi Entertainment brings together a unique and innovative blend of Music Theatre, Cabaret, Opera, Dance, Circus and Comedy, our performances feature music ranging from the best of Broadway and Opera and Contemporary, tailored to suit your event.

What types of entertainment packages do you offer for weddings?
Having the right kind of entertainment for a wedding is the only way you can keep your guests attuned with the ambience and theme of your special day. The latest trend in wedding music is to have live performances. Bands playing in a wedding reception are not really a novel idea, however live music during the ceremony or during the meal is both new and innovative.

Having a live performance truly plays a significant role in setting the mood for your wedding, thus it is essential that you leave this aspect in the hands of artists like Vavachi Entertainment, who are experts in the field of music and wedding entertainment. With talented vocal performers and instrumentalists from Vavachi to serenade you and your guests all throughout the wedding including String Quartets and Vocal performers, you know your wedding will be always worth remembering. Whether your wedding service or wedding reception will be held inside a church, in your own home, in a beautiful garden or at the park.

One memorable entertainment option for your wedding day is our Surprise by Disguise performance. Ideally suited to fit between pre dinner drinks and formal speakers, the two or three performers create the element of disguise by appearing to be waiters, chefs or even guests. Then at the given moment all is revealed!


We have been lucky enough to have Vavachi Entertainment perform at Branell and even more fortunate to have them feature at our recent Cabin Grand Opening evening. To say our guests were impressed is an understatement. We can highly recommend the services of Roger and his professional team for your next event. To find out more about Vavachi Entertainment, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

For Hire

Did you know that Branell Homestead has hire gear you can take advantage of for your event?
We have listed all of the items we currently hire below and can provide pricing and further information on request. The great thing about hiring this gear from us is that you don’t need to worry about transporting them to the venue – we have it covered for you!


Featuring our 2.4m rectangular tables and Americana chairs – Photography courtesy of Sunlit Studios

We have a variety of tables which can be configured in different ways in the Pavilion. We can also provide you with sample seating plans to give you a starting point. Our rectangular tables are often used for tea and coffee, as a bar, buffet or present table.

  • 1.8m rectangular tables: A single table seats 6-8 guests, or you can join two tables to seat 12-14 guests.
  • 2.4m rectangular tables: A single table seats 8-10 guests, or you can join two tables to seat 16-18 guests.
  • 1.8m round tables: Round tables take up more room than rectangular tables. Each round table seats 10 guests comfortably.
  • Smaller cake/wishing well tables.

We have 130 white Americana chairs available for hire, which are suitable for your ceremony and/or reception. These simple white folding chairs can be used to compliment your wedding as they are, or you could add sashes, flowers or decorations. The photos below all feature Branell Homestead – {left} ceremony on the lawn near the homestead; {middle} photographer: Byron Loves Fawn; {right} photographer: Tall Timber Studio.


It can get pretty chilly in the Lockyer Valley during the cooler months, so you may need to consider having some gas heaters to keep your guests comfortable. We have two types of gas heaters available. They come with a full gas bottle, ready for you to simply light up.

We have white linen tablecloths to fit all of the different tables, as well as serviettes. The crisp white tablecloths are versatile and work well with any colour scheme.

We also have some vintage signs (featured below), a bubble machine, a big esky and three high chairs.


You are not required to use our hire gear. If you are after a different style of chair, there are a variety of hire companies in the area. However make sure you take into account the delivery fee. You may even be able to borrow some chairs from your local community group or church. You are welcome to bring them along in a trailer or truck to save some money. We have even had couples set up the entire Pavilion as an antique kind of lounge room, with rugs and old fashioned furniture. We are very flexible and are happy for you to set up your wedding the way you have always dreamed it would be.


Potato Studio: A Local Gem


Happily ever after magnet by Paper Boat Press

Whether you are simply after a wedding card or looking for that extra special gift for the bride and groom, we recommend a visit to Potato Studio. You will find something a little bit different and even a bit quirky. We guarantee you won’t just come out of the shop with a gift for the wedding…

Located in the main street of Laidley, Potato Studio is a hidden gem. As soon as you walk through the door, something is sure to catch your eye. Each display has been carefully considered and showcases a range of artisan gifts, homewares and accessories.

Always welcoming you to her shop, owner Nicole Lacey is a local at heart. Carefully selecting stock from local, national and international sources, Nicole can tell you about the creator of each piece in her store and the story behind the design. This personal and friendly service is one of the best things about visiting Potato Studio. Just make sure you allow enough time to wander through and look at everything!


Range of serving ware including Teapot by Robert Gordon


The Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel & Luise Vandahl Anderson


Gift tags by Rachel Kennedy Designs


{top left} Gift wrap by Bespoke Letterpress; {top right} Ceramic magnets & quote tags by Paper Boat Press; {bottom left} MT washi tape; {bottom right} Range of dishes for entertaining


Ear mints


Ceramic tag by Caroline C & Wooden studs by CORE


{square cards} by Rhi Creative


Studs by Elk Accessories


Variety of jewellery

Potato Studio is a retail outlet for Nicole’s fused glass jewellery label hot toffeeInspired by all things sweet, Japanese art & design and strongly influenced by the beautiful beaches of Australia, Nicole focuses on the small details and creates beautiful one-off products that are little pieces of art – ART YOU CAN WEAR and as the name suggests… some pieces even look good enough to eat.

When you head to Laidley, make sure you add Potato Studio to your list of things to do. It is only a 5 minute drive from Branell Homestead, so you have no excuses!

Photography: Grace Ploetz