Eagles Rest takes out Brides Choice Award for Best Farm and Country Venue | Photos

Shireen and Bill Penny were shocked when they won their award. Photo: Stephen Katte

Shireen and Bill Penny were shocked when they won their award. Photo: Stephen Katte

Bill and Shireen Penny never intended to open a wedding venue, let alone an award-winning one, but that's precisely what they've done with their recent win at the Brides Choice awards for the best farm and country style venue.

"We had no idea; we were nominated by quite a few brides who loved our place. The first we heard of it was when they sent an email telling us we were finalists," Shireen said.

"I thought it was a hoax; then they rang us. I was shocked, the next thing we knew we'd won, it means so much to us."

The husband and wife team have been involved in marriages for the better part of 40 years now, and through their desire to help people, the seeds for what would become Eagles Rest were planted.

"We have been marriage counsellors for nearly 40 years, and one day I was working out of a coffee shop, and the waitress asked me why so many people were coming to see me," Shireen said.

"After I explained, she asked me to be the celebrant at her wedding, and true to her word when she was engaged, she came to us. When she saw our land, she asked to have the ceremony and reception here as well.

"There was supposed to be bad weather that weekend, so Bill created a makeshift undercover area, it was only four poles and a roof back then, and it's all just evolved from there."

With each passing year, Eagles Rest is growing, and the Pennys passion for helping couples on the happiest day of their lives has never been stronger.

"We are a one-stop wedding shop; we provide the venue, the celebrant, I think that is one of the reasons why people enjoy the place. They get use of the property Friday until Sunday, it reduces the stress and pressure of the ceremony and pack up," Bill said

"Our vision is strong marriages, rather than trying to help fix a marriage after years have gone by, we thought why not try and help a couple at the start of a marriage and lay a strong foundation."

"Eagles Rest is not a traditional business; money is not our motivation; we believe in marriage, family and faith in God," Shireen said.

"We are blessed, so we can be a blessing."

The last few years the duo has overseen the marriage of many happy couples, and along the way they have picked up more than a few stories, one of which Shireen recalls with a particular fondness.

"One day we were all set to start the ceremony, Bill was at the front in his suit ready to start, and then we heard screaming coming from the toilets," she said.

"A snake had made its way into the toilets; the guests were from the city, and most had never seen a snake before. Bill immediately took off his jacket and dealt with it; they were amazed; everyone thought he was Crocodile Dundee."

Eagles Rest will keep the title of Best Farm and Country Venue until next year; in the meantime, the husband and wife team are happy to continue with business as usual.

"We could win it again; there is fierce competition with a lot of excellent venues around, we might never win it again, and that is fine, we are happy with what we are doing," Shireen said.

"We have discovered that living for something else, and for someone else gives meaning and purpose to life," Bill said.

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