Today I have handed the blog over to the lovely Roberta of Roberta Plans Your Day. She has lots of advice for newly engaged couples. Enjoy! x
Wedding planning tips – Essential advice newly-engaged couples must read
If you’re a newly-engaged couple you’re living a special moment in your relationship.
You feel overjoyed and start dreaming about the big day and, in my experience, a bride’s first focus, right after your beau has dropped on one knee, is see yourself in a beautiful gown.
Truth is, that there are so many different aspects to the wedding planning process that, unless you’ve had the time to do it for the past few years, you’ve been already married or you work in the industry, nobody is an expert and it can be a very time-consuming experience, emotional and tiring.
You have endless choices, as many traditions are not really requirements any longer, there are even more questions to ask and decisions to make.
That’s why I’ve created a list of essential wedding advice to help discerning couples.
First things first
I don’t like to, but I have to be the bearer of “bad news” sometimes.
If I had to give you just one piece of advice, this would be mine for newly-engaged couples.
It’s painful to talk money and it kind of takes the fun away, but in my experience this is where many couples get lost as they’re planning their wedding.
If you don’t plan your overall budget before you even start planning, you risk overspending in the end and that takes all the fun away from the process.
Every small element adds up in the end and the sooner you realize it, the lesser the stress closer to the big day.
Your personalities and your taste
You decide what’s important for you and where you want to prioritise budget.
If you both love a party and that’s the part of celebration you’re mostly looking forward to, you should definetily “invest” in the entertainment.
You want your wedding to be fun, dance the night away with your favourite people after you tied the knot is going to create memories of a lifetime.
Hire a live band, get a on open bar and have the best party you can remember.
If you’re a passionate foodie and you live for the next tasty experience then make it all about the gourmet deliciousness of canapés, wine pairing and splash on the ultimate of wedding cake.
Think about hiring a planner no matter your guest list size
No matter your guestlist size, if you’re getting married in a private home estate or by the beach you want all your friends and family to enjoy the moment with you,
have fun and not answering requests from suppliers.
When I’m your on-the day coordinator I’m your point of contact for everyone, bridal party vendors and guests.
Have fun as well as staying organised
As a bespoke wedding designer I love creating aesthetically details, that make every single wedding stunning and elegant.
It’s the creative aspect of my job that really excites me.
I love discussing plans and designs with newly-engaged couples love story and being able to narrate their vision.
Today’s newly-engaged couples are all about sustainability
Actively engaging in giving back to the environment is an option I always consider and discuss with my couples when I develop their wedding concept.
Another way to have some eco-friendly options is using wedding stationary suites, produced using recycled rags or paper, or even containing plantable seeds that can sow in your garden after the wedding ( the gift that keeps on giving!)
You can do so talking to your florists that sources your blooms locally or having living plants as part of your floral aisle decoration or as a backdrop. Your florist can also help you choosing products that do not contain harsh chemicals.
Have weather plans
If your plan is to have an outdoor ceremony and celebration you should really think about what I like to call a rain plan.
Planning is key : that goes also for an extreme heatwave plan too!
There’s nothing more uncomfortable for your guests that having to travel all dressed to the nines and then melting away under the sun.
Speak to your wedding planner about options, after you have found your outdoor venue.
As we are still in a semi lock down here in the UK, and the government is giving us NO information on when weddings will be allowed to go ahead, or in what form. I thought I would follow up on a previous post about micro and elopement weddings, and focus on cakes for smaller weddings.
I know some people think that we in the wedding industry, and especially venues, get given information ahead of the public about what the plans are for weddings. But I can assure you we really don’t. We know no more or less than everyone else, in spite of lobbying for information. Believe me this is all as frustrating for us as it is for you. I know of at least two wedding businesses that have folded due to the virus and weddings having to be called off this year. And, sadly, I think there will be many more. It’s a nightmare.
I was talking to a couple the other day who are getting married this September, and they were saying it would be so helpful if the government would just make the decision. And I couldn’t agree more!
Anyway back to the subject of smaller weddings and cakes.
The trend for micro and elopement weddings started a few years ago, in fact I think they have always been a thing. And, as I’ve said before, they do have a lot going for them. If the government does give the go ahead for weddings, then it’s likely to be with number restrictions to begin with (I’m not even going to try to guess what those numbers might be).
Now you may think that having a smaller wedding means you have to compromise on the cake. But this isn’t necessarily so. After all you may already have had to compromise on so much else.
I have often done a fake or dummy tier as part of a cake for a smaller wedding, in order to give it more height and more wow. And this is what I would recommend doing for your smaller wedding.
You may only need one or two tiers of real cake to feed you and your guests, and don’t leave yourselves out when thinking about how much cake you need. Too many times I’ve had couples tell me that all their guests loved the cake, but they never managed to get any!
Cake for you
Then there is the tradition of keeping a tier for the christening of the first baby. Of course this was back when wedding cakes were fruit cake, and we all know how long fruit cakes will keep for. But sponge cakes freeze really well, so it’s still possible to do this. And it doesn’t have to be for a christening. Several of my couples have kept the top tier and frozen it for their first anniversary. If you’re having a smaller wedding then this gives you plenty of scope to have a tier to keep, as you won’t need it to serve to guests.
In fact why not have an extra, smallest, top tier that’s just for you anyway? Sometimes called a ‘take to bed cake’ or ‘midnight feast cake.’ Don’t forget to tell your venue or wedding planner that it’s yours!
You don’t have to get married to have a party!
Yes the chances are that larger weddings will be on hold for a little while, or will be in a different form. And it’s also true that a lot of wedding budgets are having to be spent elsewhere at the moment. However having a smaller wedding has a lot of pluses, as I discussed here. And then, when all this is over, why not have the wedding you were originally planning as a vow renewal for your first anniversary? In fact this is a great idea because you get all of the fun and excitement with none of the wedding day nerves or worries, as you’ve already done that bit.
Nothing anyone says will lessen the disappointment that a lot of couples are feeling this year. Or the stress a lot of wedding businesses are under to try and stay alive. But weddings WILL happen again. And you WILL be able to marry the love of your life.
And think of it this way. You now have more time to iron out all those little things that have been niggling you. You have more time to save, should you need to. And you have time to make changes to anything you weren’t 100% about.
As to the cake?
Well there is no need to scale down that particular part of the dream. In fact the cake is one of the parts of a smaller wedding you can still go all out with. So get creative!
To get in touch about your wedding cake, large or small, click HERE
I think everyone in the wedding industry will agree that 2020 has been written off. A few of us still have a few, small, weddings on our books, but we are all expecting them to be moving to next year in due course. This means that 2021 is already pretty much full for many venues and suppliers. So what does that mean for anyone still looking to plan a 2021 wedding?
It’s mid June, and usually I would be flat out with weddings, and also taking bookings for the following year. However, this year I’m flat out moving weddings from this year, and having to turn down bookings for next year due to the dates being taken. September 2021 is already almost full just with postponements, and I had to close May 2021 weeks ago.
I’m not alone. I‘m in regular contact with many other wedding industry professionals, and they are all saying the same.
It’s very frustrating at the best of times having to turn down clients, even more so as 2021 is really just 2020 over again, with just a few new couples who got booked in early on.
There is no doubt that 2020 will have a knock-on effect for the wedding industry for a long time to come. And we are all ‘pivoting’ (am I the only one who always thinks of that Friends episode with the sofa every time anyone says PIVOT?)
It’s heartening to see that couples are still planning 2021 weddings though, that gives us all hope. But, I have to say, you’d be better off waiting for 2022 unless you already have everything sorted.
The main reason is that, as I said, 2021 is going to be full of postponed 2020 weddings. It’s been heart-breaking for so many couples to watch all the months (even years) of planning be halted and thrown into confusion through no fault of their own. Thankfully I have been able to move all my couples over to their new 2021 wedding date, and I hope that continues with the few I have left.
If you want your dream wedding venue, and your pick of the best wedding suppliers, then 2022 will be your best option. Especially if you have big plans that you don’t want to compromise on.
However there are ways to have a 2021 wedding.
Firstly forget a Saturday wedding in the height of the season, April-September. Most of those have long gone for 2021, or will be going soon as more weddings are forced to move. And Fridays are not far behind.
Instead think about a weekday wedding. There are often financial benefits to this too, if that needs to be a consideration. Some venues offer better rates for weekday weddings, (although not all suppliers can). And hotel accommodation can also be cheaper for your guests that need it.
Think about an ‘out of season’ wedding. Although there isn’t really a wedding season these days like there used to be, there are the more popular months. April – September will be the busiest for weddings. So think about earlier or later. What about a Halloween, bonfire night or Christmas wedding? Christmas weddings can be magical. Or a Valentine’s Day wedding? You could even kick the new year off by getting married and having the mother of all New Years parties.
Scale it down. Another way to fit in a 2021 wedding would be to scale things down and think about a micro wedding. In fact I think micro and elopement weddings are going to be the next big trend. But, from the point of view of 2021 weddings, a micro wedding involves less work from all the suppliers. And so we are more likely to be able to fit them in around all the bigger weddings being moved.
That’s not to say you can’t then have a big party later. A small 2021 wedding and then a big vow renewal with everything you’ve dreamed of in 2022 as you 1st anniversary.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not trying to kill your 2021 wedding dreams. Not at all!! But I do want to keep it real. And the reality is that it’s getting harder and harder for couples to get all their wedding ducks in a row for next year.
Top tips if you’re starting to plan your wedding.
1/ Get good insurance! Some wedding venues are now insisting couples have wedding insurance before they book. And it’s a very good idea to have it.
2/ If you have your heart set on a certain time of year, or a Saturday wedding. And you don’t want to compromise on your choice of suppliers, or any aspect of your wedding. Then consider 2022 instead of 2021.
3/ If you can’t wait and want a 2021 wedding, then be prepared to compromise. Especially on the date.
4/ Be kind. The wedding industry is in turmoil and some business won’t recover. We are all doing everything we can to give you what you dream of.
5/ Be patient. A lot of businesses have had to furlough staff. And so it may take a little longer to get back to you.
6/ Don’t stress. You will get married, and it will be wonderful!
To get in touch with me about you wedding cake, click HERE
For Wedding Cake inspiration check out my Pinterest
Finding the right wedding cake maker for you doesn’t have to be stressful
Well I was going to begin this post by asking if you were all enjoying the beautiful weather! Sadly, it’s now freezing cold and raining, normal British summer has resumed. But what better weather to be indoors planning your wedding? And today I’m not going to talk about choosing your ideal wedding cake, but choosing your ideal wedding cake maker.
Your wedding is a time where you will be getting a whole range of bespoke services, and they all need to work together to bring your vision to reality. And, as you know, whenever you have anything custom made, you need to form a relationship with the creator. Most of the services you need for a wedding you can’t get by just popping to the shops.
This means you will be in regular contact with your suppliers right up to, and maybe including, the big day. So you need to feel 100% comfortable with them, and trust them to deliver your vision.
Now, at the moment, it’s still not really possible (or safe in my opinion) to be meeting up for face to face consultations. And that’s often not possible anyway. I would say around 75% of my clients are holding their weddings or events in the South West, but don’t live here. We are very much a hot spot for destination weddings.
So how do you go about finding the right wedding cake maker? Especially when we can’t do wedding fairs or meet with each other? And how do you even start looking?
Firstly decide what kind of wedding you want.
By this I mean are you wanting an intimate, micro wedding, or a big affair with the whole shooting match? Are you thinking pastels and lace and romance, or are you thinking bright and bold? Boho/rustic or high end glam? The list goes on.
Don’t be. Even if you don’t think you know what you want, chances are you actually do. Just take a look at your Pinterest boards, I bet there’s a lot they all have in common. The colours and styles you are being drawn to and saving will form the basis for your wedding style or theme. And, let’s be honest, most of us have known the kind of wedding we want for years. I can still remember saying I wanted a gold wedding dress when I was around 14. When I was 26 and getting married, guess what? Yep, my dress was a beautiful, matt gold slugged silk with a red bodice (there’s a wedding pic HERE if you want to see it.)
Whatever your vision, there will be the perfect team of suppliers out there to create it for you. You just have to find them.
For many the starting point for any search is good old google (other search engines are available) But what are you searching for?
My advice would be to be a niche as you can with your search terms. Just typing ‘Wedding Cakes’ into google with make your head explode with the number of results you’ll get. So try to narrow it down. Start with the geographical area in which you’re getting married, ‘Wedding Cake Makers South West.’ You’ll still get tens if not hundreds of thousands of hits. ‘Wedding Cake Makers Cornwall’ will bring you a little closer.
And don’t just look at page one of search results, we aren’t all able to be on page one all the time. Some of the smaller, hidden gems, will be on pages 3 or 4 or even further.
You can then narrow things down even more but adding other keywords into your search and so on, I’m sure you already know all this. But there are a lot of search terms that are unique to the wedding industry, especially with dresses and accessories. If you can find out the name of the shape of dress or colour of shoe you want, that’s a big help. I never knew there were so many names for so many dress shapes and colours until I joined the wedding industry.
Back to cakes though.
You may want a white wedding cake with pink sugar flowers for example. So ‘Sugar flower wedding cakes Cornwall’ might be a good starting point. Or you may want a black wedding cake, or a semi naked cake. Whatever your choice, use that with your geographical area, and you’ll get a good range of results.
Another popular way to find suppliers is the online directories.
Although simply finding the right directory to search in can be a full-time job in itself! There are so many of them now. But again, there are ways to save time and narrow things down. Only use ones that cover the area in which you’re getting married for example. Sounds obvious? But I’ve had so many people contact me over the years who haven’t looked to see where I’m based. And this is important if you are getting married away from home. Your dress you may want to get locally to where you live because of fittings etc, but the cake will be something it is best to get from a cake maker closer to where you are getting married. Although many of us will deliver UK wide.
Personally there are a few directories I would recommend trying first, And I’ll list these at the bottom.
A tip for directories.
A top tip for using a directory to contact a supplier is to ignore the enquiry form they sometimes have on them. These send us a generic, often slightly irrelevant, automated message like ‘Hi, we are interested in your services, please send us your brochure.’
It gives us very little info and is usually rather impersonal. If you get emails like this, I bet they are the ones you assign the least amount of time to? And they will sometimes go straight to spam and get missed anyway. It also makes it seem like you aren’t really that interested in us, but are just throwing a net out to see who replies.
Instead click the link to the suppliers own website and use their own contact form. This way you know your message won’t get lost, and will give your supplier the information they need. Even better drop us an email. Emailing us direct will also allow you to send us your mood board links etc, which will save time later down the line.
Should you contact more than one wedding cake maker at a time?
This goes for any supplier really. And of course you can if you wish. No one would expect you not to have a good look at all your options. Especially not for your wedding. Personally I always reply as soon as I can to all my enquiries, and I never expect or assume I’ll be the chosen cake maker. When you have made you decision, just drop the others a quick ‘thanks but no thanks’ email so that they can open that date back up.
Another option is the recommended supplier list from your wedding venue.
Not all venues have this, but it’s always worth asking if they do. Some will have a list on their website, others will simply have people they like to work with who they will tell you about if you ask. In fact this goes for all suppliers. I have a mental list of other suppliers I’ve worked with over the years that I would recommend, and do when I’m asked. And so will your florist, DJ, caterer etc. We work with all these people and get to know them, and their work, really well.
Word of mouth in any walk of life is probably the best way to find the best people. So if your venue or another supplier is recommending a cake maker to you, then it’s worth checking them out. There will be a page coming to the website soon of all the other wedding suppliers I love to work with.
Then there is your wedding planner.
If you are engaging a wedding planner then make full use of their little black book of contacts, they all have them! Your wedding planner will know which suppliers you’ll get on with, and will fit your style. They will often work directly with us too. So we also trust them to bring us clients that are a good fit for what we do. If a trusted wedding planner puts a couple my way, I know they will be my kind of people, and vice versa. If you wanted a novelty wedding cake, for example, they will only put you in touch with cake makers they know do those (I don’t by the way, but I know a few who do.)
A wedding planner is also a good idea if you are having a destination wedding, as I’ve mentioned before. Hiring a wedding planner local to where you are getting married will save you a lot of time and stress, as they will know all the best local suppliers, and also the ones to avoid!
Finding ‘the one’
Finding the perfect wedding cake maker for you is the same as finding all the other suppliers. The bonus with us is that you will get to try cake 😊
A lot of it is going to come down to that gut feeling you get when you speak to us. And if you have followed the above advice you should have narrowed your choices down to those cake makers who fit your style and budget. Only you know what’s most important to you when it comes to your wedding. So trust that voice that tells you that yes, you like this one, they get you and make you feel relaxed. If you don’t get that feeling, however stunning their work might be, you won’t be as relaxed.
Something I try very hard to do is not only reply swiftly, as I know your wedding is a big deal, and you want answers asap. But I also make sure I build a relationship with my clients, and to put them at ease so they know that they can trust me completely.
Top tips for finding your perfect wedding cake maker
1/ If you’re using google then niche down your search terms as much as possible. This will give you less results to have to wade through.
2/ Directories are a good resource. Find ones that cover the area in which you are getting married.
3/ If you do use a directory avoid the autofill/auto message forms. These often go to our spam. They don’t give us much info, and tend to be very impersonal. Better to click through to the suppliers website and contact them directly.
4/ If you are contacting more than one cake maker then remember to let the others know when you’ve made your decision, so that they can open that date back up.
5/ Check with your venue to see if they can recommend a cake maker (or any other supplier) As direct recommendations like this are always better.
6/ If you are using a wedding planner then tap into their local knowledge of the best suppliers.
7/ Trust your instincts. If you find a cake maker you click with, then book them, quick!
Have you ever seen wedding cake photos on blogs and in magazines?
The wedding cake photos you see online and in magazines will almost certainly have been taken at a wedding photo shoot. But there are things you can take from them for your own wedding.
A couple of weeks ago I came blinking out of the house and into the daylight. We in the UK have been told we can go back to work as long as we still follow all the rules, which meant I could go back to the studio. Although I could have gone before, as I work alone there, I had been extra careful. But last week I had good reason for going back, and it was to meet with the lovely Helen Chapmen for a ‘lock-down photo-shoot’ to get some wedding cake photos for her blog. Helen is a wedding photographer based in Devon. We have worked together before on a wedding photo shoot you may remember me blogging about at Bicton Park Botanical Gardens (beautiful and worth a visit when they are back open)
Helen had asked if she could come to Clovelly to take photos of some of my display cakes I keep down there. Although Clovelly is still very much closed, my studio is up top in the main car park. So we didn’t need to go into the village or near anyone. There was just the two of us, and I doubled as assistant (those big reflectors have a mind of their own!)
It was great to be back in my happy place/work space. But it did feel strange with no visitors. No bad thing at the moment though, and it meant we could get outside to make the best use of the area immediately around the studio. And of the beautiful weather. We were able to find the perfect backgrounds for each cake.
The backdrops to your wedding cake photos is very important.
Sadly this is something that is often overlooked. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve set a cake up at a wedding venue and there’s a radiator, light switches, fire exit, plug sockets, fire extinguisher in the background. And I just know they will be visible in the cake cutting photos. Or the cake table is in front of a window, which will mean the bright light can wash out the photos. Not to mention that this is a pet hate of mine, sunlight through windows, you might as well put your wedding cake in a greenhouse!
When you visit your venue have a think about where to set up the cake table.
Too often they seem to have just been plonked down as an afterthought. So take a few minutes to look at where would be a good spot, with a good backdrop, to set up the cake. And have the photos in mind when you do. Discuss this with the venues wedding coordinator, wedding planner or stylist.
If you’re having a very elaborately decorated cake, then a plain background might be best. You want the cake to stand out and not disappear into a busy backdrop. If the cake it a plainer white or ivory, then a darker background would help it stand out.
Doing wedding photo shoots a lot has given me the chance to see how photographers work, and how they place and arrange my cakes to get the best shots. I’m also lucky enough to have a few photographer friends too, who I can ask for advice on staging.
And this is something I would recommend.
Have a good chat with your photographer about all your ideas. There’s a high chance your photographer will know your venue and have shot weddings there before. So they will already know all the best places for photos, and where the best light comes from.
Even better would be to meet with your photographer at your venue and do a walk around with them (there may be a charge for doing this)
Also talk to your cake designer.
We stage wedding cakes week in and week out, so we know a few tricks. I’ve already mentioned my pet hate of cakes in windows, especially semi naked and buttercream cakes in high summer! (can we say hot mess??)
Another thing I often see is the cake table in an alcove or a corner of the room. While this is good for the safety of the cake, it won’t get knocked into for example. It also means you can’t properly get alongside the cake for the cutting photos. You end up crammed against a wall trying to cut the cake.
But back to the wedding cake photo shoot.
Something that I found very interesting was the time Helen took to make sure the light was just right. And the big difference the light reflector made, even though it was a sunny day. Now I know you can’t have someone wielding one of those at your wedding. But it is worth making sure there’s a good natural light source into the area you want the cake setting up, not bright sunlight though (see above.)
You’ll also notice that most of these photos have been taken outside. Wedding cakes outside is a whole subject by itself (I wrote about it here) Because these are all display cakes, they are much lighter weight and less fragile than a real wedding cake will be. But you can move a wedding cake outside for photos as long as you know what you’re doing. If this is something you think you’d want to do then chat to your cake maker. We will make sure we add extra internal supports, and give detailed instructions on how to move it. We might be able to stay and move the cake for you if that can be arranged (again there will be an hourly charge for this).
Photo shoot V reality
It’s important to keep in mind that the photos you see in any shoot are there to give you inspiration and ideas. They are not supposed to represent a real wedding necessarily.
For example it’s very unlikely that you would have a flataly of your stationary as part of your wedding photos. Those are there to showcase the stationers work, and the work of the other suppliers involved in the shoot.
What a photo shoot will give you is a really good idea of the quality of work of the suppliers, if they are your style or not, and help you decide who you want to work with for your wedding. They are also a great way to get a good feel for the style you can expect from the photographers involved. Do you like the way they have used light, or the way they have posed their models for example.
Top tips for getting good photos of your wedding cake
1/ Talk to you photographer about where in the room is best for the cake to be for them to be able to get the best photos.
2/ Chat to your wedding planner or stylist about setting up the cake table. Being creative with the table set up can be very effective.
3/ Make sure the backdrop compliments the cake, and doesn’t fight it for attention.
4/ Avoid harsh and direct sunlight. It’s bad for photos and very bad for the cake!
5/ Avoid dark corners too. Too much shadow will hinder the photographer, and you won’t see the cake at its best either.
6/ Make sure there will be enough room for you both to be able to stand comfortably beside your cake for the cutting photos.
Read more about Helen and our photo shoot, click HERE
To enquire about your luxury wedding cake, click HERE
There’s no getting away from it. The days of the big, 200 plus guest weddings are on hold for now. But does this mean that getting married is on hold? I don’t believe so! In fact I think elopement and micro weddings are going to become the next big trend.
There are many reasons why an elopement wedding is a good thing.
I know there’s a lot of disappointment at the moment with weddings having to be postponed. As a wedding supplier I’ve been at the sharp end of the fall out. It’s upsetting to have to move weddings when so many plans have already been made. And money already spent.
But there is hope. And it comes in the form of an elopement wedding, or micro weddings as they are starting to be called.
These days an elopement doesn’t mean the two of you running away is secret. These days it simply means a small wedding, maybe twenty people maximum. You and your nearest and dearest celebrating your special day with you, relaxed and happy.
Although we still don’t know when weddings will be allowed again, I think it’s safe to say that elopement style weddings will be the first to be given the green light. So it’s well worth considering. Why not have an elopement wedding now, and then a big party or a vowel renewal for your first anniversary, when everything is back to normal.
And there are other reason for an elopement or micro wedding that have nothing to do with ‘the virus.’
Firstly the financial aspect. Let’s face it, most of us have been impacted either with jobs or businesses. And there’s much uncertainty. Now I’m not going to dwell on that, but it is worth looking at switching to an elopement style wedding if budget is becoming a consideration.
Then there is all the family and relationship politics surrounding the guest list and seating plan. Been there, done that (we ended up in the pub). I think it was the part of the planning that took the longest! How many people are on that guest list that you’d rather weren’t? Or that you hardly know but feel obliged to invite? I think this is a given for most weddings.
Guest list nightmares
You feel you should invite work colleagues, your parents want you to invite some of their friends, and if they are on your Christmas card list then you feel they should be on your wedding guest list, even if it’s just the evening party. And before you know it you’ve got 150 plus people to feed and entertain! And some of those people feel obliged to come to your wedding even if they’d rather not. How many weddings have you been to where you’ve hardly got to speak to the happy couple, and have been sat with total strangers? It can all get a bit awkward. You should be enjoying your wedding day, not going around introducing people to each other and hoping they will all get along.
An elopement solves that at a stroke.
You can only have, say, 20 people at your wedding. This instantly means you can drop all those obligation invites. You only need to invite those you really want to share your day with, and who you know will want to be a part of that day. The guest list pressure is off! And you know that everyone will know each other well, and so will be relaxed. Plus you will be able to spend quality time with all your guests, and not feel you’ve got to be playing the host.
Another plus is that, with the smaller numbers, you’re more likely to be able to find a venue where you can all stay together. Many hotels offer a discount for wedding guests, but won’t always have enough vacant rooms to accommodate them all, especially of you’re getting married in the height of summer.
A smaller party will mean more chance of getting rooms for everyone, so no driving or hassle with getting taxis late at night. And a smaller wedding is also perfect for some of the exclusive use venues.
Why not hire a large holiday home for you all to stay in for the whole weekend, or even the whole week? You can have the actual wedding at a licenced venue, church, chapel or registry office. Then back to your rented house for the party? Hire in private caterers who can do the whole weekend. Or go all out and hire a place that comes with staff and a chef. And then just chill. After the guests have gone you can have the rest of the week there as a mini honeymoon.
I’ve delivered wedding cakes to privately rented houses a few times, and there is always a lovely vibe about the place.
Now I know I said I wasn’t going to dwell on finances
But another good thing about a smaller wedding is that you will have more to spend on lots of the extras. One of the biggest costs of any wedding is the reception, and the food/wine/service and entertainment for all those people, then even more people in the evening. This can mean compromises have to be made elsewhere. With a micro wedding there’s no need to choose between one thing or another. Because you’ll be, potentially, saving thousands on the reception, you can have that Vera Wang dress you’ve been dreaming of. Or you can have the most amazing honeymoon.
It’s much easier to get personal with a micro wedding too. Why not use some of that spare budget to hire some quirky props, go OTT with the flowers, or hire a live band? The space will be smaller as well, and so easier to customise and personalise.
Okay, Claire, but what about the cake?
Well I have to talk about the cake!
Over the years I’ve done many elopement cakes as there are several venues here in Cornwall and the South West who specialise in them. And they have always been completely different, and a true representation of the couple. From very simple semi naked cakes with fresh flowers, to a cake with a cow theme. I think people allow their personalities to come to the fore much more at small, intimate weddings. There’s no one there to impress, just those who already know all your quirks. And you’ll already know theirs, so no sudden ‘oh by the way I’m vegan’ surprises at the last minute.
Desert tables work well for small weddings too. As do grazing tables where people can just go and get what they want, when they want it. No long line at the buffet, or harassed waiting staff trying to get everyone seated and served.
Yes a smaller wedding means a smaller cake. And so a lower spend. In theory I should be against this, and encouraging you all to wait until you can have those 200 plus guests and that £1K wedding cake.
But I’m a realist. Weddings like that aren’t going to be happening anytime soon. Small cakes can be just as special. And you can still have that huge, six tier creation you’ve dreamed of if you want to, just have five of the tiers as dummies.
The wedding industry, as with everything else, is going to be changed by this. And we are going to have to adapt to the ‘new normal.’ This is going to mean smaller weddings for a while. And I, for one, am okay with that.
To get in touch about your elopement or micro wedding cake click HERE
Everyone loves a good trend, don’t they? And wedding cakes are no different. So today we are going to look, briefly, at wedding cake trends for 2021/2022.
Generally trends take longer to emerge and change in weddings than most areas. This is because weddings are planned over many months, even years. And there are also a lot of traditions within weddings that people don’t like to mess with too much.
Now I think it’s safe to say that most people are no longer planning a 2020 wedding, for the obvious reasons we don’t need to go into here. But I have noticed that lots of people are using this time to plan their 2021 and 2022 weddings. And it’s the perfect time to do it. Just remember that you’re going to be competing with all the 2020 couples who have had to postpone their weddings to 2021/22 dates. So my advice not to leave it too long to book a supplier you love is even more relevant now.
Having said that trends within wedding take longer to change. One area within weddings where trends do come and go more quickly, is the cake.
The days of the wedding cake being a rich fruit cake coated in thick marzipan and rock hard royal icing have long gone! Although, saying that, fruit cake as one of the tiers is starting to creep back. And this is the thing with trends, they often revisit what came before, but add a contemporary spin.
With all of this in mind, what can we expect to see from wedding cake makers over the next year or two?
Back in 2018 we started to see a move away from the traditional wedding cake as an actual cake. Replaced with cheesecakes, cheese stacks and even pork pies! Thankfully this trend didn’t last. Although the stacks of cheese and pork pies are a great buffet idea.
The wedding cake if firmly back where it belongs. But it isn’t a plain white tower that fades into the background anymore. And this brings me to my first trend for 2021/22
Colourful wedding cakes
It’s long been a thing to use a coloured ribbon around the base of the cake, or the cake board, to match the wedding colours. But why stop there? These days you can have the icing in any colour you could think of. And I can colour match to your exact colour scheme. You can also paint on cakes. The trend for the watercolour effect on wedding cakes is one I can see becoming bigger too. It’s a great way to bring your wedding colours into your cake in a more imaginative way.
Dramatic wedding cakes
Think black wedding cakes. Yes, I said black. A black wedding cake can look stunning, and really add that touch of the dramatic, especially if you don’t want a fully themed wedding, but do want some statement touches. If you don’t want black then maybe introduce some interesting and unusual textures like the concrete or stone effect. A real talking point for your guests.
Personalised wedding cakes
Bring some of your personality into the wedding with a personalised wedding cake. Of course the double sided wedding cakes have been around a long time. They were cute when the trend first started, but can look naff if not done just right. Forget those. Instead think back to what I said about hand painting on cakes. Or what about a hand cut stencil to match a design you may have on your stationary? As this would be a one-off design it would be truly yours.
Floral wedding cakes
Now if you know me, then you know that I adore sugar flowers. But there are lots of alternatives without using fresh flowers (which can come with a health warning). Wafer paper flowers are a great alternative to sugar flowers, and something I predict becoming a new trend for wedding cakes. Then there are pressed and dried flowers. Dried flowers like roses and lavender can looks beautiful, and smell nice too. Plus they are already dried, so you can keep them afterwards. I also love to press edible flowers. Because they are edible, they can be put directly onto the cake. For 2021/22 I can see dried, pressed and wafer paper flowers overtaking fresh flowers on wedding cakes.
There is one wedding cake trend I can see staying around. I’m talking the semi naked cakes and buttercream cakes. I think these are going to stay around for a while yet. But with a twist. Remember what I was saying about fresh flowers on cakes maybe being replaced? I certainly think this is a good idea on semi naked and buttercream cakes. And once you move away from fresh flowers, you open up a whole world of possibilities, dried or dehydrated fruits and foliage for example. Buttercream can also be tinted many colours, and can be piped into amazing flowers and other designs, it can also be textured in many different ways. Then there are wafer paper flowers and foliage.
So there you are. A brief waffle on what I think we are going to be seeing in the wedding cake world over the next year or two. Get creative with your wedding cake design and let your personalities shine, give your guests something to delight the eye, not just the stomach. And remember, the cake is one of the most photographed things at a wedding, so make sure it’s worthy of all the attention.
Destination weddings have become hugely popular over recent years. To begin with they were small and intimate elopements, as the cost and logistics of getting your whole family out to your chosen location was prohibitive. But, recently, that has changed. And now destination weddings can be as full on as a wedding at home.
And then THE VIRUS hit.
Suddenly weddings abroad became next to impossible, in fact all weddings are pretty much on hold for now. But that won’t last forever. Weddings will start happening again. Although, I suspect, travelling out of the county will not be something people will be rushing to do for some time, especially if you have elderly relatives you want at your wedding.
Which brings me to the subject of todays blog.
Can you have a destination wedding without leaving the UK?
The simple answer is, yes! Think about what we mean by a ‘destination wedding.’ It is essentially a wedding that you have to travel to. We have come to think of that as getting on a plane and flying off to somewhere exotic, but it can actually be anywhere.
As you know I live and work on the North Cornwall/Devon border (I live in Cornwall and my studio is in Devon) And one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that this part of the South West is most definitely a wedding hot spot, and a popular place for a destination wedding. I have had couples come from all over the world to get married down here, as well as from all over the UK.
In fact, I would say, that around 75% of my couples are not living down here. They are using Devon and Cornwall as a destination, in the same way you might think of Italy, Greece or even further.
And there are many benefits to choosing the far South West.
At the moment the big advantage is no plane travel, which also brings the cost of getting to your wedding down for your guests too (let’s be honest, this is going to be relevant in the current economic climate). And well also have a big benefit to the planet.
Family and friends can car share to get to the wedding. This will also bring down the carbon footprint. And they may be able to come by train, which is even better.
Any guests with small children won’t have the stress of taking them on a long flight and can plan their journey around the kids.
You can bring your dogs! And so can everyone else. A lot of wedding venues are dog friendly, and there are loads of dog friendly accommodations down here too. How amazing would that be? And don’t worry, there are dog walking and sitting services available.
Our beaches are amazing! And are quite different depending on which coast you are on, so you can choose the vibe that best suits you. Here on the north coast we are well known for amazing surfing beaches. And the cliffs are rugged and terribly romantic. It’s no coincidence Poldark was filmed down and around here.
We have beautiful woodlands and estates. If you’re not looking for a seaside/beach wedding then you only need to go inland a little for some amazing, and very different, scenery. We have some beautiful country houses and estates down here that are gorgeous wedding venues.
History. Well we have that in spades! There’s one wedding venue in Cornwall with its own Iron Age fort! Then there are the forts from the Napoleonic Wars that are now wedding venues (yes really) And countless historic churches and chapels.
A great many Devon and Cornwall wedding venues offer outdoor weddings, many with sea views, or even a private beach. And a lot of them can be hired as a whole, for the whole weekend. So you and your guests can all stay together on site. No driving, everyone can have a drink, no parking worries.
No time changes. Okay this might not be a big thing. But it’s still a plus. Time changes aren’t so bad within Europe. But go any further and it can be significant, and jet lag isn’t fun. You and your guests really don’t want that groggy, slightly hungover feeling on the big day, save that for the day after!
The weather. Now I know what you’re thinking. This is the UK, it rains. That is true. But it rains a lot less down here than other parts of the UK. And getting married abroad is no guarantee of good weather. One of the most spectacular and long lasting thunder storms I’ve ever seen was while I was in Cannes. And we had a similar downpour in LA!
And is generally a little warmer down here too. The days are also a little longer. I always notice how much earlier it gets dark when I’m up in London compared to down here.
Not to mention the sunsets!
Imagine that as a backdrop to your wedding photos.
Now I know I haven’t mentioned the wedding cake once in this post. And I’m a wedding cake maker, so I really should.
I do, of course, deliver my luxury wedding cakes across the whole of Devon and Cornwall. And the wider South West. As do most locally based cake designers. But if you have a cake maker based near your home who you’d really like to use, then have a chat with them to see if it’s possible for them to deliver this far.
Finding the right suppliers so far from home is always something that is going to be on your mind with planning any destination wedding. This is where hiring a wedding planner local to your wedding venue is really helpful. And also ask your wedding venue for any recommendations of local suppliers they are happy working with.
Another big advantage of using Devon and Cornwall as your destination, is that you can easily get here to meet up with suppliers. A lot of my non local couples (mostly London) come down for the odd weekend here and there to have a mini break and meet with suppliers and their venue. Not something you can do as easily if your wedding is in Barbados etc.
So here are a few top tips for planning a UK destination wedding (or any wedding while in lockdown)
1/ The internet is your best friend. Almost all wedding venues and suppliers have websites. There are also many wedding directories dealing with specific areas that will list suppliers local to your chosen venue.
2/ Skype. Or any of the others. Most of us have it. And it’s a great way to have virtual tours of venues and online consultations with suppliers.
3/ Think about travel for family and friends. Make sure the venue you choose is easy to find (trust me they aren’t always)
4/ Think about hiring a wedding planner to help you source the best local suppliers. They will know who the good ones are.
5/ Planning a UK destination wedding is a great excuse for a lot of weekend breaks 😊
To get in touch with me about your wedding cake in Devon or Cornwall (or anywhere else) click HERE
A few wedding venues I can recommend for their beauty, location and lovely staff.
When you’re planning a wedding there is a great deal to think about. And this can lead to wedding stress. But we want to solve those stresses, and help you have a stress free wedding cake process, but we need to know what those stresses and worries are.
So today I’m going to ask you to get involved. An interactive blog if you like.
I want to hear from you about your freak out moments (we all have them) and stresses, especially when it comes to your wedding cake. And also what I can do to help you. Because that’s a big part of my job, not just to physically make your wedding cake, but to take the stress out of the process too.
With this in mind, what advice can I offer?
Firstly I would say sign up to my mailing list so you can get lots and lots of free advice on all things wedding cake direct to your inbox 😊 (shameless plug!) There you will get your guide to choosing your wedding cake, as well as other useful advice (sign up HERE).
I would also say to talk to me, and to all your suppliers. All the suppliers you have in mind to work with for your wedding will be only too happy to answer questions. People often start an email with ‘I know this is a silly question…..’ But there is no such thing as a silly question. After all the chances are you have never got married before, or even been involved in organising a wedding.
Even if this is not your first wedding, things will likely have changed, and what you want, and your tastes will have changed. We do this for a living, so it’s our job to know what we’re doing. We don’t expect you to know. So ask us. Talk to us. Tell us what is stressing you out, and stopping you enjoying the wedding planning experience.
Back to cakes.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s YOUR wedding cake, so go with what YOU want. The chances are, these days, you are paying for the majority of the wedding yourselves. Which is even more reason to spend that money on what gets you excited. Something else I’ve said before is book early! This is just as true for the wedding cake as for everything else. And budget properly for the cake. Have a look on the websites of your wedding cake makers shortlist, see what their pricing is. This will give you a good idea of what you will need to be budgeting for the wedding cake.
Remember you don’t need to have all the details of your wedding cake design finalised before booking in with you cake maker. In fact part of my job is to design your wedding cake for you, and with you. As long as we know a rough size (or numbers the cake will need to serve) And a rough idea on the vibe of the wedding, that’s enough to start the process. If you have a Pinterest board for your wedding cake, then invite your cake maker to join it. This way we can see exactly what things you are liking, what you’re being drawn to, and this is really helpful. Or simply email us some reference images as and when you see something you like.
Another tip is to find out early on from your guests if there are any food allergies or special dietary requirements. The earlier you can let you cake maker, venue and caterer know the easier it will be to put all the arrangements in place. And it’s one less thing to have to worry about.
Getting your date booked in with all your chosen suppliers is the best way to give yourself piece of mind. Knowing that these things are booked, even if there are still details to confirm, will take a lot of pressure off.
Other things to think about
Another thing to bear in mind at the moment is that a lot of 2020 couples are having to move their wedding to 2021 because of you know what. Which means key dates are going faster than usual. So if you have decided which suppliers you want to work with, don’t wait to make that first contact with them. If a couple has already contacted me about a date, I will always give them first refusal should another enquiry come in. And once a booking fee is paid then that date is yours!
Right now we also can’t offer face to face consultations. However we can skype/face time/zoom etc, and you can email me whenever you’ve got a query. This is actually no bad thing, as we don’t have to stick to a set appointment time.
Anti-stress check list for your wedding cake:
1/ Write down all the things that are stressing you about the cake.
2/ Talk to your cake maker about the things on your ‘stress’ list. Remember there is no such thing as a silly question.
3/ Block out all the voices telling you what they think you should have. Think about what YOU want.
4/ Book early. Even if you haven’t decided exactly what you want. If you have found the cake maker you want to work with, then pay a booking fee and secure your date. Then you can relax and enjoy planning your dream cake.
5/ Budget properly. Do some research first. Most good cake makers will have a price guide of some kind to give you an idea of the amount you should budget for a cake from them.
6/ Sign up for your chosen cake makers newsletter. There will be lots of useful advice and tips there. And you can unsubscribe once you’ve got the info you need.
Now it’s your turn! Tell me what’s stressing you out about choosing your wedding cake. Tell me how I can help take that stress away. Pop over to my Instagram or FaceBook Page and leave me you comments, ask me your questions and let me help!
And if you want to get in touch to discuss your wedding cake, pop HERE
Welcome back! Today we are going to go inside your luxury wedding cake to explore what makes it stay standing, and keeps it structurally sound.
Something you may have noticed when cutting your luxury wedding cake (or any tired cake) is the presence of dowels.
Dowels are usually some form of plastic or wood, and are inserted into each tier of cake to support the one above. I prefer to use a recyclable plastic straw, that is hollow. This is because the solid ones can cause issues with displacing the cake, causing cracks on the outside.
Why have dowels?
The main function of dowels is to provide stability and support. Even though sponge cakes aren’t really that heavy compared to fruit cakes, they are quite delicate. A sponge cake won’t take the weight of another cake for very long.
If you have ever watched Bake Off when they haven’t used dowels, you’ll have seen the collapsing results! And their tired cakes are only out for a short time. Many times my husband has laughed at me for shouting ‘DOWELS PEOPLE!!!!!’ at the tv.
I have occasionally been asked why the dowels have to be there, as they get in the way when the cake is being cut up. Well yes they might, but if you didn’t have them, then you wouldn’t have a three or four tier wedding cake for very long!
Do dowels cut down the amount of usable cake?
I do take this into account when working out how big your wedding cake will need to be for the numbers it’s got to serve. In reality you’ll only be losing about six or seven servings in a three-tier wedding cake because of the dowels. And as we recommend ordering the cake for 10% less than the full number of guests, then it won’t make any difference.
You will also notice that there will be a cake board of some kind between each tier of your wedding cake. Again I have been asked why they are needed when the tiers sit on top of one another.
But the board it there for two reasons.
Firstly if there wasn’t a board, then the dowels would just push up into the tier above and wouldn’t give enough support. By having the board, you are giving something solid to rest on the dowels. Secondly the cake will need to be handled, and having a board means it can be lifted and carried safely, without fear of damaging the cake.
Types of dowels
I mentioned above about the types of dowel I use. But there are different kinds, and each cake maker will have their preferences.
I prefer a thick, hollow plastic straw type. Sometimes called pollydowels. And a wider straw that the pollydowel sits inside. I see this as a ‘belt and braces’ method.
Now I am aware that plastic isn’t the most popular thing, and I try hard to limit the amount I use. The cellophane I use to wrap some cakes for transport is 100% compostable for example.
I am always on the lookout for a better option for dowels. But, for now, the only other option is solid wooden or solid plastic dowels. And these come with their own issues.
The main problem with a solid dowel is that it displaces the cake as you push it in. Where the hollow straw type doesn’t, the cake simply fills the void and creates extra stability. The other problem with the solid wooden ones is cutting them to the correct height. A dowel needs to be cut to a whisker above the top of the cake it is going into, and this is a lot harder to do with wooden ones. They have to be sawed or cut with heavy duty cutters, running the risk of sawdust and splinters. Not ideal I think you’d agree! And the solid plastic ones are not much better.
But what about the thick paper straws I hear you ask?
Sadly they are not an option as cake dowels at the moment. Although they may work for cake pop sticks.
This is because paper absorbs moisture. So paper straws will start to absorb the moisture in the cakes and the fillings. Eventually becoming soft and they then start losing their strength. This defeats the purpose of a dowel.
I very much hope there will be a paper alternative, eventually, that can be used without going soft. But, for now, I will carry on using the pollydowels. They can be pulled out of the cakes and recycled, which is something. And you can speak to your venue or caterer and ask them to do that for you. I am also always looking for a compostable/biodegradable plastic option. So of they do get thrown away they will at least do minimal harm.
If what the dowels in your wedding cake are made of is important to you, then do discuss it with your wedding cake maker. We will always be happy to go through all the available options with you.
To discuss dowels with me, or any other aspect of your luxury wedding cake, click HERE
To get your FREE guide to choosing your wedding cake, click HERE
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