Luxury Wedding Cakes Cornwall and Devon: Having a Wedding Cake at an Outdoor Wedding.

It’s early April 2020 and we are all on lock-down/self-isolation. But it’s a glorious day outside, which got me thinking about having a wedding cake at an outdoor wedding.

 

In the UK you can’t, as things stand currently, have a fully outdoor wedding. There must be some kind of permanent structure, with a roof, that will hold at least the minimum 5 people needed to legally marry. This is why many wedding venues have pagodas etc in their grounds, usually open sided so that it’s as outdoors as possible.

Or you can do the legal marriage somewhere else. Then have a fully outdoor blessing, hand-fasting, or celebrant led ceremony.

However, I’m a wedding cake maker. And so my focus is going to be on the cakes with these kinds of weddings.

 

Can you even have a cake at an outdoor wedding?

white fondant wedding cake
A wedding cake outdoors needs some though

Unless there is an extreme heatwave, then yes you can, with a few considerations.

Now I’m not going to say that you can’t have a certain kind of wedding cake if you are having an outdoor wedding. It’s your wedding, you can have exactly the cake you want! But there are types of wedding cakes that will work better than others.

 

Firstly I would avoid the fully naked wedding cakes.

 

These are the ones with no icing or buttercream at all on the outside, just the bare cake on show. This type of wedding cake dries out quit fast at the best of times, put it outside and it will dry out even faster. And no one wants a dry cake.

Semi naked wedding cakes will cope a little better, but not if it’s hot. Buttercream, of any type, wants to melt. It’s why I won’t set a cake up by a heater or open fire etc. Or directly in front of a window getting full sun. you’ll have a sticky mess in no time.

Plus it’s only buttercream on the outside, and buttercream can get sticky. If you’re wedding cake is set up outside then there will be dust, pollen, grass or even sand floating around. If this sticks to the buttercream, then you’re going to be eating more that just the cake.

 

buttercream cake outside
Buttercream cakes outdoors should be kept cool and protected

Your best option is a fondant covered cake for an outdoor wedding.

 

Think of the fondant (sugar paste) as armour. It will be protecting the cake inside from the elements, and anything floating in the air. Once the cake is cut the fondant can be pulled off, and the cake inside will be perfectly okay. Of course you can eat the fondant too.

 

This is not to say you can set a fondant wedding cake up just anywhere outside.

 

The ground needs to be level. If it’s not, then the cake will look wonky. And you may have stability issues too. If the cake table is standing on uneven ground, then it’s going to be unstable too. The same goes for log slice cake stands. You’ve seen me mention them before. Make sure they are properly prepared and level or you’ll have a wonky looking cake.

The cake needs to be set up in the shade. Even with a fondant cake it will still need to be in the coolest place you can find. Fondant is sugar, and sugar doesn’t like heat. I always keep all wedding cakes as cool as I can before delivery, and will often travel with ice blocks in the car with them. Once it starts to warm up though, the cake will start to soften, the fillings will start to soften, and we need to avoid that for as long as possible. Even though the cakes will have their supporting dowels, this won’t guarantee that nothing will move if the cake gets too hot.

fondant wedding cake
Bring the wedding cake out at the last minute if possible

 

THINK WASPS!!!

 

I hate wasps, and it’s mutual (is there actually any point to a wasp??).

A wasp sting will knock me off my feet for a good 24 hours. And wasps LOVE sweet things. Therefore they are going to love your wedding cake! I have seen a whole swarm of wasps on a cake before (not one of mine, but online) and it wasn’t nice. You certainly won’t be able, or want, to eat it after they have finished with it.

Again, a fondant covered cake will offer some protection. They will only be touching/attacking the outer covering, and not the cake itself. So if the worst happens you can pull the fondant off and the cake beneath will be fine.

It’s the same with flies.

Okay I know I sound like I’m raining on your parade, sorry about that. That’s not my intention. I want you parade to be as glorious as possible!

 

If you want to have the wedding cake outdoors, then I would recommend having it brought out just before you want to cut it. This way it is not out for too long. Discuss this with your cake maker, and make sure you have someone on hand to carry the cake out at the appropriate time who knows what they are doing.

The other option would be to have the cake table set up under semi cover. Which brings me to my next point.

 

black wedding cake
Having an easily movable cake table is a good idea

 

It might rain.

 

Yep, it’s the UK. Rain is highly likely let’s face it. So having the cake set up outside will mean someone has got to try and quickly get a heavy wedding cake under cover, without dropping or damaging it! I certainly wouldn’t want to do that!

Some kind of semi cover is a good compromise. Maybe a small, open sided marquee or gazebo. Or if the venue has a summerhouse or covered patio, that would work well. Even under a large tree. Plus, there will be somewhere for everyone to shelter should the great British weather do its thing.

 

Wedding cake under a tree
Under trees can work too

 

 

Here are my top tips for having a wedding cake outdoors.

 

1/ Have the cake in the coolest, and shadiest place you can find. In semi cover is best.

2/ Make sure the ground is level before setting the cake table up.

3/ Be aware of wasps, flies and general air borne dust and dirt.

4/ Have a fondant covered cake to help protect the actual cake underneath.

5/ If the venue has a room that looks out over the site of the wedding, where the cake can be set up, but everyone can still see it, that’s the best option of all.

If you wan to get in touch to discuss all you wedding cake options further, click HERE

Or to receive my FREE guide to choosing your wedding cake, click HERE 

Luxury Wedding Cakes in Devon and Cornwall: Wedding cake toppers and decorations explained.

Something that has come up recently is the question of wedding cake toppers and decorations. And if they are edible or not?

This is an interesting question. And so I thought we would look at that today.

A lot of wedding cake toppers, and cake toppers in general, are wood/ceramic/glass/plastic/resin and so are clearly not edible. They are meant to be a keepsake. They will be made of a food safe material, but that’s to make sure they don’t contaminate your wedding cake.

wooden cake topper
A wooden cake topper that can then be kept

But what about wedding cake toppers and decorations we cake makers make out of sugar?

As I’m sure you know I’m very partial to sugar flowers and wafer (rice) paper. And yes, these materials are technically edible.
I remember being fascinated by rice paper as a child. And my great aunt gave me sheets of it to eat when we went to visit. I was eating paper!! What was this madness??!! Although it actually doesn’t really taste of anything much.

wafer paper flowers
And gum paste/flower paste?

Well yes, you could eat it, if you really had to. It is sweet and sugar based, but sets super hard. Which is what we need it to do when making flowers and models. However, this means you risk breaking a tooth if you did decide to take a bite!
This is assuming, of course, that there are no internal supports.
These are what will render your sugar flowers or sugar cake toppers into non-edible decorations.

sugar flowers with a resin cake topper
Sugar flowers with a resin cake topper

Let me explain.

When you are making sugar flowers or any topper or decoration, there are a few things we must take into consideration.
1/ The style you are going for. This determines what will be used to make the decorations. If you wanted very real looking flowers, then flower paste is the best option. But if you wanted something more stylised, then we could do wafer paper flowers instead. And if you wanted to keep them forever, then a cold porcelain can be used to make flowers.
2/ The way they are to be arranged on your wedding cake. This will determine how we make the flowers or decorations. If you want them to cascade down the side of the cake, and not just sit on top, then we will need to factor in a supporting stem. And this is made with florist wire.
3/ Weight. Anything made with any form of sugar tends to get quite heavy. Dozens of sugar flowers or decorations will add a lot to the weight of the cake. However, wafer paper is much lighter. So if you know the cake is going to have to be moved then this might be a better option. And wafer paper is also a lot less fragile to transport too. Worth considering.

With cake toppers and models its very similar. On the outside they will be sugar. But they will almost always need some kind of internal support. Especially with standing figures of the happy couple for example.

flamingo cake topper
This flamingo couple are a good example

What types of internal supports do we use?

1/ For many sugar and wafer paper flowers we will use a polystyrene cone or ball on a florist wire. We can make the cone or ball out of more paste, but they take a long time to dry out, add unnecessary weight, and will still need the wire. We must add the wire in order to secure the flower to the cake.
This wire becomes the flower stem, and is inserted into the cake in the same way as a real flower would be.
*Note: No flower stems, real or wired, can be inserted directly into the cake. It’s not allowed. We use posy pics, food safe tape or food safe wax as a barrier.
2/ Cocktail sticks are often used in smaller models. Usually to secure a head or limbs to the body (goodness that sounds grim!) These are food safe and you can pull them out and then eat the model (which sounds even more grim, lol)
3/ Bamboo skewers. These are used as larger cocktail sticks, and for giving a ‘spine’ to larger models.
4/ Armature wires. This is where it gets fun for us doing the making! Anything on a larger scale will need a skeleton. And any models that are posed will need this too. The armature wire is first wrapped in aluminium foil tape to make it food safe. But you can’t really eat these models unless you were to strip all the sugar paste from the wire.
5/ Florist wire. Used mostly in sugar flowers. A florist wire is often inserted into individual petals and leaves before assembling the flowers. Because of the delicate nature of this, the wire is inserted directly into these petals and leaves, no food safe protection first. So any wired petal or leaf won’t be edible, even if you pull it from the wire.
6/ Full cake frames. These are used for the large, sculpted and novelty cakes you see. They are a skeleton but for the entire cake. When these are used they are always a food safe structure.

sculpted wedding cake
An example of using a framework to get the effect

So that’s the inside. But what about the outside?

On all cake toppers, decorations and sugar flowers you’ll see the various colours and maybe even some sparkle. There are several ways we do this.

1/ Edible paints. I use these a lot. Especially with the beautiful watercolour effect cakes I do. I make my own paint by mixing edible gel colours or dust colours with alcohol, usually vodka. Some of the metallic paints I buy ready-made, but the are still 100% edible.
2/ Airbrushing. Not actually something I do that often. But, as with the edible paints, airbrush paints are a mix of edible food colour and an alcohol carrier.
3/ Dry dusting. This is used a lot for sugar flowers to add the tones and realism. Personally I always tint the actual flower pastes myself with edible gel food colour, but the petal dusts always add the details. Again these are 100% edible.
4/ Lustre dusts. Similar to petal dusts. They are 100% edible and can be used over a whole cake to give that pearlized sheen.
5/ Cocoa butter paint. This is similar to the edible paints. Instead of using alcohol we use melted cocoa butter to mix with the petal dusts/dust colours/lustre dusts.
6/ Edible glitter. This is where it can get tricky. When you are buying glitters for cakes there will be two kinds. Edible and non-toxic. If we know the glitter will be going directly onto the cake, then it will always be edible.
7/ Non-toxic glitters/colours. These are only used on toppers and decorations that will have already been rendered non-edible by the use of wires etc. Your cake maker will tell you what elements of the decorations should be removed before serving the cake. However, if you were to consume any, it’s non-toxic, so won’t do you any harm.

edible metallic painted wedding cake
This one was painted with edible, metallics

Really the main point of the wedding cake topper and the decorations isn’t to eat anyway. They are there to look amazing and wow your guests. And they will keep surprisingly well if you follow a few rules. I always say treat sugar work like gremlins: don’t get them wet and keep out of bright light!

To enquire about your wedding cake click HERE 

Luxury wedding cakes: The cake ordering timeline explained

A recent enquiry from a couple getting married soon got me thinking.

They wanted to know if I had availability for their date as they hadn’t heard from their cake maker for several weeks They were getting worried they might be left without a cake.

This made me think about the timeline of the whole cake ordering process. And what to expect in terms of communication from your cake maker. Also what we need to know from you. After all we do this day in and day out, but it’s new to you.

posy of sugar spring flowers

In the early stages there are emails/messages being exchanged regularly (with one bride we exchanged 148 emails!).

I try hard to make sure I reply to all emails within a couple of hours (this isn’t always possible, so please don’t hold me to it.)  I’m aware you are wanting the answers to your questions asap. I’m also aware that you many not get the time to sit down and get to your wedding planning until after work.  This isn’t an issue. I’m not saying I work 24/7, but we all live and work in a 24/7 world now.

So if I am available at 9pm to reply to an email then I do. If not then I will reply first thing the next morning. The only time there will be a delay in responses is when there is a time zone difference involved, this often happens when my clients are based in other countries.

The Process.

You will send me an email or fill in the contact form on my website with your enquiry. When doing this it’s really helpful to give me the date and venue of the wedding, then I can check my availability before replying. If that date is already booked I may be able to give you the names of other cake makers I know and trust who may be able to help.

I pick up your email and reply. I will ask you your wedding date and venue, (if you’ve not already told me that.) I’ll also ask if you know, roughly, the numbers the cake will need to be for, and if you have any ideas on style. This will give me the information I need to start putting a quote together for you. Usually I will be back in touch with that quote within 24 hours, unless there are other things I need to check, or unusual requests I may need to research.

I’ll get a quote back to you and if you want to meet with me, then we will arrange that too. I’ll also answer your questions, so don’t be afraid to ask anything.

Once we have met, you’ve tasted your chosen flavours, and discussed design, I will leave you to decide if you want to go ahead and book with me. If, in the meantime, I get another couple asking about your date then I will be back in touch sooner. If you’ve already enquired about a date, then you get first refusal on it.

What’s next.

If you decide to book, then I’ll give you the details you need to pay your booking fee (you cake isn’t booked in until that has been paid.) I’ll also check all the details I have so far. I will ask the time of the wedding so that I know when I need to deliver and set up your wedding cake. I will ask if there is a designated contact at the venue that I need to know about, and their contact details

.

You pay the booking fee, I confirm I’ve got it and that you’re booked in, and give you the date you need to pay the balance by (no later than 14 days before the wedding). I’ll also refer you to my Ts&Cs as by paying the booking fee you are agreeing to them.

Easy as that.

And really that’s it for now. I will know everything I need to in order get your wedding cake booked in and order whatever I need to for it etc. From my side I will have no need to get in touch until about a month before the wedding.

At that point I will get back in touch and confirm everything with you. As long as nothing has changed with your order then I’ll get on with everything and leave you in peace to enjoy the countdown to your big day!

However that doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch with me. You can email me at any stage about anything that is concerning you, and I will always be here to answer your questions. Remember there is no such thing as a silly question.

Time to panic?

So when should you be worried that you’ve not heard anything from your cake maker for a while? Well this depends. Did they tell you that they would be in touch? I always tell my couples that I will be in touch around a month before the wedding to check in and confirm everything is still the same with their wedding cake.

And I always ask that if things do change to let me know asap, so if you change your mind about flavours, colours etc, it’s best to communicate that straight away.

If your cake maker has said they will be in touch but then hasn’t.

I would drop them another email. And mark it as urgent.

You may get an ‘out of office’ response. So they will be in touch, just a little later. Maybe they have gone on holiday before wedding season kicks in and they won’t see daylight for weeks. I often have to pop up to London for a night or two, and the travelling (train wifi isn’t all it could be!) and meetings with couples can mean I’m a bit slower with replies.  When this happens an autoresponder should ping back to you letting you know what’s going on, and telling you when you can expect to hear back.

But what if you have been trying and trying to get hold of your cake maker (or any supplier) and haven’t had anything, not even an autoresponder?

The first thing I would do is pop to their website and social media. Are they still active?

If yes, then it’s likely they will get back to you. Your email may have gone to their spam, or they may simply have missed it. So drop them a message on another platform and let them know that you’re waiting for a reply.

Still nothing? And no recent online activity? Then have a word with some of your other suppliers. The chances are they will know each other.

The wedding industry is a very friendly place, and we all get to know each other quite well. So I’m sure one of your other suppliers will have heard if there is anything to worry about.

Back to the email that I received that got me thinking about writing this post.

I heard back from that couple. Their original cake maker didn’t get back to them, so they are going with me. This did make me realise that, unless you know the process, it might be easy to panic and think something has gone wrong. In this case it had, but in most cases everything is fine.

Did they do the right thing by getting in touch with me before they heard back from their original cake maker? As they explained the situation, that they were just seeing if it would be possible to get something done at fairly short notice. Then yes, I think they did the right thing. It’s completely understandable that they were getting worried.

What I would say is that it is completely normal to book a supplier and then not hear anything for a while. We aren’t ignoring you. And have vanished or gone out of business. We have got all the information we need from you to be able to start work.

And as weddings are usually booked many months ahead, it’s quite normal for things to go quiet for a while. But if you are worried then drop us an email or go HERE. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you 😊

Luxury wedding cakes : CoronaVirus, Covid-19 and your wedding.

Okay I wasn’t going to add to the already mountainous column inches about Covid-19. But I have been starting to get emails and messages from some of my couples with weddings coming up. So I thought I would let you all know where I stand at the moment.

It is Tuesday March 17th, and this is where I am at with things as they are right now.

So what advice am I giving to couples contacting me? Honestly I am not giving ‘advice’ as I am not a doctor or lawyer. Although I do have a lot of well informed connections who I am listening to and taking my lead from.

Firstly get in touch with your wedding insurer before you do anything!

Secondly get in touch with your wedding venue and ask what they are planning. And sound them out about future dates you could move your wedding to.

POSTPONE DON’T CANCEL!!

If you follow me on Instagram or FB then you will have seen me posting about postponing your wedding rather than cancelling it. And this is the biggest piece of advice I can give.

After all you still want to get married, right? That hasn’t changed. And you still want the wedding you have been planning all these months, that hasn’t changed either. So why cancel?

If you cancel completely then you have just got to start all over again. All those months of planning, searching for your perfect suppliers, your dream venue etc. You’ll have to do that all again from scratch when there’s no reason to. And you may lose out financially if you cancel.

By postponing you are keeping everything the same, just switching the date. All your suppliers are still with you, and none of your hard work will have been wasted. Plus you shouldn’t lose out too much financially either. Although do check each suppliers Ts&Cs for their postponement policies.

As a supplier I would much rather my couples postponed. A delay in income is better than loosing that income. Most wedding suppliers are small or even micro businesses. So if all our couples cancel, we go under. Then we won’t be there when you decide to re-book. everyone looses.

But by postponing your wedding you know that all your suppliers are still with you, you won’t have to stress about re-booking anyone, or tying to find new suppliers as good as the originals. Plus, if you have already paid them, then bonus! Your wedding is already paid in advance! And we keep our businesses going, it’s a win-win.

DON’T PANIC!!

Easier said than done I know. It’s your wedding and you’ve been planning this for months, if not years. But try not to panic. The wedding industry is an amazing place, and very supportive. Contact your venue and then your suppliers, discuss your fears and see what can be done to ease them.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes: How to choose the best cake stand.

You have found your perfect cake maker and have ordered your dream wedding cake. You know it is going to look stunning. But have you thought about what you are going to put it on? Today we are going to talk about how to choose the best cake stand and the cake table.

Cake stands

There are as many designs of cake stand as there are cakes. And this can make finding the perfect one a bit of a minefield.
Some cake makers will have a selection of cake stands that they hire out, so it’s always worth asking. I don’t hire out cake stands myself. This is because I deliver my wedding cakes so far and wide that it can be an issue getting them back.

Classic glass cake stand
A classic and simple glass cake stand.

It is also always worth asking your venue if they have any cake stands. Quite often hotels and dedicated wedding venues will have a cake stand you can arrange to use.
If you are having a wedding stylist then they might have a cake stand available that will match up with the rest of the décor.

A cake stand that's also a table
Cake stands don’t need to be ‘cake stands’ This is a trolley!

But why not buy your own? They can become a keepsake of the day, and something to keep and use. One of my couples had a glass cake stand and had it engraved with their names and wedding date. Something like that will become a family heirloom. And wooden log slice stands can be burned with the same thing. And why not put one on your wedding gift list?

Before you buy a stand there are a few things you should do

1/ Ask your cake maker what size the bottom cake board will be. Whatever stand you buy will need to be big enough to fit the cake on!
2/ Ask your cake maker roughly what the height of the cake will be. This is because you may not actually need a cake stand. If your cake is going to be tall, then a stand may not be necessary. You don’t want it to stand so tall that it makes cutting it difficult. Nor do you want to make it unstable, and height = instability.
3/ check out the cake table, or space, at the venue where the cake is going to be going. You want to make sure that it is going to be big enough. Often I find that my couples want to have other things on the cake table.

Wedding cake without a cake stand
When a cake has height, it doesn’t need a stand.

Choosing a cake stand

Cake stands come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and materials. And, like everything else, you can get lost down that internet rabbit hole looking for what you want.
Now not all cake stands are created equal, and it’s a case of you get what you pay for. I would recommend going to a supplier you trust, a major department store or cookware shop for example (I won’t name any names, but you know the places you trust and like to shop with.) It’s good to be able to see the stand if possible.

If you’re looking online then be sure to check the measurements. Like I said before, you need to make sure the cake will fit. Also see if there is a weight limit given. This may seem strange, but a fully decorated and stacked wedding cake can be really heavy! I have found that metal cake stands with a foot, for example, are not very sturdy, and inclined to warp and buckle unless they are very good quality.

Glass and ceramic are really your best bet if you want the classic stand with a foot/stem and a plate on top.

Simple ceramic cake stand
A simple ceramic cake stand always looks elegant.

If you want metal then the solid, low and wide ones are the best to go for. These style of cake stands are the ones that hotels and venues often have.

Classic silver cake stand
The classic and vintage style silver cake stand.

Something else I would say about cake stands is to avoid the ones with a lip or rim around the edge. This makes it hard to get the cake onto the stand. And even harder for whoever is then going to have to take it off again. It’s very easy to get your fingers trapped!! These kinds of stands are better for small cakes and pastries to be displayed on.

And if you are having a log slice cake stand then please buy a properly cut one. One wedding I delivered to the log slice was literally just that. The groom had gone to the woods with a chainsaw! It was so unlevel that I had to pack a load of folded kitchen paper under the cake to try to stop it toppling!

Log slice cake stand
I love log slice stands, as long as they’re level.

Cake tables

Almost always the cake is displayed on a separate table in pride of place, which is as it should be!
But is it that simple?
Sadly I often turn up to find a small table with a basic white cloth, and that’s it. Now I get that you want the cake to be the star, I want that too, and you don’t want too much distracting from it. But you also want the cake table to tie in with the rest of the wedding décor. So why not ask your wedding stylist to dress the cake table too?
A few times there have been other things on the cake table besides the cake stand. Usually photos of either the happy couple, or family photos. One couple had the wedding photos of their parents and grandparents, which was such a beautiful touch. But if you want to do this, then you need to make sure the cake table will be large enough. So let your venue know your plans and ask them to provide you with the right size.

traditional cake cutting
This lovely couple had family photos on their cake table.
burgundy and gold wedding cake
Or you can have the bouquet to display beside the cake.

NOTE: Make sure the cake table is level and doesn’t wobble!! You’d think that was obvious, wouldn’t you? But I have turned up to a few cake deliveries to find a wonky or wobbly table. Once it was so bad that I had to ask for it to be replaced because the top was loose!!

Top tips

1/ Before buying a cake stand, ask your cake maker, venue or stylist if they have ones you can hire.
2/ Before buying your stand, ask your cake maker for the base measurements of the cake. You need to make sure the cake stand is at least the same diameter as the cake base, if not a little bigger.
3/ Do you even need a cake stand? If your cake is going to be tall, then you may not need a stand. And remember, adding height adds instability.
4/ Think about decorating the cake table to match with the rest of the wedding décor. And also adding some special, personal touches.
5/ Make sure the cake table is level and wobble free!! Ask your wedding planner or co-ordinator to check this for you on the morning.

To find out more, you can get in touch HERE

Wedding Cake Design: How to get ‘the one.’

You’re starting to think about your wedding cake design. You’ve seen a wedding cake online and you’ve fallen in love! It’s ‘the one’ So you save it to your Pinterest board and screenshot it to your phone. You show this pic to your cake maker and they shake their head. You’re devastated! We want THAT wedding cake! But you get the same response from every cake maker you show it to. Why???

Now I adore Pinterest and all the other platforms, I spend far more time than I should looking at all the prettiness on there. They are great places for inspiration. But really that’s all they are, they are not a shop window. And that can be a little misleading, because it gives the impression that whatever you see there, you can have.

I get shown a lot of images at wedding fairs and at consultations, with ‘can you make this?’ Well yes, I can technically make it, I mean I have the skills. But no, I won’t be able to reproduce exactly what you’re looking at in that image. And this is for several reasons.

cake pic round up
a few cakes from 2019

Copyright

Yep, it’s a thing even in the cake world. Most of us don’t bother to copyright our cake designs, working on the ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ theory. But some cake designers do, especially if that cake has been created for a cake decorating class. Or if it has been designed for a client who insists on exclusivity, I did once have to sign an NDA before creating a cake.

A few years ago a cake took Pinterest by storm, it was everywhere! And, inevitably, cake makers were being asked for it by clients. One cake maker did her due diligence and went to the original creator and asked if she could recreate it for her client. She was told, in no uncertain terms, that NO she could not, and that action would be taken if she tried. Turns out the cake design in question was for a class the original designer was charging for, and so she refused to allow anyone to copy it until well after the classes were over. Fair enough when you think of the time and energy that goes into designing these creations, and then turning them into a class. Now, of course, it would be hard for that cake designer to track down everyone who had copied her design. The internet is worldwide after all. And a lot of people wouldn’t have even asked her permission in the first place, because they may not know who to ask. Once a cake (or anything else) is ‘out there’ on the web, it is no longer exclusive. However we put a lot of time and effort into designs, and so we hope that this will be respected.

One reason I can no longer design your wedding cake in full and as an on paper sketch before the booking is made, is because of having designs stolen. Sadly, a few times, I have spent time and a lot of effort sketching out a couples cake, only to then be ghosted by them. A few months later, there’s my cake design on Instagram, posted by the same couple!! They had just taken my hard work and given it to someone who had offered to do it cheaper. It’s a shame when this happens, and thankfully it is rare. And I know none of you lovely people reading this would even dream of doing such a thing. But it does make us cautious, once bitten, twice shy.

Now, of course, these are the extreme cases. And mostly we just shrug and get on with our day, because there are lots of us out there. Inevitably we are going to come up with a similar design to another caker, especially if it’s something that is ‘on trend.’ I have had a few ideas that I think are new, only to find similar already out there.

Lakeland catalogue left. My cake from a year before on right. Hmmmm….

Translation

By this I mean translating a flat, one angled photo, into an actual, 3D cake. Not always as easy as it seems. Especially as you can’t always tell from a photo exactly what techniques and materials have been used. This is always an issue when the cake has been posted by a designer in another country. Every country has different food laws and that can affect what can and can’t be used on and in your cakes. Often when looking for recipes I will see one and then realise that I can’t make it, as certain ingredients aren’t available in the UK.

It can also be tricky when there is a stencil, or a cake lace pattern used. Tracking the right stencil or lace mat down can be difficult. Again they are often only available overseas, or may have been a custom design created just for that cake. I have hand cut a stencil a few times to match up a design from the wedding stationary for example.

wedding cake with hand cut stencil
A hand cut stencil to match the wedding stationary.

Techniques

Every cake maker will have a certain skill set that they are stronger with, and that is generally reflected in the cakes you will see us producing. You’ll notice that I don’t do the sculpted novelty cakes for example. Not because I can’t, but because they aren’t really my thing. I love seeing them done, but I’m not really interested in doing them. In the same way that a specialist in those sculpted cakes probably won’t make you a delicate cascade of sugar flowers. We all have our strengths and preferences. Personally I will spend days happily making sugar flowers, and often do.

We also all do the same things differently. Going back to cake classes. If you look at the photos instructors post at the end of a class, with all their students showing their cakes. You’ll see that every one of those cakes will be different, even though they are the same design, made at the same time, with the same teacher and using the same materials.

So what do you do? How do you get that dream cake from your phone into reality?

Well you might get lucky and find the original cake maker who made it. It’s a long shot though. Or your cake maker might know them and be able to liaise with them, also a bit of a long shot. Sadly tags and watermarks are often removed from wedding cake photos, making it almost impossible to know who made it. I have one wedding cake with flamingos on that gets pinned a lot. I know that by the time it’s been pinned and shared a few times, no one will know it was one of mine.

flamingo wedding cake
THE flamingo cake that’s all over Pinterest

When I get shown a wedding cake and get asked if I can make it, I always explain that, although I can’t copy/paste someone else’s work, I can design something just as beautiful. So I will ask what it is about that cake that is drawing you to it? Then I ask to see what other ideas you have been saving for other elements of your wedding. And this is actually way better anyway. I’m sure you’d much rather have a cake that has been designed for you, and with you, than one that’s identical to someone else’s wedding cake? We all know that feeling of horror when we turn up to a party to see someone else in the same outfit! You really don’t want someone saying ‘Oh I’ve seen this cake online a few times.’

Top Tips

So here are the top tips to make sure you get that perfect wedding cake.

1/ Reference photos are great, they are very useful. But don’t be offended if your cake maker isn’t willing or able to simply copy that photo.

2/ Take a good look at that dream cake photo and make a note of what is really drawing you to it? The chances are it’s not necessarily the whole, complete thing. So is it the colours, the shapes, the textures?

3/ Isolate those key elements and discuss those with your cake maker.

4/ Don’t be offended if your cake maker won’t give you a sketch before you’ve booked with them. It’s nothing personal! However how do you know that they will be able to create your vision? Have a good look through their website, Pinterest, Instagram etc, look at their past work to make sure you like their style.

5/ Arrange to meet with your cake maker and have a good chat with them. Develop a relationship with them. When you find the right cake maker, you’ll know. And then you will know that you can trust them to produce your perfect wedding cake for you.

To enquire about your wedding cake and how I can help you design it, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes: How to get the most from planning a wedding online.

YOU’VE JUST GOT ENGAGED!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Yesterday was Valentines Day, statistically the most popular day to get engaged. It’s also a leap year, so, traditionally, the woman can propose to the man. I’m not quite sure this is in any way relevant these days, but it’s still romantic.
Of course you said yes (whoever proposed to who) otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog about wedding cakes. So first of all many congratulations! I would love you to tell me how it happened, was it terribly romantic? Or was there a funny story? When Mr ST proposed it was very far from romantic. It was in a car park, in a thunder storm. But it was certainly memorable, and we are still together 29 years later!

Our wedding in 2000!

Now back then there was no Instagram or Pinterest, there wasn’t even any internet! (I know!!!!!) And so planning a wedding was done very differently. Days off were spent physically going around bridal shops, florists, cake shops etc and patiently waiting for the next issue of bridal magazines to appear in the newsagents. But the basic process was the same, the order in which you booked things was the same then as it is now. We just did it differently.
In some ways I’m glad there wasn’t the endless online rabbit hole of websites and images. I’d probably still be planning my wedding now! But, use them right, and they are massive time savers.

NAWP are a great resource for online wedding planning
One of the best places to start online wedding planning

Online directories

These are huge, and there are literally hundreds of them. Some are good, and some are not. Now I’m not going to name and shame the bad ones, or praise the good ones, because that would just be my opinion. But I can help you get the most from using them.
Firstly look for ones that cover the area in which you are getting married. Some will be national and will allow you to select your chosen area, some will be smaller and only deal with local suppliers. If a directory doesn’t cover your area, or appeal to your style, then move straight on, there’s no point starting to look.
Next follow the links back to the suppliers website. This will give you a much better idea of what the supplier does. Often on directories we are only allowed a short word count and a limited number of photos, especially on the free ones. This is fine, it’s a directory after all. But it will only give you a snapshot of each supplier.
Avoid the template email options too. These are really annoying to receive and very limiting. Just this morning I got an enquiry via a directory listing. All it was was a template that they had ticked. So it read ‘Hi, we are interested in your goods/services. Please can you provide us with more information.’ This tells me that they are not really interested in me, but are simply ticking boxes and sending that same template, generated by the directory, to loads of different suppliers. It also gives me no information to base a reply on. Of course I replied, but I’m not confident I will hear back, and it wouldn’t be a priority email to reply to when I have lots to get through, simply because it’s so impersonal and not sent by the couple themselves. Instead click through to the suppliers website and contact them directly. And if you run a directory, please think about getting rid of these template emails and instead allow the couple to fill in a box with their direct enquiry.

white and red wedding cake
Just because I love this photo 🙂

Look before you leap

It can be very tempting to jump straight in and fire off a message to a supplier that you like the look of. But this can be counter productive. Again this is something I’ve had experience of. I will get a message from a couple asking about a wedding cake, and asking for a quote. They will often also ask about other things which tells me they haven’t actually been on my website. Or if they have, they haven’t spent much time there. I try to give as much information as I can on my website, and address as many potential questions as possible, there’s even a price guide and a serving guide. Now I am more than happy to answer all these questions, and give quotes. But it can be frustrating to then be ghosted. And they have also waisted their time getting in touch with suppliers who aren’t actually right for them.
So spend a few minutes on each suppliers website before you get in touch. Then you will save yourself lots of time later on. And your time is very precious!

Make lists

Yep. Old fashioned list making is as relevant when looking for things online as it is going to a physical shop. Maybe even more when online, as it’s easy to get sucked down that rabbit hole and end up looking at fluffy kittens (guilty)
As I said earlier, the basic process of planning a wedding hasn’t changed. So making a list of what needs to be booked when is still a good idea. And ticking things off a list is one of the most satisfying things there is.

Pace yourselves

Overwhelm is a big problem that I come across a lot. Often at wedding fairs and shows I hear couples getting stressed that there is so much to do. And the downside of the internet is that it doesn’t sleep. So you may well find yourself looking for a wedding venue at 3am.
If you start the planning well ahead, then there is no need for the all night Pinterest sessions, save that for Netflix.
On the flip side, doing these things online means you can email suppliers at 10pm in your PJ’s with a glass of wine. You may not get a reply at that time, but it’ll be there in their inbox next time they log in. This is especially useful when I have clients that are based in other countries. Time zones can make phone calls difficult, and face to face meeting impossible. But we both know we can email each other whenever we are able, and it will be there waiting.
Another thing I would recommend is to stop looking once you have made your choices. You know what will happen, you carry on and see something else you like. Then you start to doubt your decisions, then you get stressed. So once you have decided on the flowers or cake or dress, stop googling those things. Tick them off the list and move on.

Expectation over reality

Ahh the pressure to have everything as perfect as a well curated Instagram feed. But the reality is that for every perfect photo on an Insta post, there are a dozen other photos that are far from perfect.
It’s like styled shoots. Now I love doing shoots, they are great fun and a great way to get creative. But they are not supposed to be a real wedding. Think of the perfect Insta account or the stunning styled shoot as a runway show at fashion week. It’s there to be inspirational and aspirational, and to give you new and exciting ideas. When I do a cake for a shoot I’m not expecting anyone to actually order that cake. Rather I’m showcasing what I’m capable of.
And who wants everything to be perfect anyway? How boring would that be? One of my favourite photos from our wedding was of a wasp in an upturned champagne glass, totally random!

Top Tips

1/ Avoid overwhelm by breaking things down into more manageable chunks. And make lists that you can tick off and feel accomplished.
2/ Avoid the rabbit holes! Stay focused on what you’re actually looking for and avoid the temptation to click ‘more like this’ or ‘you might also like.’ Or you’ll be there till 3am wondering why you’re looking at a dog on a surfboard.
3/ Use all the lovely images you’ll see as inspiration, not as a blueprint you must follow.
4/ Do some research before contacting suppliers. This will actually save you time in the long run. Spend a few minutes on their website seeing if the answers you want are already there.
5/ Avoid the template email options on directories. Instead contact that supplier directly. Again this will save you time and you’ll be more likely to get a speedy reply.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Sugar Flower Classes!!

Sugar flowers, I absolutely love them! You may have noticed this. It’s not just how they look, but I find making them really therapeutic. It’s one of those things that get you in the zone, and needs you to focus. Which makes sugar flowers a great hobby for anyone wanting something to take their minds off daily life. And so I have started offering sugar flower classes!

Sugar roses
Sugar roses

As I was starting to think about setting up these classes, I started thinking about who might like to do them.
Of course sugar flowers are always popular with anyone who already loves cake decorating, and wants to lean a new skill. Or anyone wanting to get into cake decorating. But why limit classes just to other cake decorating enthusiasts?
So I approached The Wedding Gallery to see if they might like to offer sugar flower classes to their brides. The idea being that they can make a selection of small, filler flowers which can then be incorporated into their own wedding cake. How amazing would that be? Being able to tell everyone that you made some of the flowers? I’d say that would be something to be proud of. I’m delighted to say that The Wedding Gallery said yes, and I will be holding classes there soon, watch this space!

posy of sugar spring flowers
Posy of spring flowers

Or how about getting your friends together and throwing a sugar flower making party to make all the filler flowers for your cake? Or as your hen party? An evening class with bubbly instead of tea or coffee, and something more to show for the night than just a hangover! Again how good would it be to be able to not only show off your wedding cake, but to show off that you made some of the flowers?

white wedding cake with sugar lavender
Sugar Lavender and Sage

Then there is the corporate, teambuilding events. Now I don’t know about you, but I can think of nothing worse than spending the weekend building a raft in the rain. But a weekend making something beautiful, that you can take home and keep, as well as learning something you might actually want to do again? Now you’re talking! And the best part? I can come to you! I can bring my box of tricks to the venue of your choice, or offices, and you’re good to go! Think about it. Learning to make sugar flowers you need to learn to listen, to follow detailed instructions, develop hand eye coordination and creativity. It’s something people can help each other out with if they are getting stuck. And it’s not something just for ladies, oh no! In fact some of the best sugar flower makers in the world, cake world Gods, and personal heroes, are men. So that’s not an argument. I mean, if you’re going to take the gender divide line, then us girls shouldn’t be made to build a raft in the rain!

Sugar flowers on a black wedding cake
Wedding cakes don’t have to be white!

Sugar flowers will keep for years too. I often liken them to gremlins, don’t get them wet and keep them out of bright light 😊 Seriously though these are the two biggest enemies of sugar, moisture and heat. And the light will also fade the colours. So keep your sugar flowers away from the windows and heaters, and maybe under a glass dome or in a cabinet. Then you can keep your creations for years to come, or keep the sugar flowers from your own wedding cake as a beautiful keepsake.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do? Go on! Give it a go! Get in touch and have a chat about classes already scheduled or to book one to one, hen do, party or corporate days. Remember, I can come to you.
Classes already scheduled are:
February 26th at The Park, Morgan Porth.
March 29th at the Clovelly studio.
April 19th at the Clovelly studio.
The Wedding Gallery, London. Date TBC.

To get in touch about classes or you wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes – How to get the most from your consultation

One of the fun parts of planning your wedding are the consultations.

These are the meetings you have with your chosen suppliers to talk through all your ideas. And, in my case, taste cake samples to choose your cake flavours, yummy!
Most wedding suppliers will offer some form of consultation. Either face to face, skype or phone calls. Meeting your suppliers at wedding fairs and shows is great, but you often don’t have very much time. And it can be busy and loud, with lots of other people also wanting to chat to them. So booking a one to one meeting is a good idea.

Clovelly studio
My Clovelly Studio

Now there may be a charge for one to one consultations. I had to bring in a charge after I was getting taken advantage of too many times, which was sad. The way I do it is that I charge £50 for a personal consultation at Clovelly, or The Wedding Gallery, with three flavours of cake to try, but that is offset against the cost of the cake if a booking is made. So, in fact, the consultation won’t cost you anymore if you’re booking. And if you have already booked then it’s already included.

So how do you get the most from your consultation?

images of the wedding gallery
The Wedding Gallery

Allow enough time.

I don’t put a time limit on my consultations, but they are usually up to an hour. Allow at least an hour so that you don’t feel you have to rush through things to get to another appointment. If you have to meet with several suppliers in the one day, then see if it’s possible for them to come to you at a café or even your wedding venue. I have done this a few times for out of area clients.

Take your mood boards etc with you.

These are really helpful to give us an idea of the overall feel and style of the wedding, not just the wedding cake. And if you have Pinterest boards then maybe invite your suppliers to join them, then we can see live updates as your ideas change. The chances are that you have already been chatting to us about the type of cake you have in mind, but seeing the inspiration pics makes sure we are on the same page. Same with colour swatches you might want us to match with, if you can bring those and let us keep them, that will ensure we get the colour match just right.

sea blue wedding cake
The colours on this cake matched the bunting behind it

Have a think about the things you want to ask.

This may sound obvious, but how many times have you been in any kind of meeting and only remembered to ask half the things you wanted to? I know I’m guilty of doing this! And we will have a checklist of the information we need to gather from you. Usually this is just confirming things we will already have discussed via email or over the phone, but it’d good to double check these things. So if there is anything you want to ask about, the jot that down. And remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question.

Make notes.

Again this might sound obvious, but often people don’t do it. I had a phone call once from a lady asking if I was the coconut and lime cake lady? She had seen me at a wedding fair and loved the coconut and lime cake, but hadn’t noted down which cake maker had made it. So a few weeks later when she was ready to start booking the cake, she couldn’t remember who I was, just the cake. Luckily I was the first cake maker from that fair that she called, or that might have got embarrassing!

What we will need to know from you.

The consultation is mostly about you, your needs and how we can help. But there will be a few things we need to know from you too. Most of these we will likely already have discussed, but we will confirm everything at the consultation. So I will check the time of the wedding, so that I know what time will be best for me to deliver. Is there a contact at the venue who I will need to find when I arrive? Or if you’re using a wedding planner or coordinator then it will be useful to have their details. If you are having fresh flowers on the cake, then who is your florist? Then I can liaise directly with them and save you a job. I’ll also confirm any dietary requirements, you may not have had confirmation of these when we first started talking. I’ll check the numbers the cake is for to make sure the cake ordered is still going to be the right size. And that you still want the same flavours and colour scheme.

Design.

The consultation is a great time to start designing your wedding cake. Although I can do sketches and email them through to you, it’s always good to sit down and design it together. So bring with you anything you’d like including in the design. I once had some lace from the brides dress and replicated that pattern. And a few times I have hand cut a stencil to match the design on the wedding stationary. I am often asked to colour match a swatch of the bridesmaids dress or a ribbon trim. These things always help make the cake really personal.

gluten and dairy free wedding cake
The stencil for this wedding cake was hand cut to match the stationary

Top tips for getting the most from your consultation:

1/ Allow at least an hour for a one to one consultation. You’re paying for it, so use all the time available to you.
2/ Make notes and ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question. So ask us whatever it is that is worrying you, or that you want to clarify.
3/ Bring notes. Bring with you a list of all the things you want to ask, and anything you want to discuss.
4/ Pinterest and mood boards. Bring with you anything you have that will help with the design process. Either a physical mood board or scrap book, or links to Pinterest or Instagram.
5/ Have fun! This is one of the best parts of the wedding planning process. So don’t stress. Relax and enjoy discussing your wedding cake and tasting the samples. We won’t put you under any pressure to make any decisions there and then.

And if you have a consultation booked with me, then I look forward to seeing you soon!

If you want to get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes- Does Wedding Cake Size Matter?

Does size matter?

Now stop giggling at the back! I’m talking about your wedding cake size!.
In my last post I talked about the things that seem to stress couples out when it comes to the cake. Making sure you order the right size of cake seems to be one of the biggest worries. Understandably so, I mean you don’t want to seem mean, but don’t want wasted cake either. And the chances are you’ve not ordered a wedding cake before to know about serving sizes and cutting guides.
This isn’t anything to worry about though. Your cake maker knows the drill, and we know how to work out what is the best size cake for the size of wedding. Really all you need to do is give us the number of guests you want the cake to serve.

sizing chart
The sizing chart I work from

Which brings me to another issue.

When to serve the wedding cake?

Traditionally the cake was cut and served after the speeches, at the end of the main wedding breakfast. If there was any left, then it would be offered to evening guests as part of the buffet.
These days though many couples want to wait to cut the cake in the evening. Personally I like this idea, as it is a big part of the day, and something the evening guests would usually miss out on. Cutting the cake in the evening includes all your guests in that special moment. However, cutting and serving in the evening will mean you need a bigger cake for the extra numbers. And what if you want to serve the cake as dessert? AHHHHH!
Okay let’s breathe. It’s only cake (did I really just say that??).
One option to solve the issue of the evening guests missing out on seeing the cake is to do the cake cutting photos after the speeches, but don’t have the cake taken away and cut. Instead leave it until all the evening guests have arrived and seen it. Then give the venue the nod to take it off and cut and serve. You could even do the cake cutting again for the evening guests, why not?
Basically what I’m saying is to forget the traditions surrounding when you should cut and serve the wedding cake. Do it as and when it feels right for you.

cutting the cake with a sward!
You can use a knife!
traditional cake cutting
See, you don’t have to use a sward.
the cake cutting is a special moment
I will always love this cake cutting pic!

Myth Busting.

Now I think we should quickly bust the myth that serving the wedding cake as the dessert will lower costs. Realistically this often isn’t the case. When we work out the size of cake you will need for you 100 guests (number just to illustrate) we will be basing that on the industry standard of a 2x1in portion. In other words a finger size portion you might serve with the after dinner coffee, or as part of a buffet. If you want to serve as dessert you’re going to want much larger portions, maybe even twice that size, but at least 2x2in. And you will also need enough cake for every guest, rather than the usual rule of thumb that 10% won’t eat any. This is going to mean a much larger cake to accommodate the larger portions, and numbers, and make sure there’s enough. Obviously this also means the cost of the cake is going to rise quite considerably. Plus the venue, or caterer, might charge you for serving someone else’s food, as they will be using their cutlery and crockery to serve the cake, and then wash all that up after, plus the service time. Add all that up and it’s not necessarily going to save you any money. But it will mean that all the cake will get eaten, and you won’t have to worry about wastage.

cake cutting guide
Cake cutting guide

Back to size, as this is what this post is mainly about.

When I talk to couples at wedding shows they often think they can’t book the cake because they aren’t sure yet exactly how big it needs to be. This is another myth. And it can often mean you missing out on getting your preferred cake maker because you’ve waited until all the RSVPs have come back before getting in touch. A rough idea on size is all we need at the very start. And if you’ve booked your venue then you already know the kind of size your wedding will be. That’s enough for me to give you a starting quote to base the booking fee on (I work on a 25% booking fee) Then we can up or down scale the cake size later if you find you need to. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of guests on your list and reduce it by 10% when booking the cake, as mentioned before. Although it will need to be for 100% of your guests if serving for dessert.

The Showstopper.

But size isn’t just about the numbers, it’s also about the look. And adding the WOW factor.
The cake is, without doubt, one of the stars, a showstopper. And often the most photographed thing after the couple, and the dress. So you may want something big and impressive, even if it’s only going to be a small wedding. How to do this without having lots of wasted cake? Firstly will it be wasted? The tradition of keeping a tier of the wedding cake for a christening is starting to come back. Or maybe for your first wedding anniversary? You can do this with fruit cake of course, but also with sponge. Sponge cake freezes really well, you’ll just need to give the fondant (if using) time to dry out as it will go sticky as it thaws. You cake maker will advise you on the best ways to store your leftover cake. Then there is the other tradition of posting cake to people who couldn’t make it to the wedding, something else you may wish to do if you have cake left. If none of these are options, then there are dummy cakes. Dummy cakes are used for display cakes for shows and photo shoots etc, but they can also be used to add height and size to a real cake. Now they are usually polystyrene, however I will happily take them back and reuse them in my display work. I reuse my dummy cakes over and over, I can’t remember the last time I bought any!

This showstopper only had three real tiers of cake.

The opposite can also be an issue.

You have a lot of guests to feed, but want an understated wedding, so don’t want a huge cake. Again there is a solution. Cutting cakes. A cutting cake is a simplified version of the actual wedding cake. Usually a square or A4 size cake in the same flavours and with a covering of the chosen icing, but without all the decoration as they won’t be on show. These are kept in the kitchens and cut up by your venue when they take the wedding cake away to cut, then it’s all served together. No one will know which is wedding cake and which is cutting cake.

Top Tips.

So my top tips for getting the wedding cake size right;
1/ Don’t wait until you have all your RSVPs back before booking your cake. Rough numbers are all we need to get the ball rolling.
2/ Decide if you want to serve the cake as dessert or as part of the buffet/with coffee. This will make a difference to the size of cake you need. Just let your cake maker know.
3/ Don’t worry about leftover cake. Sponge cake freezes well, and fruit cake keeps for months.
4/ You can have a showstopping cake even if you don’t need one. Again just discuss this with your cake maker.
5/ You can have cutting cakes for the venue to serve should you want something simpler and smaller, but have lots of guest to feed. This works especially well for large evening receptions after a smaller wedding.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

1 2 3 4 5