Luxury Wedding Cakes- How to Choose Your Wedding Cake.

Wedding fair season has started again!

Which is great, I love doing them. They are a really good way to get to meet all you lovely couples face to face, and for you to see that there’s a real person behind the cakes! And I get the chance to talk to you all about your worries and stresses, and help disperse some of them.

I hear a lot of people say that they are getting overwhelmed with the amount there is to do with planning a wedding. Recently I’ve spoken to a few brides at wedding shows who have been a tad frazzled.

So today I want to take one of those stresses away.

And give you one less thing to feel frazzled about. After all planning your wedding should be a good thing, not a source of stress. Although I know it can be stressful if it’s all new territory and you’re trying to do it in between running your life and job. I can’t, as yet, take away all the wedding stress (watch this space though), but I can help with the wedding cake. After all, that’s what I do, all day every day, one way or another. So you could say I kind of know what I’m talking about. I’ve even been known to dream about wedding cakes!

Claire setting up a wedding cake
ME!!! Doing my thing 🙂

The biggest two things I find couples struggle with when it comes to the cake is style and size. I’m not going to throw too much at you in one go, so today I’ll talk to you about choosing the style of your wedding cake.

But let’s cover the basics and bust a few myths.

TIME SCALE

Possibly one of the most asked questions I get at shows, is how much notice do I need? The answer is always the same, as much as possible. If you read my blog regularly (yay! Nice to see you back) then you will have heard me say this before. But it still seems to be a myth that the cake can be left to last, and that we don’t need much notice. Well it’s true that a cake is a perishable item and so won’t physically be made until a few days before the wedding. However there’s so much more to it than just baking the cakes. I have to plan the delivery, order materials and supplies, colour fondants and modelling pastes the exact right shades, make all the delicate sugar flowers and other details, the list goes on. And so getting your date booked in with your cake maker as early as possible is vital. And no, you won’t need to have made all the design decisions, or even be 100% sure on size to secure your date. Get the booking fee paid and you can relax and know that’s one thing done.

DESIGN

Ahh the fun part!! Yet this seems to also be one of the areas couples are getting stressed about. But no more! Even clients who think they have no idea at all on the style and look they want for their wedding cake, will actually have something lurking there. So have a look at all your wedding related pintrest boards, I bet you there’s a theme, a unifying colour perhaps. Maybe you’re pinning a lot of very natural, relaxed style wedding ideas. Or very traditional and formal themes. Share these boards and ideas with your cake maker so that we can see what you’re thinking. And don’t forget we can also make the cake super personal to you and your partner. I once hand painted one couples pet Guinee Pigs onto one tier of the cake, and added a Disney theme to another tier, they also had a tent in there too!

Maybe a monogram of your initials? Or have a cascade of sugar flowers that matches the wedding flowers. There are endless ways to really make the wedding cake not only wow your guests, but feel personal too.

wedding cake with monogram
A monogram is a subtle way to add a personal touch.

COLOUR

Wedding cakes no longer have to be white or ivory. In fact I actively encourage my couples to inject some colour. You’ll have seen me talk about this in the last post about trends. Colour at weddings, in all aspects, has become the norm, and long may that continue. And don’t think you can’t have a coloured cake if you are opting for semi naked or buttercream, this can be tinted too. Or you can make the colour statement with the flowers, either sugar or real.

wedding cake with bright colours cake
A very personal wedding cake with bright coloured buttercream.

FLAVOUR

This can be another area that causes some stress. You have all these guests to please, so what flavours do you choose? Answer? You stop trying to please all of your guests, chances are you won’t manage that anyway. So go with what YOU like. I usually recommend having one tier in a ‘crowd pleasing’ flavour that most people will eat, vanilla or lemon say, but then have the rest in whatever you would like. One couple last year had red velvet for one tier, and hummingbird cake for the other, neither of which you could call conventional, and the cake was decorated with black fondant, not conventional at all. But that was what they wanted. One flavour was the brides favourite and one was the grooms, and they are they only two people who matter at a wedding. It suited not only them, but their wedding perfectly.

*Of course you may have to consider guests with allergies or dietary requirements.

gluten and dairy free wedding cake
The beauty was 100% gluten and dairy free.

STAGING

Oh how many times have I turned up with the wedding cake, only to find a boringly blank table with a white cloth, and nothing else. Now, of course, the cake is the star of it’s own show. But it is good to have a few supporting acts. Again this is not something you need to stress about. Talk to your stylist, and ask them to get in touch with your cake maker. We can discuss the colours that are in the cake any perhaps find a matching, or contrasting, tablecloth. And I often work with the florist when fresh flowers are going on the cake.

If you do want to keep it simple though, then think about a statement cake stand. Your cake maker or venue may have some they will hire, or have a look online. If you are going to get your own stand then do discuss the best size and shape option with your cake maker. And don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything with it, just leave it there for us to put the cake on when we deliver. Then you will also have a lovely keepsake of your day that can be used for other family events.

antique silver cake stand
A beautiful antique silver cake stand.

The same with a cake topper.

I’ve noticed that these have started to become less popular. But they can be a great way to add a personal touch. Go online and you’ll see dozens of shapes and styles. Once again this can be overwhelming, and once again we can help. Talk to your cake maker about the size of the top tier, and how much space there will be for a topper, then you know everything will fit together.  Your cake maker may be able to source the cake topper for you or you should be able to have it delivered direct to them if ordering your own. Some cake makers will make sugar figures, which can be done from photos of you (if they don’t then they probably know someone who does) Or why not have something a bit different? I did a tractor once, as the cake topper, with a sheep sitting in it. Another wedding had toy giraffes.

Hello! Full page spread
The giraffes! And the full page spread in Hello!

TOP TIPS

1/ Use your cake makers knowledge and experience. We have done this hundreds of times over many years. So pick our brains and let us design the cake for you.

2/ Don’t try to please everyone. This goes for the wedding as a whole actually.

3/ Have fun with the process. Take some time to sit and create pretty mood boards and even old school scrapbooks. These will be really useful for us to use when designing your cake.

4/ Trust us. Tell us everything you are thinking in terms of style, colour, shape etc. And let us design you something wonderful. We will talk to your florist and stylist to make sure everything comes together.

5/ Don’t stress! You’re in safe hands.

You can get in touch with me about your wedding cake HERE

Wedding Cake Trends for 2020

Trends. They are everywhere and keeping up with them is  a big part of my job.

Over the years, and hundreds of weddings, I’ve noticed that trends in weddings change much slower than in other areas. This is because weddings are booked months, if not a year or more in advance. And so decisions about styles and colours etc are made now for a wedding in 9-12 months time. Which means those decisions are being made based on todays trends, so we see things staying around for much longer than you’d expect in the ‘real’ world.

White chocolate fan sculpted wedding cake
White chocolate sculpture wedding cake

Of course we still keep our eyes on all the trends and fashions coming out, because we know they are going to be coming along at some point, and they are vital in deciding on new designs.  The Pantone colour of the year is a good example of this. We may not see that colour in real weddings until the following year because of the time it takes for that colour trend to work its way along from being announced, to the actual wedding day.

duck egg blue wedding cake with white sugar flowers
Duck egg blue as a subtle alternative to the Pantone Classic Blue

People often ask me if there are trends in wedding cakes.

Yes, there are, just like everything else. And there are the occasional fad and slightly naff gimmick, but they are thankfully rare in the world of wedding cakes. I think this is, in part, because there are so many traditions surrounding weddings, and people don’t like to mess with traditions too much.

Saying that there are always going to be a changing of the guard, and new ideas becoming new traditions. This is as true with the cake as with everything. The days of a square fruit cake, stacked on those plastic pillars and covered in rock hard royal icing are long gone (thank goodness!!) Although fruit cakes are starting to come back. When I first started, some six years ago, I didn’t do any fruit cakes for weddings, only for Christmas cakes. In 2019 I’ve done a few fruit cakes as one of the tiers, and a few as the top tier to then be kept for a christening. This is a tradition going way back that I thought was long dead. It just goes to show that everything goes around and comes back again.

And then there are the traditions that come over from other countries. Take the ‘grooms cake’ that is an established part of weddings in many parts of America. This is now beginning to be seen over here. And outdoor style weddings that are a comparatively recent concept in the UK (mostly because of the weather I suspect)

The Trends

So what does 2020 hold in store for us in terms of weddings and wedding cake trends?

1/ Semi-naked cakes aren’t going anywhere. I have lots of these booked in for 2020. However I’ve noticed that the fashion for having fresh fruit on them has been replaced with fresh flowers. And even with sugar flowers.

semi naked wedding cake with fresh, edible flowers
Semi naked wedding cake with edible flowers

2/ Brighter colours. Although white and ivory will always be the predominant base colour for the wedding cake, I am doing more and more cakes with stunning colours. Usually these are colours already part of the wedding in some way. Maybe the bridesmaids dresses or the flowers. And these colours can be with either fondant or buttercream cakes. Black wedding cakes are also becoming a big thing (which I love!)

wedding cake with bright colours cake
A very personal wedding cake with bright colours.

3/ Watercolour cakes. Now I don’t mean actual watercolour paintings on cakes (although you can have paintings on cakes) But a soft, subtle blending and bleeding of colour that gives a beautiful, abstract effect. This is perfect if you want colour, but nothing too bold.

watercolour drip cake
watercolour drip effect

4/ Seasonal weddings. By this I mean using the season in which you’re getting married as the inspiration for your wedding. Using flowers that are British grown and in season, and serving seasonal food. Also adopting the colours of the season, spring greens or the burnt oranges of autumn. This will also help to make your wedding more sustainable.

burgundy and gold wedding cake
A winter wedding cake with seasonal bouquet

5/ Getting personal. This is more of an anti-trend, and is about throwing away the rule book and having what you and your partner want. Want a black wedding cake? Then have one! Want to serve beer and fish and chips? Then why not?

black wedding cake with fresh flowers
Have I mentioned I love black wedding cakes?

Round up.

These are my top five. Of course there are, and will be, many more trends and fashions that will come and go. And some that will stay around.

Some blogs will be predicting exact colours and flower types for 2020. I’m not going to go that far. Mainly because I don’t think a wedding is necessarily the best place to adhere to such things. I think there are going to be some definite shifts in weddings though, such as seasonal and more sustainable weddings. And also there’s a big shift towards UK destination weddings. I have found that more and more people from outside the South West are choosing to get married down here. This is something I will be discussing more in my next post, so watch this space!!

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Happy New Year!! Luxury Wedding Cakes- 2019 review.

It’s the end of another year!! Where has that gone?

2019 is almost over and so I thought I’d do a recap and a roundup of the year at STHQ. It’s been quite a year of changes for me. Here is my 2019 review

2019 for Sweet Temptations looked something like this:

42 Weddings

1 Celebrity wedding and feature in Hello!

1 Celebrity birthday cake

1 Business relocation

1 London base secured

Lots of meeting with lovely couples and other wedding industry professionals

Being courted by a luxury wedding show

Being invited to exclusive wedding industry events

And a bronze at Cake International in collaboration with two other local cakers, proving there really is collaboration over competition.

Not bad for a one woman show! It’s only when I look back like this that I realise how far things have moved on in a year.

One side of our piece
Part of our Cake International entry

Moving on.

The moving was quite literal! And not planned. But I think the best decisions are often not planned.

As you know I am now based out of the stunningly beautiful Clovelly on the North Devon/Cornwall border. Before you gasp at this, I’m up the top! There was no way I was going to be trying to take cakes up and down that hill and cobbles…… been there….. done that….. in the back of the open backed Landover….in reverse. That’s another story for another time though.

It happened by accident, if these things are ever really accidents. One of my best friends lives in Clovelly, also up top. We had been to the cinema to see Marry Poppins Returns (as two grown women, with no children in tow) I was dropping her home and happened to look across the car park to the row of shops that are there. One was obviously empty, so I asked her about it. The next day she took it upon herself to email John (the estate owner) and CC me into it, telling him that I was interested. I am so very glad that she did!! Now I had never really thought about having a business premises outside of the ‘cake nook’ at the back of the house, but it was clear I was outgrowing that. Had Em not been so proactive I may still be annoying the family with cake stuff all over the house, and moaning that I have no space. It has turned into one of the best things to have happened this year. And you can now come and see me there to talk about your wedding cake. The views are just breath-taking, and you can go and look around the village afterwards.

Decisions Decisions. 

Another snap decision was joining The Wedding Gallery in London. I knew about it, and had been following them on Instagram. I knew it was the most amazing place, and also that it was quite exclusive. A girl can dream. However I was at a NAWP meeting (national association of wedding professionals) and got chatting to a wedding planner there. She said I really needed to go and see them at The Wedding Gallery, especially as it was literally just around the corner. So I did. I turned up, introduced myself, told them a fellow NAWP member recommended I visit. They were so lovely and welcoming. Hannah showed me around and said that if I wanted to become a member, they would be delighted to have me. And so I did just that! And it’s another decision I am very glad I made.

images of the wedding gallery
The Wedding Gallery

I would say around 75% of my couples are London based, even thought they are getting married here in the South West. And many are unable to get down to see me in person. I’ve done countless weddings where I haven’t met the couple at all, and that’s a shame. So being able to have a London base that I can use to meet with couples has proved invaluable. I’ve already met several couples there this year, and hope to meet many more.

More Decisions!

When you are a sole trader you have to make a lot of decisions about how to structure your time. And one thing I did this year was to cut down on the number of wedding fairs I decided to do. I enjoy wedding fairs, but there are so many of them, and only one of me. One opportunity I did say yes to though, was to exhibit at South West Wed Meet Up. I always try to go to these industry networking and training events, and the March one is the biggest one of the year. This year it was at Deer Park near Honiton over two days, with lots of workshops and guest speakers. There’s also the chance to exhibit to your fellow industry professionals, and they asked me.

Again I said yes, and again it was a good decision. Also attending the event was the lovely Anisha from BrideLux, who curate some of the worlds most luxurious wedding shows. My cakes clearly impressed her, as she asked me if I would like to be part of future BrideLux shows. Sadly I’ve not managed to do that yet, but it’s on my list. And, in the meantime, she invites me to their stunningly beautiful industry events. They pride themselves on only working with the best, so being on their radar, and included in their world, is an honour.

Mayfair rooms The Connaught
The Mayfair Room at The Connaught

Celebrity Love.

Now you may have noticed on the intro list that I mentioned a couple of celebrity cakes? Well one I can talk about, and one not. Well I probably could, but I won’t.

Back in the new year I got a phone call about a wedding cake. Nothing unusual. We chatted cake, date, venue etc as usual. It was the bride I was talking to, she gave me her name and then said that the wedding was probably going to be featured in Hello! Magazine. This took me back for a second as I hadn’t recognised the name, but then I’m not good with names in general. It turns out the wedding was of top model Jade Parfitt, and was attended by other super models and society figures. And it was indeed featured in Hello! A five page spread with a full page just of the cake cutting photo!

Hello! Full page spread
The giraffes! And the full page spread in Hello!

The other celebrity cake? Well it was a birthday cake, and all I’m going to say is Hollywood A list, and leave it at that.

What a Year!

In between all of this I seem to have done 42 wedding cakes! I didn’t realise it had been this many, although I knew it was a busy year. My feet and knees will attest to that! I’ve been so very lucky to be able to work with some truly lovely couples this year. It is always my pleasure to be able to be a part of such a special day, and to help create beautiful memories. Every wedding, and therefore every wedding cake, is unique, and that’s part of what makes my job so special.

cake pic round up
A few cakes from 2019

All in all it’s been quite a year! Behind the scenes there’s also been a lot going on, and I’ve relied on my work to keep me going. My husband and the man I’ve been with since I was 17, has been battling prostate cancer, then went and got facial shingles, which gave our son chickenpox! So, although the above reads a bit like a dream, it’s not all been good. Life never is. I’d hate you to think this is a smug post about how wonderful things are, because there’s been parts of this year I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I have also been very lucky.

If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s to celebrate the wins. I hope you have many things in 2019 to celebrate, and that there’s even more of those moments in 2020.

If you’re interested in having a Sweet Temptations cake for your wedding, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Christmas weddings.

Christmas weddings are the subject today.

Christmas tree at Pynes House

With the big day just around the corner, we are all thinking about Christmas in one form or another. And, for some, it’s also the countdown to their wedding day.
I’m originally from Northampton, and many of my family worked in the shoe factories. This meant they were quite limited with time off and holidays, and so Christmas was one of the few times families all had time off together to celebrate a wedding. And so Christmas weddings have featured a lot in my family history.
Of course, these days, we don’t have such restrictions on when we can have time off work. But there is still something magical about Christmas weddings. Actually I love winter weddings in general. But then I am a winter person, it’s my favourite season. I do wish we had had a winter wedding ourselves, but we conformed to the norm of the summer wedding. This was in part because so much of both our families are still up in Northants, and so summer was easier for them to come down. And they liked the excuse for a summer holiday in Cornwall.

Christmas wedding cake at Dartington Hall

But back to Christmas weddings. I’ve been lucky enough to do a few over the years, and they are always just stunning. And I’ve got another one this year, which I’m looking forward to.
The fact that the venues are already decorated and dressed for Christmas is a huge bonus too, and a stunning backdrop for the wedding photos. It’s also a great way to get the family all together, wedding and family Christmas combined. The evening before the wedding spent together, exchanging gifts and catching up is a lovely way to start both celebrations.
Are there down sides to a Christmas wedding? Well yes, of course there are. And as I’m all about banishing the stress, I’m going to keep it real and offer some solutions.
Christmas is a very busy time of year for most people. So, if you’re thinking of a Christmas (or December in general) wedding, then give your guests plenty of notice that that’s your plan. Also think about booking your venue well in advance too. Many wedding venues also host other events, such as Christmas parties, and so will get booked up as quickly as they would in the height of the summer. Also give your chosen suppliers plenty of notice. A lot of us in the wedding industry are sole traders, or have only a small staff. Don’t be offended if suppliers say no to taking on Christmas weddings, especially if they are very close to the 25th. But, if we have plenty of notice, then we can look at the logistics. Oh, and good suppliers won’t charge you more just because it’s Christmas.

Christmas wedding cake at The Green

So the biggest piece of advice about booking a Christmas wedding? Book REALLY EARLY!
Another big issue for any winter wedding is the weather. Although, recently, that seems to be an issue at any time of the year! But you’re more likely to get unromantic weather in the depths of winter. So you need to have a discussion with your venue about a ‘plan B’ if the weather means you can’t get outside for photos. The advantage of a Christmas wedding is that there will be the Christmas tree and all the decorations, maybe a real fire etc, which will make for wonderful wedding photos. Have a chat with your photographer too.

Christmas at Dartington Hall

Winter also means dark nights. Look at where your guests will have to park. If it’s any distance from the main venue, especially if it’s a country house or hotel, then maybe think about torches for your guests to get safely back to their cars. I can think of several country venues I’ve been to over the years, where there’s an unlit path from the car parking area.
From a cake makers standpoint, winter weddings mean that venues have their heating on. I turned up to one venue a year or two ago with a semi-naked cake. I was shown to the cake table, only to see a space heater right under it!! I asked if that was going to be used? When I was told it was, I told them they were going to have to move it. Can you imagine?? Think carefully about where you’re placing the cake table, and make sure it’s not near any heaters or radiators. Cakes are made of lots of things that like to melt if given half a chance! It seems like an obvious thing, but it happens all too often. I have the same issue with windows in summer.
Keeping warm might also be an issue for your guests if you’re having any part of the wedding outside. You would hope they would dress accordingly, but it’s a wedding, so style often wins out (I’ve been guilty of this!) Some venues may offer bundles of blankets for winter weddings, so it’s worth asking about. If not, then ask your wedding planner if they can supply them. Mulled wine would also go down well to keep everyone warm and happy.
Talk of mulled wine brings me to the food and drink. Of course there will be fizz, it’s a wedding. But I’m sure hot drinks will also go down well, think cosy winter favourites. Mulled wine, hot cider, Irish coffee, and warm, spiced apple juice for those not drinking. And the food can reflect the season too. I think this is important at any time of year, seasonal food is always better, fresher, and seems to have more flavour. Your caterers will be experts at this.
Of course, as a cake maker, I’m going to have to touch on cake flavours for winter/Christmas weddings. One of my most popular flavours this time of year is my sticky toffee cake. This is just a warm hug in cake form! A spiced carrot cake works well too. And you can always go all out and combing the wedding cake with the boozy, fruit loaded Christmas cake. Plus you can use the smallest top tier as your first Christmas cake as a married couple.
There are so many good things about Christmas weddings. You’ll have Christmas lights, decorations, trees, Christmas food, mulled wine, real fires, carols and lots of sparkle and magic. You might even get snow!

Luxury Wedding Cakes….. Devon. Cornwall. London

You would think that winter would mean that things go quiet for a wedding cake maker. But no such luck!! It’s only the second week of December and it has already been a whirlwind! And yet not a single wedding took place, so why so busy?
Well when we aren’t making wedding cakes, we are networking with fellow wedding professionals and talking about wedding cakes! And also meeting other suppliers in other parts of the wedding industry, which is fascinating. And getting to know others in the industry gives us a useful ‘little black book’ of contacts to call upon.

Mayfair rooms The Connaught
The Mayfair Room at The Connaught

As you probably already know from other posts, I’m a professional member of The National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP). And I’m also a member of The Wedding Gallery in London. This means I’m also on the radar of BrideLux, who run amazingly beautiful wedding shows. And they also hold industry networking events in some of the most exclusive venues in London. And last week I was invited to ‘Christmas at the Connaught’ for their Christmas party.

The Connaught Christmas tree
Beautiful Christmas tree at The Connaught

I adore London at Christmas, and so it wasn’t a hard decision to say yes! And it didn’t disappoint. I’m always impressed with the Christmas lights in London, it really is quite magical. I wish I could take better photos to do it justice! But I’m a cake designer, not a photographer.

Mary Poppins fire cloth
Mary Poppins

It wasn’t all about business and networking though. We fitted in a show and some shopping as well. Of course! Oh and I NEED those flying teacups in the Clovelly studio!!! Watch this space……. Marry Poppins was amazing too, I can recommend going if you haven’t already.

flying teacups
Flying teacups at Fortnum and Mason

Back to the wedding industry related stuff though. BrideLux pride themselves on only working with ‘the best in the industry’, and so it’s always an honour to be included in that list of invitees. And the invites themselves are beautiful and always go on the studio wall.
The weather was kind too, and so the cab ride to The Connaught became the start of the evening. Passing all the other hotels and building lit up for Christmas. There’s something about a black cab ride around London after dark that will never get old. And then arriving to be greeted by a delightful doorman (that job must get very cold!) got the evening off to the perfect start.

Connaught christmas decs
Beautiful Christmas decs at The Connaught

I’ve never been to The Connaught. Been past, but never inside for some reason. I wasn’t disappointed. The party was in the Mayfair room downstairs in the basements and was decorated to perfection in the evenings theme of ‘Icy Elegance.’ There was even an ice cream bar and an ice sculpture, beautiful. It was work, honestly! Although it’s downstairs, it is still a great space for a wedding, especially if you wanted live music, as you won’t be disturbing the rest of the hotel.
As always there was a great turn out of people, some regulars, and some new faces. It’s always so good to meet new people, as well as to catch up with people who I’m pleased to now call friends. One person I got to chat too this time was Rosalind Miller of Rosalind Miller Cakes. Now Rosalind is wedding cake royalty, so it was a thrill for me to get to chat to her. And she is really lovely 😊

Sadly I couldn’t stay until the end, as I needed to be up the next morning for a meeting with The Wedding Gallery. I do try to fit as much as I can into each trip! So the next morning I headed to 1 Marylebone to meet with Monica. I can’t say too much about this meeting, as details are still to be confirmed, but it should mean I’ll be seeing more of my London base.

The wedding gallery christmas tree
The Wedding Gallery at Christmas

I was home a whole three days before heading back up to Paddington! They must be starting to get used to my face there by now (well in Starbucks anyway.) I was heading back to The Wedding Gallery for yet more meetings! This time it was with two lovely couples who were unable to get down to Clovelly to meet and discuss their cake. This was my main reason for asking to become a member of The Wedding Gallery (you can’t just join, you’re invited or ask and are approved) so that I could meet with the many London based couples I work with. Devon and Cornwall really has become the ‘go to’ destination in the UK to get married.

The Wedding Gallery
The Club at The Wedding Gallery

They always look after you so well there, nothing is too much trouble. And you can stay and get everything else for your wedding while you are there, you can even book your honeymoon. I would recommend having a good look around while you’re there.
Was I tired by the time I got home? I won’t lie, I was exhausted. But it was all worth it. And I’ll be doing it all over again in the New Year.

Change one thing, make a difference.

Today I’m not going to be talking about cakes as such, but your wedding as a whole. And especially things you can do at your wedding to make it more sustainable. Now I’m not talking about a full on eco wedding. Although they can certainly be done, and there are many wonderful suppliers who can help you with that.
I’ve wanted to blog about this since I attended the Cornwall Wed Meet Up at Pentillie Castle a couple of weeks ago (stunning wedding venue by the way, if you’re still looking). One of the speakers was from the Cornish homeless charity St Petrocs, which may not seem an obvious speaker for a wedding industry networking event. But the lovely Laura was really inspiring! And she mentioned lots of small things that can be done that can make a big difference. And it got me thinking.

lets end street homelessness in cornwall

One of the first things she talked about was what happens to things after the wedding. And it made me realise that this was something I’d never really thought about. Of course we are all aware of waste and reducing it, so most of us would make sure any plastics are recyclable etc. But Laura pointed out other things you could do.
So this is the topic today.
What happens to things that are leftover after the wedding? All those flowers for a start. The table centres, the pew ends, the floral arches etc. These flowers are still perfectly okay and have several days left of giving joy. Laura suggested these left over flowers could be given to a local nursing home, hospital or hospice. Okay they aren’t ‘useful’ but they will bring a smile and brighten up the lives of others for a brief time. What a lovely thing. Having a balloon arch or installation? Why not give them to a local nursery or primary school for the children to play with and enjoy for a few days? And did you know you can now get balloons that are made from compostable materials?
You know those flip flops that many couple provide for their guests for dancing, and when the fancy shoes get uncomfortable? Why not donate them after the wedding, to St Petrocs or another homeless charity, or to a local street pastor group. They would be very welcome. The same with blankets you might provide if the wedding is outside.
Having wedding favours? Then why not think about giving a small donation to a charity for each guest instead? The ‘favour’ could then be a card telling your guests what you’ve done. Or you could donate to somewhere like the Woodland Trust for each table to plant a tree. If you want your guests to have something physical to take home, then maybe a packet of wild flower seeds.
Gift lists can be tricky when the chances are you’ve already lived together and have a toaster. We really struggled to think of things for our wedding gift list, and that was almost twenty years ago! So, again, why not ask for donations to a few chosen charities?
As far as sustainability goes there are a few things you can do that won’t mean compromising your dream wedding.
For example, did you know that the fondant I use for my cakes give a donation to the charity ‘Mary’s Meals’ for every box sold? So just by ordering your wedding cake from me, you’re supporting a charity and helping to provide meals to children in under developed countries. And it’s also one of the best fondants out there, so you’re getting the best too.
Stationery can be made with hand made paper from recycled materials. And it can be impregnated with wild flower seeds too. Have a talk with you stationer about recycled paper.
With the catering you can talk to them about using local produce, there are lots of caterers who only use local produce from regional suppliers. Also talk to them about what will happen with the leftover food, after all, you’ve paid for it. So why not think about food banks or soup kitchens who might be able to use it. Of course I’m not talking about what people leave on their plates, but anything that hasn’t been touched or opened (obviously not alcohol) At the meeting Laura talked about one couple who had an untouched tier of their wedding cake that they gave to one of St Petrocs shelters.
I talked before about wedding favours. Why not give each guest a metal straw for them to keep and reuse forever? They come in cute cases and a range of finishes. Or a reusable water bottle, also useful on the day if it’s a hot day.
Are you guests staying in hotels for your wedding? The little bottles of toiletries that hotels provide are very useful for homeless charities. I now collect them whenever I’m in a hotel, and when I get a shoe box full, I’ll be passing them on to St Petrocs.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. When you start thinking about it, you’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll come up with.

Three go to Cake International.

Two weeks ago I was in Birmingham at the NEC with Jackie Curtis from Jax’s Cakes N Bakes for the biggest cake show in the world, Cake International. This involved sitting in a van at 6am waiting to be allowed into the car park behind Hall 17 to drop off out competition piece in the collaboration class. This cake making lark really is glamorous……

Three of us came together to create our entry, myself, Jax and Sarah from The Cornish Cakery, you’re allowed up to twenty people!! So only having three was going to make it a challenge. Especially when you know that we had the space of two trestle tables pushed together to fill! That’s a lot of sugar. And as we all run our own cake businesses, it all had to be fitted in around orders and school holidays. We had to keep telling ourselves that this is fun…. Yep, we were enjoying ourselves…

So why did we put ourselves through this? A question I found myself asking while sitting in that van at 6am in the rain. But there was a good reason behind our madness. And that reason was to create more awareness of mental health, something all three of us suffer from. And it’s something that sadly still has a stigma surrounding it. Which is crazy (see what I did there?) because mental illness is so common. I can guarantee that you know someone who suffers from some form of mental health issue. And so we thought it would be a good chance to turn those thoughts and feeling into a visual display that might get people talking.

One side of our piece

Of course it was also a competition piece, so we had to make sure we produced the best work we could. Not easy when you’re having the busiest wedding season so far. And that six months between deciding to do it, and getting it onto that formidable black tablecloth just flew by! Where we happy with it? Yes, although it wasn’t exactly how we first imagined, but not in a bad way. I think it’s great when designs and concepts evolve artistically. And one exciting thing about working in a creative group is that you bounce ideas off one another.

Eventually, after lots of hours and a few changes of direction, we got it finished literally on the morning we were leaving for Birmingham from my studio in Clovelly. I have the space and bifold doors, so it was the perfect place to work on such a big project (it’s still there, we can’t decide what to do with it!) On the Thursday we argued ‘Nelly’, as she’d been named, into the van we had to hire in order to get it there. It took three of us (we borrowed Karren from the gift shop next door) to get her into the van, but there was only the two of us going….. hmmmmm….. this was going to be interesting. What were we going to do on Friday morning trying to get her back out of the van and into the hall? We decided to order room service while we thought about it.

Friday morning the alarm went of at 5.30am. Now I’m the first to admit that I am NOT a morning person, at all, ever. There have only been a very selective number of times I’ve been up at that time of the morning, if you’ve ever lined the red carpet for a film premier then you’ll know the drill. So I was a tad grumpy, poor Jax. Luckily we had stopped on the way and I’d got some of that chilled, ready made, coffee. Plus Jax was driving, so that helped. But we still had the issue of how we were going to get Nelly onto her table. Of course the collaboration tables were as far away from the Hall doors as they could be! Not helpful when our class has the largest and heaviest pieces!! Anyway, the car park guy took pity on us and allowed us to get quite close to the doors. And after a bit of swearing we got her to the tables just inside the door used to make repairs etc. Phew! But now we had to get her all the way across Hall 17 to the display table…..

The other side of our piece

However we were saved by the cake angel that is Cali Hopper. Now Cali is cake word royalty, she’s one of the most talented sugar artists I’ve ever come across. Anyway, she was at a neighbouring table and we were chatting (I’ve known her for years). Her husband Martin was with her and she offered him to us to help carry Nelly! Saved! It just proves that there’s so much love in the cake world. The # collaboration over competition has never been more relevant. And the name of our group was ‘Kowethegeth’ which is the Cornish for friendship. Very fitting.

Cutting the rest of the story short, as a lot of it involves food, coffee and sleep! The next morning we went to see if we had ‘won’ anything. After all it was a competition. Although that’s not why we entered, it was still something we wanted. And TADA!! We got a bronze medal! Not bad considering we were all creating our elements in our separate work places and bringing them together.

Our Bronze certificate
Our Bronze!

Will we do it again? Well if you’d asked us on that Friday then I’d have said HELL NO!!! But now? Let’s just say there are already Pintrest boards filling up.

How to get the most out of Wedding Fairs.

It’s that time of year again!! Wedding fair season. Feel for us poor wedding suppliers. We just about manage to recover from wedding season, when wedding fairs start again.

Personally I love a good wedding fair, they are a great social event for suppliers to catch up after the gruelling wedding season. Although I have cut right down on the amount of them I now do. Why? A few reasons. Firstly I’ve got busier over the years, and, as it’s mostly just me doing everything, I can’t be in two places at once. And also because, over the years, I’ve found which fairs and shows work best for me.

 

wedding fair display
One of my wedding fair stands from last season

 

But today I wan to talk about how to make wedding fairs work for you. Why should you even go to a wedding fair when you can do almost everything online? What should you expect from a fair? How can you get the most out of them? And how do you decide which ones to go to?

 

Let’s take that last question first. How do you decide which wedding fair to go to? It seems like there are a dozen fairs every weekend! And it’s true that there are a lot of fairs and shows around these days. One thing would be to look if your wedding venue is holding their own fair or open day. This is a good way to get to meet your venues recommended suppliers, as well as having the chance to have another look around your venue. If your venue has a recommended supplier list, but doesn’t hold its own fair, then look to see if any of those suppliers are going to be at any other fairs. If you have a shortlist of suppliers you’re thinking of using then look to see if they are exhibiting at any fairs. I have a list on my website of all the shows and wedding fairs I’m doing, and many suppliers do this. It’s also a good idea to go to the fairs that are local to where you are getting married. Look for fairs that have been running year after year, as these are often ones with a good reputation and repeat exhibitors.

 

wedding fair display stand
Another view of the same stand

 

What should you expect from a good wedding fair? Well, firstly there will be a good range and number of wedding suppliers of all kinds. This might look overwhelming when you first walk in, but don’t panic! Just make your way around at your own pace. When you first arrive, you’ll likely be given a glass of fizz and a goody bag of magazines and other bits and bobs. Some wedding fairs charge an entry fee or require you to book tickets, this is usually when a show is more exclusive or is known to get busy and needs to control numbers. If a show you’re interested in is ticketed, then it’s best to book early. Also you should expect lots of people! A good fair will get busy, and so you won’t get much time to talk in depth with the exhibitors. And that’s not really the purpose of wedding fairs anyway. They are more to give you the chance to look up close and in person at things you’ve seen online, and to make first contact with suppliers you’re interested in working with. Often you can make appointments with suppliers to go back and consult properly with them at a later date.

 

How do you make the most of a wedding fair? As I’ve already mentioned, the good wedding fairs get busy, especially in the first hour or two. If you want to talk to specific suppliers then it’s a good idea to leave it until the last hour, that’s almost always the quietest time. And it’s worth getting in touch with the suppliers you want to meet with and ask them if they can advise on the best time to come to see them. It might be possible to book a mini consultation with them at the end of the fair.

Make a list and take notes. This might sound a bit over organised, but there will be so much to look at and people to talk to, that it’s easy to forget which stand you saw what on. I had a phone call once from a lady who had seen me at a fair ‘Are you the lady with the coconut and lime cake?’ When I said yes she said ‘oh thank goodness! I couldn’t remember who you were!’ So if you see something you really like then note it down. Pick up business cards and note down on them that they are the ‘coconut and lime cake lady’ etc. The postcards I have on my stand are blank on the reverse for just this purpose. Taking pics of things you like is also a good idea, but always ask first.

Do you have to have your date set and venue booked before you start going to fairs? Not necessarily, although it will be something you’ll get asked by suppliers. This is because good suppliers get booked up fast, and we need to make sure your wedding date is available. But if you’ve not got a date set yet then fairs are still a great starting point for your wedding planning. Although if you’ve not yet got to the planning stage, then it’s even more important to note down which suppliers you liked, so you know who to go back to when the time comes.

 

But you can do everything online, suppliers all have a website, why go to fairs? Well yes, this is very true. But on the website you can’t taste the cake or feel the dress fabric. You can also meet us face to face and get to know the face behind the website. This is especially useful if you are getting married a distance from where you live. I’d say around 70-80% of my couples are getting married in Devon or Cornwall, but don’t live here. But having a weekend down here to check out venues and go to a couple of fairs is a great way to ease your mind. By meeting us you can then go home knowing that your wedding is in safe hands.

 

So here’s your wedding fair checklist:

1/ Wedding fairs are a great way to get ideas and get to meet suppliers in person. If you have suppliers you’re thinking of using, then look to see if they are going to be doing any fairs. And see if your wedding venue is having a wedding fair or open day.

2/ Wedding fairs get busy. The quieter times are usually around lunchtime (especially on Sundays) And also in the last hour or so of the show.

3/ Take notes. If you see something you like, then make a note of which stand you saw it on. Remember, if you want to take photos then please ask first.

4/ There will never be (or shouldn’t be) any pressure on you to book anything there and then. So don’t be afraid to talk to people.

5/ Ask questions. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. No one will judge you. We work in the wedding industry, but this is all new to you.

6/ Enjoy it! The bigger fairs and shows can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially if you’ve never been to one before. But you’ll soon relax. Take your time and go back around as many times as you feel you need to.

 

I’m doing two fairs this autumn. The Art of Weddings Show at the Royal Cornwall Show Ground in Wadebridge on October 20th. And The Bold and Beautiful Wedding Show at Ocean Studio in Plymouth on October 27th. Maybe I’ll see you there!!

As seen in Hello! One of our wedding cakes!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of making the wedding cake for the lovely Jade Parfitt and her fiancé Jack. When I got the phone call there was no indication that this was going to be a celebrity wedding. Jade called me herself, like any other bride, and we chatted about what she wanted and how I could help. At the end of the conversation she mentioned that the wedding might be featured in Hello! Magazine.

 

Hello Magazine logo

 

Now one myth that needs busting about the wedding industry is that we add a 0 when the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned. And this will be several 0’s if it’s a celebrity wedding. WRONG!! Very wrong. This is something a professional wedding supplier would never do. I mean why would we? We don’t want that reputation for a start. I quoted for this wedding in exactly the same way as any other. All weddings are special, and all require our best work. As I say on my website, I quote on the work involved in each cake, not the occasion.

But back to the lovely Jade and Jack.

The wedding was at Ash Barton Estate near Braunton, North Devon. This is a comparatively new venue, but a popular one. You rent the whole place and organise everything yourselves. So it’s idea if you want a more laid-back wedding. And you can stay there too, the kitchen was amazing!

 

Jade and friends
Jade with Erin O’Connor and Jodie Kidd

 

Usually when I deliver a wedding cake I’m one of the only people at the venue, as it’ll be before much is happening. Sometimes the florist or stylist will be there too, and we get on with doing our thing and leave. But this time the wedding was already in full swing! A tad discombobulating! Especially as I’d not delivered there before (although I’ve been back since, and have more booked in there too.)

I pulled up alongside a huge Rolls Royce, and I mean huge. I was amazed the driver had managed to get such a big car along the country lanes, I sometimes struggle in Molly the Mokka. We appeared to be the only cars there. But it turned out that this was because everyone else had parked around the back of the house.

 

the wedding cake
The wedding cake with edible flowers

 

It was one of the most delightful wedding cake deliveries I’ve done. Laid-back, relaxed, and very glamorous all at the same time. The lovely wedding co-ordinator showed me where to set up, gave me the giraffes (yes, you read that right) and left me to it. Jade had given me her brief, but had then allowed me to be creative. So I ordered some edible flowers from Maddox Farm, (they are the best place I know for edible flowers) and added a few from STHQ’s own garden.

Okay, the Giraffes. Yes you did read giraffes. As a super model, Jade is rather tall. And so is Jack! So there is a family joke about giraffes, and they collect them. The ones left for me were their own, and this helped to make the cake even more special and personal. I love it when couples want to add something like this to their cake, or to the wedding in general. And this was a very stylish, cute and fun way to do it. Especially as Jade had glued a little veil to the bride giraffe!

 

Hello! Full page spread
The giraffes! And the full page spread in Hello!

 

Get the look.

If you want to recreate Jade and Jacks wedding cake style, then the first thing I would say is get in touch with me! But if not, then ask your cake maker about the semi-naked style of cakes. They are the perfect blank canvas to add anything you want to.

Edible flowers are huge in weddings and wedding cakes right now, and you can grow them yourself if you have the space and time. However I would recommend ordering from Maddox Farm, they deliver by post, or from a flower farm local to you. Just make sure that the flowers are grown organically, as they will be going directly onto the cake.

Bespoke cake toppers are perhaps the easiest way to personalise your wedding cake. And you can get a great selection online. They can also be made in sugar of you ask your cake maker and give them enough time. Another option is to have figures made in a polymer clay that can then be kept forever. Or you can do as Jade and Jack did, and use something you already have that has real meaning to you.

Inside the Luxury Wedding Industry

If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll have noticed that I’ve been in London a couple of times recently. You might think this a bit strange for a wedding cake maker based on the north Devon/Cornwall border. But let me explain.
You may also have noticed the Bude – Clovelly – Marylebone on my website and bio etc. This is because, a few months ago, I joined the amazingly beautiful and inspiring The Wedding Gallery at 1 Marylebone Rd, just by Great Portland St tube station. Why have I done this? Well even though I’m based in the stunning South West, I find that most of my clients are from London or the South East. Devon and Cornwall are perfect for a destination wedding, without having to leave the UK. And lots of people have a connection to the area. Although I will, of course, deliver to London too.

The Wedding Gallery
A peak at The Wedding Gallery

Having that London base is a perfect way to connect with my London clients, without them having to come down to me. And I adore London, so any excuse to get up there is welcome!
If you don’t know The Wedding Gallery then I highly recommend you check it out. It’s wedding Narnia!! An exclusive, appointment only, wedding showcase of everything you need, all in one place. So being accepted as a member was a big deal. Oh and the toilets are an experience all on their own!
And as a member I was invited to their exclusive networking evening. Well don’t mind if I do! And it was well worth the trip. Getting to meet others in the wedding industry is always good, especially as we often work alone. On the wedding day we are all so busy doing our own thing to really get to chat and connect. Plus these events give us the chance to get to know other suppliers who we can then recommend to you. I only ever recommend suppliers I know.

Networking with the best
Networking evenings

The second trip was also an industry event. This time I was invited by BrideLux to attend their Summer White Party at The Café Royal. Another exclusive event for the best of the UK wedding industry, and another chance to connect with gorgeous suppliers. The endless cocktails were an added bonus 😊
I had forgotten how beautiful the Café Royal is, as it’s been years since I’ve been there. Wow what a place it would be to get married! Especially with the roof terrace. It is full of the classic elegance you would expect, but with lots of modern touches. It certainly was the perfect location for the wedding industry to get together.

The Cafe Royal Terrace
Balloons and bubbly at The Cafe Royal

BrideLux run high end, luxury wedding shows in some of London’s top venues. And they are well worth attending if you can. Even if you are not planning such a lux wedding, they will still provide lots of inspiration. Think luxury with a twist. The twist being suppliers who offer more than the ‘cookie cutter’ wedding. But, instead, offer you a luxury and custom product. As you know, I’m all for making your wedding truly yours. They approached me back in March to exhibit with them. Sadly I couldn’t that time, but I will be in the future. Watch this space.
If you are looking for the best wedding suppliers around, then it is well worth checking out The Wedding Gallery, BrideLux and The National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP). All of who vet their members, and are very selective with who they work with. So you know that you are going to be in very safe hands.

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