Luxury Wedding Cakes- Finding the Right Wedding Cake Maker

Finding the right wedding cake maker for you doesn’t have to be stressful

Well I was going to begin this post by asking if you were all enjoying the beautiful weather! Sadly, it’s now freezing cold and raining, normal British summer has resumed. But what better weather to be indoors planning your wedding? And today I’m not going to talk about choosing your ideal wedding cake, but choosing your ideal wedding cake maker.

Your wedding is a time where you will be getting a whole range of bespoke services, and they all need to work together to bring your vision to reality. And, as you know, whenever you have anything custom made, you need to form a relationship with the creator. Most of the services you need for a wedding you can’t get by just popping to the shops.

This means you will be in regular contact with your suppliers right up to, and maybe including, the big day. So you need to feel 100% comfortable with them, and trust them to deliver your vision.

Now, at the moment, it’s still not really possible (or safe in my opinion) to be meeting up for face to face consultations. And that’s often not possible anyway. I would say around 75% of my clients are holding their weddings or events in the South West, but don’t live here. We are very much a hot spot for destination weddings.

So how do you go about finding the right wedding cake maker? Especially when we can’t do wedding fairs or meet with each other? And how do you even start looking?

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

Firstly decide what kind of wedding you want.

By this I mean are you wanting an intimate, micro wedding, or a big affair with the whole shooting match? Are you thinking pastels and lace and romance, or are you thinking bright and bold? Boho/rustic or high end glam? The list goes on.

Confused?

Don’t be. Even if you don’t think you know what you want, chances are you actually do. Just take a look at your Pinterest boards, I bet there’s a lot they all have in common. The colours and styles you are being drawn to and saving will form the basis for your wedding style or theme. And, let’s be honest, most of us have known the kind of wedding we want for years. I can still remember saying I wanted a gold wedding dress when I was around 14. When I was 26 and getting married, guess what? Yep, my dress was a beautiful, matt gold slugged silk with a red bodice (there’s a wedding pic HERE if you want to see it.)

Whatever your vision, there will be the perfect team of suppliers out there to create it for you. You just have to find them.

cake pic round up
There’s a cake for every style of wedding

 

For many the starting point for any search is good old google (other search engines are available) But what are you searching for?

My advice would be to be a niche as you can with your search terms. Just typing ‘Wedding Cakes’ into google with make your head explode with the number of results you’ll get. So try to narrow it down. Start with the geographical area in which you’re getting married, ‘Wedding Cake Makers South West.’ You’ll still get tens if not hundreds of thousands of hits. ‘Wedding Cake Makers Cornwall’ will bring you a little closer.

And don’t just look at page one of search results, we aren’t all able to be on page one all the time. Some of the smaller, hidden gems, will be on pages 3 or 4 or even further.

You can then narrow things down even more but adding other keywords into your search and so on, I’m sure you already know all this. But there are a lot of search terms that are unique to the wedding industry, especially with dresses and accessories. If you can find out the name of the shape of dress or colour of shoe you want, that’s a big help. I never knew there were so many names for so many dress shapes and colours until I joined the wedding industry.

Bright and bold wedding
Just because I love this photo

Back to cakes though.

You may want a white wedding cake with pink sugar flowers for example. So ‘Sugar flower wedding cakes Cornwall’ might be a good starting point. Or you may want a black wedding cake, or a semi naked cake. Whatever your choice, use that with your geographical area, and you’ll get a good range of results.

Another popular way to find suppliers is the online directories.

Although simply finding the right directory to search in can be a full-time job in itself! There are so many of them now. But again, there are ways to save time and narrow things down. Only use ones that cover the area in which you’re getting married for example. Sounds obvious? But I’ve had so many people contact me over the years who haven’t looked to see where I’m based. And this is important if you are getting married away from home. Your dress you may want to get locally to where you live because of fittings etc, but the cake will be something it is best to get from a cake maker closer to where you are getting married. Although many of us will deliver UK wide.

Personally there are a few directories I would recommend trying first, And I’ll list these at the bottom.

NAWP logo
One of the best directories

A tip for directories.

A top tip for using a directory to contact a supplier is to ignore the enquiry form they sometimes have on them. These send us a generic, often slightly irrelevant, automated message like ‘Hi, we are interested in your services, please send us your brochure.’

It gives us very little info and is usually rather impersonal. If you get emails like this, I bet they are the ones you assign the least amount of time to? And they will sometimes go straight to spam and get missed anyway. It also makes it seem like you aren’t really that interested in us, but are just throwing a net out to see who replies.

Instead click the link to the suppliers own website and use their own contact form. This way you know your message won’t get lost, and will give your supplier the information they need. Even better drop us an email. Emailing us direct will also allow you to send us your mood board links etc, which will save time later down the line.

Should you contact more than one wedding cake maker at a time?

This goes for any supplier really. And of course you can if you wish. No one would expect you not to have a good look at all your options. Especially not for your wedding. Personally I always reply as soon as I can to all my enquiries, and I never expect or assume I’ll be the chosen cake maker. When you have made you decision, just drop the others a quick ‘thanks but no thanks’ email so that they can open that date back up.

Another option is the recommended supplier list from your wedding venue.

Not all venues have this, but it’s always worth asking if they do. Some will have a list on their website, others will simply have people they like to work with who they will tell you about if you ask. In fact this goes for all suppliers. I have a mental list of other suppliers I’ve worked with over the years that I would recommend, and do when I’m asked. And so will your florist, DJ, caterer etc. We work with all these people and get to know them, and their work, really well.

Word of mouth in any walk of life is probably the best way to find the best people. So if your venue or another supplier is recommending a cake maker to you, then it’s worth checking them out. There will be a page coming to the website soon of all the other wedding suppliers I love to work with.

Pentillie Castle logo
I’m a recommended supplier to a number of venues

Then there is your wedding planner.

If you are engaging a wedding planner then make full use of their little black book of contacts, they all have them! Your wedding planner will know which suppliers you’ll get on with, and will fit your style. They will often work directly with us too. So we also trust them to bring us clients that are a good fit for what we do. If a trusted wedding planner puts a couple my way, I know they will be my kind of people, and vice versa. If you wanted a novelty wedding cake, for example, they will only put you in touch with cake makers they know do those (I don’t by the way, but I know a few who do.)

A wedding planner is also a good idea if you are having a destination wedding, as I’ve mentioned before. Hiring a wedding planner local to where you are getting married will save you a lot of time and stress, as they will know all the best local suppliers, and also the ones to avoid!

 

Finding ‘the one’

Finding the perfect wedding cake maker for you is the same as finding all the other suppliers. The bonus with us is that you will get to try cake ?

A lot of it is going to come down to that gut feeling you get when you speak to us. And if you have followed the above advice you should have narrowed your choices down to those cake makers who fit your style and budget. Only you know what’s most important to you when it comes to your wedding. So trust that voice that tells you that yes, you like this one, they get you and make you feel relaxed. If you don’t get that feeling, however stunning their work might be, you won’t be as relaxed.

Something I try very hard to do is not only reply swiftly, as I know your wedding is a big deal, and you want answers asap. But I also make sure I build a relationship with my clients, and to put them at ease so they know that they can trust me completely.

the cake cutting is a special moment
I love this reaction to one of my cakes

Top tips for finding your perfect wedding cake maker

1/ If you’re using google then niche down your search terms as much as possible. This will give you less results to have to wade through.

2/ Directories are a good resource. Find ones that cover the area in which you are getting married.

3/ If you do use a directory avoid the autofill/auto message forms. These often go to our spam. They don’t give us much info, and tend to be very impersonal. Better to click through to the suppliers website and contact them directly.

4/ If you are contacting more than one cake maker then remember to let the others know when you’ve made your decision, so that they can open that date back up.

5/ Check with your venue to see if they can recommend a cake maker (or any other supplier) As direct recommendations like this are always better.

6/ If you are using a wedding planner then tap into their local knowledge of the best suppliers.

7/ Trust your instincts. If you find a cake maker you click with, then book them, quick!

Directories I would recommend trying

NAWP- National Association of Wedding Professionals

Cornwall Wedding Guide

EEEK!

Pretty & Punk

Art of Weddings

If you’d like to get in touch with me to discuss your wedding cake, then click HERE

Can you have a Destination Wedding without leaving the UK?

Thinking of having a destination wedding?

Destination weddings have become hugely popular over recent years. To begin with they were small and intimate elopements, as the cost and logistics of getting your whole family out to your chosen location was prohibitive. But, recently, that has changed. And now destination weddings can be as full on as a wedding at home.

And then THE VIRUS hit.

Suddenly weddings abroad became next to impossible, in fact all weddings are pretty much on hold for now. But that won’t last forever. Weddings will start happening again. Although, I suspect, travelling out of the county will not be something people will be rushing to do for some time, especially if you have elderly relatives you want at your wedding.

Which brings me to the subject of todays blog.

 Can you have a destination wedding without leaving the UK?

The simple answer is, yes! Think about what we mean by a ‘destination wedding.’ It is essentially a wedding that you have to travel to. We have come to think of that as getting on a plane and flying off to somewhere exotic, but it can actually be anywhere.

As you know I live and work on the North Cornwall/Devon border (I live in Cornwall and my studio is in Devon) And one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that this part of the South West is most definitely a wedding hot spot, and a popular place for a  destination wedding. I have had couples come from all over the world to get married down here, as well as from all over the UK.

In fact, I would say, that around 75% of my couples are not living down here. They are using Devon and Cornwall as a destination, in the same way you might think of Italy, Greece or even further.

And there are many benefits to choosing the far South West.

At the moment the big advantage is no plane travel, which also brings the cost of getting to your wedding down for your guests too (let’s be honest, this is going to be relevant in the current economic climate). And well also have a big benefit to the planet.

Family and friends can car share to get to the wedding. This will also bring down the carbon footprint. And they may be able to come by train, which is even better.

Any guests with small children won’t have the stress of taking them on a long flight and can plan their journey around the kids.

You can bring your dogs! And so can everyone else. A lot of wedding venues are dog friendly, and there are loads of dog friendly accommodations down here too. How amazing would that be? And don’t worry, there are dog walking and sitting services available.

a dog at a wedding Claire, George and little Pickle!

Our beaches are amazing! And are quite different depending on which coast you are on, so you can choose the vibe that best suits you. Here on the north coast we are well known for amazing surfing beaches. And the cliffs are rugged and terribly romantic. It’s no coincidence Poldark was filmed down and around here.

We have beautiful woodlands and estates. If you’re not looking for a seaside/beach wedding then you only need to go inland a little for some amazing, and very different, scenery. We have some beautiful country houses and estates down here that are gorgeous wedding venues.

History. Well we have that in spades! There’s one wedding venue in Cornwall with its own Iron Age fort! Then there are the forts from the Napoleonic Wars that are now wedding venues (yes really) And countless historic churches and chapels.

A great many Devon and Cornwall wedding venues offer outdoor weddings, many with sea views, or even a private beach. And a lot of them can be hired as a whole, for the whole weekend. So you and your guests can all stay together on site. No driving, everyone can have a drink, no parking worries.

No time changes. Okay this might not be a big thing. But it’s still a plus. Time changes aren’t so bad within Europe. But go any further and it can be significant, and jet lag isn’t fun. You and your guests really don’t want that groggy, slightly hungover feeling on the big day, save that for the day after!

The weather. Now I know what you’re thinking. This is the UK, it rains. That is true. But it rains a lot less down here than other parts of the UK. And getting married abroad is no guarantee of good weather. One of the most spectacular and long lasting thunder storms I’ve ever seen was while I was in Cannes. And we had a similar downpour in LA!

And is generally a little warmer down here too. The days are also a little longer. I always notice how much earlier it gets dark when I’m up in London compared to down here.

Not to mention the sunsets!

A Bude sunset
A Bude sunset

Imagine that as a backdrop to your wedding photos.

Now I know I haven’t mentioned the wedding cake once in this post. And I’m a wedding cake maker, so I really should.

I do, of course, deliver my luxury wedding cakes across the whole of Devon and Cornwall. And the wider South West. As do most locally based cake designers. But if you have a cake maker based near your home who you’d really like to use, then have a chat with them to see if it’s possible for them to deliver this far.

wedding cake on a chair

Finding the right suppliers so far from home is always something that is going to be on your mind with planning any destination wedding. This is where hiring a wedding planner local to your wedding venue is really helpful. And also ask your wedding venue for any recommendations of local suppliers they are happy working with.

Another big advantage of using Devon and Cornwall as your destination, is that you can easily get here to meet up with suppliers. A lot of my non local couples (mostly London) come down for the odd weekend here and there to have a mini break and meet with suppliers and their venue. Not something you can do as easily if your wedding is in Barbados etc.

So here are a few top tips for planning a UK destination wedding (or any wedding while in lockdown)

1/ The internet is your best friend. Almost all wedding venues and suppliers have websites. There are also many wedding directories dealing with specific areas that will list suppliers local to your chosen venue.

2/ Skype. Or any of the others. Most of us have it. And it’s a great way to have virtual tours of venues and online consultations with suppliers.

3/ Think about travel for family and friends. Make sure the venue you choose is easy to find (trust me they aren’t always)

4/ Think about hiring a wedding planner to help you source the best local suppliers. They will know who the good ones are.

5/ Planning a UK destination wedding is a great excuse for a lot of weekend breaks ?

To get in touch with me about your wedding cake in Devon or Cornwall (or anywhere else) click HERE

 A few wedding venues I can recommend for their beauty, location and lovely staff.

Pynes House near Exeter

Deer Park Country house and Estate near Honiton

Rockbeare Manor near Exeter

Lower Barns near St Austell

Tawstock Court near Barnstaple

Sandy Cove hotel North Devon

Launcells Barton near Bude

Pentillie Castle near Saltash

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Why are there dowels in my wedding cake?

Welcome back! Today we are going to go inside your luxury wedding cake to explore what makes it stay standing, and keeps it structurally sound.

Dowels.

Something you may have noticed when cutting your luxury wedding cake (or any tired cake) is the presence of dowels.

Dowels are usually some form of plastic or wood, and are inserted into each tier of cake to support the one above. I prefer to use a recyclable plastic straw, that is hollow. This is because the solid ones can cause issues with displacing the cake, causing cracks on the outside.

white and gold luxury wedding cake with sugar roses
Every wedding cake needs to support itself

Why have dowels?

The main function of dowels is to provide stability and support. Even though sponge cakes aren’t really that heavy compared to fruit cakes, they are quite delicate. A sponge cake won’t take the weight of another cake for very long.

If you have ever watched Bake Off when they haven’t used dowels, you’ll have seen the collapsing results! And their tired cakes are only out for a short time. Many times my husband has laughed at me for shouting ‘DOWELS PEOPLE!!!!!’ at the tv.

I have occasionally been asked why the dowels have to be there, as they get in the way when the cake is being cut up. Well yes they might, but if you didn’t have them, then you wouldn’t have a three or four tier wedding cake for very long!

Do dowels cut down the amount of usable cake?

I do take this into account when working out how big your wedding cake will need to be for the numbers it’s got to serve. In reality you’ll only be losing about six or seven servings in a three-tier wedding cake because of the dowels. And as we recommend ordering the cake for 10% less than the full number of guests, then it won’t make any difference.

You will also notice that there will be a cake board of some kind between each tier of your wedding cake. Again I have been asked why they are needed when the tiers sit on top of one another.

luxury wedding cake sizing chart
This is the chat I use to work out the size of your wedding cake

But the board it there for two reasons.

Firstly if there wasn’t a board, then the dowels would just push up into the tier above and wouldn’t give enough support. By having the board, you are giving something solid to rest on the dowels. Secondly the cake will need to be handled, and having a board means it can be lifted and carried safely, without fear of damaging the cake.

Types of dowels

I mentioned above about the types of dowel I use. But there are different kinds, and each cake maker will have their preferences.

I prefer a thick, hollow plastic straw type. Sometimes called pollydowels. And a wider straw that the pollydowel sits inside. I see this as a ‘belt and braces’ method.

Now I am aware that plastic isn’t the most popular thing, and I try hard to limit the amount I use. The cellophane I use to wrap some cakes for transport is 100% compostable for example.

I am always on the lookout for a better option for dowels. But, for now, the only other option is solid wooden or solid plastic dowels. And these come with their own issues.

The main problem with a solid dowel is that it displaces the cake as you push it in. Where the hollow straw type doesn’t, the cake simply fills the void and creates extra stability. The other problem with the solid wooden ones is cutting them to the correct height. A dowel needs to be cut to a whisker above the top of the cake it is going into, and this is a lot harder to do with wooden ones. They have to be sawed or cut with heavy duty cutters, running the risk of sawdust and splinters. Not ideal I think you’d agree! And the solid plastic ones are not much better.

luxury wedding cake with glass separator
Even with a separator the cake will still need dowels

But what about the thick paper straws I hear you ask?

Sadly they are not an option as cake dowels at the moment. Although they may work for cake pop sticks.

This is because paper absorbs moisture. So paper straws will start to absorb the moisture in the cakes and the fillings. Eventually becoming soft and they then start losing their strength. This defeats the purpose of a dowel.

I very much hope there will be a paper alternative, eventually, that can be used without going soft. But, for now, I will carry on using the pollydowels. They can be pulled out of the cakes and recycled, which is something. And you can speak to your venue or caterer and ask them to do that for you. I am also always looking for a compostable/biodegradable plastic option. So of they do get thrown away they will at least do minimal harm.

If what the dowels in your wedding cake are made of is important to you, then do discuss it with your wedding cake maker. We will always be happy to go through all the available options with you.

To discuss dowels with me, or any other aspect of your luxury wedding cake, click HERE

To get your FREE guide to choosing your wedding cake, click HERE

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 : 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 – 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- 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

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

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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