Luxury Wedding Cakes: Wedding Cake Photos

Have you ever seen wedding cake photos on blogs and in magazines?

The wedding cake photos you see online and in magazines will almost certainly have been taken at a wedding photo shoot. But there are things you can take from them for your own wedding.

Terrarium cake with clovelly in background
Getting the right setting for your wedding cake is vital

 

A couple of weeks ago I came blinking out of the house and into the daylight.  We in the UK have been told we can go back to work as long as we still follow all the rules, which meant I could go back to the studio. Although I could have gone before, as I work alone there, I had been extra careful. But last week I had good reason for going back, and it was to meet with the lovely Helen Chapmen for a ‘lock-down photo-shoot’ to get some wedding cake photos for her blog. Helen is a wedding photographer based in Devon. We have worked together before on a wedding photo shoot you may remember me blogging about at Bicton Park Botanical Gardens (beautiful and worth a visit when they are back open)

Pink cake with sugar snowdrops and lily of the valley
Cake with a view!

 

Helen had asked if she could come to Clovelly to take photos of some of my display cakes I keep down there. Although Clovelly is still very much closed, my studio is up top in the main car park. So we didn’t need to go into the village or near anyone. There was just the two of us, and I doubled as assistant (those big reflectors have a mind of their own!)

It was great to be back in my happy place/work space. But it did feel strange with no visitors. No bad thing at the moment though, and it meant we could get outside to make the best use of the area immediately around the studio. And of the beautiful weather. We were able to find the perfect backgrounds for each cake.

peacock cake with pink wall behind
Sometimes a contrast colour can work wonders

 

The backdrops to your wedding cake photos is very important.

 

Sadly this is something that is often overlooked. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve set a cake up at a wedding venue and there’s a radiator, light switches, fire exit, plug sockets, fire extinguisher in the background. And I just know they will be visible in the cake cutting photos. Or the cake table is in front of a window, which will mean the bright light can wash out the photos. Not to mention that this is a pet hate of mine, sunlight through windows, you might as well put your wedding cake in a greenhouse!

 

When you visit your venue have a think about where to set up the cake table.

Too often they seem to have just been plonked down as an afterthought. So take a few minutes to look at where would be a good spot, with a good backdrop, to set up the cake. And have the photos in mind when you do. Discuss this with the venues wedding coordinator,  wedding planner or stylist.

If you’re having a very elaborately decorated cake, then a plain background might be best. You want the cake to stand out and not disappear into a busy backdrop. If the cake it a plainer white or ivory, then a darker background would help it stand out.

Peacock coloured wedding cake
Blurring the background can make the cake pop more

 

Insider knowledge.

Doing wedding photo shoots a lot has given me the chance to see how photographers work, and how they place and arrange my cakes to get the best shots. I’m also lucky enough to have a few photographer friends too, who I can ask for advice on staging.

And this is something I would recommend.

Have a good chat with your photographer about all your ideas. There’s a high chance your photographer will know your venue and have shot weddings there before. So they will already know all the best places for photos, and where the best light comes from.

Even better would be to meet with your photographer at your venue and do a walk around with them (there may be a charge for doing this)

elopement cake and scones
Keep the background plain to help the cake stand out

Also talk to your cake designer.

We stage wedding cakes week in and week out, so we know a few tricks. I’ve already mentioned my pet hate of cakes in windows, especially semi naked and buttercream cakes in high summer! (can we say hot mess??)

Another thing I often see is the cake table in an alcove or a corner of the room. While this is good for the safety of the cake, it won’t get knocked into for example. It also means you can’t properly get alongside the cake for the cutting photos. You end up crammed against a wall trying to cut the cake.

 

But back to the wedding cake photo shoot.

Something that I found very interesting was the time Helen took to make sure the light was just right. And the big difference the light reflector made, even though it was a sunny day. Now I know you can’t have someone wielding one of those at your wedding. But it is worth making sure there’s a good natural light source into the area you want the cake setting up, not bright sunlight though (see above.)

floating cake with sugar flowers
Good light makes all the difference

 

You’ll also notice that most of these photos have been taken outside. Wedding cakes outside is a whole subject by itself (I wrote about it here) Because these are all display cakes, they are much lighter weight and less fragile than a real wedding cake will be. But you can move a wedding cake outside for photos as long as you know what you’re doing. If this is something you think you’d want to do then chat to your cake maker. We will make sure we add extra internal supports, and give detailed instructions on how to move it. We might be able to stay and move the cake for you if that can be arranged (again there will be an hourly charge for this).

 

Photo shoot V reality

It’s important to keep in mind that the photos you see in any shoot are there to give you inspiration and ideas. They are not supposed to represent a real wedding necessarily.

For example it’s very unlikely that you would have a flataly of your stationary as part of your wedding photos. Those are there to showcase the stationers work, and the work of the other suppliers involved in the shoot.

What a photo shoot will give you is a really good idea of the quality of work of the suppliers, if they are your style or not, and help you decide who you want to work with for your wedding. They are also a great way to get a good feel for the style you can expect from the photographers involved. Do you like the way they have used light, or the way they have posed their models for example.

pressed flower elopement cake
Close up on the cake details

 

Top tips for getting good photos of your wedding cake

1/ Talk to you photographer about where in the room is best for the cake to be for them to be able to get the best photos.

2/ Chat to your wedding planner or stylist about setting up the cake table. Being creative with the table set up can be very effective.

3/ Make sure the backdrop compliments the cake, and doesn’t fight it for attention.

4/ Avoid harsh and direct sunlight. It’s bad for photos and very bad for the cake!

5/ Avoid dark corners too. Too much shadow will hinder the photographer, and you won’t see the cake at its best either.

6/ Make sure there will be enough room for you both to be able to stand comfortably beside your cake for the cutting photos.

Read more about Helen and our photo shoot, click HERE

To enquire about your luxury wedding cake, click HERE

Find out more about Clovelly, click 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

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.

Luxury wedding cakes: Be bold, be you!

Personality, we all have one. And your wedding is a great place to show it off. Your wedding should be as unique as you are! But how to do this?
Now the idea of a fully themed wedding fills a lot of people with dread. But so does the idea of a ‘copy/paste’ wedding taken from Pintrest or Instagram (although I love both of these places for inspiration.) So what is the answer? It’s a dilemma, isn’t it?

One answer is to use your wedding cake as a place to bring your personality and tastes to the fore. The cake is an important part of any wedding, and has been for centuries. Although it is only one part, it is a standalone part. And so it is very easy to use the cake as a showpiece, a centrepiece, and a way to really wow your guests. It is said that the cake is one of the most photographed elements of the wedding (after the dress), so it should be a showstopper. But why not also make it reflect you and your personalities?
Am I recommending novelty cakes? No, absolutely not. What I am recommending is making the most of the artistry and skills of your cake designer.

Although, if you did want to bring some real fun to the cake, why not think about a ‘Grooms Cake?’ They were originally a southern states of America tradition. But they are a super fun way to really bring some individuality into your wedding, without it taking over. They are also a way to bring the groom into the wedding, which was their original purpose. Remember the red velvet armadillo from the film Steel Magnolias?

And there are so many elements of your wedding that can be brought into the cake. Are you having a specific design on your stationary? Then why not translate that onto the cake. I make hand cut stencils to echo the design on wedding stationary. If there is artwork on the stationary, then that can be translated onto the cake.

What about colour? There is no reason at all why your wedding cake should be just white or ivory. Recently I did a black wedding cake, and it looked amazing! The bride was wearing a black wedding dress, so it tied in perfectly. Why not pull out a colour from your wedding and have that running through your cake? As we tint all our fondant in house, then we can match up pretty much any colour for you.

If you’re not having a fondant cake, but instead are going for buttercream, you can still have colour. Yes, buttercream can be coloured. Although the yellow tint of the butter has to be taken into consideration. This summer I had one buttercream cake that was turquoise, and another that will be purple. Both are going to make a real statement. The turquoise cake had a cascade of fresh flowers that were all in jewel colours, which made it really pop, especially as the rest of the wedding décor were whites and greens. Plus there was a chocolate shoe cake topper. This was an added touch because the groom had learnt to make shoes in order to make the bride her wedding shoes! I’m not sure I’ve come across anything so romantic!!

Statement wedding cakes are definitely the way forward! The cake can reflect the wedding or be a polar opposite. The mostly white wedding with the bright turquoise and jewel colours cake made a stunning statement without dominating (the bride loved it so much she gave me a hug and burst into tiers.)
Top tips for giving your wedding cake the wow factor.
1/ Colour. Don’t be afraid of colour at your wedding. And having a colourful wedding cake can be an ideal way to achieve that.
2/ Design. Why not pick out a design detail from your stationery or even from the wedding dress/suit or wedding party outfits? We can match elements and translate them onto your cake.
3/ Personal touches. Adding something truly special to you as a couple is a lovely way to personalise your cake. A couple once added two toy dinosaurs as their cake topper, it was a personal joke between them. Another couple left some model giraffes for me to add, as they were both very tall. And remember the chocolate shoe? All these things helped make these wedding cakes more than just beautiful, they also made them special to the couple. And that’s what it’s all about.