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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been busy moving my studio from our home, to a lovely space in Clovelly. Which is where you’ll now be able to come and see me to talk all things wedding cake! And taste cake too, and drink tea. All with a sea view. Don’t worry, I’m up top.
I know that many of my couples are getting married in Devon or Cornwall, but don’t live down here. We have become a very popular place for destination weddings, and it’s obvious why. With the dramatic coastlines, the romantic moors and the beautiful woods and picture postcard villages (like Clovelly) There are dozens of options for a beautiful wedding. As well as offering your guests the chance to combine your wedding with a sneaky holiday!
So what happens if you are planning your wedding down here but don’t live here? How do you find suppliers? How do you have consultations with those suppliers? Don’t stress!!! It’s really not that difficult. I’m very used to helping distant couples plan their perfect wedding cake.
Firstly, I would always suggest talking to your venue and asking if they have recommended suppliers. Many venues have suppliers that they like to work with and hold details for. Word of mouth is still the best way to get the quality wedding suppliers you’re looking for. And we all know many other people in the wedding industry, so always ask us. Your florist will almost certainly know a hairdresser, who will know a caterer, who will know a DJ etc. And they will also know who has the best reputations and the most skill in their field.
A wedding planner is also a good idea for any kind of destination wedding. A lot of suppliers also work with planners, and so have a large network of contacts. A wedding planner based in the location you’ve chosen to get married in will know all the best local wedding suppliers. They will also have lots of valuable local knowledge, the best places for your guests to stay, the best routes to use (the sat nav can get raging PMT around here!)
With the issues of distance in mind, many suppliers will offer skype or similar options for consultations. And I also offer cake tasting boxes by post, which works really well. I do try hard to make myself available when my couples are visiting and arranging supplier visits, but that’s not always possible.
Another thing that is a good idea is to plan your visits when there are local wedding fairs or shows. This will allow you to meet and talk to lots of suppliers local to where you are getting married, all in one place and in one day. Don’t forget to give us your email address, this way we can get back to you with the information you’re asking for in more detail.
I’ve also gone a step further and secured a London base too 😊 Very exciting!!! I’m delighted to have been accepted as a member of The Wedding Gallery at 1 Marylebone Road. If you’ve never visited, then you need to book an appointment! It’s the most stunning wedding emporium, filled with the best wedding suppliers you can find. As a member I can now meet you there to discuss your wedding cake, and also drink more tea.
So here’s you checklist for finding suppliers when you don’t live in the place you’re getting married.
1/ Don’t stress! There may be logistical issues to bear in mind when planning a destination wedding. But that needn’t mean extra stress.
2/ Ask your wedding venue if they have any suppliers they recommend. This will give you a good starting point, and give you piece of mind.
3/ Consider using a wedding planner who is based in the place you’re getting married. Again, they will have lots of local knowledge and contacts. It will also mean you have someone ‘on the ground’ to troubleshoot for you.
4/ When you’re planning your visits try to time then to coincide with local wedding fairs or shows. And try to give the suppliers you want to visit as much notice as possible.
5/ Pick the brains of all your suppliers. We all have a ‘little black book’ of contacts. And word of mouth is still the best way to find the best suppliers.
Today I’m going to go back behind the scenes again. There’s a saying that you should take time from working IN your business to work ON your business. And when you’re a sole trader this can be difficult, in fact it can be like juggling jelly!
But a couple of weeks ago I took two days away from STHQ to go to Wed Meet Up at the very beautiful Deer Park country house near Honiton. I regularly attend the Devon and Cornwall Wed Meet Ups that are evening networking events, but this was two full days. Last year I couldn’t get there because my bestie was over from America and had got us tickets to see Hamilton in London (the irony was not lost.) So I was determined to go this year. And I’m very glad I did.
The lovely Hazel Parsons from Out of the Ordinary Weddings asked me to exhibit as well, which was an honour considering the amount of talented cake makers there are here in the South West. I had never exhibited solely to fellow wedding industry professionals before, so it was a bit daunting.
I shouldn’t have worried though, it turned out I already knew many people there, which put me at ease. The wedding industry is a super supportive and friendly place.
So what happens at Wed Meet Up? Well according the Craig (videographer) ‘what happens at Wed Meet Up, stays at Wed Meet Up.’ And that might be true regarding the dinner and party after, many sore heads the next day (not mine.) In fact it’s an intense two days of networking and expert speakers. I can safely say I was as inspired as I was exhausted!
One highlight was getting meet people that you never get to talk to when you are working on actual weddings. We are always so busy doing our thing, and coming and going, that it’s just not practical to ‘network.’ Another highlight was being approached by the lovely Anisha from BrideLux. If you haven’t heard of BrideLux I highly recommend googling them and finding their Instagram, especially if you are London based. They are a high-end wedding showcase of hand selected suppliers, and Anisha asked me to be one of those suppliers! Sadly the dates are the 29th and 30th of March, and I have a wedding cake booked in. Unfortunately this is the down side of being a sole trader, you can’t be in two places at once, however much we might try. But at least I know that I’m doing it right, and that my work is getting noticed and liked by the industry as well as clients.
Building good industry relationships is so important. When you are planning your wedding the chances are you will ask around to find suppliers. You’ll book one supplier and ask them if they can recommend others, or you’ll check out the recommended list from your venue. So meeting up with each other and getting to really know each other means we can recommend each other to you with confidence. And I recommend other cake makers too, if there’s a reason I can’t do your cake I know several other cakers who I can pass you to.
These events are also an excellent learning opportunity. When you’re in business you never stop learning. And when your business is also creative that’s doubly true. I’ll always happily share with others how I make my flowers or do a particular technique, one of the joys of learning anything is being able to pass the knowledge on. At Wed Meet Up there were lots of industry experts happy to pass on their knowledge to us, in order to help the whole industry grow.
I’m very lucky to be in such a beautifully supportive industry. And I wanted to share a little glimpse into that world 😊
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