Luxury Wedding Cakes – High End With a Twist

High end with a twist. Part 2.

 

I’m back!! Sorry for the radio silence. I had some major issues with my website, but that’s been fixed now. So I’m back! I’ll let you decide if that’s a good or bad thing.

 

Have you ever been to Sketch in London? After my blog last time about ‘high end with a twist’ wedding cakes I started to think of what that might equate to in other areas. And I remembered Sketch.

The Parlour at Sketch

Best friends and high tea.

 

Last year one of my best friends came over from America for a visit to London for her 50th birthday. She wanted to go somewhere for afternoon tea. We had already done Claridges and the one on the double-decker bus on previous trips (that is great fun!) So I wanted to take her somewhere a bit different this time.

And so I took her to Sketch. And it sums up ‘high end with a twist’ perfectly! To begin with its pink, and if you know me, then you know how much I love pink. The website is super fun to be on too. Then there is their dress code, “we ask our guests to dress with a sense of style and character.”

The Bar at Sketch

Destination toilets.

 

Everything about the place is quirky, from the entrance to the toilets. OMG the toilets are worth the visit on their own! No spoilers, go see for yourselves. But it also oozes class and quality. It’s a memorable experience with every detail thought about and taken to the next level.

If my style and ethos could be summed up in a place, it would be Sketch, London. Taking your ideas about your wedding cake and taking them to the next level, with class, but also with a ‘sense of style and character.’

The Parlour

Pining.

 

I’ve been missing London this year. The last time I was there was for The Wedding Gallery networking evening back in January. Usually I’d be up there every few weeks. I would say around 80% of my clients who are getting married down here in the magnificent South West, are not local. They are from London or the South East, and so I find myself popping up to London to meet with couples who can’t get down to meet with me. And also to meet with some lovely wedding industry contacts who have become friends over the years.

 

Letting the train take the strain.

 

Now I know what you might be thinking. All those trips to London from Cornwall. That’s a lot of driving and that’s not good for the environment. Well that would be true, if I were driving. But I don’t, I take the train. Yes, cakes on a train (sorry, had to). But it works very well. Yes it’s much better for the planet, but also it’s more economic, and a lot less stressful. So it’s a win all round. I will admit that once there, when I have a cake, I do use a cab as it’s way safer than trying to take a cake on the tube (trust me, I’ve tried!) And I think using a cab might be the safest option for a while yet, to ensure the safety of everyone at the venues I’m visiting. Plus I have to be very careful with vulnerable family members. Which is why I haven’t been travelling anything like as much as I usually would.

High tea at Sketch

High End with a twist.

 

So back to the point of this blog. I hope I have helped clarify a bit more why I describe my style the way I do. I put my heart and soul into everything I do for my clients. And, as I limit the amount of weddings I do a year, I make sure every cake and every client gets the same attention.

There is no doubt that weddings as we know them have changed and will be different for a while to come. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have that amazing cake you have been dreaming about. In fact having to have a smaller wedding is even more reason to go all out on the cake, and on everything actually! So take that idea and let me turn it into a showstopping cake that will help to make your wedding live in the memories of your guests for years to come.

 

Top tips on getting your ‘High End With a Twist’ wedding cake;

 

1/ Get in touch with me! 😉

2/ Seriously though. Do a little research and find a cake maker whose work you really love. And have a bit of a look on Pinterest etc to find inspiration pics for your dream cake, this will make it easier to decide on the style you want, and that will help you find your perfect cake maker.

3/ Consider your venue, and what kind of cake would fit well. Are there details in the décor or architecture that could be picked up in the wedding cake design.

4/ Give all your inspiration pics and Pinterest boards to your cake maker. We will then use these as the starting point for your design. Although please remember we don’t ‘copy/paste’ but work with you to design something unique.

5/ Have fun! Have some fun with your designs and colours. This will help to make your cake truly yours.

 

 

Luxury Wedding Cakes Devon, Cornwall, London- Sugar Flowers

Sugar flowers and wedding cakes

If you have been on my website before, or if you have been looking at my galleries here or on Instagram and Pinterest, I’m sure you will have noticed a theme. Sugar flowers. Lots of wedding cakes with sugar flowers. And that is what I want to talk about today.

 

Over the years I have lost count of the number of wedding cakes I’ve made, it’s up in the hundreds by now I’m sure. And they are all as unique as the couple who have ordered them. But one thing a lot of them have in common, and the thing I might be best known for, is sugar flowers. I just love them!

Sugar roses

There are many reasons for this love, and it goes way back to when I first left school and enrolled in horticultural college. I was 17 and loved plants and flowers, they fascinated me. I spent many happy hours learning how plants worked and got up close to flowers. And that knowledge seems to have stuck with me, at least to a point.

white wedding cake with pink sugar flowers
Classic sugar flower wedding cake

Having had that horticultural training, I already knew how flowers work, and how they are put together. This has given me a good basic training for making sugar flowers. It’s almost like the reverse of what we did at college. Then we would take a flower apart, petal by petal, piece by piece. Now I constrict them, petal by petal and piece by piece.

 

But why should you consider sugar flowers for your wedding cakes?

 

Well why wouldn’t you? Although I would say that. But they really are a stunning addition. Plus they won’t wilt and die, and you can keep them for years afterwards. I always say that sugar flowers are a like Gremlins (Yes I’m old enough to remember that in the cinema!) keep them out of bright light and don’t get them wet.

Sugar parrot tulips and roses
Sugar Parrot tulips and Roses

If you keep them dry and away from direct heat and sun, they really will keep for years. Some people pop them under a glass dome to help preserve them. Or you could go for a polymer clay version that will keep forever and can be used as an heirloom. They are made in basically the same way as sugar flowers, but are not in any way edible, although perfectly safe to use as a cake topper/decorations.

 

Saying that, sugar flowers are only edible in that they are made from a form of sugar paste. But they almost always have some form of wire or non-edible support in them. And this will render them inedible anyway. I mean you could pull them off the wires and eat the petals if you really wanted to, but I wouldn’t recommend it! Not unless you have a very good dentist.

 

Not all sugar flowers will be wired though. And they don’t have to be super realistic looking either. Flowers can even be made in a form of chocolate paste that are fully edible, and delicious. In fact the possibilities are endless.

watercolour drip cake
stylised wafer paper flowers

I will go into all the options another day.

 

Back to sugar flowers.

 

Sadly I don’t know the history of the sugar flower, that is something I will have to look into. Although they have been around in one form or another for decades. In recent years the range of pastes available to make them with have vastly increased, and this has made it more and more possible to make them super realistic. So has the development of all the equipment used to make them. Not that you need that much to get started. I offer classes which includes the basic kit you will need to get started.

Sugar roses and peonies
Sugar Roses and Peonies

And gone are the days when sugar flowers on wedding cakes were basically white roses. These days you can have pretty much any flower you like, and in any colour. This is very helpful if you want flowers such as sweet peas which are toxic and not a good idea to use on cakes. Have them made in sugar instead! There are many flowers regularly used in floristry that are actually toxic and so can’t be used on cakes. I’ll go into that more in a future post.

 

Making your own.

 

While it takes a lot of practice and patience to make the super realistic sugar flowers. You can make some smaller, and more basic ones at home. And this is what I teach in my classes. Well I do when I am able to start doing them again.

And how lovely would it be to have a few little filler flowers on your wedding cake that you have made yourself? And how cool would it be to have part of your hen party celebrations making sugar flowers for your wedding cake? They can be left with me to be added in with the rest of them on your cake. And it will be even more personal.

 

The future.

 

With the new normal, and all the new guidelines and restrictions around weddings, things are going to be scaled down a fair bit for quite a while. But this allows you more scope to upgrade on the things you can still have, like the wedding cake.

Now you’re not spending so much on a large wedding with 100 plus people, you can free up some of the budget for other things.

One of the things you can still have, and which is going to become even more important, is the cake. Now more than ever it will become the centre piece.

You may not be able to have all of the usual elements that have become the norm at a wedding, like the big evening party etc. But you can still have the lovely tradition of cutting the cake.

In fact I think the older traditions like the cake cutting are going to become more important again in the new normal. Keeping those old traditions alive gives us consistency in a time of such upheaval, and helps to ground us and remind us that some things may change, but other things remain.

With this in mind why not go all out with the cake? Have that big wedding cake dripping in sugar flowers that you dream of but couldn’t justify spending on before. Remember it doesn’t have to be all real cake. You can have just the one tire of real cake and the rest as dummies. And don’t worry about waste. I can have the dummy tires back, strip them and reuse them over and over.

red roses on floating cake tier
You could learn to make the filler flowers for your wedding cake

There are as many ways to incorporate sugar flowers into you wedding cake as there are wedding cake! From small clusters of dainty blossoms, to full on cascades of realistic looking blooms. Want a bright blue rose? You can in sugar! Let your imagination run riot.

 

To find out more about sugar flower classes keep an eye out HERE where I will post new classes as they are possible.

To contact me about your wedding cake click HERE

 

Luxury Wedding Cakes Devon, Cornwall, London – Smaller Weddings

Are Smaller Weddings the way forward?

As we are still in a semi lock down here in the UK, and the government is giving us NO information on when weddings will be allowed to go ahead, or in what form. I thought I would follow up on a previous post about micro and elopement weddings, and focus on cakes for smaller weddings.

elopement cake and scones
High Tea for two

I know some people think that we in the wedding industry, and especially venues, get given information ahead of the public about what the plans are for weddings. But I can assure you we really don’t. We know no more or less than everyone else, in spite of lobbying for information. Believe me this is all as frustrating for us as it is for you. I know of at least two wedding businesses that have folded due to the virus and weddings having to be called off this year. And, sadly, I think there will be many more. It’s a nightmare.

I was talking to a couple the other day who are getting married this September, and they were saying it would be so helpful if the government would just make the decision. And I couldn’t agree more!

Algarve elopement cake
Small can still be beautiful

Anyway back to the subject of smaller weddings and cakes.

The trend for micro and elopement weddings started a few years ago, in fact I think they have always been a thing. And, as I’ve said before, they do have a lot going for them. If the government does give the go ahead for weddings, then it’s likely to be with number restrictions to begin with (I’m not even going to try to guess what those numbers might be).
Now you may think that having a smaller wedding means you have to compromise on the cake. But this isn’t necessarily so. After all you may already have had to compromise on so much else.
I have often done a fake or dummy tier as part of a cake for a smaller wedding, in order to give it more height and more wow. And this is what I would recommend doing for your smaller wedding.

Romeo & Juliet cake
90% of this cake is fake, and has real impact.

 

You may only need one or two tiers of real cake to feed you and your guests, and don’t leave yourselves out when thinking about how much cake you need. Too many times I’ve had couples tell me that all their guests loved the cake, but they never managed to get any!

Cake for you

Then there is the tradition of keeping a tier for the christening of the first baby. Of course this was back when wedding cakes were fruit cake, and we all know how long fruit cakes will keep for. But sponge cakes freeze really well, so it’s still possible to do this. And it doesn’t have to be for a christening. Several of my couples have kept the top tier and frozen it for their first anniversary. If you’re having a smaller wedding then this gives you plenty of scope to have a tier to keep, as you won’t need it to serve to guests.
In fact why not have an extra, smallest, top tier that’s just for you anyway? Sometimes called a ‘take to bed cake’ or ‘midnight feast cake.’ Don’t forget to tell your venue or wedding planner that it’s yours!

Clare and George enjoying their sample box at home
Remember to keep some cake back for yourselves!

You don’t have to get married to have a party!

Yes the chances are that larger weddings will be on hold for a little while, or will be in a different form. And it’s also true that a lot of wedding budgets are having to be spent elsewhere at the moment. However having a smaller wedding has a lot of pluses, as I discussed here. And then, when all this is over, why not have the wedding you were originally planning as a vow renewal for your first anniversary? In fact this is a great idea because you get all of the fun and excitement with none of the wedding day nerves or worries, as you’ve already done that bit.

Keep positive

Nothing anyone says will lessen the disappointment that a lot of couples are feeling this year. Or the stress a lot of wedding businesses are under to try and stay alive. But weddings WILL happen again. And you WILL be able to marry the love of your life.
And think of it this way. You now have more time to iron out all those little things that have been niggling you. You have more time to save, should you need to. And you have time to make changes to anything you weren’t 100% about.

As to the cake?

Well there is no need to scale down that particular part of the dream. In fact the cake is one of the parts of a smaller wedding you can still go all out with. So get creative!

To get in touch about your wedding cake, large or small, click HERE

Photography by: Helen Champman Photography, Mjp Events & Verity Westcott Photography 

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

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

Stress free wedding cakes – How to get a custom wedding cake without the stress

When you’re planning a wedding there is a great deal to think about. And this can lead to wedding stress. But we want to solve those stresses, and help you have a stress free wedding cake process, but we need to know what those stresses and worries are.

So today I’m going to ask you to get involved. An interactive blog if you like.

I want to hear from you about your freak out moments (we all have them) and stresses, especially when it comes to your wedding cake. And also what I can do to help you. Because that’s a big part of my job, not just to physically make your wedding cake, but to take the stress out of the process too.

Little boy enjoying his slice of cake
Who doesn’t love cake?!

With this in mind, what advice can I offer?

Firstly I would say sign up to my mailing list so you can get lots and lots of free advice on all things wedding cake direct to your inbox ? (shameless plug!) There you will get your guide to choosing your wedding cake, as well as other useful advice (sign up HERE).
I would also say to talk to me, and to all your suppliers. All the suppliers you have in mind to work with for your wedding will be only too happy to answer questions. People often start an email with ‘I know this is a silly question…..’ But there is no such thing as a silly question. After all the chances are you have never got married before, or even been involved in organising a wedding.

Even if this is not your first wedding, things will likely have changed, and what you want, and your tastes will have changed. We do this for a living, so it’s our job to know what we’re doing. We don’t expect you to know. So ask us. Talk to us. Tell us what is stressing you out, and stopping you enjoying the wedding planning experience.

sizing chart
The sizing chart I work from, so you can use it too

Back to cakes.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s YOUR wedding cake, so go with what YOU want. The chances are, these days, you are paying for the majority of the wedding yourselves. Which is even more reason to spend that money on what gets you excited. Something else I’ve said before is book early! This is just as true for the wedding cake as for everything else. And budget properly for the cake. Have a look on the websites of your wedding cake makers shortlist, see what their pricing is. This will give you a good idea of what you will need to be budgeting for the wedding cake.

Remember you don’t need to have all the details of your wedding cake design finalised before booking in with you cake maker. In fact part of my job is to design your wedding cake for you, and with you. As long as we know a rough size (or numbers the cake will need to serve) And a rough idea on the vibe of the wedding, that’s enough to start the process. If you have a Pinterest board for your wedding cake, then invite your cake maker to join it. This way we can see exactly what things you are liking, what you’re being drawn to, and this is really helpful. Or simply email us some reference images as and when you see something you like.

semi naked cake with gold drips
Gold drip cake with friends!

Another tip is to find out early on from your guests if there are any food allergies or special dietary requirements. The earlier you can let you cake maker, venue and caterer know the easier it will be to put all the arrangements in place. And it’s one less thing to have to worry about.

Getting your date booked in with all your chosen suppliers is the best way to give yourself piece of mind. Knowing that these things are booked, even if there are still details to confirm, will take a lot of pressure off.

Other things to think about

Another thing to bear in mind at the moment is that a lot of 2020 couples are having to move their wedding to 2021 because of you know what. Which means key dates are going faster than usual. So if you have decided which suppliers you want to work with, don’t wait to make that first contact with them. If a couple has already contacted me about a date, I will always give them first refusal should another enquiry come in. And once a booking fee is paid then that date is yours!

Right now we also can’t offer face to face consultations. However we can skype/face time/zoom etc, and you can email me whenever you’ve got a query. This is actually no bad thing, as we don’t have to stick to a set appointment time.

Clovelly studio
My Clovelly Studio when we can do face to face meetings again

Anti-stress check list for your wedding cake:

1/ Write down all the things that are stressing you about the cake.
2/ Talk to your cake maker about the things on your ‘stress’ list. Remember there is no such thing as a silly question.
3/ Block out all the voices telling you what they think you should have. Think about what YOU want.
4/ Book early. Even if you haven’t decided exactly what you want. If you have found the cake maker you want to work with, then pay a booking fee and secure your date. Then you can relax and enjoy planning your dream cake.
5/ Budget properly. Do some research first. Most good cake makers will have a price guide of some kind to give you an idea of the amount you should budget for a cake from them.
6/ Sign up for your chosen cake makers newsletter. There will be lots of useful advice and tips there. And you can unsubscribe once you’ve got the info you need.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me what’s stressing you out about choosing your wedding cake. Tell me how I can help take that stress away. Pop over to my Instagram or FaceBook Page and leave me you comments, ask me your questions and let me help!

And if you want to get in touch to discuss your wedding cake, pop HERE

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

Wedding Cakes Devon- Bicton Botanical Gardens Photo Shoot

A few short weeks ago, before the madness descended, I was asked to be a part of a photoshoot at Bicton Park Botanical Gardens. I have to say it now feels like a lifetime ago, but it was only late February.
You probably know that I trained in horticulture when I left school (don’t ask how long ago that was!!) And although I no longer work in that industry, I do still love plants and flowers. These days it’s the sugar kind I spend my time with. But a photoshoot in a botanical garden was something I jumped at!
And it didn’t disappoint.

a view over Bicton Park gardens
The view from The Terrace

The venue.

I don’t know why we have never been to Bicton Park before. I guess it’s that old thing of knowing it’s there whenever you want to visit, so you never get around to it. Something none of us will be doing in future I suspect. This whole situation we find ourselves in right now certainly makes you appreciate all the things you can no longer do, like visit gardens. And these are ones I will certainly be returning to when I’m able.
The Gardens were originally part of Bicton Park, which was built by the Rolles family in the 18th century. The gardens were laid out at the same time as the house, and much of the original features still exist. Such as the Palm House, one of the areas used in the shoot, which is around 20 years older than the famous Palm House at Kew.
There are 60 acres of gardens to explore, with lots of places to stop and have beautiful wedding photos taken. And there’s a train!! The Bicton Woodland Railway is a 25 minute ride around the gardens, a bonus for any train buffs in the wedding party.

 

The Terrace
The Terrace (Image from Visit Devon)

The shoot.

The shoot was the brainchild of Helen Chapman of Helen Chapman Photography and the theme was Victorian high tea, a theme that fitted in perfectly with the venue and its history.
Having the wedding fit in with the chosen venue is something I have spoken about before. It really does make a huge difference. If you’ve chosen a particular venue then the chances are it is, in part at least, because you know it fits with the type of wedding you want. But bringing elements of the venue into the details of the wedding will make it even more perfect.
For this shoot we very much kept with the Victorian botanical theme. The stationary had beautiful, botanical style, painting. The table was set up on the terrace with echoes of the greens that were all around us. And, of course, there were lots of flowers!
Greens and whites were the colour scheme, with a hint of blush pink. This gave a very fresh feel and fitted perfectly into the palm house. Although I don’t think you can actually get married in the palm house, I would recommend going there for a few photos, you won’t regret it.

The Palm House
The Palm House (image via Visit Devon)

The set up.

While our lovely bride was being photographed in the palm house, I took the cake and sweet treats around to the terrace to help get the table set up.
Now last time you will remember me talking about outdoor weddings, and how it’s a good idea to have at least one area partially covered. This photoshoot day proved my point perfectly! There we were, merrily setting up the table and making the terrace look beautiful, when the heavens opened. It didn’t just rain, it poured! If we had been fully outside then everything would have been ruined. Soggy tablecloths, washed out stationary, ruined cake….. you get the picture. But, because it was a covered terrace we just carried on! And, ten minutes later, the sun was back out.
At Bicton Park the terrace is in-between two orangeries and looks right out over the gardens. It makes it the perfect setting for an outdoor wedding, because you are under cover but still open. And you can dive into either of the orangeries if needs be. You can then have your reception in the orangery and still be looking out over the gardens.

the cake and sweet treats
Cake table with a view!

The Cake

Of course I’m going to say that the cake was the star of the day…….
I was asked to create a cake with a Victorian vibe, but very much in keeping with what a modern day couple would actually want.
If you have ever seen images of wedding cakes from the Victorian era you’ll know they are very elaborate affairs! Lots of royal icing and complicated hand piping, and nothing like the wedding cakes we have today. Although that style is starting to make a come back, and done right it can be stunning.
I decided not to go full on Victorian though, it’s not really the style my couples would want. Instead I used the petal shaped bottom tier as a nod to the period, but took the rest of my inspiration from the botanical setting.
You know that I love sugar flowers, so there had to be plenty of those! But I added a bit of a twist (as I’m known to do) by including a glass separator filled with silk foliage. This was a nod to the glass houses and Palm House.
Mixing in the silk foliage with the sugar flowers is a great way to get high impact. Having that foliage in sugar would have taken days of work, added a lot of weight and been at high risk of breakages.

The cake
The cake

The sweet treats

Confession time, dessert tables aren’t really my thing. Don’t get me wrong I love them, I just don’t really do them. Mostly because it’s just me, and I only have so many hours and one pair of hands! But I really enjoyed doing these.
The Victorians took afternoon tea very seriously indeed. And the more elaborate the better. Again I didn’t intend to recreate a full High Tea, just some sweet treats that could be an accompaniment or alternative to the cake.
So we had mini vanilla sponges with raspberry buttercream, meringue nests with creams and fresh fruits, lemon madeleines and pink sugar mice (if you’re going Victorian then you have to have sugar mice)

mini vanilla sponges
Mini vanilla sponges with raspberry buttercream

Recreating the look

Something I think comes across well with this shoot is that you don’t need to go full on Victoriana in order to get the feel. And also that it pays to work with the setting and backdrops the venue already has. Neither the Palm House or the Terrace needed any dressing, they spoke for themselves perfectly.
Have a chat with your wedding planner or stylist. Everything we used in the shoot can be hired in, and this is something I highly recommend doing. Not only will you get exactly what you want without having to spend weeks tracking each item down, but it can all be returned at the end. There are many wedding stylists who will come in on the day and dress your venue for you, then come back and take it all away again.

Meringue nests with fresh fruit
Meringue nests with fresh fruit

The Suppliers

These are all the lovely people who were involved on the day.

Photos by: Helen Chapman Photography, https://www.helenchapmanphotographyuk.com/

Venue; Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, http://www.bictongardens.co.uk/

Hair and beauty: by The Courtyard Hairdressers, Honiton,www.facebook.com/TheCourtyardHairdressers/

Wedding dress by: Lovely Bridal, Honiton, http://www.lovelybridal.co.uk/

Flowers by Bridget The flower shed, https://www.bridgetsflowershed.co.uk/

Wedding cake by Claire’s sweet temptations , https://www.clairessweettemptations.com/

Wedding venue decor by Bold and Beautiful Weddings https://www.boldbeautifulweddings.com/

Invitations by Dilly and Dilly, https://dillyanddilly.co.uk/

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Can you even have a cake at an outdoor wedding?

white fondant wedding cake
A wedding cake outdoors needs some though

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

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

 

Firstly I would avoid the fully naked wedding cakes.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

THINK WASPS!!!

 

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

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

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

It’s the same with flies.

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

It might rain.

 

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

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

 

Wedding cake under a tree
Under trees can work too

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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