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

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Wedding Cake Trends 2021/2022

Everyone loves a good trend, don’t they? And wedding cakes are no different. So today we are going to look, briefly, at wedding cake trends for 2021/2022.

Generally trends take longer to emerge and change in weddings than most areas. This is because weddings are planned over many months, even years. And there are also a lot of traditions within weddings that people don’t like to mess with too much.

Now I think it’s safe to say that most people are no longer planning a 2020 wedding, for the obvious reasons we don’t need to go into here. But I have noticed that lots of people are using this time to plan their 2021 and 2022 weddings. And it’s the perfect time to do it. Just remember that you’re going to be competing with all the 2020 couples who have had to postpone their weddings to 2021/22 dates. So my advice not to leave it too long to book a supplier you love is even more relevant now.

wedding fair display
Trends often start at wedding shows

 

Having said that trends within wedding take longer to change. One area within weddings where trends do come and go more quickly, is the cake.

The days of the wedding cake being a rich fruit cake coated in thick marzipan and rock hard royal icing have long gone! Although, saying that, fruit cake as one of the tiers is starting to creep back. And this is the thing with trends, they often revisit what came before, but add a contemporary spin.

With all of this in mind, what can we expect to see from wedding cake makers over the next year or two?

 

Back in 2018 we started to see a move away from the traditional wedding cake as an actual cake. Replaced with cheesecakes, cheese stacks and even pork pies! Thankfully this trend didn’t last. Although the stacks of cheese and pork pies are a great buffet idea.

The wedding cake if firmly back where it belongs. But it isn’t a plain white tower that fades into the background anymore. And this brings me to my first trend for 2021/22

 

Colourful wedding cakes

It’s long been a thing to use a coloured ribbon around the base of the cake, or the cake board, to match the wedding colours. But why stop there? These days you can have the icing in any colour you could think of. And I can colour match to your exact colour scheme. You can also paint on cakes. The trend for the watercolour effect on wedding cakes is one I can see becoming bigger too. It’s a great way to bring your wedding colours into your cake in a more imaginative way.

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

Dramatic wedding cakes

Think black wedding cakes. Yes, I said black. A black wedding cake can look stunning, and really add that touch of the dramatic, especially if you don’t want a fully themed wedding, but do want some statement touches. If you don’t want black then maybe introduce some interesting and unusual textures like the concrete or stone effect. A real talking point for your guests.

black wedding cake with fresh flowers
Stunning black wedding cake

Personalised wedding cakes

Bring some of your personality into the wedding with a personalised wedding cake. Of course the double sided wedding cakes have been around a long time. They were cute when the trend first started, but can look naff if not done just right. Forget those. Instead think back to what I said about hand painting on cakes. Or what about a hand cut stencil to match a design you may have on your stationary? As this would be a one-off design it would be truly yours.

wedding cake with hand cut stencil
A hand cut stencil to match the wedding stationary.

Floral wedding cakes

Now if you know me, then you know that I adore sugar flowers. But there are lots of alternatives without using fresh flowers (which can come with a health warning). Wafer paper flowers are a great alternative to sugar flowers, and something I predict becoming a new trend for wedding cakes. Then there are pressed and dried flowers. Dried flowers like roses and lavender can looks beautiful, and smell nice too. Plus they are already dried, so you can keep them afterwards. I also love to press edible flowers. Because they are edible, they can be put directly onto the cake. For 2021/22 I can see dried, pressed and wafer paper flowers overtaking fresh flowers on wedding cakes.

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

Staying around

There is one wedding cake trend I can see staying around.  I’m talking the semi naked cakes and buttercream cakes. I think these are going to stay around for a while yet. But with a twist. Remember what I was saying about fresh flowers on cakes maybe being replaced? I certainly think this is a good idea on semi naked and buttercream cakes. And once you move away from fresh flowers, you open up a whole world of possibilities, dried or dehydrated fruits and foliage for example. Buttercream can also be tinted many colours, and can be piped into amazing flowers and other designs, it can also be textured in many different ways. Then there are wafer paper flowers and foliage.

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

 

So there you are. A brief waffle on what I think we are going to be seeing in the wedding cake world over the next year or two. Get creative with your wedding cake design and let your personalities shine, give your guests something to delight the eye, not just the stomach. And remember, the cake is one of the most photographed things at a wedding, so make sure it’s worthy of all the attention.

To get in touch about you wedding cake click HERE

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

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 

Luxury Wedding Cakes: How to choose the best cake stand.

You have found your perfect cake maker and have ordered your dream wedding cake. You know it is going to look stunning. But have you thought about what you are going to put it on? Today we are going to talk about how to choose the best cake stand and the cake table.

Cake stands

There are as many designs of cake stand as there are cakes. And this can make finding the perfect one a bit of a minefield.
Some cake makers will have a selection of cake stands that they hire out, so it’s always worth asking. I don’t hire out cake stands myself. This is because I deliver my wedding cakes so far and wide that it can be an issue getting them back.

Classic glass cake stand
A classic and simple glass cake stand.

It is also always worth asking your venue if they have any cake stands. Quite often hotels and dedicated wedding venues will have a cake stand you can arrange to use.
If you are having a wedding stylist then they might have a cake stand available that will match up with the rest of the décor.

A cake stand that's also a table
Cake stands don’t need to be ‘cake stands’ This is a trolley!

But why not buy your own? They can become a keepsake of the day, and something to keep and use. One of my couples had a glass cake stand and had it engraved with their names and wedding date. Something like that will become a family heirloom. And wooden log slice stands can be burned with the same thing. And why not put one on your wedding gift list?

Before you buy a stand there are a few things you should do

1/ Ask your cake maker what size the bottom cake board will be. Whatever stand you buy will need to be big enough to fit the cake on!
2/ Ask your cake maker roughly what the height of the cake will be. This is because you may not actually need a cake stand. If your cake is going to be tall, then a stand may not be necessary. You don’t want it to stand so tall that it makes cutting it difficult. Nor do you want to make it unstable, and height = instability.
3/ check out the cake table, or space, at the venue where the cake is going to be going. You want to make sure that it is going to be big enough. Often I find that my couples want to have other things on the cake table.

Wedding cake without a cake stand
When a cake has height, it doesn’t need a stand.

Choosing a cake stand

Cake stands come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and materials. And, like everything else, you can get lost down that internet rabbit hole looking for what you want.
Now not all cake stands are created equal, and it’s a case of you get what you pay for. I would recommend going to a supplier you trust, a major department store or cookware shop for example (I won’t name any names, but you know the places you trust and like to shop with.) It’s good to be able to see the stand if possible.

If you’re looking online then be sure to check the measurements. Like I said before, you need to make sure the cake will fit. Also see if there is a weight limit given. This may seem strange, but a fully decorated and stacked wedding cake can be really heavy! I have found that metal cake stands with a foot, for example, are not very sturdy, and inclined to warp and buckle unless they are very good quality.

Glass and ceramic are really your best bet if you want the classic stand with a foot/stem and a plate on top.

Simple ceramic cake stand
A simple ceramic cake stand always looks elegant.

If you want metal then the solid, low and wide ones are the best to go for. These style of cake stands are the ones that hotels and venues often have.

Classic silver cake stand
The classic and vintage style silver cake stand.

Something else I would say about cake stands is to avoid the ones with a lip or rim around the edge. This makes it hard to get the cake onto the stand. And even harder for whoever is then going to have to take it off again. It’s very easy to get your fingers trapped!! These kinds of stands are better for small cakes and pastries to be displayed on.

And if you are having a log slice cake stand then please buy a properly cut one. One wedding I delivered to the log slice was literally just that. The groom had gone to the woods with a chainsaw! It was so unlevel that I had to pack a load of folded kitchen paper under the cake to try to stop it toppling!

Log slice cake stand
I love log slice stands, as long as they’re level.

Cake tables

Almost always the cake is displayed on a separate table in pride of place, which is as it should be!
But is it that simple?
Sadly I often turn up to find a small table with a basic white cloth, and that’s it. Now I get that you want the cake to be the star, I want that too, and you don’t want too much distracting from it. But you also want the cake table to tie in with the rest of the wedding décor. So why not ask your wedding stylist to dress the cake table too?
A few times there have been other things on the cake table besides the cake stand. Usually photos of either the happy couple, or family photos. One couple had the wedding photos of their parents and grandparents, which was such a beautiful touch. But if you want to do this, then you need to make sure the cake table will be large enough. So let your venue know your plans and ask them to provide you with the right size.

traditional cake cutting
This lovely couple had family photos on their cake table.
burgundy and gold wedding cake
Or you can have the bouquet to display beside the cake.

NOTE: Make sure the cake table is level and doesn’t wobble!! You’d think that was obvious, wouldn’t you? But I have turned up to a few cake deliveries to find a wonky or wobbly table. Once it was so bad that I had to ask for it to be replaced because the top was loose!!

Top tips

1/ Before buying a cake stand, ask your cake maker, venue or stylist if they have ones you can hire.
2/ Before buying your stand, ask your cake maker for the base measurements of the cake. You need to make sure the cake stand is at least the same diameter as the cake base, if not a little bigger.
3/ Do you even need a cake stand? If your cake is going to be tall, then you may not need a stand. And remember, adding height adds instability.
4/ Think about decorating the cake table to match with the rest of the wedding décor. And also adding some special, personal touches.
5/ Make sure the cake table is level and wobble free!! Ask your wedding planner or co-ordinator to check this for you on the morning.

To find out more, you can get in touch HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes- Does Wedding Cake Size Matter?

Does size matter?

Now stop giggling at the back! I’m talking about your wedding cake size!.
In my last post I talked about the things that seem to stress couples out when it comes to the cake. Making sure you order the right size of cake seems to be one of the biggest worries. Understandably so, I mean you don’t want to seem mean, but don’t want wasted cake either. And the chances are you’ve not ordered a wedding cake before to know about serving sizes and cutting guides.
This isn’t anything to worry about though. Your cake maker knows the drill, and we know how to work out what is the best size cake for the size of wedding. Really all you need to do is give us the number of guests you want the cake to serve.

sizing chart
The sizing chart I work from

Which brings me to another issue.

When to serve the wedding cake?

Traditionally the cake was cut and served after the speeches, at the end of the main wedding breakfast. If there was any left, then it would be offered to evening guests as part of the buffet.
These days though many couples want to wait to cut the cake in the evening. Personally I like this idea, as it is a big part of the day, and something the evening guests would usually miss out on. Cutting the cake in the evening includes all your guests in that special moment. However, cutting and serving in the evening will mean you need a bigger cake for the extra numbers. And what if you want to serve the cake as dessert? AHHHHH!
Okay let’s breathe. It’s only cake (did I really just say that??).
One option to solve the issue of the evening guests missing out on seeing the cake is to do the cake cutting photos after the speeches, but don’t have the cake taken away and cut. Instead leave it until all the evening guests have arrived and seen it. Then give the venue the nod to take it off and cut and serve. You could even do the cake cutting again for the evening guests, why not?
Basically what I’m saying is to forget the traditions surrounding when you should cut and serve the wedding cake. Do it as and when it feels right for you.

cutting the cake with a sward!
You can use a knife!
traditional cake cutting
See, you don’t have to use a sward.
the cake cutting is a special moment
I will always love this cake cutting pic!

Myth Busting.

Now I think we should quickly bust the myth that serving the wedding cake as the dessert will lower costs. Realistically this often isn’t the case. When we work out the size of cake you will need for you 100 guests (number just to illustrate) we will be basing that on the industry standard of a 2x1in portion. In other words a finger size portion you might serve with the after dinner coffee, or as part of a buffet. If you want to serve as dessert you’re going to want much larger portions, maybe even twice that size, but at least 2x2in. And you will also need enough cake for every guest, rather than the usual rule of thumb that 10% won’t eat any. This is going to mean a much larger cake to accommodate the larger portions, and numbers, and make sure there’s enough. Obviously this also means the cost of the cake is going to rise quite considerably. Plus the venue, or caterer, might charge you for serving someone else’s food, as they will be using their cutlery and crockery to serve the cake, and then wash all that up after, plus the service time. Add all that up and it’s not necessarily going to save you any money. But it will mean that all the cake will get eaten, and you won’t have to worry about wastage.

cake cutting guide
Cake cutting guide

Back to size, as this is what this post is mainly about.

When I talk to couples at wedding shows they often think they can’t book the cake because they aren’t sure yet exactly how big it needs to be. This is another myth. And it can often mean you missing out on getting your preferred cake maker because you’ve waited until all the RSVPs have come back before getting in touch. A rough idea on size is all we need at the very start. And if you’ve booked your venue then you already know the kind of size your wedding will be. That’s enough for me to give you a starting quote to base the booking fee on (I work on a 25% booking fee) Then we can up or down scale the cake size later if you find you need to. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of guests on your list and reduce it by 10% when booking the cake, as mentioned before. Although it will need to be for 100% of your guests if serving for dessert.

The Showstopper.

But size isn’t just about the numbers, it’s also about the look. And adding the WOW factor.
The cake is, without doubt, one of the stars, a showstopper. And often the most photographed thing after the couple, and the dress. So you may want something big and impressive, even if it’s only going to be a small wedding. How to do this without having lots of wasted cake? Firstly will it be wasted? The tradition of keeping a tier of the wedding cake for a christening is starting to come back. Or maybe for your first wedding anniversary? You can do this with fruit cake of course, but also with sponge. Sponge cake freezes really well, you’ll just need to give the fondant (if using) time to dry out as it will go sticky as it thaws. You cake maker will advise you on the best ways to store your leftover cake. Then there is the other tradition of posting cake to people who couldn’t make it to the wedding, something else you may wish to do if you have cake left. If none of these are options, then there are dummy cakes. Dummy cakes are used for display cakes for shows and photo shoots etc, but they can also be used to add height and size to a real cake. Now they are usually polystyrene, however I will happily take them back and reuse them in my display work. I reuse my dummy cakes over and over, I can’t remember the last time I bought any!

This showstopper only had three real tiers of cake.

The opposite can also be an issue.

You have a lot of guests to feed, but want an understated wedding, so don’t want a huge cake. Again there is a solution. Cutting cakes. A cutting cake is a simplified version of the actual wedding cake. Usually a square or A4 size cake in the same flavours and with a covering of the chosen icing, but without all the decoration as they won’t be on show. These are kept in the kitchens and cut up by your venue when they take the wedding cake away to cut, then it’s all served together. No one will know which is wedding cake and which is cutting cake.

Top Tips.

So my top tips for getting the wedding cake size right;
1/ Don’t wait until you have all your RSVPs back before booking your cake. Rough numbers are all we need to get the ball rolling.
2/ Decide if you want to serve the cake as dessert or as part of the buffet/with coffee. This will make a difference to the size of cake you need. Just let your cake maker know.
3/ Don’t worry about leftover cake. Sponge cake freezes well, and fruit cake keeps for months.
4/ You can have a showstopping cake even if you don’t need one. Again just discuss this with your cake maker.
5/ You can have cutting cakes for the venue to serve should you want something simpler and smaller, but have lots of guest to feed. This works especially well for large evening receptions after a smaller wedding.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, 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

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Christmas weddings.

Christmas weddings are the subject today.

Christmas tree at Pynes House

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

Christmas wedding cake at Dartington Hall

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

Christmas wedding cake at The Green

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

Christmas at Dartington Hall

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

How to get the most out of Wedding Fairs.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

wedding fair display stand
Another view of the same stand

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

So here’s your wedding fair checklist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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