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

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 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 

Wedding Cake Design: How to get ‘the one.’

You’re starting to think about your wedding cake design. You’ve seen a wedding cake online and you’ve fallen in love! It’s ‘the one’ So you save it to your Pinterest board and screenshot it to your phone. You show this pic to your cake maker and they shake their head. You’re devastated! We want THAT wedding cake! But you get the same response from every cake maker you show it to. Why???

Now I adore Pinterest and all the other platforms, I spend far more time than I should looking at all the prettiness on there. They are great places for inspiration. But really that’s all they are, they are not a shop window. And that can be a little misleading, because it gives the impression that whatever you see there, you can have.

I get shown a lot of images at wedding fairs and at consultations, with ‘can you make this?’ Well yes, I can technically make it, I mean I have the skills. But no, I won’t be able to reproduce exactly what you’re looking at in that image. And this is for several reasons.

cake pic round up
a few cakes from 2019

Copyright

Yep, it’s a thing even in the cake world. Most of us don’t bother to copyright our cake designs, working on the ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ theory. But some cake designers do, especially if that cake has been created for a cake decorating class. Or if it has been designed for a client who insists on exclusivity, I did once have to sign an NDA before creating a cake.

A few years ago a cake took Pinterest by storm, it was everywhere! And, inevitably, cake makers were being asked for it by clients. One cake maker did her due diligence and went to the original creator and asked if she could recreate it for her client. She was told, in no uncertain terms, that NO she could not, and that action would be taken if she tried. Turns out the cake design in question was for a class the original designer was charging for, and so she refused to allow anyone to copy it until well after the classes were over. Fair enough when you think of the time and energy that goes into designing these creations, and then turning them into a class. Now, of course, it would be hard for that cake designer to track down everyone who had copied her design. The internet is worldwide after all. And a lot of people wouldn’t have even asked her permission in the first place, because they may not know who to ask. Once a cake (or anything else) is ‘out there’ on the web, it is no longer exclusive. However we put a lot of time and effort into designs, and so we hope that this will be respected.

One reason I can no longer design your wedding cake in full and as an on paper sketch before the booking is made, is because of having designs stolen. Sadly, a few times, I have spent time and a lot of effort sketching out a couples cake, only to then be ghosted by them. A few months later, there’s my cake design on Instagram, posted by the same couple!! They had just taken my hard work and given it to someone who had offered to do it cheaper. It’s a shame when this happens, and thankfully it is rare. And I know none of you lovely people reading this would even dream of doing such a thing. But it does make us cautious, once bitten, twice shy.

Now, of course, these are the extreme cases. And mostly we just shrug and get on with our day, because there are lots of us out there. Inevitably we are going to come up with a similar design to another caker, especially if it’s something that is ‘on trend.’ I have had a few ideas that I think are new, only to find similar already out there.

Lakeland catalogue left. My cake from a year before on right. Hmmmm….

Translation

By this I mean translating a flat, one angled photo, into an actual, 3D cake. Not always as easy as it seems. Especially as you can’t always tell from a photo exactly what techniques and materials have been used. This is always an issue when the cake has been posted by a designer in another country. Every country has different food laws and that can affect what can and can’t be used on and in your cakes. Often when looking for recipes I will see one and then realise that I can’t make it, as certain ingredients aren’t available in the UK.

It can also be tricky when there is a stencil, or a cake lace pattern used. Tracking the right stencil or lace mat down can be difficult. Again they are often only available overseas, or may have been a custom design created just for that cake. I have hand cut a stencil a few times to match up a design from the wedding stationary for example.

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

Techniques

Every cake maker will have a certain skill set that they are stronger with, and that is generally reflected in the cakes you will see us producing. You’ll notice that I don’t do the sculpted novelty cakes for example. Not because I can’t, but because they aren’t really my thing. I love seeing them done, but I’m not really interested in doing them. In the same way that a specialist in those sculpted cakes probably won’t make you a delicate cascade of sugar flowers. We all have our strengths and preferences. Personally I will spend days happily making sugar flowers, and often do.

We also all do the same things differently. Going back to cake classes. If you look at the photos instructors post at the end of a class, with all their students showing their cakes. You’ll see that every one of those cakes will be different, even though they are the same design, made at the same time, with the same teacher and using the same materials.

So what do you do? How do you get that dream cake from your phone into reality?

Well you might get lucky and find the original cake maker who made it. It’s a long shot though. Or your cake maker might know them and be able to liaise with them, also a bit of a long shot. Sadly tags and watermarks are often removed from wedding cake photos, making it almost impossible to know who made it. I have one wedding cake with flamingos on that gets pinned a lot. I know that by the time it’s been pinned and shared a few times, no one will know it was one of mine.

flamingo wedding cake
THE flamingo cake that’s all over Pinterest

When I get shown a wedding cake and get asked if I can make it, I always explain that, although I can’t copy/paste someone else’s work, I can design something just as beautiful. So I will ask what it is about that cake that is drawing you to it? Then I ask to see what other ideas you have been saving for other elements of your wedding. And this is actually way better anyway. I’m sure you’d much rather have a cake that has been designed for you, and with you, than one that’s identical to someone else’s wedding cake? We all know that feeling of horror when we turn up to a party to see someone else in the same outfit! You really don’t want someone saying ‘Oh I’ve seen this cake online a few times.’

Top Tips

So here are the top tips to make sure you get that perfect wedding cake.

1/ Reference photos are great, they are very useful. But don’t be offended if your cake maker isn’t willing or able to simply copy that photo.

2/ Take a good look at that dream cake photo and make a note of what is really drawing you to it? The chances are it’s not necessarily the whole, complete thing. So is it the colours, the shapes, the textures?

3/ Isolate those key elements and discuss those with your cake maker.

4/ Don’t be offended if your cake maker won’t give you a sketch before you’ve booked with them. It’s nothing personal! However how do you know that they will be able to create your vision? Have a good look through their website, Pinterest, Instagram etc, look at their past work to make sure you like their style.

5/ Arrange to meet with your cake maker and have a good chat with them. Develop a relationship with them. When you find the right cake maker, you’ll know. And then you will know that you can trust them to produce your perfect wedding cake for you.

To enquire about your wedding cake and how I can help you design it, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Sugar Flower Classes!!

Sugar flowers, I absolutely love them! You may have noticed this. It’s not just how they look, but I find making them really therapeutic. It’s one of those things that get you in the zone, and needs you to focus. Which makes sugar flowers a great hobby for anyone wanting something to take their minds off daily life. And so I have started offering sugar flower classes!

Sugar roses
Sugar roses

As I was starting to think about setting up these classes, I started thinking about who might like to do them.
Of course sugar flowers are always popular with anyone who already loves cake decorating, and wants to lean a new skill. Or anyone wanting to get into cake decorating. But why limit classes just to other cake decorating enthusiasts?
So I approached The Wedding Gallery to see if they might like to offer sugar flower classes to their brides. The idea being that they can make a selection of small, filler flowers which can then be incorporated into their own wedding cake. How amazing would that be? Being able to tell everyone that you made some of the flowers? I’d say that would be something to be proud of. I’m delighted to say that The Wedding Gallery said yes, and I will be holding classes there soon, watch this space!

posy of sugar spring flowers
Posy of spring flowers

Or how about getting your friends together and throwing a sugar flower making party to make all the filler flowers for your cake? Or as your hen party? An evening class with bubbly instead of tea or coffee, and something more to show for the night than just a hangover! Again how good would it be to be able to not only show off your wedding cake, but to show off that you made some of the flowers?

white wedding cake with sugar lavender
Sugar Lavender and Sage

Then there is the corporate, teambuilding events. Now I don’t know about you, but I can think of nothing worse than spending the weekend building a raft in the rain. But a weekend making something beautiful, that you can take home and keep, as well as learning something you might actually want to do again? Now you’re talking! And the best part? I can come to you! I can bring my box of tricks to the venue of your choice, or offices, and you’re good to go! Think about it. Learning to make sugar flowers you need to learn to listen, to follow detailed instructions, develop hand eye coordination and creativity. It’s something people can help each other out with if they are getting stuck. And it’s not something just for ladies, oh no! In fact some of the best sugar flower makers in the world, cake world Gods, and personal heroes, are men. So that’s not an argument. I mean, if you’re going to take the gender divide line, then us girls shouldn’t be made to build a raft in the rain!

Sugar flowers on a black wedding cake
Wedding cakes don’t have to be white!

Sugar flowers will keep for years too. I often liken them to gremlins, don’t get them wet and keep them out of bright light 😊 Seriously though these are the two biggest enemies of sugar, moisture and heat. And the light will also fade the colours. So keep your sugar flowers away from the windows and heaters, and maybe under a glass dome or in a cabinet. Then you can keep your creations for years to come, or keep the sugar flowers from your own wedding cake as a beautiful keepsake.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do? Go on! Give it a go! Get in touch and have a chat about classes already scheduled or to book one to one, hen do, party or corporate days. Remember, I can come to you.
Classes already scheduled are:
February 26th at The Park, Morgan Porth.
March 29th at the Clovelly studio.
April 19th at the Clovelly studio.
The Wedding Gallery, London. Date TBC.

To get in touch about classes or you wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes- How to Choose Your Wedding Cake.

Wedding fair season has started again!

Which is great, I love doing them. They are a really good way to get to meet all you lovely couples face to face, and for you to see that there’s a real person behind the cakes! And I get the chance to talk to you all about your worries and stresses, and help disperse some of them.

I hear a lot of people say that they are getting overwhelmed with the amount there is to do with planning a wedding. Recently I’ve spoken to a few brides at wedding shows who have been a tad frazzled.

So today I want to take one of those stresses away.

And give you one less thing to feel frazzled about. After all planning your wedding should be a good thing, not a source of stress. Although I know it can be stressful if it’s all new territory and you’re trying to do it in between running your life and job. I can’t, as yet, take away all the wedding stress (watch this space though), but I can help with the wedding cake. After all, that’s what I do, all day every day, one way or another. So you could say I kind of know what I’m talking about. I’ve even been known to dream about wedding cakes!

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

The biggest two things I find couples struggle with when it comes to the cake is style and size. I’m not going to throw too much at you in one go, so today I’ll talk to you about choosing the style of your wedding cake.

But let’s cover the basics and bust a few myths.

TIME SCALE

Possibly one of the most asked questions I get at shows, is how much notice do I need? The answer is always the same, as much as possible. If you read my blog regularly (yay! Nice to see you back) then you will have heard me say this before. But it still seems to be a myth that the cake can be left to last, and that we don’t need much notice. Well it’s true that a cake is a perishable item and so won’t physically be made until a few days before the wedding. However there’s so much more to it than just baking the cakes. I have to plan the delivery, order materials and supplies, colour fondants and modelling pastes the exact right shades, make all the delicate sugar flowers and other details, the list goes on. And so getting your date booked in with your cake maker as early as possible is vital. And no, you won’t need to have made all the design decisions, or even be 100% sure on size to secure your date. Get the booking fee paid and you can relax and know that’s one thing done.

DESIGN

Ahh the fun part!! Yet this seems to also be one of the areas couples are getting stressed about. But no more! Even clients who think they have no idea at all on the style and look they want for their wedding cake, will actually have something lurking there. So have a look at all your wedding related pintrest boards, I bet you there’s a theme, a unifying colour perhaps. Maybe you’re pinning a lot of very natural, relaxed style wedding ideas. Or very traditional and formal themes. Share these boards and ideas with your cake maker so that we can see what you’re thinking. And don’t forget we can also make the cake super personal to you and your partner. I once hand painted one couples pet Guinee Pigs onto one tier of the cake, and added a Disney theme to another tier, they also had a tent in there too!

Maybe a monogram of your initials? Or have a cascade of sugar flowers that matches the wedding flowers. There are endless ways to really make the wedding cake not only wow your guests, but feel personal too.

wedding cake with monogram
A monogram is a subtle way to add a personal touch.

COLOUR

Wedding cakes no longer have to be white or ivory. In fact I actively encourage my couples to inject some colour. You’ll have seen me talk about this in the last post about trends. Colour at weddings, in all aspects, has become the norm, and long may that continue. And don’t think you can’t have a coloured cake if you are opting for semi naked or buttercream, this can be tinted too. Or you can make the colour statement with the flowers, either sugar or real.

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

FLAVOUR

This can be another area that causes some stress. You have all these guests to please, so what flavours do you choose? Answer? You stop trying to please all of your guests, chances are you won’t manage that anyway. So go with what YOU like. I usually recommend having one tier in a ‘crowd pleasing’ flavour that most people will eat, vanilla or lemon say, but then have the rest in whatever you would like. One couple last year had red velvet for one tier, and hummingbird cake for the other, neither of which you could call conventional, and the cake was decorated with black fondant, not conventional at all. But that was what they wanted. One flavour was the brides favourite and one was the grooms, and they are they only two people who matter at a wedding. It suited not only them, but their wedding perfectly.

*Of course you may have to consider guests with allergies or dietary requirements.

gluten and dairy free wedding cake
The beauty was 100% gluten and dairy free.

STAGING

Oh how many times have I turned up with the wedding cake, only to find a boringly blank table with a white cloth, and nothing else. Now, of course, the cake is the star of it’s own show. But it is good to have a few supporting acts. Again this is not something you need to stress about. Talk to your stylist, and ask them to get in touch with your cake maker. We can discuss the colours that are in the cake any perhaps find a matching, or contrasting, tablecloth. And I often work with the florist when fresh flowers are going on the cake.

If you do want to keep it simple though, then think about a statement cake stand. Your cake maker or venue may have some they will hire, or have a look online. If you are going to get your own stand then do discuss the best size and shape option with your cake maker. And don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything with it, just leave it there for us to put the cake on when we deliver. Then you will also have a lovely keepsake of your day that can be used for other family events.

antique silver cake stand
A beautiful antique silver cake stand.

The same with a cake topper.

I’ve noticed that these have started to become less popular. But they can be a great way to add a personal touch. Go online and you’ll see dozens of shapes and styles. Once again this can be overwhelming, and once again we can help. Talk to your cake maker about the size of the top tier, and how much space there will be for a topper, then you know everything will fit together.  Your cake maker may be able to source the cake topper for you or you should be able to have it delivered direct to them if ordering your own. Some cake makers will make sugar figures, which can be done from photos of you (if they don’t then they probably know someone who does) Or why not have something a bit different? I did a tractor once, as the cake topper, with a sheep sitting in it. Another wedding had toy giraffes.

Hello! Full page spread
The giraffes! And the full page spread in Hello!

TOP TIPS

1/ Use your cake makers knowledge and experience. We have done this hundreds of times over many years. So pick our brains and let us design the cake for you.

2/ Don’t try to please everyone. This goes for the wedding as a whole actually.

3/ Have fun with the process. Take some time to sit and create pretty mood boards and even old school scrapbooks. These will be really useful for us to use when designing your cake.

4/ Trust us. Tell us everything you are thinking in terms of style, colour, shape etc. And let us design you something wonderful. We will talk to your florist and stylist to make sure everything comes together.

5/ Don’t stress! You’re in safe hands.

You can get in touch with me about your wedding cake HERE

Happy New Year!! Luxury Wedding Cakes- 2019 review.

It’s the end of another year!! Where has that gone?

2019 is almost over and so I thought I’d do a recap and a roundup of the year at STHQ. It’s been quite a year of changes for me. Here is my 2019 review

2019 for Sweet Temptations looked something like this:

42 Weddings

1 Celebrity wedding and feature in Hello!

1 Celebrity birthday cake

1 Business relocation

1 London base secured

Lots of meeting with lovely couples and other wedding industry professionals

Being courted by a luxury wedding show

Being invited to exclusive wedding industry events

And a bronze at Cake International in collaboration with two other local cakers, proving there really is collaboration over competition.

Not bad for a one woman show! It’s only when I look back like this that I realise how far things have moved on in a year.

One side of our piece
Part of our Cake International entry

Moving on.

The moving was quite literal! And not planned. But I think the best decisions are often not planned.

As you know I am now based out of the stunningly beautiful Clovelly on the North Devon/Cornwall border. Before you gasp at this, I’m up the top! There was no way I was going to be trying to take cakes up and down that hill and cobbles…… been there….. done that….. in the back of the open backed Landover….in reverse. That’s another story for another time though.

It happened by accident, if these things are ever really accidents. One of my best friends lives in Clovelly, also up top. We had been to the cinema to see Marry Poppins Returns (as two grown women, with no children in tow) I was dropping her home and happened to look across the car park to the row of shops that are there. One was obviously empty, so I asked her about it. The next day she took it upon herself to email John (the estate owner) and CC me into it, telling him that I was interested. I am so very glad that she did!! Now I had never really thought about having a business premises outside of the ‘cake nook’ at the back of the house, but it was clear I was outgrowing that. Had Em not been so proactive I may still be annoying the family with cake stuff all over the house, and moaning that I have no space. It has turned into one of the best things to have happened this year. And you can now come and see me there to talk about your wedding cake. The views are just breath-taking, and you can go and look around the village afterwards.

Decisions Decisions. 

Another snap decision was joining The Wedding Gallery in London. I knew about it, and had been following them on Instagram. I knew it was the most amazing place, and also that it was quite exclusive. A girl can dream. However I was at a NAWP meeting (national association of wedding professionals) and got chatting to a wedding planner there. She said I really needed to go and see them at The Wedding Gallery, especially as it was literally just around the corner. So I did. I turned up, introduced myself, told them a fellow NAWP member recommended I visit. They were so lovely and welcoming. Hannah showed me around and said that if I wanted to become a member, they would be delighted to have me. And so I did just that! And it’s another decision I am very glad I made.

images of the wedding gallery
The Wedding Gallery

I would say around 75% of my couples are London based, even thought they are getting married here in the South West. And many are unable to get down to see me in person. I’ve done countless weddings where I haven’t met the couple at all, and that’s a shame. So being able to have a London base that I can use to meet with couples has proved invaluable. I’ve already met several couples there this year, and hope to meet many more.

More Decisions!

When you are a sole trader you have to make a lot of decisions about how to structure your time. And one thing I did this year was to cut down on the number of wedding fairs I decided to do. I enjoy wedding fairs, but there are so many of them, and only one of me. One opportunity I did say yes to though, was to exhibit at South West Wed Meet Up. I always try to go to these industry networking and training events, and the March one is the biggest one of the year. This year it was at Deer Park near Honiton over two days, with lots of workshops and guest speakers. There’s also the chance to exhibit to your fellow industry professionals, and they asked me.

Again I said yes, and again it was a good decision. Also attending the event was the lovely Anisha from BrideLux, who curate some of the worlds most luxurious wedding shows. My cakes clearly impressed her, as she asked me if I would like to be part of future BrideLux shows. Sadly I’ve not managed to do that yet, but it’s on my list. And, in the meantime, she invites me to their stunningly beautiful industry events. They pride themselves on only working with the best, so being on their radar, and included in their world, is an honour.

Mayfair rooms The Connaught
The Mayfair Room at The Connaught

Celebrity Love.

Now you may have noticed on the intro list that I mentioned a couple of celebrity cakes? Well one I can talk about, and one not. Well I probably could, but I won’t.

Back in the new year I got a phone call about a wedding cake. Nothing unusual. We chatted cake, date, venue etc as usual. It was the bride I was talking to, she gave me her name and then said that the wedding was probably going to be featured in Hello! Magazine. This took me back for a second as I hadn’t recognised the name, but then I’m not good with names in general. It turns out the wedding was of top model Jade Parfitt, and was attended by other super models and society figures. And it was indeed featured in Hello! A five page spread with a full page just of the cake cutting photo!

Hello! Full page spread
The giraffes! And the full page spread in Hello!

The other celebrity cake? Well it was a birthday cake, and all I’m going to say is Hollywood A list, and leave it at that.

What a Year!

In between all of this I seem to have done 42 wedding cakes! I didn’t realise it had been this many, although I knew it was a busy year. My feet and knees will attest to that! I’ve been so very lucky to be able to work with some truly lovely couples this year. It is always my pleasure to be able to be a part of such a special day, and to help create beautiful memories. Every wedding, and therefore every wedding cake, is unique, and that’s part of what makes my job so special.

cake pic round up
A few cakes from 2019

All in all it’s been quite a year! Behind the scenes there’s also been a lot going on, and I’ve relied on my work to keep me going. My husband and the man I’ve been with since I was 17, has been battling prostate cancer, then went and got facial shingles, which gave our son chickenpox! So, although the above reads a bit like a dream, it’s not all been good. Life never is. I’d hate you to think this is a smug post about how wonderful things are, because there’s been parts of this year I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I have also been very lucky.

If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s to celebrate the wins. I hope you have many things in 2019 to celebrate, and that there’s even more of those moments in 2020.

If you’re interested in having a Sweet Temptations cake for your wedding, click HERE

Three go to Cake International.

Two weeks ago I was in Birmingham at the NEC with Jackie Curtis from Jax’s Cakes N Bakes for the biggest cake show in the world, Cake International. This involved sitting in a van at 6am waiting to be allowed into the car park behind Hall 17 to drop off out competition piece in the collaboration class. This cake making lark really is glamorous……

Three of us came together to create our entry, myself, Jax and Sarah from The Cornish Cakery, you’re allowed up to twenty people!! So only having three was going to make it a challenge. Especially when you know that we had the space of two trestle tables pushed together to fill! That’s a lot of sugar. And as we all run our own cake businesses, it all had to be fitted in around orders and school holidays. We had to keep telling ourselves that this is fun…. Yep, we were enjoying ourselves…

So why did we put ourselves through this? A question I found myself asking while sitting in that van at 6am in the rain. But there was a good reason behind our madness. And that reason was to create more awareness of mental health, something all three of us suffer from. And it’s something that sadly still has a stigma surrounding it. Which is crazy (see what I did there?) because mental illness is so common. I can guarantee that you know someone who suffers from some form of mental health issue. And so we thought it would be a good chance to turn those thoughts and feeling into a visual display that might get people talking.

One side of our piece

Of course it was also a competition piece, so we had to make sure we produced the best work we could. Not easy when you’re having the busiest wedding season so far. And that six months between deciding to do it, and getting it onto that formidable black tablecloth just flew by! Where we happy with it? Yes, although it wasn’t exactly how we first imagined, but not in a bad way. I think it’s great when designs and concepts evolve artistically. And one exciting thing about working in a creative group is that you bounce ideas off one another.

Eventually, after lots of hours and a few changes of direction, we got it finished literally on the morning we were leaving for Birmingham from my studio in Clovelly. I have the space and bifold doors, so it was the perfect place to work on such a big project (it’s still there, we can’t decide what to do with it!) On the Thursday we argued ‘Nelly’, as she’d been named, into the van we had to hire in order to get it there. It took three of us (we borrowed Karren from the gift shop next door) to get her into the van, but there was only the two of us going….. hmmmmm….. this was going to be interesting. What were we going to do on Friday morning trying to get her back out of the van and into the hall? We decided to order room service while we thought about it.

Friday morning the alarm went of at 5.30am. Now I’m the first to admit that I am NOT a morning person, at all, ever. There have only been a very selective number of times I’ve been up at that time of the morning, if you’ve ever lined the red carpet for a film premier then you’ll know the drill. So I was a tad grumpy, poor Jax. Luckily we had stopped on the way and I’d got some of that chilled, ready made, coffee. Plus Jax was driving, so that helped. But we still had the issue of how we were going to get Nelly onto her table. Of course the collaboration tables were as far away from the Hall doors as they could be! Not helpful when our class has the largest and heaviest pieces!! Anyway, the car park guy took pity on us and allowed us to get quite close to the doors. And after a bit of swearing we got her to the tables just inside the door used to make repairs etc. Phew! But now we had to get her all the way across Hall 17 to the display table…..

The other side of our piece

However we were saved by the cake angel that is Cali Hopper. Now Cali is cake word royalty, she’s one of the most talented sugar artists I’ve ever come across. Anyway, she was at a neighbouring table and we were chatting (I’ve known her for years). Her husband Martin was with her and she offered him to us to help carry Nelly! Saved! It just proves that there’s so much love in the cake world. The # collaboration over competition has never been more relevant. And the name of our group was ‘Kowethegeth’ which is the Cornish for friendship. Very fitting.

Cutting the rest of the story short, as a lot of it involves food, coffee and sleep! The next morning we went to see if we had ‘won’ anything. After all it was a competition. Although that’s not why we entered, it was still something we wanted. And TADA!! We got a bronze medal! Not bad considering we were all creating our elements in our separate work places and bringing them together.

Our Bronze certificate
Our Bronze!

Will we do it again? Well if you’d asked us on that Friday then I’d have said HELL NO!!! But now? Let’s just say there are already Pintrest boards filling up.

Why have a wedding cake?

Why have a wedding cake?
This is something that you might have asked yourself. And, sadly, it is one reason the cake seems to be last on some peoples list when it comes to planning their wedding.
But think about all the weddings you have ever been to. I’m betting they all had a cake, and I’m betting you took photos of the happy couple cutting the cake. Because that’s one of the highlights of the day. And the cutting of the cake has been a tradition going way back into history.

traditional cake cutting

It was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert that gave us the wedding cake as we know it today. But having a cake or sweet treats of some type has always been a part of a wedding, especially as sugar was a precious commodity, and giving something sweet to your guests was a sign of status.
Of course sugar can now be bought by everyone. So the cake has become less of a ‘look how much sugar I can afford’ and more about showing your personality.
The wedding cake still holds a lot of tradition though. Cake is still a treat, and an indulgence. And sharing the wedding cake with you guests is a symbol of how important those people are to you. The cake cutting is also the first thing you do as a couple after the marriage. Your first act as a married couple is to cut and share the cake with your loved ones. Even if you don’t think you like cake, your guests probably will.

everyone loves cake!

I have had a few couples who have admitted that they were thinking of not having a cake, but that they were very glad they did. One bride said ‘I wasn’t going to bother with a cake, they seem such a waste of money’ (maybe not the best thing to say when talking to a professional cake maker) However, after the wedding I got an email from her saying how amazing the cake was, and how glad she was that she had changed her mind.
Try to imagine a wedding without a wedding cake.

the cake cutting is a special moment

In my last post I talked about designing the cake to reflect your personality, and to help tie the whole wedding together. And this is one of the jobs of the wedding cake. It can be a focal point and a talking point, don’t hide it in a dark corner! It is said that the cake is one of the most photographed elements of a wedding, which is as it should be (I would say that wouldn’t I?)
But making a statement is one of the reasons for having a cake. The days of the ‘cookie cutter’ or ‘copy/paste’ wedding are on the way out. And I have to say I think this is a good thing. You may hear a lot about ‘your day your way’ and while this is a bit of a naff phrase, it’s also words to bear in mind when planning your wedding. It IS your day, chances are you’re paying for it yourselves, and so you should have it YOUR way. And the wedding cake can be a great way to do that.

a truly personal wedding cake

So why should you have a wedding cake?
1/ It’s cake!! And everyone loves cake.
2/ Cutting the cake is an age-old tradition at weddings. And it’s one I hope stays for many ages to come.
3/ The cake is one of the most photographed elements of a wedding. Especially the cake cutting.
4/ It’s symbolic. Cutting the cake and sharing it with your loved ones as your first act as a married couple, is a perfect way to start married life.
5/ It’s a fantastic way to express yourselves. Bring drama, colour and a WOW to the wedding via the cake.

Luxury wedding cakes: Be bold, be you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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