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

Change one thing, make a difference.

Today I’m not going to be talking about cakes as such, but your wedding as a whole. And especially things you can do at your wedding to make it more sustainable. Now I’m not talking about a full on eco wedding. Although they can certainly be done, and there are many wonderful suppliers who can help you with that.
I’ve wanted to blog about this since I attended the Cornwall Wed Meet Up at Pentillie Castle a couple of weeks ago (stunning wedding venue by the way, if you’re still looking). One of the speakers was from the Cornish homeless charity St Petrocs, which may not seem an obvious speaker for a wedding industry networking event. But the lovely Laura was really inspiring! And she mentioned lots of small things that can be done that can make a big difference. And it got me thinking.

lets end street homelessness in cornwall

One of the first things she talked about was what happens to things after the wedding. And it made me realise that this was something I’d never really thought about. Of course we are all aware of waste and reducing it, so most of us would make sure any plastics are recyclable etc. But Laura pointed out other things you could do.
So this is the topic today.
What happens to things that are leftover after the wedding? All those flowers for a start. The table centres, the pew ends, the floral arches etc. These flowers are still perfectly okay and have several days left of giving joy. Laura suggested these left over flowers could be given to a local nursing home, hospital or hospice. Okay they aren’t ‘useful’ but they will bring a smile and brighten up the lives of others for a brief time. What a lovely thing. Having a balloon arch or installation? Why not give them to a local nursery or primary school for the children to play with and enjoy for a few days? And did you know you can now get balloons that are made from compostable materials?
You know those flip flops that many couple provide for their guests for dancing, and when the fancy shoes get uncomfortable? Why not donate them after the wedding, to St Petrocs or another homeless charity, or to a local street pastor group. They would be very welcome. The same with blankets you might provide if the wedding is outside.
Having wedding favours? Then why not think about giving a small donation to a charity for each guest instead? The ‘favour’ could then be a card telling your guests what you’ve done. Or you could donate to somewhere like the Woodland Trust for each table to plant a tree. If you want your guests to have something physical to take home, then maybe a packet of wild flower seeds.
Gift lists can be tricky when the chances are you’ve already lived together and have a toaster. We really struggled to think of things for our wedding gift list, and that was almost twenty years ago! So, again, why not ask for donations to a few chosen charities?
As far as sustainability goes there are a few things you can do that won’t mean compromising your dream wedding.
For example, did you know that the fondant I use for my cakes give a donation to the charity ‘Mary’s Meals’ for every box sold? So just by ordering your wedding cake from me, you’re supporting a charity and helping to provide meals to children in under developed countries. And it’s also one of the best fondants out there, so you’re getting the best too.
Stationery can be made with hand made paper from recycled materials. And it can be impregnated with wild flower seeds too. Have a talk with you stationer about recycled paper.
With the catering you can talk to them about using local produce, there are lots of caterers who only use local produce from regional suppliers. Also talk to them about what will happen with the leftover food, after all, you’ve paid for it. So why not think about food banks or soup kitchens who might be able to use it. Of course I’m not talking about what people leave on their plates, but anything that hasn’t been touched or opened (obviously not alcohol) At the meeting Laura talked about one couple who had an untouched tier of their wedding cake that they gave to one of St Petrocs shelters.
I talked before about wedding favours. Why not give each guest a metal straw for them to keep and reuse forever? They come in cute cases and a range of finishes. Or a reusable water bottle, also useful on the day if it’s a hot day.
Are you guests staying in hotels for your wedding? The little bottles of toiletries that hotels provide are very useful for homeless charities. I now collect them whenever I’m in a hotel, and when I get a shoe box full, I’ll be passing them on to St Petrocs.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. When you start thinking about it, you’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll come up with.

Luxury Wedding Cake Maker takes time off!! (just kidding).

Today I’m going to go back behind the scenes again. There’s a saying that you should take time from working IN your business to work ON your business. And when you’re a sole trader this can be difficult, in fact it can be like juggling jelly!
But a couple of weeks ago I took two days away from STHQ to go to Wed Meet Up at the very beautiful Deer Park country house near Honiton. I regularly attend the Devon and Cornwall Wed Meet Ups that are evening networking events, but this was two full days. Last year I couldn’t get there because my bestie was over from America and had got us tickets to see Hamilton in London (the irony was not lost.) So I was determined to go this year. And I’m very glad I did.

Deer Park gardens.

The lovely Hazel Parsons from Out of the Ordinary Weddings asked me to exhibit as well, which was an honour considering the amount of talented cake makers there are here in the South West. I had never exhibited solely to fellow wedding industry professionals before, so it was a bit daunting.
I shouldn’t have worried though, it turned out I already knew many people there, which put me at ease. The wedding industry is a super supportive and friendly place.
So what happens at Wed Meet Up? Well according the Craig (videographer) ‘what happens at Wed Meet Up, stays at Wed Meet Up.’ And that might be true regarding the dinner and party after, many sore heads the next day (not mine.) In fact it’s an intense two days of networking and expert speakers. I can safely say I was as inspired as I was exhausted!
One highlight was getting meet people that you never get to talk to when you are working on actual weddings. We are always so busy doing our thing, and coming and going, that it’s just not practical to ‘network.’ Another highlight was being approached by the lovely Anisha from BrideLux. If you haven’t heard of BrideLux I highly recommend googling them and finding their Instagram, especially if you are London based. They are a high-end wedding showcase of hand selected suppliers, and Anisha asked me to be one of those suppliers! Sadly the dates are the 29th and 30th of March, and I have a wedding cake booked in. Unfortunately this is the down side of being a sole trader, you can’t be in two places at once, however much we might try. But at least I know that I’m doing it right, and that my work is getting noticed and liked by the industry as well as clients.
Building good industry relationships is so important. When you are planning your wedding the chances are you will ask around to find suppliers. You’ll book one supplier and ask them if they can recommend others, or you’ll check out the recommended list from your venue. So meeting up with each other and getting to really know each other means we can recommend each other to you with confidence. And I recommend other cake makers too, if there’s a reason I can’t do your cake I know several other cakers who I can pass you to.
These events are also an excellent learning opportunity. When you’re in business you never stop learning. And when your business is also creative that’s doubly true. I’ll always happily share with others how I make my flowers or do a particular technique, one of the joys of learning anything is being able to pass the knowledge on. At Wed Meet Up there were lots of industry experts happy to pass on their knowledge to us, in order to help the whole industry grow.

learning and sharing.

I’m very lucky to be in such a beautifully supportive industry. And I wanted to share a little glimpse into that world 😊