Can you have a Destination Wedding without leaving the UK?

Thinking of having a destination wedding?

Destination weddings have become hugely popular over recent years. To begin with they were small and intimate elopements, as the cost and logistics of getting your whole family out to your chosen location was prohibitive. But, recently, that has changed. And now destination weddings can be as full on as a wedding at home.

And then THE VIRUS hit.

Suddenly weddings abroad became next to impossible, in fact all weddings are pretty much on hold for now. But that won’t last forever. Weddings will start happening again. Although, I suspect, travelling out of the county will not be something people will be rushing to do for some time, especially if you have elderly relatives you want at your wedding.

Which brings me to the subject of todays blog.

 Can you have a destination wedding without leaving the UK?

The simple answer is, yes! Think about what we mean by a ‘destination wedding.’ It is essentially a wedding that you have to travel to. We have come to think of that as getting on a plane and flying off to somewhere exotic, but it can actually be anywhere.

As you know I live and work on the North Cornwall/Devon border (I live in Cornwall and my studio is in Devon) And one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that this part of the South West is most definitely a wedding hot spot, and a popular place for a  destination wedding. I have had couples come from all over the world to get married down here, as well as from all over the UK.

In fact, I would say, that around 75% of my couples are not living down here. They are using Devon and Cornwall as a destination, in the same way you might think of Italy, Greece or even further.

And there are many benefits to choosing the far South West.

At the moment the big advantage is no plane travel, which also brings the cost of getting to your wedding down for your guests too (let’s be honest, this is going to be relevant in the current economic climate). And well also have a big benefit to the planet.

Family and friends can car share to get to the wedding. This will also bring down the carbon footprint. And they may be able to come by train, which is even better.

Any guests with small children won’t have the stress of taking them on a long flight and can plan their journey around the kids.

You can bring your dogs! And so can everyone else. A lot of wedding venues are dog friendly, and there are loads of dog friendly accommodations down here too. How amazing would that be? And don’t worry, there are dog walking and sitting services available.

a dog at a wedding Claire, George and little Pickle!

Our beaches are amazing! And are quite different depending on which coast you are on, so you can choose the vibe that best suits you. Here on the north coast we are well known for amazing surfing beaches. And the cliffs are rugged and terribly romantic. It’s no coincidence Poldark was filmed down and around here.

We have beautiful woodlands and estates. If you’re not looking for a seaside/beach wedding then you only need to go inland a little for some amazing, and very different, scenery. We have some beautiful country houses and estates down here that are gorgeous wedding venues.

History. Well we have that in spades! There’s one wedding venue in Cornwall with its own Iron Age fort! Then there are the forts from the Napoleonic Wars that are now wedding venues (yes really) And countless historic churches and chapels.

A great many Devon and Cornwall wedding venues offer outdoor weddings, many with sea views, or even a private beach. And a lot of them can be hired as a whole, for the whole weekend. So you and your guests can all stay together on site. No driving, everyone can have a drink, no parking worries.

No time changes. Okay this might not be a big thing. But it’s still a plus. Time changes aren’t so bad within Europe. But go any further and it can be significant, and jet lag isn’t fun. You and your guests really don’t want that groggy, slightly hungover feeling on the big day, save that for the day after!

The weather. Now I know what you’re thinking. This is the UK, it rains. That is true. But it rains a lot less down here than other parts of the UK. And getting married abroad is no guarantee of good weather. One of the most spectacular and long lasting thunder storms I’ve ever seen was while I was in Cannes. And we had a similar downpour in LA!

And is generally a little warmer down here too. The days are also a little longer. I always notice how much earlier it gets dark when I’m up in London compared to down here.

Not to mention the sunsets!

A Bude sunset
A Bude sunset

Imagine that as a backdrop to your wedding photos.

Now I know I haven’t mentioned the wedding cake once in this post. And I’m a wedding cake maker, so I really should.

I do, of course, deliver my luxury wedding cakes across the whole of Devon and Cornwall. And the wider South West. As do most locally based cake designers. But if you have a cake maker based near your home who you’d really like to use, then have a chat with them to see if it’s possible for them to deliver this far.

wedding cake on a chair

Finding the right suppliers so far from home is always something that is going to be on your mind with planning any destination wedding. This is where hiring a wedding planner local to your wedding venue is really helpful. And also ask your wedding venue for any recommendations of local suppliers they are happy working with.

Another big advantage of using Devon and Cornwall as your destination, is that you can easily get here to meet up with suppliers. A lot of my non local couples (mostly London) come down for the odd weekend here and there to have a mini break and meet with suppliers and their venue. Not something you can do as easily if your wedding is in Barbados etc.

So here are a few top tips for planning a UK destination wedding (or any wedding while in lockdown)

1/ The internet is your best friend. Almost all wedding venues and suppliers have websites. There are also many wedding directories dealing with specific areas that will list suppliers local to your chosen venue.

2/ Skype. Or any of the others. Most of us have it. And it’s a great way to have virtual tours of venues and online consultations with suppliers.

3/ Think about travel for family and friends. Make sure the venue you choose is easy to find (trust me they aren’t always)

4/ Think about hiring a wedding planner to help you source the best local suppliers. They will know who the good ones are.

5/ Planning a UK destination wedding is a great excuse for a lot of weekend breaks ?

To get in touch with me about your wedding cake in Devon or Cornwall (or anywhere else) click HERE

 A few wedding venues I can recommend for their beauty, location and lovely staff.

Pynes House near Exeter

Deer Park Country house and Estate near Honiton

Rockbeare Manor near Exeter

Lower Barns near St Austell

Tawstock Court near Barnstaple

Sandy Cove hotel North Devon

Launcells Barton near Bude

Pentillie Castle near Saltash

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

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

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

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

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

With this in mind, what advice can I offer?

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

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

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

Back to cakes.

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

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

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

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

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

Other things to think about

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

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

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

Anti-stress check list for your wedding cake:

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

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

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

Luxury Wedding Cakes – Why are there dowels in my wedding cake?

Welcome back! Today we are going to go inside your luxury wedding cake to explore what makes it stay standing, and keeps it structurally sound.

Dowels.

Something you may have noticed when cutting your luxury wedding cake (or any tired cake) is the presence of dowels.

Dowels are usually some form of plastic or wood, and are inserted into each tier of cake to support the one above. I prefer to use a recyclable plastic straw, that is hollow. This is because the solid ones can cause issues with displacing the cake, causing cracks on the outside.

white and gold luxury wedding cake with sugar roses
Every wedding cake needs to support itself

Why have dowels?

The main function of dowels is to provide stability and support. Even though sponge cakes aren’t really that heavy compared to fruit cakes, they are quite delicate. A sponge cake won’t take the weight of another cake for very long.

If you have ever watched Bake Off when they haven’t used dowels, you’ll have seen the collapsing results! And their tired cakes are only out for a short time. Many times my husband has laughed at me for shouting ‘DOWELS PEOPLE!!!!!’ at the tv.

I have occasionally been asked why the dowels have to be there, as they get in the way when the cake is being cut up. Well yes they might, but if you didn’t have them, then you wouldn’t have a three or four tier wedding cake for very long!

Do dowels cut down the amount of usable cake?

I do take this into account when working out how big your wedding cake will need to be for the numbers it’s got to serve. In reality you’ll only be losing about six or seven servings in a three-tier wedding cake because of the dowels. And as we recommend ordering the cake for 10% less than the full number of guests, then it won’t make any difference.

You will also notice that there will be a cake board of some kind between each tier of your wedding cake. Again I have been asked why they are needed when the tiers sit on top of one another.

luxury wedding cake sizing chart
This is the chat I use to work out the size of your wedding cake

But the board it there for two reasons.

Firstly if there wasn’t a board, then the dowels would just push up into the tier above and wouldn’t give enough support. By having the board, you are giving something solid to rest on the dowels. Secondly the cake will need to be handled, and having a board means it can be lifted and carried safely, without fear of damaging the cake.

Types of dowels

I mentioned above about the types of dowel I use. But there are different kinds, and each cake maker will have their preferences.

I prefer a thick, hollow plastic straw type. Sometimes called pollydowels. And a wider straw that the pollydowel sits inside. I see this as a ‘belt and braces’ method.

Now I am aware that plastic isn’t the most popular thing, and I try hard to limit the amount I use. The cellophane I use to wrap some cakes for transport is 100% compostable for example.

I am always on the lookout for a better option for dowels. But, for now, the only other option is solid wooden or solid plastic dowels. And these come with their own issues.

The main problem with a solid dowel is that it displaces the cake as you push it in. Where the hollow straw type doesn’t, the cake simply fills the void and creates extra stability. The other problem with the solid wooden ones is cutting them to the correct height. A dowel needs to be cut to a whisker above the top of the cake it is going into, and this is a lot harder to do with wooden ones. They have to be sawed or cut with heavy duty cutters, running the risk of sawdust and splinters. Not ideal I think you’d agree! And the solid plastic ones are not much better.

luxury wedding cake with glass separator
Even with a separator the cake will still need dowels

But what about the thick paper straws I hear you ask?

Sadly they are not an option as cake dowels at the moment. Although they may work for cake pop sticks.

This is because paper absorbs moisture. So paper straws will start to absorb the moisture in the cakes and the fillings. Eventually becoming soft and they then start losing their strength. This defeats the purpose of a dowel.

I very much hope there will be a paper alternative, eventually, that can be used without going soft. But, for now, I will carry on using the pollydowels. They can be pulled out of the cakes and recycled, which is something. And you can speak to your venue or caterer and ask them to do that for you. I am also always looking for a compostable/biodegradable plastic option. So of they do get thrown away they will at least do minimal harm.

If what the dowels in your wedding cake are made of is important to you, then do discuss it with your wedding cake maker. We will always be happy to go through all the available options with you.

To discuss dowels with me, or any other aspect of your luxury wedding cake, click HERE

To get your FREE guide to choosing your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes in Devon and Cornwall: Wedding cake toppers and decorations explained.

Something that has come up recently is the question of wedding cake toppers and decorations. And if they are edible or not?

This is an interesting question. And so I thought we would look at that today.

A lot of wedding cake toppers, and cake toppers in general, are wood/ceramic/glass/plastic/resin and so are clearly not edible. They are meant to be a keepsake. They will be made of a food safe material, but that’s to make sure they don’t contaminate your wedding cake.

wooden cake topper
A wooden cake topper that can then be kept

But what about wedding cake toppers and decorations we cake makers make out of sugar?

As I’m sure you know I’m very partial to sugar flowers and wafer (rice) paper. And yes, these materials are technically edible.
I remember being fascinated by rice paper as a child. And my great aunt gave me sheets of it to eat when we went to visit. I was eating paper!! What was this madness??!! Although it actually doesn’t really taste of anything much.

wafer paper flowers
And gum paste/flower paste?

Well yes, you could eat it, if you really had to. It is sweet and sugar based, but sets super hard. Which is what we need it to do when making flowers and models. However, this means you risk breaking a tooth if you did decide to take a bite!
This is assuming, of course, that there are no internal supports.
These are what will render your sugar flowers or sugar cake toppers into non-edible decorations.

sugar flowers with a resin cake topper
Sugar flowers with a resin cake topper

Let me explain.

When you are making sugar flowers or any topper or decoration, there are a few things we must take into consideration.
1/ The style you are going for. This determines what will be used to make the decorations. If you wanted very real looking flowers, then flower paste is the best option. But if you wanted something more stylised, then we could do wafer paper flowers instead. And if you wanted to keep them forever, then a cold porcelain can be used to make flowers.
2/ The way they are to be arranged on your wedding cake. This will determine how we make the flowers or decorations. If you want them to cascade down the side of the cake, and not just sit on top, then we will need to factor in a supporting stem. And this is made with florist wire.
3/ Weight. Anything made with any form of sugar tends to get quite heavy. Dozens of sugar flowers or decorations will add a lot to the weight of the cake. However, wafer paper is much lighter. So if you know the cake is going to have to be moved then this might be a better option. And wafer paper is also a lot less fragile to transport too. Worth considering.

With cake toppers and models its very similar. On the outside they will be sugar. But they will almost always need some kind of internal support. Especially with standing figures of the happy couple for example.

flamingo cake topper
This flamingo couple are a good example

What types of internal supports do we use?

1/ For many sugar and wafer paper flowers we will use a polystyrene cone or ball on a florist wire. We can make the cone or ball out of more paste, but they take a long time to dry out, add unnecessary weight, and will still need the wire. We must add the wire in order to secure the flower to the cake.
This wire becomes the flower stem, and is inserted into the cake in the same way as a real flower would be.
*Note: No flower stems, real or wired, can be inserted directly into the cake. It’s not allowed. We use posy pics, food safe tape or food safe wax as a barrier.
2/ Cocktail sticks are often used in smaller models. Usually to secure a head or limbs to the body (goodness that sounds grim!) These are food safe and you can pull them out and then eat the model (which sounds even more grim, lol)
3/ Bamboo skewers. These are used as larger cocktail sticks, and for giving a ‘spine’ to larger models.
4/ Armature wires. This is where it gets fun for us doing the making! Anything on a larger scale will need a skeleton. And any models that are posed will need this too. The armature wire is first wrapped in aluminium foil tape to make it food safe. But you can’t really eat these models unless you were to strip all the sugar paste from the wire.
5/ Florist wire. Used mostly in sugar flowers. A florist wire is often inserted into individual petals and leaves before assembling the flowers. Because of the delicate nature of this, the wire is inserted directly into these petals and leaves, no food safe protection first. So any wired petal or leaf won’t be edible, even if you pull it from the wire.
6/ Full cake frames. These are used for the large, sculpted and novelty cakes you see. They are a skeleton but for the entire cake. When these are used they are always a food safe structure.

sculpted wedding cake
An example of using a framework to get the effect

So that’s the inside. But what about the outside?

On all cake toppers, decorations and sugar flowers you’ll see the various colours and maybe even some sparkle. There are several ways we do this.

1/ Edible paints. I use these a lot. Especially with the beautiful watercolour effect cakes I do. I make my own paint by mixing edible gel colours or dust colours with alcohol, usually vodka. Some of the metallic paints I buy ready-made, but the are still 100% edible.
2/ Airbrushing. Not actually something I do that often. But, as with the edible paints, airbrush paints are a mix of edible food colour and an alcohol carrier.
3/ Dry dusting. This is used a lot for sugar flowers to add the tones and realism. Personally I always tint the actual flower pastes myself with edible gel food colour, but the petal dusts always add the details. Again these are 100% edible.
4/ Lustre dusts. Similar to petal dusts. They are 100% edible and can be used over a whole cake to give that pearlized sheen.
5/ Cocoa butter paint. This is similar to the edible paints. Instead of using alcohol we use melted cocoa butter to mix with the petal dusts/dust colours/lustre dusts.
6/ Edible glitter. This is where it can get tricky. When you are buying glitters for cakes there will be two kinds. Edible and non-toxic. If we know the glitter will be going directly onto the cake, then it will always be edible.
7/ Non-toxic glitters/colours. These are only used on toppers and decorations that will have already been rendered non-edible by the use of wires etc. Your cake maker will tell you what elements of the decorations should be removed before serving the cake. However, if you were to consume any, it’s non-toxic, so won’t do you any harm.

edible metallic painted wedding cake
This one was painted with edible, metallics

Really the main point of the wedding cake topper and the decorations isn’t to eat anyway. They are there to look amazing and wow your guests. And they will keep surprisingly well if you follow a few rules. I always say treat sugar work like gremlins: don’t get them wet and keep out of bright light!

To enquire about your wedding cake click HERE 

Luxury wedding cakes: The cake ordering timeline explained

A recent enquiry from a couple getting married soon got me thinking.

They wanted to know if I had availability for their date as they hadn’t heard from their cake maker for several weeks They were getting worried they might be left without a cake.

This made me think about the timeline of the whole cake ordering process. And what to expect in terms of communication from your cake maker. Also what we need to know from you. After all we do this day in and day out, but it’s new to you.

posy of sugar spring flowers

In the early stages there are emails/messages being exchanged regularly (with one bride we exchanged 148 emails!).

I try hard to make sure I reply to all emails within a couple of hours (this isn’t always possible, so please don’t hold me to it.)  I’m aware you are wanting the answers to your questions asap. I’m also aware that you many not get the time to sit down and get to your wedding planning until after work.  This isn’t an issue. I’m not saying I work 24/7, but we all live and work in a 24/7 world now.

So if I am available at 9pm to reply to an email then I do. If not then I will reply first thing the next morning. The only time there will be a delay in responses is when there is a time zone difference involved, this often happens when my clients are based in other countries.

The Process.

You will send me an email or fill in the contact form on my website with your enquiry. When doing this it’s really helpful to give me the date and venue of the wedding, then I can check my availability before replying. If that date is already booked I may be able to give you the names of other cake makers I know and trust who may be able to help.

I pick up your email and reply. I will ask you your wedding date and venue, (if you’ve not already told me that.) I’ll also ask if you know, roughly, the numbers the cake will need to be for, and if you have any ideas on style. This will give me the information I need to start putting a quote together for you. Usually I will be back in touch with that quote within 24 hours, unless there are other things I need to check, or unusual requests I may need to research.

I’ll get a quote back to you and if you want to meet with me, then we will arrange that too. I’ll also answer your questions, so don’t be afraid to ask anything.

Once we have met, you’ve tasted your chosen flavours, and discussed design, I will leave you to decide if you want to go ahead and book with me. If, in the meantime, I get another couple asking about your date then I will be back in touch sooner. If you’ve already enquired about a date, then you get first refusal on it.

What’s next.

If you decide to book, then I’ll give you the details you need to pay your booking fee (you cake isn’t booked in until that has been paid.) I’ll also check all the details I have so far. I will ask the time of the wedding so that I know when I need to deliver and set up your wedding cake. I will ask if there is a designated contact at the venue that I need to know about, and their contact details

.

You pay the booking fee, I confirm I’ve got it and that you’re booked in, and give you the date you need to pay the balance by (no later than 14 days before the wedding). I’ll also refer you to my Ts&Cs as by paying the booking fee you are agreeing to them.

Easy as that.

And really that’s it for now. I will know everything I need to in order get your wedding cake booked in and order whatever I need to for it etc. From my side I will have no need to get in touch until about a month before the wedding.

At that point I will get back in touch and confirm everything with you. As long as nothing has changed with your order then I’ll get on with everything and leave you in peace to enjoy the countdown to your big day!

However that doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch with me. You can email me at any stage about anything that is concerning you, and I will always be here to answer your questions. Remember there is no such thing as a silly question.

Time to panic?

So when should you be worried that you’ve not heard anything from your cake maker for a while? Well this depends. Did they tell you that they would be in touch? I always tell my couples that I will be in touch around a month before the wedding to check in and confirm everything is still the same with their wedding cake.

And I always ask that if things do change to let me know asap, so if you change your mind about flavours, colours etc, it’s best to communicate that straight away.

If your cake maker has said they will be in touch but then hasn’t.

I would drop them another email. And mark it as urgent.

You may get an ‘out of office’ response. So they will be in touch, just a little later. Maybe they have gone on holiday before wedding season kicks in and they won’t see daylight for weeks. I often have to pop up to London for a night or two, and the travelling (train wifi isn’t all it could be!) and meetings with couples can mean I’m a bit slower with replies.  When this happens an autoresponder should ping back to you letting you know what’s going on, and telling you when you can expect to hear back.

But what if you have been trying and trying to get hold of your cake maker (or any supplier) and haven’t had anything, not even an autoresponder?

The first thing I would do is pop to their website and social media. Are they still active?

If yes, then it’s likely they will get back to you. Your email may have gone to their spam, or they may simply have missed it. So drop them a message on another platform and let them know that you’re waiting for a reply.

Still nothing? And no recent online activity? Then have a word with some of your other suppliers. The chances are they will know each other.

The wedding industry is a very friendly place, and we all get to know each other quite well. So I’m sure one of your other suppliers will have heard if there is anything to worry about.

Back to the email that I received that got me thinking about writing this post.

I heard back from that couple. Their original cake maker didn’t get back to them, so they are going with me. This did make me realise that, unless you know the process, it might be easy to panic and think something has gone wrong. In this case it had, but in most cases everything is fine.

Did they do the right thing by getting in touch with me before they heard back from their original cake maker? As they explained the situation, that they were just seeing if it would be possible to get something done at fairly short notice. Then yes, I think they did the right thing. It’s completely understandable that they were getting worried.

What I would say is that it is completely normal to book a supplier and then not hear anything for a while. We aren’t ignoring you. And have vanished or gone out of business. We have got all the information we need from you to be able to start work.

And as weddings are usually booked many months ahead, it’s quite normal for things to go quiet for a while. But if you are worried then drop us an email or go HERE. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you ?

Luxury wedding cakes : CoronaVirus, Covid-19 and your wedding.

Okay I wasn’t going to add to the already mountainous column inches about Covid-19. But I have been starting to get emails and messages from some of my couples with weddings coming up. So I thought I would let you all know where I stand at the moment.

It is Tuesday March 17th, and this is where I am at with things as they are right now.

So what advice am I giving to couples contacting me? Honestly I am not giving ‘advice’ as I am not a doctor or lawyer. Although I do have a lot of well informed connections who I am listening to and taking my lead from.

Firstly get in touch with your wedding insurer before you do anything!

Secondly get in touch with your wedding venue and ask what they are planning. And sound them out about future dates you could move your wedding to.

POSTPONE DON’T CANCEL!!

If you follow me on Instagram or FB then you will have seen me posting about postponing your wedding rather than cancelling it. And this is the biggest piece of advice I can give.

After all you still want to get married, right? That hasn’t changed. And you still want the wedding you have been planning all these months, that hasn’t changed either. So why cancel?

If you cancel completely then you have just got to start all over again. All those months of planning, searching for your perfect suppliers, your dream venue etc. You’ll have to do that all again from scratch when there’s no reason to. And you may lose out financially if you cancel.

By postponing you are keeping everything the same, just switching the date. All your suppliers are still with you, and none of your hard work will have been wasted. Plus you shouldn’t lose out too much financially either. Although do check each suppliers Ts&Cs for their postponement policies.

As a supplier I would much rather my couples postponed. A delay in income is better than loosing that income. Most wedding suppliers are small or even micro businesses. So if all our couples cancel, we go under. Then we won’t be there when you decide to re-book. everyone looses.

But by postponing your wedding you know that all your suppliers are still with you, you won’t have to stress about re-booking anyone, or tying to find new suppliers as good as the originals. Plus, if you have already paid them, then bonus! Your wedding is already paid in advance! And we keep our businesses going, it’s a win-win.

DON’T PANIC!!

Easier said than done I know. It’s your wedding and you’ve been planning this for months, if not years. But try not to panic. The wedding industry is an amazing place, and very supportive. Contact your venue and then your suppliers, discuss your fears and see what can be done to ease them.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes: How to get the most from planning a wedding online.

YOU’VE JUST GOT ENGAGED!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Yesterday was Valentines Day, statistically the most popular day to get engaged. It’s also a leap year, so, traditionally, the woman can propose to the man. I’m not quite sure this is in any way relevant these days, but it’s still romantic.
Of course you said yes (whoever proposed to who) otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog about wedding cakes. So first of all many congratulations! I would love you to tell me how it happened, was it terribly romantic? Or was there a funny story? When Mr ST proposed it was very far from romantic. It was in a car park, in a thunder storm. But it was certainly memorable, and we are still together 29 years later!

Our wedding in 2000!

Now back then there was no Instagram or Pinterest, there wasn’t even any internet! (I know!!!!!) And so planning a wedding was done very differently. Days off were spent physically going around bridal shops, florists, cake shops etc and patiently waiting for the next issue of bridal magazines to appear in the newsagents. But the basic process was the same, the order in which you booked things was the same then as it is now. We just did it differently.
In some ways I’m glad there wasn’t the endless online rabbit hole of websites and images. I’d probably still be planning my wedding now! But, use them right, and they are massive time savers.

NAWP are a great resource for online wedding planning
One of the best places to start online wedding planning

Online directories

These are huge, and there are literally hundreds of them. Some are good, and some are not. Now I’m not going to name and shame the bad ones, or praise the good ones, because that would just be my opinion. But I can help you get the most from using them.
Firstly look for ones that cover the area in which you are getting married. Some will be national and will allow you to select your chosen area, some will be smaller and only deal with local suppliers. If a directory doesn’t cover your area, or appeal to your style, then move straight on, there’s no point starting to look.
Next follow the links back to the suppliers website. This will give you a much better idea of what the supplier does. Often on directories we are only allowed a short word count and a limited number of photos, especially on the free ones. This is fine, it’s a directory after all. But it will only give you a snapshot of each supplier.
Avoid the template email options too. These are really annoying to receive and very limiting. Just this morning I got an enquiry via a directory listing. All it was was a template that they had ticked. So it read ‘Hi, we are interested in your goods/services. Please can you provide us with more information.’ This tells me that they are not really interested in me, but are simply ticking boxes and sending that same template, generated by the directory, to loads of different suppliers. It also gives me no information to base a reply on. Of course I replied, but I’m not confident I will hear back, and it wouldn’t be a priority email to reply to when I have lots to get through, simply because it’s so impersonal and not sent by the couple themselves. Instead click through to the suppliers website and contact them directly. And if you run a directory, please think about getting rid of these template emails and instead allow the couple to fill in a box with their direct enquiry.

white and red wedding cake
Just because I love this photo 🙂

Look before you leap

It can be very tempting to jump straight in and fire off a message to a supplier that you like the look of. But this can be counter productive. Again this is something I’ve had experience of. I will get a message from a couple asking about a wedding cake, and asking for a quote. They will often also ask about other things which tells me they haven’t actually been on my website. Or if they have, they haven’t spent much time there. I try to give as much information as I can on my website, and address as many potential questions as possible, there’s even a price guide and a serving guide. Now I am more than happy to answer all these questions, and give quotes. But it can be frustrating to then be ghosted. And they have also waisted their time getting in touch with suppliers who aren’t actually right for them.
So spend a few minutes on each suppliers website before you get in touch. Then you will save yourself lots of time later on. And your time is very precious!

Make lists

Yep. Old fashioned list making is as relevant when looking for things online as it is going to a physical shop. Maybe even more when online, as it’s easy to get sucked down that rabbit hole and end up looking at fluffy kittens (guilty)
As I said earlier, the basic process of planning a wedding hasn’t changed. So making a list of what needs to be booked when is still a good idea. And ticking things off a list is one of the most satisfying things there is.

Pace yourselves

Overwhelm is a big problem that I come across a lot. Often at wedding fairs and shows I hear couples getting stressed that there is so much to do. And the downside of the internet is that it doesn’t sleep. So you may well find yourself looking for a wedding venue at 3am.
If you start the planning well ahead, then there is no need for the all night Pinterest sessions, save that for Netflix.
On the flip side, doing these things online means you can email suppliers at 10pm in your PJ’s with a glass of wine. You may not get a reply at that time, but it’ll be there in their inbox next time they log in. This is especially useful when I have clients that are based in other countries. Time zones can make phone calls difficult, and face to face meeting impossible. But we both know we can email each other whenever we are able, and it will be there waiting.
Another thing I would recommend is to stop looking once you have made your choices. You know what will happen, you carry on and see something else you like. Then you start to doubt your decisions, then you get stressed. So once you have decided on the flowers or cake or dress, stop googling those things. Tick them off the list and move on.

Expectation over reality

Ahh the pressure to have everything as perfect as a well curated Instagram feed. But the reality is that for every perfect photo on an Insta post, there are a dozen other photos that are far from perfect.
It’s like styled shoots. Now I love doing shoots, they are great fun and a great way to get creative. But they are not supposed to be a real wedding. Think of the perfect Insta account or the stunning styled shoot as a runway show at fashion week. It’s there to be inspirational and aspirational, and to give you new and exciting ideas. When I do a cake for a shoot I’m not expecting anyone to actually order that cake. Rather I’m showcasing what I’m capable of.
And who wants everything to be perfect anyway? How boring would that be? One of my favourite photos from our wedding was of a wasp in an upturned champagne glass, totally random!

Top Tips

1/ Avoid overwhelm by breaking things down into more manageable chunks. And make lists that you can tick off and feel accomplished.
2/ Avoid the rabbit holes! Stay focused on what you’re actually looking for and avoid the temptation to click ‘more like this’ or ‘you might also like.’ Or you’ll be there till 3am wondering why you’re looking at a dog on a surfboard.
3/ Use all the lovely images you’ll see as inspiration, not as a blueprint you must follow.
4/ Do some research before contacting suppliers. This will actually save you time in the long run. Spend a few minutes on their website seeing if the answers you want are already there.
5/ Avoid the template email options on directories. Instead contact that supplier directly. Again this will save you time and you’ll be more likely to get a speedy reply.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes – How to get the most from your consultation

One of the fun parts of planning your wedding are the consultations.

These are the meetings you have with your chosen suppliers to talk through all your ideas. And, in my case, taste cake samples to choose your cake flavours, yummy!
Most wedding suppliers will offer some form of consultation. Either face to face, skype or phone calls. Meeting your suppliers at wedding fairs and shows is great, but you often don’t have very much time. And it can be busy and loud, with lots of other people also wanting to chat to them. So booking a one to one meeting is a good idea.

Clovelly studio
My Clovelly Studio

Now there may be a charge for one to one consultations. I had to bring in a charge after I was getting taken advantage of too many times, which was sad. The way I do it is that I charge £50 for a personal consultation at Clovelly, or The Wedding Gallery, with three flavours of cake to try, but that is offset against the cost of the cake if a booking is made. So, in fact, the consultation won’t cost you anymore if you’re booking. And if you have already booked then it’s already included.

So how do you get the most from your consultation?

images of the wedding gallery
The Wedding Gallery

Allow enough time.

I don’t put a time limit on my consultations, but they are usually up to an hour. Allow at least an hour so that you don’t feel you have to rush through things to get to another appointment. If you have to meet with several suppliers in the one day, then see if it’s possible for them to come to you at a café or even your wedding venue. I have done this a few times for out of area clients.

Take your mood boards etc with you.

These are really helpful to give us an idea of the overall feel and style of the wedding, not just the wedding cake. And if you have Pinterest boards then maybe invite your suppliers to join them, then we can see live updates as your ideas change. The chances are that you have already been chatting to us about the type of cake you have in mind, but seeing the inspiration pics makes sure we are on the same page. Same with colour swatches you might want us to match with, if you can bring those and let us keep them, that will ensure we get the colour match just right.

sea blue wedding cake
The colours on this cake matched the bunting behind it

Have a think about the things you want to ask.

This may sound obvious, but how many times have you been in any kind of meeting and only remembered to ask half the things you wanted to? I know I’m guilty of doing this! And we will have a checklist of the information we need to gather from you. Usually this is just confirming things we will already have discussed via email or over the phone, but it’d good to double check these things. So if there is anything you want to ask about, the jot that down. And remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question.

Make notes.

Again this might sound obvious, but often people don’t do it. I had a phone call once from a lady asking if I was the coconut and lime cake lady? She had seen me at a wedding fair and loved the coconut and lime cake, but hadn’t noted down which cake maker had made it. So a few weeks later when she was ready to start booking the cake, she couldn’t remember who I was, just the cake. Luckily I was the first cake maker from that fair that she called, or that might have got embarrassing!

What we will need to know from you.

The consultation is mostly about you, your needs and how we can help. But there will be a few things we need to know from you too. Most of these we will likely already have discussed, but we will confirm everything at the consultation. So I will check the time of the wedding, so that I know what time will be best for me to deliver. Is there a contact at the venue who I will need to find when I arrive? Or if you’re using a wedding planner or coordinator then it will be useful to have their details. If you are having fresh flowers on the cake, then who is your florist? Then I can liaise directly with them and save you a job. I’ll also confirm any dietary requirements, you may not have had confirmation of these when we first started talking. I’ll check the numbers the cake is for to make sure the cake ordered is still going to be the right size. And that you still want the same flavours and colour scheme.

Design.

The consultation is a great time to start designing your wedding cake. Although I can do sketches and email them through to you, it’s always good to sit down and design it together. So bring with you anything you’d like including in the design. I once had some lace from the brides dress and replicated that pattern. And a few times I have hand cut a stencil to match the design on the wedding stationary. I am often asked to colour match a swatch of the bridesmaids dress or a ribbon trim. These things always help make the cake really personal.

gluten and dairy free wedding cake
The stencil for this wedding cake was hand cut to match the stationary

Top tips for getting the most from your consultation:

1/ Allow at least an hour for a one to one consultation. You’re paying for it, so use all the time available to you.
2/ Make notes and ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question. So ask us whatever it is that is worrying you, or that you want to clarify.
3/ Bring notes. Bring with you a list of all the things you want to ask, and anything you want to discuss.
4/ Pinterest and mood boards. Bring with you anything you have that will help with the design process. Either a physical mood board or scrap book, or links to Pinterest or Instagram.
5/ Have fun! This is one of the best parts of the wedding planning process. So don’t stress. Relax and enjoy discussing your wedding cake and tasting the samples. We won’t put you under any pressure to make any decisions there and then.

And if you have a consultation booked with me, then I look forward to seeing you soon!

If you want 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

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

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