Luxury Wedding Cakes- Finding the Right Wedding Cake Maker

Finding the right wedding cake maker for you doesn’t have to be stressful

Well I was going to begin this post by asking if you were all enjoying the beautiful weather! Sadly, it’s now freezing cold and raining, normal British summer has resumed. But what better weather to be indoors planning your wedding? And today I’m not going to talk about choosing your ideal wedding cake, but choosing your ideal wedding cake maker.

Your wedding is a time where you will be getting a whole range of bespoke services, and they all need to work together to bring your vision to reality. And, as you know, whenever you have anything custom made, you need to form a relationship with the creator. Most of the services you need for a wedding you can’t get by just popping to the shops.

This means you will be in regular contact with your suppliers right up to, and maybe including, the big day. So you need to feel 100% comfortable with them, and trust them to deliver your vision.

Now, at the moment, it’s still not really possible (or safe in my opinion) to be meeting up for face to face consultations. And that’s often not possible anyway. I would say around 75% of my clients are holding their weddings or events in the South West, but don’t live here. We are very much a hot spot for destination weddings.

So how do you go about finding the right wedding cake maker? Especially when we can’t do wedding fairs or meet with each other? And how do you even start looking?

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

Firstly decide what kind of wedding you want.

By this I mean are you wanting an intimate, micro wedding, or a big affair with the whole shooting match? Are you thinking pastels and lace and romance, or are you thinking bright and bold? Boho/rustic or high end glam? The list goes on.

Confused?

Don’t be. Even if you don’t think you know what you want, chances are you actually do. Just take a look at your Pinterest boards, I bet there’s a lot they all have in common. The colours and styles you are being drawn to and saving will form the basis for your wedding style or theme. And, let’s be honest, most of us have known the kind of wedding we want for years. I can still remember saying I wanted a gold wedding dress when I was around 14. When I was 26 and getting married, guess what? Yep, my dress was a beautiful, matt gold slugged silk with a red bodice (there’s a wedding pic HERE if you want to see it.)

Whatever your vision, there will be the perfect team of suppliers out there to create it for you. You just have to find them.

cake pic round up
There’s a cake for every style of wedding

 

For many the starting point for any search is good old google (other search engines are available) But what are you searching for?

My advice would be to be a niche as you can with your search terms. Just typing ‘Wedding Cakes’ into google with make your head explode with the number of results you’ll get. So try to narrow it down. Start with the geographical area in which you’re getting married, ‘Wedding Cake Makers South West.’ You’ll still get tens if not hundreds of thousands of hits. ‘Wedding Cake Makers Cornwall’ will bring you a little closer.

And don’t just look at page one of search results, we aren’t all able to be on page one all the time. Some of the smaller, hidden gems, will be on pages 3 or 4 or even further.

You can then narrow things down even more but adding other keywords into your search and so on, I’m sure you already know all this. But there are a lot of search terms that are unique to the wedding industry, especially with dresses and accessories. If you can find out the name of the shape of dress or colour of shoe you want, that’s a big help. I never knew there were so many names for so many dress shapes and colours until I joined the wedding industry.

Bright and bold wedding
Just because I love this photo

Back to cakes though.

You may want a white wedding cake with pink sugar flowers for example. So ‘Sugar flower wedding cakes Cornwall’ might be a good starting point. Or you may want a black wedding cake, or a semi naked cake. Whatever your choice, use that with your geographical area, and you’ll get a good range of results.

Another popular way to find suppliers is the online directories.

Although simply finding the right directory to search in can be a full-time job in itself! There are so many of them now. But again, there are ways to save time and narrow things down. Only use ones that cover the area in which you’re getting married for example. Sounds obvious? But I’ve had so many people contact me over the years who haven’t looked to see where I’m based. And this is important if you are getting married away from home. Your dress you may want to get locally to where you live because of fittings etc, but the cake will be something it is best to get from a cake maker closer to where you are getting married. Although many of us will deliver UK wide.

Personally there are a few directories I would recommend trying first, And I’ll list these at the bottom.

NAWP logo
One of the best directories

A tip for directories.

A top tip for using a directory to contact a supplier is to ignore the enquiry form they sometimes have on them. These send us a generic, often slightly irrelevant, automated message like ‘Hi, we are interested in your services, please send us your brochure.’

It gives us very little info and is usually rather impersonal. If you get emails like this, I bet they are the ones you assign the least amount of time to? And they will sometimes go straight to spam and get missed anyway. It also makes it seem like you aren’t really that interested in us, but are just throwing a net out to see who replies.

Instead click the link to the suppliers own website and use their own contact form. This way you know your message won’t get lost, and will give your supplier the information they need. Even better drop us an email. Emailing us direct will also allow you to send us your mood board links etc, which will save time later down the line.

Should you contact more than one wedding cake maker at a time?

This goes for any supplier really. And of course you can if you wish. No one would expect you not to have a good look at all your options. Especially not for your wedding. Personally I always reply as soon as I can to all my enquiries, and I never expect or assume I’ll be the chosen cake maker. When you have made you decision, just drop the others a quick ‘thanks but no thanks’ email so that they can open that date back up.

Another option is the recommended supplier list from your wedding venue.

Not all venues have this, but it’s always worth asking if they do. Some will have a list on their website, others will simply have people they like to work with who they will tell you about if you ask. In fact this goes for all suppliers. I have a mental list of other suppliers I’ve worked with over the years that I would recommend, and do when I’m asked. And so will your florist, DJ, caterer etc. We work with all these people and get to know them, and their work, really well.

Word of mouth in any walk of life is probably the best way to find the best people. So if your venue or another supplier is recommending a cake maker to you, then it’s worth checking them out. There will be a page coming to the website soon of all the other wedding suppliers I love to work with.

Pentillie Castle logo
I’m a recommended supplier to a number of venues

Then there is your wedding planner.

If you are engaging a wedding planner then make full use of their little black book of contacts, they all have them! Your wedding planner will know which suppliers you’ll get on with, and will fit your style. They will often work directly with us too. So we also trust them to bring us clients that are a good fit for what we do. If a trusted wedding planner puts a couple my way, I know they will be my kind of people, and vice versa. If you wanted a novelty wedding cake, for example, they will only put you in touch with cake makers they know do those (I don’t by the way, but I know a few who do.)

A wedding planner is also a good idea if you are having a destination wedding, as I’ve mentioned before. Hiring a wedding planner local to where you are getting married will save you a lot of time and stress, as they will know all the best local suppliers, and also the ones to avoid!

 

Finding ‘the one’

Finding the perfect wedding cake maker for you is the same as finding all the other suppliers. The bonus with us is that you will get to try cake 😊

A lot of it is going to come down to that gut feeling you get when you speak to us. And if you have followed the above advice you should have narrowed your choices down to those cake makers who fit your style and budget. Only you know what’s most important to you when it comes to your wedding. So trust that voice that tells you that yes, you like this one, they get you and make you feel relaxed. If you don’t get that feeling, however stunning their work might be, you won’t be as relaxed.

Something I try very hard to do is not only reply swiftly, as I know your wedding is a big deal, and you want answers asap. But I also make sure I build a relationship with my clients, and to put them at ease so they know that they can trust me completely.

the cake cutting is a special moment
I love this reaction to one of my cakes

Top tips for finding your perfect wedding cake maker

1/ If you’re using google then niche down your search terms as much as possible. This will give you less results to have to wade through.

2/ Directories are a good resource. Find ones that cover the area in which you are getting married.

3/ If you do use a directory avoid the autofill/auto message forms. These often go to our spam. They don’t give us much info, and tend to be very impersonal. Better to click through to the suppliers website and contact them directly.

4/ If you are contacting more than one cake maker then remember to let the others know when you’ve made your decision, so that they can open that date back up.

5/ Check with your venue to see if they can recommend a cake maker (or any other supplier) As direct recommendations like this are always better.

6/ If you are using a wedding planner then tap into their local knowledge of the best suppliers.

7/ Trust your instincts. If you find a cake maker you click with, then book them, quick!

Directories I would recommend trying

NAWP- National Association of Wedding Professionals

Cornwall Wedding Guide

EEEK!

Pretty & Punk

Art of Weddings

If you’d like to get in touch with me to discuss your wedding cake, then click HERE

Wedding Cakes Devon- Bicton Botanical Gardens Photo Shoot

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

a view over Bicton Park gardens
The view from The Terrace

The venue.

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

 

The Terrace
The Terrace (Image from Visit Devon)

The shoot.

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

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

The set up.

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

the cake and sweet treats
Cake table with a view!

The Cake

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

The cake
The cake

The sweet treats

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

mini vanilla sponges
Mini vanilla sponges with raspberry buttercream

Recreating the look

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

Meringue nests with fresh fruit
Meringue nests with fresh fruit

The Suppliers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luxury Wedding Cakes- 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

How to get the most out of Wedding Fairs.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

wedding fair display stand
Another view of the same stand

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

So here’s your wedding fair checklist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Top tips on wedding venues (to show off your wedding cake!)

Location, location. Location!
It’s something we are used to hearing about when it comes to buying a house. But it’s just as important when thinking about where you will hold your wedding.
Before you start looking, you probably already have a good idea of the kind of venue you’re looking for and the vibe you’re after. But how do you start trying to find that dream space?

outside wedding space
Fir Hill, Newquey

These days the places that are licenced to get married are many and varied. And there’s also the option of getting married the day before in a registry office, then have a celebrant conduct whatever kind of ceremony you want, almost anywhere you want. I have a celebrant friend who says she will even conduct a ceremony up a tree if she was asked!! I’d love someone to hold her to that!
The venue of the wedding is the second thing I ask after the wedding date. This is because, from the wedding cake makers standpoint, knowing where the cake is going is important. This is mostly for logistics and allowing enough time for traffic etc. But it can also help with designing the cake. The venue can have a big influence on the overall style and theme of a wedding, and on the design of the cake. A very high end, lux, or bling wedding wouldn’t work in a barn venue for example. In the same way that a very rustic wedding wouldn’t work in a five-star hotel. The venue can also affect the size and scale of a cake. A venue with large rooms and high ceilings would take a larger scale or tall cake. And it won’t matter if you’re only having a small wedding, as you can have dummy tiers to give the height and ‘wow’ factor. In the same way you can have a small cake to suit a more low key venue and then have cutting cakes for the kitchen, so you have enough cake for all of your guests.

Large room with high ceilings
Royal Institute of British Architects, Fitzrovia.

But back to finding the perfect venue. There are all the obvious things, like the size, distance from home, cost. But also think about the less obvious things. Will any of your guests need disabled access? If so, does the venue have this? Most will, but very old buildings can be harder to adapt. Do any of your guests have food allergies? If so, can the venue cater for them? What about parking? I’ve delivered several cakes to venues with tiny car parks, or no car park at all! The venue might look like a dream, but it’s not if it’s going to be a nightmare for your guests. Can they reserve parking for your guests if it’s a place that’s also open to the public? And can they (please!!) cone off a spot close to the entrance for the cake delivery. A fully decorated wedding cake can be very heavy, and we need to be able to get as close to the place it’s going to as possible. Delivery and set up won’t usually take longer than and hour, so we won’t be in the way.

A small wedding in an intimate venue
Elopement weddings still need a cake! Lower Barns near St Austell,

Also think about timings. Some hotels and venues in built up areas may have noise restrictions after a certain time of night. So this might mean you can’t have that midnight firework display. There are also the licencing laws to keep in mind for serving alcohol. And hotels that will have other, non-wedding, guests may also need the noise keeping down after a certain time of night.
Then there is the location of the venue. How easy is it to find? Trust me, this can cause big issues!! SatNavs are not very reliable in rural areas, and we have often found ourselves on roads that really shouldn’t be classed as roads! Not ideal with a wedding cake on board >.< I have also delivered to venues where the signs have been almost non-existent. Or where the country lanes have been a tad stressful to negotiate. Will your guests be able to easily find it? If this could be an issue, then get the full and satnav friendly address from the venue, and also consider adding a map in with the invitations. Also ask the venue for the best roads to take, as they will know best. I have been caught out a few time by the SatNav, only to be told a much better way by the venue. If you’ve chosen a destination venue, then also think about accommodation for your guests. Especially if it’s an area they may not know. Some venues will have rooms, and may offer discounted rates for your guests. Or they might have an arrangement with local hotels if it’s not a venue with its own accommodation. Also think about providing details of local taxi firms for your guests if your venue needs to be driven to. Pop a list of recommended hotels and taxi firms in with the invite. People will be more likely to come if you make it easier for them. Will there be children at the wedding? If so, is there a room or area that can be set aside as a crèche? There are lots of wonderful businesses around who provide childcare for little ones at weddings. When you do a site visit of the venue, ask if there is a space they can provide for this. Any guests with children will be very thankful and, again, more likely to come. Dogs. This is one for all the dog lovers 😊 If you want to have your fur baby at the wedding, or even as part of the wedding, then check the venues you’re looking at allow dogs. Sounds obvious, but there’s so much to think about when you’re looking around a wedding venue that it’s very easy to forget some things. Lastly it’s a good idea to have more than one visit. On the first viewing there will be so much to look at, and you’ll be given lots of information. And take a list with you of all the things you need to know from the venue, they should be happy to answer any questions. So here is your wedding venue check list: 1/ Does it fit the style/theme/vibe you want for your wedding? 2/ Will it be big enough? How many people is it licenced for? 3/ Will it allow you to have everything you want? 4/ What restrictions will there be with things you can and can’t do? Are there curfews on noise etc. 5/ Parking. Make sure there will be enough parking. Or is there near by public parking? 6/ Special requests. Will the venue be able to accommodate disabled guests or food allergies? 7/ Make sure it’s easy to find. If not, think about providing a map with the invites. 8/ Make it easy for your guests. Include info on taxis and accommodation. 9/ If there are going to be children then ask the venue if they have a creche, or will allow you to bring in a mobile creche. 10/ Make a list and ask lots of questions.

Thinking about your wedding cake flavours (yum!)

So far we have talked a lot about finding the right cake maker, and how your wedding cake will look. But this is only half the story.
We still need think about how your cake will taste!
It seems to be a common theme that when I meet with my couples to discuss their wedding cake, they are divided. The bride is very keen on how the cake looks, the groom is more interested in how the cake tastes.
And that’s what we are going to talk about today. Cake flavours.
Gone are the days when the wedding cake was a fruit cake, all of it. With marzipan and thick royal icing that needed a chisel (there’s good reason why the cake knives used to be so big and heavy!) Although I do still, occasionally, do fruit cake for weddings, it’s usually a sponge cake. I don’t really know when the change from fruit to sponge started, but I’m very glad it did. I’ve nothing against fruit cake, but maybe not four plus tiers of it!
It’s true that fruit cake will last for a long time. And a very boozy cake will last even longer. We all know how long a Christmas cake will keep. But I can’t remember a couple ever wanting to keep the top tier of their wedding cake for the christening cake, as was traditional. Saying that, some couples do freeze their top tier to bring out for their anniversary. There will be more about storing your leftover wedding cake in the coming posts.
Back to the cake flavours. I’m often told by couples that choosing the cake flavours is one of their favourite parts of the wedding planning process. Who doesn’t like to eat cake?!
But how do you narrow it down?
Firstly, there’s no reason why you can’t have each tier of your cake a different flavour. So if you are having a four tier cake, then you can have four flavours. And yes, you can mix fruit cake with sponge cake if you want to.
A lot of couples worry about making sure they choose flavours that will please their wedding guests. While there is nothing wrong with that, and it’s worth bearing in mind, my advice is to have the flavour, or flavours, you want. It’s your wedding, the chances are that you’re paying for it. So have what pleases you, in taste as well as appearance. I had one couple who chose the whole four tier cake, to feed over 100, all in coconut and lime cake with pineapple buttercream. It was their favourite flavour from my list, and that’s what they wanted. When I asked if they were sure the bride said ‘It’s our wedding, they will get the cake we choose!’
However that might be a bit extreme.
My advice would be to have a look on your chosen cake makers website and have a chat with them. I have a list of the most popular flavours on my website, and will happily go off list if you have something very specific in mind. Find out what seems to be the most popular flavours for wedding cakes are that your cake maker offers. And then think about what your favourite cake flavours are.
Also arrange a cake tasting and consultation with your cake maker. I offer two options. A full consultation with a tasting box of three flavours, in person. Or a tasting box by post. The postal boxes are a great option if you are getting married a long way from home. Based in the South West I get this a lot. And I hated the idea of my couples not being able to try the cakes before their wedding.
Now you may think that a cake is a cake is a cake. But there are literally thousands of recipes out there, and each cake maker will have their preferred recipes. And so one persons chocolate cake could taste very different to another. Therefore it’s important to make sure you’re happy with the taste of the cakes before the big day, to ensure no disappointments.
Often I hear that couples don’t get to have any cake on the day, as there is so much else going on. If you have the venue save the top tier, then you know you won’t miss out. Why not have the smallest, top tier, in your favourite flavour. Then ask the venue to save that for you. I offer a 4in ‘take to bed’ cake for this very reason. It’s a separate, mini wedding cake, that is not offered to guests. Instead it’s boxed and left for the newlyweds to enjoy.
Another consideration is dietary requirements of any guests. A good cake maker will be able to deal with this so you don’t have to worry about it. I regularly do gluten free, dairy free or both. And they don’t have to be separate from the rest of the cake either. These days your really can’t tell the difference between ‘free from’ and regular cakes. Vegan cakes can be a little more specialised, so make sure you ask your cake maker early on about any vegan options.
So here is your checklist for choosing your wedding cake flavours:
What are YOUR favourite flavours?
You can have each tier a different flavour, including fruit cake. So you don’t have to be restricted to one flavour.
Think about what your guests would like, but don’t sacrifice what you want.
Check if there are any dietary requirements among your guests. And make sure to discuss this with your cake maker.
Don’t be afraid to ask to go off list. A good cake maker will be able to accommodate any special requests.
Do a cake tasting. Sometimes the flavour you think you want might change when you try it. And you might end up liking something you didn’t think you would.
Most importantly? Enjoy it!