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

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 the best cake stand.

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

Cake stands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing a cake stand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cake tables

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

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

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

Top tips

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

To find out more, you can get in touch HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes- 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

Delivering your luxury wedding cake

Cake deliveries, especially wedding cake deliveries, are the part of the job that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most experienced cake makers. So, today, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes again. This time into the world of deliveries……….
I’ll be honest, if I could pay someone to do all my deliveries for me, then I would! But, at the same time, I’m not sure I’d trust anyone else to do it >.< Although my husband is brilliant, and gets way less stressed than me!

Our biggest enemy is the pothole. I joke about doing ‘the pothole dance’ and that one of these days I will get pulled over for weaving all over the road. But I often find that, when looking in my rear view mirror, the person behind had cottoned on, and is following me. You do get to know the ‘cake friendly’ and ‘oh bugger’ routes to venues, sadly the sat nav hasn’t had this memo, and still sends me down some ‘oh hell no!’ roads. I often go a longer route to a wedding venue in order to be on cake friendly roads (or to pass a Starbucks). This is one reason why I always ask what time the cake needs to be at the venue, so that I can allow enough time to get your cake there safely. And also allow for traffic. Usually I will ask what’s the earliest and the latest the cake needs to be there.

I know what you’re thinking, that I surely just pop the cake into the car and away? Ah no, it’s nowhere near that simple.

Firstly the car boot has to be lined with anti-slip matting. This stuff is a godsend!! And sometimes the back seats have to be dropped down. This was the case last Saturday because I had two wedding cakes to deliver, almost two hours apart. Which is another reason I need to know when the cake is to be delivered, and why those timings can’t be changed, more on that later.

Secondly each cake tire has to be packed up individually. I never deliver a cake already stacked. I used to, and I know some wedding cake makers do. But goodness me it makes an already stressful process even worse!! Potholes again, roundabouts, breaking…… you can imagine. And so I deliver my wedding cakes in their separate tires and stack them when I arrive. This takes time. All the sugar work is also packed up and assembled on site.

This cake was a particularly memorable delivery. It was going into a tipi, not uncommon. But this tipi was set up right by the sea at Lynmouth, in the high winds we had a couple of weeks ago. The gusts of wind were so strong that they daren’t open the tipi ‘doors’and they had to keep them strapped to the picnic tables! This meant having to pass each boxed tier under the tipi to someone already inside, then climb under myself. It wasn’t dignified to watch 😂 But we managed it, and everything was set up safely.

Then there’s the kit I have to take. This is my bag of tricks to help me put your wedding cake together (including a spirit level, yes really). So, as you can see, it’s not just popping the cake into the car.

Now I touched before about delivery timings. These are very important, I even mention this in my Ts&Cs. As a general rule I aim to deliver the cake around an hour to an hour and a half before your wedding starts. This allows me the time I need to get everything set up for you, and also means I’m in and done before people start to arrive, so I’m not in the way. Also I often have more than one wedding cake to deliver in one day. I’ll ask you early on what time the wedding is, or if there is a time window for setting up the cake. Sometimes the cake will be going into the same room that the ceremony has been in, and the venue will need to do a change around. In these cases I usually contact the venue directly and arrange the cake delivery with them.

When I arrive at your wedding venue I will usually find the person in charge. There are a few venues I deliver to regularly, so then I know I can just get on with things. Then I will find the same person again when I’ve finished and ask then to check the set up cake. I also take photos. Mostly these photos are for my portfolio. But they can also be helpful if the cake gets damaged by someone after I’ve left. This has happened, and the hotel was trying to claim that I must have left the cake in that state! Luckily the couple had got to know me over the course of planning their cake, and knew I would never have left them a damaged cake. They contacted me and I was able to provide the photos I took to prove that the cake was in perfect condition when I left. Needless to say they made a complaint to the hotel! Who had also damaged my cake stand!!

Anyway, back to delivering your precious wedding cake. Believe me, it’s also precious to me! Many hours of work (and some swearing) have gone into your perfect wedding cake. So making sure the delivery goes smoothly is vital.

Most of the time deliveries are made in Molly, my black Mokka. Which means I am at the mercy of traffic and roadworks, especially in the summer. The South West is a VERY popular holiday destination, and the roads can get busy. So planning is everything. The summer can also get hot! Even in the UK! Last summer was brutal, but we have a cunning plan for this. Ice. Ice blocks and even bags of ice cubes turn the boot of the car into a fridge.

As you can see there is a lot that goes into delivering your wedding cake. Here are a few tips to make sure the process runs smoothly.
1/ Times. As soon as possible let your cake maker know what time the cake needs to be delivered. This allows us to plan our deliveries.
2/ Postcodes. We often know the venues already, but giving us the postcode, and any special instructions (such as which entrance to use etc) will help.
3/ Contact names and numbers. We will have your contact details, but you have better things to be doing on your wedding day! So the name and number of the person in charge at the venue, or your wedding planner, means we don’t need to disturb you should we need to get in touch.

Staging your Wedding Cake.

Today we are going to talk about staging your wedding cake. Too often I turn up to the venue with the cake, to find the cake table tucked int a dark corner, which is a shame. After all you’ve paid good money for your wedding cake, and we have worked hard making it for you, so you want to show it off.
So where should your cake be set up?
Firstly not in a window! Think glasshouses, and sun through windows. It can get very hot, and cakes are made of lots of things that want to melt given half the chance. Moving the cake to a window for photos is fine, but don’t leave it there all day, especially in the height of summer. And in winter avoid radiators or heaters. I set a cake up in a barn once and found a portable heater had been placed right under where the cake was going. Needless to say I had that moved quick smart!
Which brings me to marquees. They make my heart sink, I’m not going to lie. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again. I have had cakes literally melt in a marquee, and it’s very frustrating. Marquess get very hot and stuffy, especially the ones with the plastic windows. Again it’s best not to set the cake up by these windows. In fact it’s best, in a marquee, to set the cake up near to the ‘doors’ so there’s some air flow. Last summer I had a couple order a semi-naked cake with a white chocolate drip, and when I asked they said it was going into the marquee. I came out in a cold sweat! It was the start of last years heatwave, and I knew there was no way the cake was going to survive the day. So, I explained to the bride and she arranged for the marquee company to provide a large fan and a mobile Aircon unit to set up by the cake table, which they also placed by the opening to allow the breeze (such as there was.) Because of this all was fine. So it’s worth that small, extra investment to make sure your wedding cake survives the day.
Another thing to think about when staging the cake is the photos. The dark corner isn’t going to look great in the cake cutting pics. Plus if the table is pushed against a wall are you going to be able to get proper access to it to be able to cut it and everyone be able to see? Allowing some space all around the cake table will mean your photographer can move you around into just the right position to get the best photos. And your guests will get the best view of you cutting the cake. After all that is a big part of the day!
The wedding cake should be a centre piece and a showstopper. It should be one of the first things your guests see when they walk in. And it’s usually the most photographed thing after the dress. Consider having the cake table next to the top table, then everyone can see it.

Now this next tip might seem really obvious, but it’s been an issue a couple of times. Make sure the cake table is level. I turned up to one venue and the cake table was literally wobbling! There was no way I could risk setting the cake up on it. So I had to find someone to go and fetch me a replacement. Another time I had to pack kitchen paper under one side of the cake board in order to level the cake, as the table was on a slope. Although it wasn’t much, by the time the four-tier cake was set up on it, it became really obvious. I always use a spirit level on my cakes (yes really) so I knew it wasn’t the cake. I put the spirit level on the table and realised the problem. Now I do that first, before I set the cake up, just in case. This problem has also happened with log slice cake stands where they are DIY ones. If you’re going to cut your own log slice please level it up.
Talking of the table, think about dressing it. Having a nice table cloth is great, but there’s lots more you can do to dress your wedding cake table. Of course the cake should still be the star of the show, but why not have other things on the table as well? Recently I set a wedding cake up and on the table were a selection of family wedding photos, which was such a lovely touch. Some brides leave space beside the cake to set their bouquet down and display it, this also looks pretty for the photos.

Now to cake stands. The first thing I advise is always to ask your venue if they have cake stands you can use, many do. But do you actually need one? With the trend towards double height tiers and tall cakes, you may find you don’t really need a stand as well. But if you do then there are a few tips. Make sure it’s big enough. Again this might seem obvious, but I have been presented with cake stands that my clients have bought and they have been too small. The stand needs to be at least the same diameter as the cake board, to allow proper weight distribution and stability. With this in mind avoid the cheap, flimsy stands that may not take the weight. Check the stand foot has a fairly wide base too, this will also avoid instability. As will avoiding very tall stands. They look great, but can mean one knock to the table and disaster!! Avoid stands with lips. The cake stand should be flat. If you are at all unsure then ask your cake maker if they have stands they can hire to you, although there will be a charge and you’ll have to return it.
So to round up, here are your top tips for setting up and staging your cake.
1/ No direct sun or heat source. Cakes are made out of lots of things that want to melt.
2/ Make sure the table is level. And the log slice if you’re using one of those.
3/ If having a marquee then consider hiring fans or air conditioning.
4/ Think about the cake cutting photos and having enough space to get them right.
5/ Before ordering a cake stand ask your cake maker for the dimensions of the cake board so your stand is big enough. Your venue might have stands or your cake maker might hire them.