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!!

Inside the Luxury Wedding Industry

If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll have noticed that I’ve been in London a couple of times recently. You might think this a bit strange for a wedding cake maker based on the north Devon/Cornwall border. But let me explain.
You may also have noticed the Bude – Clovelly – Marylebone on my website and bio etc. This is because, a few months ago, I joined the amazingly beautiful and inspiring The Wedding Gallery at 1 Marylebone Rd, just by Great Portland St tube station. Why have I done this? Well even though I’m based in the stunning South West, I find that most of my clients are from London or the South East. Devon and Cornwall are perfect for a destination wedding, without having to leave the UK. And lots of people have a connection to the area. Although I will, of course, deliver to London too.

The Wedding Gallery
A peak at The Wedding Gallery

Having that London base is a perfect way to connect with my London clients, without them having to come down to me. And I adore London, so any excuse to get up there is welcome!
If you don’t know The Wedding Gallery then I highly recommend you check it out. It’s wedding Narnia!! An exclusive, appointment only, wedding showcase of everything you need, all in one place. So being accepted as a member was a big deal. Oh and the toilets are an experience all on their own!
And as a member I was invited to their exclusive networking evening. Well don’t mind if I do! And it was well worth the trip. Getting to meet others in the wedding industry is always good, especially as we often work alone. On the wedding day we are all so busy doing our own thing to really get to chat and connect. Plus these events give us the chance to get to know other suppliers who we can then recommend to you. I only ever recommend suppliers I know.

Networking with the best
Networking evenings

The second trip was also an industry event. This time I was invited by BrideLux to attend their Summer White Party at The Café Royal. Another exclusive event for the best of the UK wedding industry, and another chance to connect with gorgeous suppliers. The endless cocktails were an added bonus 😊
I had forgotten how beautiful the Café Royal is, as it’s been years since I’ve been there. Wow what a place it would be to get married! Especially with the roof terrace. It is full of the classic elegance you would expect, but with lots of modern touches. It certainly was the perfect location for the wedding industry to get together.

The Cafe Royal Terrace
Balloons and bubbly at The Cafe Royal

BrideLux run high end, luxury wedding shows in some of London’s top venues. And they are well worth attending if you can. Even if you are not planning such a lux wedding, they will still provide lots of inspiration. Think luxury with a twist. The twist being suppliers who offer more than the ‘cookie cutter’ wedding. But, instead, offer you a luxury and custom product. As you know, I’m all for making your wedding truly yours. They approached me back in March to exhibit with them. Sadly I couldn’t that time, but I will be in the future. Watch this space.
If you are looking for the best wedding suppliers around, then it is well worth checking out The Wedding Gallery, BrideLux and The National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP). All of who vet their members, and are very selective with who they work with. So you know that you are going to be in very safe hands.

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.

Luxury wedding cakes: Be bold, be you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luxury Wedding Cakes: FAQs

Welcome back 😊
Today I thought I would answer a few FAQs that seem to come up. I’m always aware that I may work in the wedding industry, and deal with wedding cakes daily, but for you it’s likely going to be a one off, and something you’ve not done before.
So here are my most frequently asked questions.

When should I order the wedding cake? I get asked this at every wedding fair I do. And my answer is always the same; as soon as possible! Sadly there is still a belief out there that the cake can be left to last, and that three to four months is a long enough lead time, but it’s really not!! It’s May 2019 and I’ve already got bookings for September and October 2020. Yet I’m still being asked about wedding cakes for August this year, which has been booked up for months. I hate having to say no, but when I’m booked then I’m booked. So when you have found the person you want to make your wedding cake, then get that booking fee paid to secure your date, even if you haven’t decided 100% on exactly what you want.

How big should the cake be? The simple answer to this is; as big as you want. If you want a huge wedding cake, then have one! But most couples want a cake to feed the number of guests they are having. And it’s perfectly reasonable for you not to know how much cake you’ll need. This is something we can work out for you, if you tell us how many guests the cake will be for, and how you want to serve it. I have a sizing chart that I work from, which gives me portion sizes, and how many portions each size cake will provide. So tell us numbers, and if you’re serving as buffet/with coffee or as desert, we will then work out what size cake will be best. Size will affect cost to a certain extent, so it is something we need to know in order to quote you accurately.

Why do wedding cakes cost so much?! Oh if I had a pound every time the cost of a cake is questioned. I understand that if you’ve never ordered a bespoke cake before, then you won’t know how much work and time goes into them. And this is why they cost what they do. I used to get offended whenever people made rude comments about my prices. But now I just accept that it will happen from time to time. Think about it though. If you are going to get a new bookshelf you can go and get a flat pack, factory made one from a DIY store, or you can get one designed and made for you. You wouldn’t go to the bespoke craftsman, who is going to make your bookshelf to fit exactly, and be designed just for you, and expect them to do it for the cost of the flat pack would you? You would know that getting something crafted just for you, to all your spec, and delivered and set up for you, will cost more than going to Ikea. So why is it any different with cakes? Basically it’s not. There are hours, and even days of work involved in a wedding cake. Sometimes weeks if there is a lot of sugar flowers etc. And it’s skilled work. There is a myth that we add a premium on as soon as we know it’s a wedding. NOT TRUE! And no true professional will. We work out our prices based on the time, skill, materials involved in producing your cake, and then the delivery time needed. So what you are paying for is not just flour, eggs, sugar and butter. You are paying for skill and hours of time.

Can I change my mind about what I want? Within reason, yes. There will reach a point where it won’t be possible to change your order, because ingredients and materials will need to be purchased, and some of the sugar work will have started. Your cake maker will tell you their policy on this. For me it’s around a month before the wedding or event. Remember that changing the design or size of the cake will mean the cost can also change, down as well as up depending on what your changes are.

How long will the cakes last? Probably longer than you think. Of course fruit cake can literally last for years. But sponge cakes will last up to a week as long as they are kept wrapped up. One of the reasons large cakes are covered in icing is to preserve the cake. Originally this icing would have been royal icing, which sets so rock hard you really wouldn’t want to eat it, instead it was there to protect and preserve the cake inside. These days it’s usually sugar paste/fondant that is used to cover cakes. This is much more appealing to eat than royal, but still not there primarily to eat. So don’t worry if you don’t like fondant (I don’t like eating it!) as it’s not really there to be eaten, but to protect the cake and to look beautiful. With a fondant covered cake you will find you’ll get a good week before the cake starts to deteriorate as long as it’s not yet cut. Once the cake it cut then you need to cover the cut sides in cling film to stop the air getting to it. Air is really the enemy here. Which is why the fully naked cakes, without even a coat of buttercream, wont last long at all. If you know you are going to want to keep the cake for a few days after the wedding or event, then it’s best to go with a fully iced cake. Buttercream cakes will still keep a good few days though, especially if kept wrapped after cutting. With this in mind, don’t cut the cake and then leave it out. Ask the venue to cut the cake up just before you’re wanting to serve it, as we don’t use preservatives.

Never be afraid to ask questions. We are here not only to make you a beautiful cake, but also to make it stress free. And remember, there is no such thing as a silly question!

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.

Wedding cakes (and weddings) from afar

Hello again!
I’ve been busy moving my studio from our home, to a lovely space in Clovelly. Which is where you’ll now be able to come and see me to talk all things wedding cake! And taste cake too, and drink tea. All with a sea view. Don’t worry, I’m up top.

I know that many of my couples are getting married in Devon or Cornwall, but don’t live down here. We have become a very popular place for destination weddings, and it’s obvious why. With the dramatic coastlines, the romantic moors and the beautiful woods and picture postcard villages (like Clovelly) There are dozens of options for a beautiful wedding. As well as offering your guests the chance to combine your wedding with a sneaky holiday!
So what happens if you are planning your wedding down here but don’t live here? How do you find suppliers? How do you have consultations with those suppliers? Don’t stress!!! It’s really not that difficult. I’m very used to helping distant couples plan their perfect wedding cake.
Firstly, I would always suggest talking to your venue and asking if they have recommended suppliers. Many venues have suppliers that they like to work with and hold details for. Word of mouth is still the best way to get the quality wedding suppliers you’re looking for. And we all know many other people in the wedding industry, so always ask us. Your florist will almost certainly know a hairdresser, who will know a caterer, who will know a DJ etc. And they will also know who has the best reputations and the most skill in their field.
A wedding planner is also a good idea for any kind of destination wedding. A lot of suppliers also work with planners, and so have a large network of contacts. A wedding planner based in the location you’ve chosen to get married in will know all the best local wedding suppliers. They will also have lots of valuable local knowledge, the best places for your guests to stay, the best routes to use (the sat nav can get raging PMT around here!)
With the issues of distance in mind, many suppliers will offer skype or similar options for consultations. And I also offer cake tasting boxes by post, which works really well. I do try hard to make myself available when my couples are visiting and arranging supplier visits, but that’s not always possible.
Another thing that is a good idea is to plan your visits when there are local wedding fairs or shows. This will allow you to meet and talk to lots of suppliers local to where you are getting married, all in one place and in one day. Don’t forget to give us your email address, this way we can get back to you with the information you’re asking for in more detail.
I’ve also gone a step further and secured a London base too 😊 Very exciting!!! I’m delighted to have been accepted as a member of The Wedding Gallery at 1 Marylebone Road. If you’ve never visited, then you need to book an appointment! It’s the most stunning wedding emporium, filled with the best wedding suppliers you can find. As a member I can now meet you there to discuss your wedding cake, and also drink more tea.

So here’s you checklist for finding suppliers when you don’t live in the place you’re getting married.
1/ Don’t stress! There may be logistical issues to bear in mind when planning a destination wedding. But that needn’t mean extra stress.
2/ Ask your wedding venue if they have any suppliers they recommend. This will give you a good starting point, and give you piece of mind.
3/ Consider using a wedding planner who is based in the place you’re getting married. Again, they will have lots of local knowledge and contacts. It will also mean you have someone ‘on the ground’ to troubleshoot for you.
4/ When you’re planning your visits try to time then to coincide with local wedding fairs or shows. And try to give the suppliers you want to visit as much notice as possible.
5/ Pick the brains of all your suppliers. We all have a ‘little black book’ of contacts. And word of mouth is still the best way to find the best suppliers.

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.

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

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

Deer Park gardens.

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

learning and sharing.

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

Luxury Wedding Cakes; Don’t freak out!!

There are lots of things to think about when you’re getting married. And that can lead to lots of stress. But it doesn’t need to.
In the industry we talk about our couples ‘pain points’ which is basically the things that are freaking you out. We don’t want you to freak out! We want to solve those ‘pain points’, but we need to know what they 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 outs, 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 it too.
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) https://mailchi.mp/31c219759cfb/clairessweettemptations or you can find it via my FB page. There you will get you guide to choosing your wedding cake, as well as other useful advice.
I would also say to talk to us. All of 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’ve never got married before, or even been involved in organising a wedding. Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, 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 are doing. We do not expect you to know. So ask us. Talk to us. Tell us what’s freaking you out and stopping you enjoying the wedding planning experience.
Back to cakes. My area. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s YOUR wedding, so go with what YOU want. The chances are that, 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.
Budget can be a big stress with weddings. They are not going to be cheap. Even a ‘cheap’ wedding will still be into the thousands. Sadly I find that people don’t budget properly for their wedding cake. You’ve heard me say ‘good cake isn’t cheap and cheap cake isn’t good.’ The cost of your wedding cake will depend on many things. Size, design, delivery distance and the time involved in setting it up at the venue. But I would recommend allowing a minimum of £400 for your cake. All my wedding cakes are bespoke, and unique to each of my couples. But there is a price guide on the website. Most good cake makers will have some kind of pricing guide, so you have an idea of what cost you will be looking at from them. Remember that changing your design/ size etc of your cake, will impact the cost. But at the same time you don’t need to have all your cake details nailed down in order to pay the booking fee and secure your date.

Anti-freak out 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 fond the cake maker you want to work with, then pay the booking fee and secure your date. Then you can relax and enjoy planning your dream cake.
5/ Budget properly. The ‘how much???’ is rather insulting. 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 the cake.
6/ Sign up for your chosen cake makers newsletter. There will be lots of useful advice and tips there.
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.

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