Luxury Wedding Cakes Devon, Cornwall, London- Sugar Flowers

Sugar flowers and wedding cakes

If you have been on my website before, or if you have been looking at my galleries here or on Instagram and Pinterest, I’m sure you will have noticed a theme. Sugar flowers. Lots of wedding cakes with sugar flowers. And that is what I want to talk about today.

 

Over the years I have lost count of the number of wedding cakes I’ve made, it’s up in the hundreds by now I’m sure. And they are all as unique as the couple who have ordered them. But one thing a lot of them have in common, and the thing I might be best known for, is sugar flowers. I just love them!

Sugar roses

There are many reasons for this love, and it goes way back to when I first left school and enrolled in horticultural college. I was 17 and loved plants and flowers, they fascinated me. I spent many happy hours learning how plants worked and got up close to flowers. And that knowledge seems to have stuck with me, at least to a point.

white wedding cake with pink sugar flowers
Classic sugar flower wedding cake

Having had that horticultural training, I already knew how flowers work, and how they are put together. This has given me a good basic training for making sugar flowers. It’s almost like the reverse of what we did at college. Then we would take a flower apart, petal by petal, piece by piece. Now I constrict them, petal by petal and piece by piece.

 

But why should you consider sugar flowers for your wedding cakes?

 

Well why wouldn’t you? Although I would say that. But they really are a stunning addition. Plus they won’t wilt and die, and you can keep them for years afterwards. I always say that sugar flowers are a like Gremlins (Yes I’m old enough to remember that in the cinema!) keep them out of bright light and don’t get them wet.

Sugar parrot tulips and roses
Sugar Parrot tulips and Roses

If you keep them dry and away from direct heat and sun, they really will keep for years. Some people pop them under a glass dome to help preserve them. Or you could go for a polymer clay version that will keep forever and can be used as an heirloom. They are made in basically the same way as sugar flowers, but are not in any way edible, although perfectly safe to use as a cake topper/decorations.

 

Saying that, sugar flowers are only edible in that they are made from a form of sugar paste. But they almost always have some form of wire or non-edible support in them. And this will render them inedible anyway. I mean you could pull them off the wires and eat the petals if you really wanted to, but I wouldn’t recommend it! Not unless you have a very good dentist.

 

Not all sugar flowers will be wired though. And they don’t have to be super realistic looking either. Flowers can even be made in a form of chocolate paste that are fully edible, and delicious. In fact the possibilities are endless.

watercolour drip cake
stylised wafer paper flowers

I will go into all the options another day.

 

Back to sugar flowers.

 

Sadly I don’t know the history of the sugar flower, that is something I will have to look into. Although they have been around in one form or another for decades. In recent years the range of pastes available to make them with have vastly increased, and this has made it more and more possible to make them super realistic. So has the development of all the equipment used to make them. Not that you need that much to get started. I offer classes which includes the basic kit you will need to get started.

Sugar roses and peonies
Sugar Roses and Peonies

And gone are the days when sugar flowers on wedding cakes were basically white roses. These days you can have pretty much any flower you like, and in any colour. This is very helpful if you want flowers such as sweet peas which are toxic and not a good idea to use on cakes. Have them made in sugar instead! There are many flowers regularly used in floristry that are actually toxic and so can’t be used on cakes. I’ll go into that more in a future post.

 

Making your own.

 

While it takes a lot of practice and patience to make the super realistic sugar flowers. You can make some smaller, and more basic ones at home. And this is what I teach in my classes. Well I do when I am able to start doing them again.

And how lovely would it be to have a few little filler flowers on your wedding cake that you have made yourself? And how cool would it be to have part of your hen party celebrations making sugar flowers for your wedding cake? They can be left with me to be added in with the rest of them on your cake. And it will be even more personal.

 

The future.

 

With the new normal, and all the new guidelines and restrictions around weddings, things are going to be scaled down a fair bit for quite a while. But this allows you more scope to upgrade on the things you can still have, like the wedding cake.

Now you’re not spending so much on a large wedding with 100 plus people, you can free up some of the budget for other things.

One of the things you can still have, and which is going to become even more important, is the cake. Now more than ever it will become the centre piece.

You may not be able to have all of the usual elements that have become the norm at a wedding, like the big evening party etc. But you can still have the lovely tradition of cutting the cake.

In fact I think the older traditions like the cake cutting are going to become more important again in the new normal. Keeping those old traditions alive gives us consistency in a time of such upheaval, and helps to ground us and remind us that some things may change, but other things remain.

With this in mind why not go all out with the cake? Have that big wedding cake dripping in sugar flowers that you dream of but couldn’t justify spending on before. Remember it doesn’t have to be all real cake. You can have just the one tire of real cake and the rest as dummies. And don’t worry about waste. I can have the dummy tires back, strip them and reuse them over and over.

red roses on floating cake tier
You could learn to make the filler flowers for your wedding cake

There are as many ways to incorporate sugar flowers into you wedding cake as there are wedding cake! From small clusters of dainty blossoms, to full on cascades of realistic looking blooms. Want a bright blue rose? You can in sugar! Let your imagination run riot.

 

To find out more about sugar flower classes keep an eye out HERE where I will post new classes as they are possible.

To contact me about your wedding cake click HERE

 

Can you have a Destination Wedding without leaving the UK?

Thinking of having a destination wedding?

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

And then THE VIRUS hit.

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

Which brings me to the subject of todays blog.

 Can you have a destination wedding without leaving the UK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not to mention the sunsets!

A Bude sunset
A Bude sunset

Imagine that as a backdrop to your wedding photos.

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

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

wedding cake on a chair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pynes House near Exeter

Deer Park Country house and Estate near Honiton

Rockbeare Manor near Exeter

Lower Barns near St Austell

Tawstock Court near Barnstaple

Sandy Cove hotel North Devon

Launcells Barton near Bude

Pentillie Castle near Saltash

Luxury wedding cakes: The cake ordering timeline explained

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

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

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

posy of sugar spring flowers

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

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

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

The Process.

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

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

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

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

What’s next.

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

.

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

Easy as that.

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

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

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

Time to panic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding Cake Design: How to get ‘the one.’

You’re starting to think about your wedding cake design. You’ve seen a wedding cake online and you’ve fallen in love! It’s ‘the one’ So you save it to your Pinterest board and screenshot it to your phone. You show this pic to your cake maker and they shake their head. You’re devastated! We want THAT wedding cake! But you get the same response from every cake maker you show it to. Why???

Now I adore Pinterest and all the other platforms, I spend far more time than I should looking at all the prettiness on there. They are great places for inspiration. But really that’s all they are, they are not a shop window. And that can be a little misleading, because it gives the impression that whatever you see there, you can have.

I get shown a lot of images at wedding fairs and at consultations, with ‘can you make this?’ Well yes, I can technically make it, I mean I have the skills. But no, I won’t be able to reproduce exactly what you’re looking at in that image. And this is for several reasons.

cake pic round up
a few cakes from 2019

Copyright

Yep, it’s a thing even in the cake world. Most of us don’t bother to copyright our cake designs, working on the ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ theory. But some cake designers do, especially if that cake has been created for a cake decorating class. Or if it has been designed for a client who insists on exclusivity, I did once have to sign an NDA before creating a cake.

A few years ago a cake took Pinterest by storm, it was everywhere! And, inevitably, cake makers were being asked for it by clients. One cake maker did her due diligence and went to the original creator and asked if she could recreate it for her client. She was told, in no uncertain terms, that NO she could not, and that action would be taken if she tried. Turns out the cake design in question was for a class the original designer was charging for, and so she refused to allow anyone to copy it until well after the classes were over. Fair enough when you think of the time and energy that goes into designing these creations, and then turning them into a class. Now, of course, it would be hard for that cake designer to track down everyone who had copied her design. The internet is worldwide after all. And a lot of people wouldn’t have even asked her permission in the first place, because they may not know who to ask. Once a cake (or anything else) is ‘out there’ on the web, it is no longer exclusive. However we put a lot of time and effort into designs, and so we hope that this will be respected.

One reason I can no longer design your wedding cake in full and as an on paper sketch before the booking is made, is because of having designs stolen. Sadly, a few times, I have spent time and a lot of effort sketching out a couples cake, only to then be ghosted by them. A few months later, there’s my cake design on Instagram, posted by the same couple!! They had just taken my hard work and given it to someone who had offered to do it cheaper. It’s a shame when this happens, and thankfully it is rare. And I know none of you lovely people reading this would even dream of doing such a thing. But it does make us cautious, once bitten, twice shy.

Now, of course, these are the extreme cases. And mostly we just shrug and get on with our day, because there are lots of us out there. Inevitably we are going to come up with a similar design to another caker, especially if it’s something that is ‘on trend.’ I have had a few ideas that I think are new, only to find similar already out there.

Lakeland catalogue left. My cake from a year before on right. Hmmmm….

Translation

By this I mean translating a flat, one angled photo, into an actual, 3D cake. Not always as easy as it seems. Especially as you can’t always tell from a photo exactly what techniques and materials have been used. This is always an issue when the cake has been posted by a designer in another country. Every country has different food laws and that can affect what can and can’t be used on and in your cakes. Often when looking for recipes I will see one and then realise that I can’t make it, as certain ingredients aren’t available in the UK.

It can also be tricky when there is a stencil, or a cake lace pattern used. Tracking the right stencil or lace mat down can be difficult. Again they are often only available overseas, or may have been a custom design created just for that cake. I have hand cut a stencil a few times to match up a design from the wedding stationary for example.

wedding cake with hand cut stencil
A hand cut stencil to match the wedding stationary.

Techniques

Every cake maker will have a certain skill set that they are stronger with, and that is generally reflected in the cakes you will see us producing. You’ll notice that I don’t do the sculpted novelty cakes for example. Not because I can’t, but because they aren’t really my thing. I love seeing them done, but I’m not really interested in doing them. In the same way that a specialist in those sculpted cakes probably won’t make you a delicate cascade of sugar flowers. We all have our strengths and preferences. Personally I will spend days happily making sugar flowers, and often do.

We also all do the same things differently. Going back to cake classes. If you look at the photos instructors post at the end of a class, with all their students showing their cakes. You’ll see that every one of those cakes will be different, even though they are the same design, made at the same time, with the same teacher and using the same materials.

So what do you do? How do you get that dream cake from your phone into reality?

Well you might get lucky and find the original cake maker who made it. It’s a long shot though. Or your cake maker might know them and be able to liaise with them, also a bit of a long shot. Sadly tags and watermarks are often removed from wedding cake photos, making it almost impossible to know who made it. I have one wedding cake with flamingos on that gets pinned a lot. I know that by the time it’s been pinned and shared a few times, no one will know it was one of mine.

flamingo wedding cake
THE flamingo cake that’s all over Pinterest

When I get shown a wedding cake and get asked if I can make it, I always explain that, although I can’t copy/paste someone else’s work, I can design something just as beautiful. So I will ask what it is about that cake that is drawing you to it? Then I ask to see what other ideas you have been saving for other elements of your wedding. And this is actually way better anyway. I’m sure you’d much rather have a cake that has been designed for you, and with you, than one that’s identical to someone else’s wedding cake? We all know that feeling of horror when we turn up to a party to see someone else in the same outfit! You really don’t want someone saying ‘Oh I’ve seen this cake online a few times.’

Top Tips

So here are the top tips to make sure you get that perfect wedding cake.

1/ Reference photos are great, they are very useful. But don’t be offended if your cake maker isn’t willing or able to simply copy that photo.

2/ Take a good look at that dream cake photo and make a note of what is really drawing you to it? The chances are it’s not necessarily the whole, complete thing. So is it the colours, the shapes, the textures?

3/ Isolate those key elements and discuss those with your cake maker.

4/ Don’t be offended if your cake maker won’t give you a sketch before you’ve booked with them. It’s nothing personal! However how do you know that they will be able to create your vision? Have a good look through their website, Pinterest, Instagram etc, look at their past work to make sure you like their style.

5/ Arrange to meet with your cake maker and have a good chat with them. Develop a relationship with them. When you find the right cake maker, you’ll know. And then you will know that you can trust them to produce your perfect wedding cake for you.

To enquire about your wedding cake and how I can help you design it, click HERE

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

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

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

Our wedding in 2000!

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

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

Online directories

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

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

Look before you leap

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

Make lists

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

Pace yourselves

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

Expectation over reality

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

Top Tips

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

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes- How to 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

Wedding Cake Trends for 2020

Trends. They are everywhere and keeping up with them is  a big part of my job.

Over the years, and hundreds of weddings, I’ve noticed that trends in weddings change much slower than in other areas. This is because weddings are booked months, if not a year or more in advance. And so decisions about styles and colours etc are made now for a wedding in 9-12 months time. Which means those decisions are being made based on todays trends, so we see things staying around for much longer than you’d expect in the ‘real’ world.

White chocolate fan sculpted wedding cake
White chocolate sculpture wedding cake

Of course we still keep our eyes on all the trends and fashions coming out, because we know they are going to be coming along at some point, and they are vital in deciding on new designs.  The Pantone colour of the year is a good example of this. We may not see that colour in real weddings until the following year because of the time it takes for that colour trend to work its way along from being announced, to the actual wedding day.

duck egg blue wedding cake with white sugar flowers
Duck egg blue as a subtle alternative to the Pantone Classic Blue

People often ask me if there are trends in wedding cakes.

Yes, there are, just like everything else. And there are the occasional fad and slightly naff gimmick, but they are thankfully rare in the world of wedding cakes. I think this is, in part, because there are so many traditions surrounding weddings, and people don’t like to mess with traditions too much.

Saying that there are always going to be a changing of the guard, and new ideas becoming new traditions. This is as true with the cake as with everything. The days of a square fruit cake, stacked on those plastic pillars and covered in rock hard royal icing are long gone (thank goodness!!) Although fruit cakes are starting to come back. When I first started, some six years ago, I didn’t do any fruit cakes for weddings, only for Christmas cakes. In 2019 I’ve done a few fruit cakes as one of the tiers, and a few as the top tier to then be kept for a christening. This is a tradition going way back that I thought was long dead. It just goes to show that everything goes around and comes back again.

And then there are the traditions that come over from other countries. Take the ‘grooms cake’ that is an established part of weddings in many parts of America. This is now beginning to be seen over here. And outdoor style weddings that are a comparatively recent concept in the UK (mostly because of the weather I suspect)

The Trends

So what does 2020 hold in store for us in terms of weddings and wedding cake trends?

1/ Semi-naked cakes aren’t going anywhere. I have lots of these booked in for 2020. However I’ve noticed that the fashion for having fresh fruit on them has been replaced with fresh flowers. And even with sugar flowers.

semi naked wedding cake with fresh, edible flowers
Semi naked wedding cake with edible flowers

2/ Brighter colours. Although white and ivory will always be the predominant base colour for the wedding cake, I am doing more and more cakes with stunning colours. Usually these are colours already part of the wedding in some way. Maybe the bridesmaids dresses or the flowers. And these colours can be with either fondant or buttercream cakes. Black wedding cakes are also becoming a big thing (which I love!)

wedding cake with bright colours cake
A very personal wedding cake with bright colours.

3/ Watercolour cakes. Now I don’t mean actual watercolour paintings on cakes (although you can have paintings on cakes) But a soft, subtle blending and bleeding of colour that gives a beautiful, abstract effect. This is perfect if you want colour, but nothing too bold.

watercolour drip cake
watercolour drip effect

4/ Seasonal weddings. By this I mean using the season in which you’re getting married as the inspiration for your wedding. Using flowers that are British grown and in season, and serving seasonal food. Also adopting the colours of the season, spring greens or the burnt oranges of autumn. This will also help to make your wedding more sustainable.

burgundy and gold wedding cake
A winter wedding cake with seasonal bouquet

5/ Getting personal. This is more of an anti-trend, and is about throwing away the rule book and having what you and your partner want. Want a black wedding cake? Then have one! Want to serve beer and fish and chips? Then why not?

black wedding cake with fresh flowers
Have I mentioned I love black wedding cakes?

Round up.

These are my top five. Of course there are, and will be, many more trends and fashions that will come and go. And some that will stay around.

Some blogs will be predicting exact colours and flower types for 2020. I’m not going to go that far. Mainly because I don’t think a wedding is necessarily the best place to adhere to such things. I think there are going to be some definite shifts in weddings though, such as seasonal and more sustainable weddings. And also there’s a big shift towards UK destination weddings. I have found that more and more people from outside the South West are choosing to get married down here. This is something I will be discussing more in my next post, so watch this space!!

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Happy New Year!! Luxury Wedding Cakes- 2019 review.

It’s the end of another year!! Where has that gone?

2019 is almost over and so I thought I’d do a recap and a roundup of the year at STHQ. It’s been quite a year of changes for me. Here is my 2019 review

2019 for Sweet Temptations looked something like this:

42 Weddings

1 Celebrity wedding and feature in Hello!

1 Celebrity birthday cake

1 Business relocation

1 London base secured

Lots of meeting with lovely couples and other wedding industry professionals

Being courted by a luxury wedding show

Being invited to exclusive wedding industry events

And a bronze at Cake International in collaboration with two other local cakers, proving there really is collaboration over competition.

Not bad for a one woman show! It’s only when I look back like this that I realise how far things have moved on in a year.

One side of our piece
Part of our Cake International entry

Moving on.

The moving was quite literal! And not planned. But I think the best decisions are often not planned.

As you know I am now based out of the stunningly beautiful Clovelly on the North Devon/Cornwall border. Before you gasp at this, I’m up the top! There was no way I was going to be trying to take cakes up and down that hill and cobbles…… been there….. done that….. in the back of the open backed Landover….in reverse. That’s another story for another time though.

It happened by accident, if these things are ever really accidents. One of my best friends lives in Clovelly, also up top. We had been to the cinema to see Marry Poppins Returns (as two grown women, with no children in tow) I was dropping her home and happened to look across the car park to the row of shops that are there. One was obviously empty, so I asked her about it. The next day she took it upon herself to email John (the estate owner) and CC me into it, telling him that I was interested. I am so very glad that she did!! Now I had never really thought about having a business premises outside of the ‘cake nook’ at the back of the house, but it was clear I was outgrowing that. Had Em not been so proactive I may still be annoying the family with cake stuff all over the house, and moaning that I have no space. It has turned into one of the best things to have happened this year. And you can now come and see me there to talk about your wedding cake. The views are just breath-taking, and you can go and look around the village afterwards.

Decisions Decisions. 

Another snap decision was joining The Wedding Gallery in London. I knew about it, and had been following them on Instagram. I knew it was the most amazing place, and also that it was quite exclusive. A girl can dream. However I was at a NAWP meeting (national association of wedding professionals) and got chatting to a wedding planner there. She said I really needed to go and see them at The Wedding Gallery, especially as it was literally just around the corner. So I did. I turned up, introduced myself, told them a fellow NAWP member recommended I visit. They were so lovely and welcoming. Hannah showed me around and said that if I wanted to become a member, they would be delighted to have me. And so I did just that! And it’s another decision I am very glad I made.

images of the wedding gallery
The Wedding Gallery

I would say around 75% of my couples are London based, even thought they are getting married here in the South West. And many are unable to get down to see me in person. I’ve done countless weddings where I haven’t met the couple at all, and that’s a shame. So being able to have a London base that I can use to meet with couples has proved invaluable. I’ve already met several couples there this year, and hope to meet many more.

More Decisions!

When you are a sole trader you have to make a lot of decisions about how to structure your time. And one thing I did this year was to cut down on the number of wedding fairs I decided to do. I enjoy wedding fairs, but there are so many of them, and only one of me. One opportunity I did say yes to though, was to exhibit at South West Wed Meet Up. I always try to go to these industry networking and training events, and the March one is the biggest one of the year. This year it was at Deer Park near Honiton over two days, with lots of workshops and guest speakers. There’s also the chance to exhibit to your fellow industry professionals, and they asked me.

Again I said yes, and again it was a good decision. Also attending the event was the lovely Anisha from BrideLux, who curate some of the worlds most luxurious wedding shows. My cakes clearly impressed her, as she asked me if I would like to be part of future BrideLux shows. Sadly I’ve not managed to do that yet, but it’s on my list. And, in the meantime, she invites me to their stunningly beautiful industry events. They pride themselves on only working with the best, so being on their radar, and included in their world, is an honour.

Mayfair rooms The Connaught
The Mayfair Room at The Connaught

Celebrity Love.

Now you may have noticed on the intro list that I mentioned a couple of celebrity cakes? Well one I can talk about, and one not. Well I probably could, but I won’t.

Back in the new year I got a phone call about a wedding cake. Nothing unusual. We chatted cake, date, venue etc as usual. It was the bride I was talking to, she gave me her name and then said that the wedding was probably going to be featured in Hello! Magazine. This took me back for a second as I hadn’t recognised the name, but then I’m not good with names in general. It turns out the wedding was of top model Jade Parfitt, and was attended by other super models and society figures. And it was indeed featured in Hello! A five page spread with a full page just of the cake cutting photo!

Hello! Full page spread
The giraffes! And the full page spread in Hello!

The other celebrity cake? Well it was a birthday cake, and all I’m going to say is Hollywood A list, and leave it at that.

What a Year!

In between all of this I seem to have done 42 wedding cakes! I didn’t realise it had been this many, although I knew it was a busy year. My feet and knees will attest to that! I’ve been so very lucky to be able to work with some truly lovely couples this year. It is always my pleasure to be able to be a part of such a special day, and to help create beautiful memories. Every wedding, and therefore every wedding cake, is unique, and that’s part of what makes my job so special.

cake pic round up
A few cakes from 2019

All in all it’s been quite a year! Behind the scenes there’s also been a lot going on, and I’ve relied on my work to keep me going. My husband and the man I’ve been with since I was 17, has been battling prostate cancer, then went and got facial shingles, which gave our son chickenpox! So, although the above reads a bit like a dream, it’s not all been good. Life never is. I’d hate you to think this is a smug post about how wonderful things are, because there’s been parts of this year I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I have also been very lucky.

If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s to celebrate the wins. I hope you have many things in 2019 to celebrate, and that there’s even more of those moments in 2020.

If you’re interested in having a Sweet Temptations cake for your wedding, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes….. Devon. Cornwall. London

You would think that winter would mean that things go quiet for a wedding cake maker. But no such luck!! It’s only the second week of December and it has already been a whirlwind! And yet not a single wedding took place, so why so busy?
Well when we aren’t making wedding cakes, we are networking with fellow wedding professionals and talking about wedding cakes! And also meeting other suppliers in other parts of the wedding industry, which is fascinating. And getting to know others in the industry gives us a useful ‘little black book’ of contacts to call upon.

Mayfair rooms The Connaught
The Mayfair Room at The Connaught

As you probably already know from other posts, I’m a professional member of The National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP). And I’m also a member of The Wedding Gallery in London. This means I’m also on the radar of BrideLux, who run amazingly beautiful wedding shows. And they also hold industry networking events in some of the most exclusive venues in London. And last week I was invited to ‘Christmas at the Connaught’ for their Christmas party.

The Connaught Christmas tree
Beautiful Christmas tree at The Connaught

I adore London at Christmas, and so it wasn’t a hard decision to say yes! And it didn’t disappoint. I’m always impressed with the Christmas lights in London, it really is quite magical. I wish I could take better photos to do it justice! But I’m a cake designer, not a photographer.

Mary Poppins fire cloth
Mary Poppins

It wasn’t all about business and networking though. We fitted in a show and some shopping as well. Of course! Oh and I NEED those flying teacups in the Clovelly studio!!! Watch this space……. Marry Poppins was amazing too, I can recommend going if you haven’t already.

flying teacups
Flying teacups at Fortnum and Mason

Back to the wedding industry related stuff though. BrideLux pride themselves on only working with ‘the best in the industry’, and so it’s always an honour to be included in that list of invitees. And the invites themselves are beautiful and always go on the studio wall.
The weather was kind too, and so the cab ride to The Connaught became the start of the evening. Passing all the other hotels and building lit up for Christmas. There’s something about a black cab ride around London after dark that will never get old. And then arriving to be greeted by a delightful doorman (that job must get very cold!) got the evening off to the perfect start.

Connaught christmas decs
Beautiful Christmas decs at The Connaught

I’ve never been to The Connaught. Been past, but never inside for some reason. I wasn’t disappointed. The party was in the Mayfair room downstairs in the basements and was decorated to perfection in the evenings theme of ‘Icy Elegance.’ There was even an ice cream bar and an ice sculpture, beautiful. It was work, honestly! Although it’s downstairs, it is still a great space for a wedding, especially if you wanted live music, as you won’t be disturbing the rest of the hotel.
As always there was a great turn out of people, some regulars, and some new faces. It’s always so good to meet new people, as well as to catch up with people who I’m pleased to now call friends. One person I got to chat too this time was Rosalind Miller of Rosalind Miller Cakes. Now Rosalind is wedding cake royalty, so it was a thrill for me to get to chat to her. And she is really lovely ?

Sadly I couldn’t stay until the end, as I needed to be up the next morning for a meeting with The Wedding Gallery. I do try to fit as much as I can into each trip! So the next morning I headed to 1 Marylebone to meet with Monica. I can’t say too much about this meeting, as details are still to be confirmed, but it should mean I’ll be seeing more of my London base.

The wedding gallery christmas tree
The Wedding Gallery at Christmas

I was home a whole three days before heading back up to Paddington! They must be starting to get used to my face there by now (well in Starbucks anyway.) I was heading back to The Wedding Gallery for yet more meetings! This time it was with two lovely couples who were unable to get down to Clovelly to meet and discuss their cake. This was my main reason for asking to become a member of The Wedding Gallery (you can’t just join, you’re invited or ask and are approved) so that I could meet with the many London based couples I work with. Devon and Cornwall really has become the ‘go to’ destination in the UK to get married.

The Wedding Gallery
The Club at The Wedding Gallery

They always look after you so well there, nothing is too much trouble. And you can stay and get everything else for your wedding while you are there, you can even book your honeymoon. I would recommend having a good look around while you’re there.
Was I tired by the time I got home? I won’t lie, I was exhausted. But it was all worth it. And I’ll be doing it all over again in the New Year.

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!!

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