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!!

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.

Why have a wedding cake?

Why have a wedding cake?
This is something that you might have asked yourself. And, sadly, it is one reason the cake seems to be last on some peoples list when it comes to planning their wedding.
But think about all the weddings you have ever been to. I’m betting they all had a cake, and I’m betting you took photos of the happy couple cutting the cake. Because that’s one of the highlights of the day. And the cutting of the cake has been a tradition going way back into history.

traditional cake cutting

It was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert that gave us the wedding cake as we know it today. But having a cake or sweet treats of some type has always been a part of a wedding, especially as sugar was a precious commodity, and giving something sweet to your guests was a sign of status.
Of course sugar can now be bought by everyone. So the cake has become less of a ‘look how much sugar I can afford’ and more about showing your personality.
The wedding cake still holds a lot of tradition though. Cake is still a treat, and an indulgence. And sharing the wedding cake with you guests is a symbol of how important those people are to you. The cake cutting is also the first thing you do as a couple after the marriage. Your first act as a married couple is to cut and share the cake with your loved ones. Even if you don’t think you like cake, your guests probably will.

everyone loves cake!

I have had a few couples who have admitted that they were thinking of not having a cake, but that they were very glad they did. One bride said ‘I wasn’t going to bother with a cake, they seem such a waste of money’ (maybe not the best thing to say when talking to a professional cake maker) However, after the wedding I got an email from her saying how amazing the cake was, and how glad she was that she had changed her mind.
Try to imagine a wedding without a wedding cake.

the cake cutting is a special moment

In my last post I talked about designing the cake to reflect your personality, and to help tie the whole wedding together. And this is one of the jobs of the wedding cake. It can be a focal point and a talking point, don’t hide it in a dark corner! It is said that the cake is one of the most photographed elements of a wedding, which is as it should be (I would say that wouldn’t I?)
But making a statement is one of the reasons for having a cake. The days of the ‘cookie cutter’ or ‘copy/paste’ wedding are on the way out. And I have to say I think this is a good thing. You may hear a lot about ‘your day your way’ and while this is a bit of a naff phrase, it’s also words to bear in mind when planning your wedding. It IS your day, chances are you’re paying for it yourselves, and so you should have it YOUR way. And the wedding cake can be a great way to do that.

a truly personal wedding cake

So why should you have a wedding cake?
1/ It’s cake!! And everyone loves cake.
2/ Cutting the cake is an age-old tradition at weddings. And it’s one I hope stays for many ages to come.
3/ The cake is one of the most photographed elements of a wedding. Especially the cake cutting.
4/ It’s symbolic. Cutting the cake and sharing it with your loved ones as your first act as a married couple, is a perfect way to start married life.
5/ It’s a fantastic way to express yourselves. Bring drama, colour and a WOW to the wedding via the cake.