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 😊

Luxury wedding cakes : CoronaVirus, Covid-19 and your wedding.

Okay I wasn’t going to add to the already mountainous column inches about Covid-19. But I have been starting to get emails and messages from some of my couples with weddings coming up. So I thought I would let you all know where I stand at the moment.

It is Tuesday March 17th, and this is where I am at with things as they are right now.

So what advice am I giving to couples contacting me? Honestly I am not giving ‘advice’ as I am not a doctor or lawyer. Although I do have a lot of well informed connections who I am listening to and taking my lead from.

Firstly get in touch with your wedding insurer before you do anything!

Secondly get in touch with your wedding venue and ask what they are planning. And sound them out about future dates you could move your wedding to.

POSTPONE DON’T CANCEL!!

If you follow me on Instagram or FB then you will have seen me posting about postponing your wedding rather than cancelling it. And this is the biggest piece of advice I can give.

After all you still want to get married, right? That hasn’t changed. And you still want the wedding you have been planning all these months, that hasn’t changed either. So why cancel?

If you cancel completely then you have just got to start all over again. All those months of planning, searching for your perfect suppliers, your dream venue etc. You’ll have to do that all again from scratch when there’s no reason to. And you may lose out financially if you cancel.

By postponing you are keeping everything the same, just switching the date. All your suppliers are still with you, and none of your hard work will have been wasted. Plus you shouldn’t lose out too much financially either. Although do check each suppliers Ts&Cs for their postponement policies.

As a supplier I would much rather my couples postponed. A delay in income is better than loosing that income. Most wedding suppliers are small or even micro businesses. So if all our couples cancel, we go under. Then we won’t be there when you decide to re-book. everyone looses.

But by postponing your wedding you know that all your suppliers are still with you, you won’t have to stress about re-booking anyone, or tying to find new suppliers as good as the originals. Plus, if you have already paid them, then bonus! Your wedding is already paid in advance! And we keep our businesses going, it’s a win-win.

DON’T PANIC!!

Easier said than done I know. It’s your wedding and you’ve been planning this for months, if not years. But try not to panic. The wedding industry is an amazing place, and very supportive. Contact your venue and then your suppliers, discuss your fears and see what can be done to ease them.

To get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

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 – Sugar Flower Classes!!

Sugar flowers, I absolutely love them! You may have noticed this. It’s not just how they look, but I find making them really therapeutic. It’s one of those things that get you in the zone, and needs you to focus. Which makes sugar flowers a great hobby for anyone wanting something to take their minds off daily life. And so I have started offering sugar flower classes!

Sugar roses
Sugar roses

As I was starting to think about setting up these classes, I started thinking about who might like to do them.
Of course sugar flowers are always popular with anyone who already loves cake decorating, and wants to lean a new skill. Or anyone wanting to get into cake decorating. But why limit classes just to other cake decorating enthusiasts?
So I approached The Wedding Gallery to see if they might like to offer sugar flower classes to their brides. The idea being that they can make a selection of small, filler flowers which can then be incorporated into their own wedding cake. How amazing would that be? Being able to tell everyone that you made some of the flowers? I’d say that would be something to be proud of. I’m delighted to say that The Wedding Gallery said yes, and I will be holding classes there soon, watch this space!

posy of sugar spring flowers
Posy of spring flowers

Or how about getting your friends together and throwing a sugar flower making party to make all the filler flowers for your cake? Or as your hen party? An evening class with bubbly instead of tea or coffee, and something more to show for the night than just a hangover! Again how good would it be to be able to not only show off your wedding cake, but to show off that you made some of the flowers?

white wedding cake with sugar lavender
Sugar Lavender and Sage

Then there is the corporate, teambuilding events. Now I don’t know about you, but I can think of nothing worse than spending the weekend building a raft in the rain. But a weekend making something beautiful, that you can take home and keep, as well as learning something you might actually want to do again? Now you’re talking! And the best part? I can come to you! I can bring my box of tricks to the venue of your choice, or offices, and you’re good to go! Think about it. Learning to make sugar flowers you need to learn to listen, to follow detailed instructions, develop hand eye coordination and creativity. It’s something people can help each other out with if they are getting stuck. And it’s not something just for ladies, oh no! In fact some of the best sugar flower makers in the world, cake world Gods, and personal heroes, are men. So that’s not an argument. I mean, if you’re going to take the gender divide line, then us girls shouldn’t be made to build a raft in the rain!

Sugar flowers on a black wedding cake
Wedding cakes don’t have to be white!

Sugar flowers will keep for years too. I often liken them to gremlins, don’t get them wet and keep them out of bright light 😊 Seriously though these are the two biggest enemies of sugar, moisture and heat. And the light will also fade the colours. So keep your sugar flowers away from the windows and heaters, and maybe under a glass dome or in a cabinet. Then you can keep your creations for years to come, or keep the sugar flowers from your own wedding cake as a beautiful keepsake.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do? Go on! Give it a go! Get in touch and have a chat about classes already scheduled or to book one to one, hen do, party or corporate days. Remember, I can come to you.
Classes already scheduled are:
February 26th at The Park, Morgan Porth.
March 29th at the Clovelly studio.
April 19th at the Clovelly studio.
The Wedding Gallery, London. Date TBC.

To get in touch about classes or you wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes – How to get the most from your consultation

One of the fun parts of planning your wedding are the consultations.

These are the meetings you have with your chosen suppliers to talk through all your ideas. And, in my case, taste cake samples to choose your cake flavours, yummy!
Most wedding suppliers will offer some form of consultation. Either face to face, skype or phone calls. Meeting your suppliers at wedding fairs and shows is great, but you often don’t have very much time. And it can be busy and loud, with lots of other people also wanting to chat to them. So booking a one to one meeting is a good idea.

Clovelly studio
My Clovelly Studio

Now there may be a charge for one to one consultations. I had to bring in a charge after I was getting taken advantage of too many times, which was sad. The way I do it is that I charge £50 for a personal consultation at Clovelly, or The Wedding Gallery, with three flavours of cake to try, but that is offset against the cost of the cake if a booking is made. So, in fact, the consultation won’t cost you anymore if you’re booking. And if you have already booked then it’s already included.

So how do you get the most from your consultation?

images of the wedding gallery
The Wedding Gallery

Allow enough time.

I don’t put a time limit on my consultations, but they are usually up to an hour. Allow at least an hour so that you don’t feel you have to rush through things to get to another appointment. If you have to meet with several suppliers in the one day, then see if it’s possible for them to come to you at a café or even your wedding venue. I have done this a few times for out of area clients.

Take your mood boards etc with you.

These are really helpful to give us an idea of the overall feel and style of the wedding, not just the wedding cake. And if you have Pinterest boards then maybe invite your suppliers to join them, then we can see live updates as your ideas change. The chances are that you have already been chatting to us about the type of cake you have in mind, but seeing the inspiration pics makes sure we are on the same page. Same with colour swatches you might want us to match with, if you can bring those and let us keep them, that will ensure we get the colour match just right.

sea blue wedding cake
The colours on this cake matched the bunting behind it

Have a think about the things you want to ask.

This may sound obvious, but how many times have you been in any kind of meeting and only remembered to ask half the things you wanted to? I know I’m guilty of doing this! And we will have a checklist of the information we need to gather from you. Usually this is just confirming things we will already have discussed via email or over the phone, but it’d good to double check these things. So if there is anything you want to ask about, the jot that down. And remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question.

Make notes.

Again this might sound obvious, but often people don’t do it. I had a phone call once from a lady asking if I was the coconut and lime cake lady? She had seen me at a wedding fair and loved the coconut and lime cake, but hadn’t noted down which cake maker had made it. So a few weeks later when she was ready to start booking the cake, she couldn’t remember who I was, just the cake. Luckily I was the first cake maker from that fair that she called, or that might have got embarrassing!

What we will need to know from you.

The consultation is mostly about you, your needs and how we can help. But there will be a few things we need to know from you too. Most of these we will likely already have discussed, but we will confirm everything at the consultation. So I will check the time of the wedding, so that I know what time will be best for me to deliver. Is there a contact at the venue who I will need to find when I arrive? Or if you’re using a wedding planner or coordinator then it will be useful to have their details. If you are having fresh flowers on the cake, then who is your florist? Then I can liaise directly with them and save you a job. I’ll also confirm any dietary requirements, you may not have had confirmation of these when we first started talking. I’ll check the numbers the cake is for to make sure the cake ordered is still going to be the right size. And that you still want the same flavours and colour scheme.

Design.

The consultation is a great time to start designing your wedding cake. Although I can do sketches and email them through to you, it’s always good to sit down and design it together. So bring with you anything you’d like including in the design. I once had some lace from the brides dress and replicated that pattern. And a few times I have hand cut a stencil to match the design on the wedding stationary. I am often asked to colour match a swatch of the bridesmaids dress or a ribbon trim. These things always help make the cake really personal.

gluten and dairy free wedding cake
The stencil for this wedding cake was hand cut to match the stationary

Top tips for getting the most from your consultation:

1/ Allow at least an hour for a one to one consultation. You’re paying for it, so use all the time available to you.
2/ Make notes and ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question. So ask us whatever it is that is worrying you, or that you want to clarify.
3/ Bring notes. Bring with you a list of all the things you want to ask, and anything you want to discuss.
4/ Pinterest and mood boards. Bring with you anything you have that will help with the design process. Either a physical mood board or scrap book, or links to Pinterest or Instagram.
5/ Have fun! This is one of the best parts of the wedding planning process. So don’t stress. Relax and enjoy discussing your wedding cake and tasting the samples. We won’t put you under any pressure to make any decisions there and then.

And if you have a consultation booked with me, then I look forward to seeing you soon!

If you want to get in touch about your wedding cake, click HERE

Luxury Wedding Cakes- Does Wedding Cake Size Matter?

Does size matter?

Now stop giggling at the back! I’m talking about your wedding cake size!.
In my last post I talked about the things that seem to stress couples out when it comes to the cake. Making sure you order the right size of cake seems to be one of the biggest worries. Understandably so, I mean you don’t want to seem mean, but don’t want wasted cake either. And the chances are you’ve not ordered a wedding cake before to know about serving sizes and cutting guides.
This isn’t anything to worry about though. Your cake maker knows the drill, and we know how to work out what is the best size cake for the size of wedding. Really all you need to do is give us the number of guests you want the cake to serve.

sizing chart
The sizing chart I work from

Which brings me to another issue.

When to serve the wedding cake?

Traditionally the cake was cut and served after the speeches, at the end of the main wedding breakfast. If there was any left, then it would be offered to evening guests as part of the buffet.
These days though many couples want to wait to cut the cake in the evening. Personally I like this idea, as it is a big part of the day, and something the evening guests would usually miss out on. Cutting the cake in the evening includes all your guests in that special moment. However, cutting and serving in the evening will mean you need a bigger cake for the extra numbers. And what if you want to serve the cake as dessert? AHHHHH!
Okay let’s breathe. It’s only cake (did I really just say that??).
One option to solve the issue of the evening guests missing out on seeing the cake is to do the cake cutting photos after the speeches, but don’t have the cake taken away and cut. Instead leave it until all the evening guests have arrived and seen it. Then give the venue the nod to take it off and cut and serve. You could even do the cake cutting again for the evening guests, why not?
Basically what I’m saying is to forget the traditions surrounding when you should cut and serve the wedding cake. Do it as and when it feels right for you.

cutting the cake with a sward!
You can use a knife!
traditional cake cutting
See, you don’t have to use a sward.
the cake cutting is a special moment
I will always love this cake cutting pic!

Myth Busting.

Now I think we should quickly bust the myth that serving the wedding cake as the dessert will lower costs. Realistically this often isn’t the case. When we work out the size of cake you will need for you 100 guests (number just to illustrate) we will be basing that on the industry standard of a 2x1in portion. In other words a finger size portion you might serve with the after dinner coffee, or as part of a buffet. If you want to serve as dessert you’re going to want much larger portions, maybe even twice that size, but at least 2x2in. And you will also need enough cake for every guest, rather than the usual rule of thumb that 10% won’t eat any. This is going to mean a much larger cake to accommodate the larger portions, and numbers, and make sure there’s enough. Obviously this also means the cost of the cake is going to rise quite considerably. Plus the venue, or caterer, might charge you for serving someone else’s food, as they will be using their cutlery and crockery to serve the cake, and then wash all that up after, plus the service time. Add all that up and it’s not necessarily going to save you any money. But it will mean that all the cake will get eaten, and you won’t have to worry about wastage.

cake cutting guide
Cake cutting guide

Back to size, as this is what this post is mainly about.

When I talk to couples at wedding shows they often think they can’t book the cake because they aren’t sure yet exactly how big it needs to be. This is another myth. And it can often mean you missing out on getting your preferred cake maker because you’ve waited until all the RSVPs have come back before getting in touch. A rough idea on size is all we need at the very start. And if you’ve booked your venue then you already know the kind of size your wedding will be. That’s enough for me to give you a starting quote to base the booking fee on (I work on a 25% booking fee) Then we can up or down scale the cake size later if you find you need to. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of guests on your list and reduce it by 10% when booking the cake, as mentioned before. Although it will need to be for 100% of your guests if serving for dessert.

The Showstopper.

But size isn’t just about the numbers, it’s also about the look. And adding the WOW factor.
The cake is, without doubt, one of the stars, a showstopper. And often the most photographed thing after the couple, and the dress. So you may want something big and impressive, even if it’s only going to be a small wedding. How to do this without having lots of wasted cake? Firstly will it be wasted? The tradition of keeping a tier of the wedding cake for a christening is starting to come back. Or maybe for your first wedding anniversary? You can do this with fruit cake of course, but also with sponge. Sponge cake freezes really well, you’ll just need to give the fondant (if using) time to dry out as it will go sticky as it thaws. You cake maker will advise you on the best ways to store your leftover cake. Then there is the other tradition of posting cake to people who couldn’t make it to the wedding, something else you may wish to do if you have cake left. If none of these are options, then there are dummy cakes. Dummy cakes are used for display cakes for shows and photo shoots etc, but they can also be used to add height and size to a real cake. Now they are usually polystyrene, however I will happily take them back and reuse them in my display work. I reuse my dummy cakes over and over, I can’t remember the last time I bought any!

This showstopper only had three real tiers of cake.

The opposite can also be an issue.

You have a lot of guests to feed, but want an understated wedding, so don’t want a huge cake. Again there is a solution. Cutting cakes. A cutting cake is a simplified version of the actual wedding cake. Usually a square or A4 size cake in the same flavours and with a covering of the chosen icing, but without all the decoration as they won’t be on show. These are kept in the kitchens and cut up by your venue when they take the wedding cake away to cut, then it’s all served together. No one will know which is wedding cake and which is cutting cake.

Top Tips.

So my top tips for getting the wedding cake size right;
1/ Don’t wait until you have all your RSVPs back before booking your cake. Rough numbers are all we need to get the ball rolling.
2/ Decide if you want to serve the cake as dessert or as part of the buffet/with coffee. This will make a difference to the size of cake you need. Just let your cake maker know.
3/ Don’t worry about leftover cake. Sponge cake freezes well, and fruit cake keeps for months.
4/ You can have a showstopping cake even if you don’t need one. Again just discuss this with your cake maker.
5/ You can have cutting cakes for the venue to serve should you want something simpler and smaller, but have lots of guest to feed. This works especially well for large evening receptions after a smaller wedding.

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 – Christmas weddings.

Christmas weddings are the subject today.

Christmas tree at Pynes House

With the big day just around the corner, we are all thinking about Christmas in one form or another. And, for some, it’s also the countdown to their wedding day.
I’m originally from Northampton, and many of my family worked in the shoe factories. This meant they were quite limited with time off and holidays, and so Christmas was one of the few times families all had time off together to celebrate a wedding. And so Christmas weddings have featured a lot in my family history.
Of course, these days, we don’t have such restrictions on when we can have time off work. But there is still something magical about Christmas weddings. Actually I love winter weddings in general. But then I am a winter person, it’s my favourite season. I do wish we had had a winter wedding ourselves, but we conformed to the norm of the summer wedding. This was in part because so much of both our families are still up in Northants, and so summer was easier for them to come down. And they liked the excuse for a summer holiday in Cornwall.

Christmas wedding cake at Dartington Hall

But back to Christmas weddings. I’ve been lucky enough to do a few over the years, and they are always just stunning. And I’ve got another one this year, which I’m looking forward to.
The fact that the venues are already decorated and dressed for Christmas is a huge bonus too, and a stunning backdrop for the wedding photos. It’s also a great way to get the family all together, wedding and family Christmas combined. The evening before the wedding spent together, exchanging gifts and catching up is a lovely way to start both celebrations.
Are there down sides to a Christmas wedding? Well yes, of course there are. And as I’m all about banishing the stress, I’m going to keep it real and offer some solutions.
Christmas is a very busy time of year for most people. So, if you’re thinking of a Christmas (or December in general) wedding, then give your guests plenty of notice that that’s your plan. Also think about booking your venue well in advance too. Many wedding venues also host other events, such as Christmas parties, and so will get booked up as quickly as they would in the height of the summer. Also give your chosen suppliers plenty of notice. A lot of us in the wedding industry are sole traders, or have only a small staff. Don’t be offended if suppliers say no to taking on Christmas weddings, especially if they are very close to the 25th. But, if we have plenty of notice, then we can look at the logistics. Oh, and good suppliers won’t charge you more just because it’s Christmas.

Christmas wedding cake at The Green

So the biggest piece of advice about booking a Christmas wedding? Book REALLY EARLY!
Another big issue for any winter wedding is the weather. Although, recently, that seems to be an issue at any time of the year! But you’re more likely to get unromantic weather in the depths of winter. So you need to have a discussion with your venue about a ‘plan B’ if the weather means you can’t get outside for photos. The advantage of a Christmas wedding is that there will be the Christmas tree and all the decorations, maybe a real fire etc, which will make for wonderful wedding photos. Have a chat with your photographer too.

Christmas at Dartington Hall

Winter also means dark nights. Look at where your guests will have to park. If it’s any distance from the main venue, especially if it’s a country house or hotel, then maybe think about torches for your guests to get safely back to their cars. I can think of several country venues I’ve been to over the years, where there’s an unlit path from the car parking area.
From a cake makers standpoint, winter weddings mean that venues have their heating on. I turned up to one venue a year or two ago with a semi-naked cake. I was shown to the cake table, only to see a space heater right under it!! I asked if that was going to be used? When I was told it was, I told them they were going to have to move it. Can you imagine?? Think carefully about where you’re placing the cake table, and make sure it’s not near any heaters or radiators. Cakes are made of lots of things that like to melt if given half a chance! It seems like an obvious thing, but it happens all too often. I have the same issue with windows in summer.
Keeping warm might also be an issue for your guests if you’re having any part of the wedding outside. You would hope they would dress accordingly, but it’s a wedding, so style often wins out (I’ve been guilty of this!) Some venues may offer bundles of blankets for winter weddings, so it’s worth asking about. If not, then ask your wedding planner if they can supply them. Mulled wine would also go down well to keep everyone warm and happy.
Talk of mulled wine brings me to the food and drink. Of course there will be fizz, it’s a wedding. But I’m sure hot drinks will also go down well, think cosy winter favourites. Mulled wine, hot cider, Irish coffee, and warm, spiced apple juice for those not drinking. And the food can reflect the season too. I think this is important at any time of year, seasonal food is always better, fresher, and seems to have more flavour. Your caterers will be experts at this.
Of course, as a cake maker, I’m going to have to touch on cake flavours for winter/Christmas weddings. One of my most popular flavours this time of year is my sticky toffee cake. This is just a warm hug in cake form! A spiced carrot cake works well too. And you can always go all out and combing the wedding cake with the boozy, fruit loaded Christmas cake. Plus you can use the smallest top tier as your first Christmas cake as a married couple.
There are so many good things about Christmas weddings. You’ll have Christmas lights, decorations, trees, Christmas food, mulled wine, real fires, carols and lots of sparkle and magic. You might even get snow!

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