Luxury Wedding Cakes in Devon and Cornwall: Wedding cake toppers and decorations explained.

Something that has come up recently is the question of wedding cake toppers and decorations. And if they are edible or not?

This is an interesting question. And so I thought we would look at that today.

A lot of wedding cake toppers, and cake toppers in general, are wood/ceramic/glass/plastic/resin and so are clearly not edible. They are meant to be a keepsake. They will be made of a food safe material, but that’s to make sure they don’t contaminate your wedding cake.

wooden cake topper
A wooden cake topper that can then be kept

But what about wedding cake toppers and decorations we cake makers make out of sugar?

As I’m sure you know I’m very partial to sugar flowers and wafer (rice) paper. And yes, these materials are technically edible.
I remember being fascinated by rice paper as a child. And my great aunt gave me sheets of it to eat when we went to visit. I was eating paper!! What was this madness??!! Although it actually doesn’t really taste of anything much.

wafer paper flowers
And gum paste/flower paste?

Well yes, you could eat it, if you really had to. It is sweet and sugar based, but sets super hard. Which is what we need it to do when making flowers and models. However, this means you risk breaking a tooth if you did decide to take a bite!
This is assuming, of course, that there are no internal supports.
These are what will render your sugar flowers or sugar cake toppers into non-edible decorations.

sugar flowers with a resin cake topper
Sugar flowers with a resin cake topper

Let me explain.

When you are making sugar flowers or any topper or decoration, there are a few things we must take into consideration.
1/ The style you are going for. This determines what will be used to make the decorations. If you wanted very real looking flowers, then flower paste is the best option. But if you wanted something more stylised, then we could do wafer paper flowers instead. And if you wanted to keep them forever, then a cold porcelain can be used to make flowers.
2/ The way they are to be arranged on your wedding cake. This will determine how we make the flowers or decorations. If you want them to cascade down the side of the cake, and not just sit on top, then we will need to factor in a supporting stem. And this is made with florist wire.
3/ Weight. Anything made with any form of sugar tends to get quite heavy. Dozens of sugar flowers or decorations will add a lot to the weight of the cake. However, wafer paper is much lighter. So if you know the cake is going to have to be moved then this might be a better option. And wafer paper is also a lot less fragile to transport too. Worth considering.

With cake toppers and models its very similar. On the outside they will be sugar. But they will almost always need some kind of internal support. Especially with standing figures of the happy couple for example.

flamingo cake topper
This flamingo couple are a good example

What types of internal supports do we use?

1/ For many sugar and wafer paper flowers we will use a polystyrene cone or ball on a florist wire. We can make the cone or ball out of more paste, but they take a long time to dry out, add unnecessary weight, and will still need the wire. We must add the wire in order to secure the flower to the cake.
This wire becomes the flower stem, and is inserted into the cake in the same way as a real flower would be.
*Note: No flower stems, real or wired, can be inserted directly into the cake. It’s not allowed. We use posy pics, food safe tape or food safe wax as a barrier.
2/ Cocktail sticks are often used in smaller models. Usually to secure a head or limbs to the body (goodness that sounds grim!) These are food safe and you can pull them out and then eat the model (which sounds even more grim, lol)
3/ Bamboo skewers. These are used as larger cocktail sticks, and for giving a ‘spine’ to larger models.
4/ Armature wires. This is where it gets fun for us doing the making! Anything on a larger scale will need a skeleton. And any models that are posed will need this too. The armature wire is first wrapped in aluminium foil tape to make it food safe. But you can’t really eat these models unless you were to strip all the sugar paste from the wire.
5/ Florist wire. Used mostly in sugar flowers. A florist wire is often inserted into individual petals and leaves before assembling the flowers. Because of the delicate nature of this, the wire is inserted directly into these petals and leaves, no food safe protection first. So any wired petal or leaf won’t be edible, even if you pull it from the wire.
6/ Full cake frames. These are used for the large, sculpted and novelty cakes you see. They are a skeleton but for the entire cake. When these are used they are always a food safe structure.

sculpted wedding cake
An example of using a framework to get the effect

So that’s the inside. But what about the outside?

On all cake toppers, decorations and sugar flowers you’ll see the various colours and maybe even some sparkle. There are several ways we do this.

1/ Edible paints. I use these a lot. Especially with the beautiful watercolour effect cakes I do. I make my own paint by mixing edible gel colours or dust colours with alcohol, usually vodka. Some of the metallic paints I buy ready-made, but the are still 100% edible.
2/ Airbrushing. Not actually something I do that often. But, as with the edible paints, airbrush paints are a mix of edible food colour and an alcohol carrier.
3/ Dry dusting. This is used a lot for sugar flowers to add the tones and realism. Personally I always tint the actual flower pastes myself with edible gel food colour, but the petal dusts always add the details. Again these are 100% edible.
4/ Lustre dusts. Similar to petal dusts. They are 100% edible and can be used over a whole cake to give that pearlized sheen.
5/ Cocoa butter paint. This is similar to the edible paints. Instead of using alcohol we use melted cocoa butter to mix with the petal dusts/dust colours/lustre dusts.
6/ Edible glitter. This is where it can get tricky. When you are buying glitters for cakes there will be two kinds. Edible and non-toxic. If we know the glitter will be going directly onto the cake, then it will always be edible.
7/ Non-toxic glitters/colours. These are only used on toppers and decorations that will have already been rendered non-edible by the use of wires etc. Your cake maker will tell you what elements of the decorations should be removed before serving the cake. However, if you were to consume any, it’s non-toxic, so won’t do you any harm.

edible metallic painted wedding cake
This one was painted with edible, metallics

Really the main point of the wedding cake topper and the decorations isn’t to eat anyway. They are there to look amazing and wow your guests. And they will keep surprisingly well if you follow a few rules. I always say treat sugar work like gremlins: don’t get them wet and keep out of bright light!

To enquire 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

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

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.

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.

Delivering your luxury wedding cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding cakes (and weddings) from afar

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

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

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

Luxury Wedding Cakes; Don’t freak out!!

There are lots of things to think about when you’re getting married. And that can lead to lots of stress. But it doesn’t need to.
In the industry we talk about our couples ‘pain points’ which is basically the things that are freaking you out. We don’t want you to freak out! We want to solve those ‘pain points’, but we need to know what they are.
So today I’m going to ask you to get involved. An interactive blog if you like. I want to hear from you about your freak outs, especially when it comes to your wedding cake. And also what I can do to help you. Because that’s a big part of my job, not just to physically make your wedding cake, but to take the stress out of it too.
With this in mind what advice can I offer? Firstly I would say sign up to my mailing list so you can get lots and lots of free advice on all things wedding cake direct to your inbox ? (shameless plug) https://mailchi.mp/31c219759cfb/clairessweettemptations or you can find it via my FB page. There you will get you guide to choosing your wedding cake, as well as other useful advice.
I would also say to talk to us. All of the suppliers you have in mind to work with for your wedding will be only too happy to answer questions. People often start an email with ‘I know this is a silly question…..’ But there is no such thing as a silly question. After all the chances are you’ve never got married before, or even been involved in organising a wedding. Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, things will likely have changed, and what you want, and your tastes will have changed. We do this for a living, so it’s our job to know what we are doing. We do not expect you to know. So ask us. Talk to us. Tell us what’s freaking you out and stopping you enjoying the wedding planning experience.
Back to cakes. My area. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s YOUR wedding, so go with what YOU want. The chances are that, these days, you are paying for the majority of the wedding yourselves. Which is even more reason to spend that money on what gets you excited. Something else I’ve said before is book early! This is just as true for the wedding cake as for everything else. And budget properly for the cake.
Budget can be a big stress with weddings. They are not going to be cheap. Even a ‘cheap’ wedding will still be into the thousands. Sadly I find that people don’t budget properly for their wedding cake. You’ve heard me say ‘good cake isn’t cheap and cheap cake isn’t good.’ The cost of your wedding cake will depend on many things. Size, design, delivery distance and the time involved in setting it up at the venue. But I would recommend allowing a minimum of £400 for your cake. All my wedding cakes are bespoke, and unique to each of my couples. But there is a price guide on the website. Most good cake makers will have some kind of pricing guide, so you have an idea of what cost you will be looking at from them. Remember that changing your design/ size etc of your cake, will impact the cost. But at the same time you don’t need to have all your cake details nailed down in order to pay the booking fee and secure your date.

Anti-freak out check list for your wedding cake:
1/ Write down all the things that are stressing you about the cake.
2/ Talk to your cake maker about the things on your ‘stress’ list. Remember there is no such thing as a silly question.
3/ Block out all the voices telling you what they think you should have. Think about what YOU want.
4/ Book early. Even if you haven’t decided exactly what you want. If you have fond the cake maker you want to work with, then pay the booking fee and secure your date. Then you can relax and enjoy planning your dream cake.
5/ Budget properly. The ‘how much???’ is rather insulting. Do some research first. Most good cake makers will have a price guide of some kind to give you an idea of the amount you should budget for the cake.
6/ Sign up for your chosen cake makers newsletter. There will be lots of useful advice and tips there.
Now it’s your turn! Tell me what’s stressing you out about choosing your wedding cake. Tell me how I can help take that stress away.

Luxury Wedding Cakes; A week in the life! (well of the cake maker)

Last week was a busy one for Sweet Temptations. Although wedding season hasn’t really started yet, and my next wedding cake isn’t until March 9th, that doesn’t mean any time to rest!
When there are no cakes to make there is still lots to do. And so this time on the blog I thought I’d lift the lid on what happens when we aren’t in the cake studio.
The week started and ended with a wedding fair.
On the 17th Feb I was exhibiting at the first really big fair of the year, the Art of Weddings show at The Pavilions Centre at The Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge. These are always super busy, and last week was no exception! It’s great to get to meet couples face to face. So often everything is done via email, which is fine. But, sometimes, it’s good to get out of the cake nook and let people meet the face behind their wedding cakes. I always take tasting samples with me to fairs, and I almost ran out! Keep an eye on the ‘come and see me’ tab on the main site to see where I will be and when.
The Monday was my birthday, so I did take the day off (more or less). It was also the first day of half term. I don’t think you ever really get a day off when you run your own business though, your brain is always ticking over. I keep a notepad and pen by the side of the bed for those 2am AHA!!! Moments.
Tuesday saw me at the new STHQ for a spot of painting. I’ve just signed a three-year lease on a studio at the stunning Clovelly. You may have heard of Clovelly, or even been there, as it’s a very popular place to visit. This will become the ‘go to’ place to come and see me to discuss your cakes. Although the baking and constructions of your wedding and events cakes will still take place in the cake nook near Bude. So Sweet Temptations now has a base in both Devon and Cornwall!
After the painting (and feeding one of my best friends’ cats) It was home to pack ready for a flying visit to London.

NAWP spring meeting at RIBA
On Wednesday I headed off to London for the spring NAWP meeting. NAWP is the National Association of Wedding Professionals of which I’m a professional member. I took a good friend with me who is also a local cake maker and caterer. In theory we are in direct competition, but in reality we are anything but. I’m a strong believer in the hashtag #collaborationovercompetition, as that is what truly makes everyone’s business work so much better. And so Jax (Jax’s Cakes N Bakes) and I headed off to beautiful Fitzrovia.
The meeting was at the Royal Institute of British Architects on Portland Place. A magnificent art deco building and a stunning wedding venue. It was a great evening of networking with fellow wedding professionals from every area of the industry. Many of us work alone, and so the chance to meet up is very important. I met some new contacts and caught up with others who have become friends. If you are looking for high end, reliable and dedicated suppliers then I highly recommend giving NAWP a visit.
Literally just up the road from out hotel was The Wedding Gallery Official at One Marylebone Rd. I’ve wanted to visit this luxury wedding showcase since it opened just over a year ago. And so being so close was too good an opportunity to miss! On Thursday morning we went for a lovely walk around Regents Park, and then headed to the Wedding Gallery.


Wow! What an amazing place it is! They were very welcoming and allowed us to wander around. I will be joining their private members club so that I can make them my London base. They have an elegant bar and meeting area that is perfect for meeting with my London brides.
Sadly we couldn’t spend as long there as we would have liked because we had the train home to catch.
While I was in London I had a phone call asking if I could do a last minute birthday cake for the Saturday. I always take my diary away with me as this often happens. Although it might take me longer to get back to you when I’m away, I always will as soon as I can.
And so Friday I hit the ground running. An early start to get the birthday cake baked and decorated. I do try to accommodate last minute requests, but this isn’t always possible. However, this time I was able to help. One birthday cake was lovingly designed based on the details I was given, baked and decorated ready for the birthday on the Saturday.
Fortunately the birthday cake was only going a few miles, so that was the first job on Saturday. From there it was back to Clovelly to meet up with Jax again who helped me with the rest of the panting. I am a big woose with heights, so Jax did the high bits for me. She then had way too much fun being destructive and taking the old sign from the previous business off the outside.
After collecting flying silver letters from across the car park it was back home to prep for another wedding fair.
Which leads us to the end of the week. Another Sunday and another wedding fair. This time it was an open day at a new venue, Fir Hill, near Newquay. Completely the opposite of the venues we were in in London, but no less beautiful. It just shows the wide variety of venues on offer. We were given a delicious lunch by the food truck exhibiting there, and got to chat to excited couples in the spring sunshine. Not a bad way to end the week.

Fir Hill
A week in the life of a luxury cake maker. I can’t say it’s a typical week. Because I don’t think there is a typical week in this business. But it was a fun and productive week, and why I love doing what I do.

Luxury Wedding Cakes: Myth busting part 2

Welcome back!
Let’s bust a few more wedding cake myths.
When I started part 1 I thought it would be a single blog post, until I started writing! I quickly realised that there are a lot more myths surrounding wedding cakes than I originally thought.
So let’s set a few more things straight.
A few years ago cupcake towers became a huge trend. And a lot of people started asking for them thinking that cupcakes will be cheaper that a traditional, stacked wedding cake. Actually it can often be the opposite. Cupcakes themselves are not particularly expensive individually, maybe £2-£5. But multiply that by 150 guest and it quickly adds up! The reason for this is that each cupcake will have to be decorated individually, they each have a pretty case that also must be supplied. Then you might want a fancy cupcake wrapper too, another expense, and they each have to be assembled, which can be time consuming. So a wedding cupcake can easily be £5 plus each. A cupcake for each guest will be bigger than a standard serving of wedding cake, and so there will actually be more ingredients and baking involved. Although you will end up with more cake. However this can mean that people don’t want to eat their cupcake there and then, as they are full of other things. So you’ll then also need cupcake pods or individual cupcake boxes to take them home in, another expense to factor in. In addition you can’t cut a cupcake for the cake cutting photos! Well you could try I guess, but chances are you’ll want a cake big enough to use for the cake cutting, so add that in as well.
The bottom line is that cupcakes are not going to be cheaper than a traditional stacked wedding cake. So only go with this if it’s something you really want. Not because you think it’ll be a cheap option.

In a similar vein to the myth about cupcakes, is the one about cutting cakes. Cutting cakes are basically sheet cakes or basic A4 size cakes that are kept in the kitchen to be cut up and brought out after the wedding cake has been cut. This is usually done because there are a large number of people to serve cake to, more than would be practical or desirable to do the main cake for. I often do these for big corporate events, but they can be done for weddings. They are a good idea if you want to cut the cake after the meal, with the day guests, but also want to be able to serve cake to your evening guests. Cutting cakes can be kept in the venue kitchen and brought out as part of the evening food. But it’s not going to be a way to bring the wedding cake cost down by any significant amount. If you think about it, a cutting cake will still be baked in the same way and with the same ingredients as the wedding cake. It will still need to be iced, just not decorated. So there will be a small saving, but not by as much as people think.

The third myth surrounding making the wedding cake cost less, is dummy cakes. Dummy cakes are fake cake tiers that we use to create the display cakes you see in photo shoots and at wedding fairs and shows. They are invaluable, and can be used in combination with real cake tiers to make your cake look much bigger. This is great if you are having a smaller wedding, but want a big, showstopping, cake to wow your guests. However, again, there is an assumption that having fake tiers will bring the wedding cake costs right down. Not true! Yes there may be a small saving, but it will be very small. A dummy cake has to be purchased, and they can cost up to £20 depending on size (even more if they are custom made sizes or shapes) They also have to be covered and decorated in the same way as the real cakes, taking just as much time and materials. I do dummy tiers with real tiers quite often, and it works really well. Just remember which is which when you come to cut the cake!!
I think the main thing to remember is that most cake makers are not trying to upsell or somehow con you. A good cake maker will not charge you anymore because it’s a wedding cake. We work out our prices based purely on the work and time involved in the cake we are asked to make. I have made corporate and even birthday cakes that have cost more than a wedding cake. It comes down to the old saying ‘cheap cake isn’t good. Good cake isn’t cheap.’ And a good cake maker will be able to work with you to give you something within your budget.
So what should you budget for your cake? I get asked this a lot at wedding fairs ‘How much will a wedding cake be?’ And it’s really a how long is a piece of string question. All my cakes, for whatever occasion, are priced individually according to the work and time involved. Although I do have a price guide on my website, it is just that, a guide.
If you have a set budget for your cake then it’s a good idea to let your cake maker know what it is early on. That way they can work with you to bring your ideas within your budget. I would recommend allowing at least £350 for the wedding cake. It’s another myth that the wedding cake will be the cheapest element, as I said just now ‘good cake isn’t cheap.’

So here’s a little recap:
1/ Cupcake towers can actually cost more that a stacked cake. And there’s lots of extras like cases, wrappers etc to factor in.
2/ Cutting cakes are a great idea if you have a lot of guests to feed. Especially if you want to serve cake to the evening guests as well as the day guests.
3/ Dummy tiers are a good way to have a showstopping cake when you don’t need that much real cake. Just remember which are the fake tiers when you come to cut the cake!
4/ Allow a decent budget for your cake, and remember ‘cheap cake isn’t good. Good cake isn’t cheap.’

1 2