brides

what's the big faking deal?

every year event and wedding design reveals new trends. most of those have to do with color, shape, texture, or graphic images. one trend that's been around for the past few seasons is frugality. now being a girl who has champagne taste and a coca-cola pocketbook, i understand that not everyone has oodles of disposable income to throw at their wedding or celebration. it's important in these difficult financial times that we make every cent count twice. so i applaud thrifty-ness and bargain-hunting. brides are all about diy, from their invitations to their bouquets, to favors, forget fake it till you make it, just make it! all of those handmade items bring a certain whimsy and personality to a wedding, and i'm all for it! since brides are being discriminating with their  dollars, event planners are being creative with cost-cutting, thus, the fake cake.

most cake designers have created fake cakes before; tiers of styrofoam covered in fondant or plaster and decorated to look like a fab wedding confection. they've been made for bridal shows and exhibits, or for displays in their shops or studios. i've made quite a few myself. some of the work pictured on my website consists of display cakes that i've decorated for various occasions. up until recently most of us have never been commissioned to make one for a real live event. brides and planners are soliciting display cakes for show & pics, and then sheet cake for the kitchen with the hopes of saving some scratch. here's the thing... that actually won't save you money. in some cases it may actually cost you more! allow me to debunk a couple of myths for you.

  • wedding cake costs more than other cake; bakers automatically charge more when they hear the word wedding. - not true, unless you are comparing the cost of a wedding cake to your local bakery or grocery's grab & go birthday cake. personally, i charge the same for any special event cake - birthday, wedding, anniversary, baby shower, etc.. the price is determined by the level of detail and the amount of work that will go into a specialty design.
  • a fake cake plus sheet cake will cost less. - bakers determine the price based on ingredients, how long it will take to decorate plus the amount of time it will take to bake the cake(s). when making fake cake plus sheet cake, the cake still needs to be baked, plus the cake designer has to decorate twice - first the sheet cake (which needs to look like it came from the pretty display cake), then the display cake. there are also additional materials for the display cake. that styrofoam can get pretty expensive! for a three tier cake, it can cost anywhere from $15-40 just for the dummies (not insulting them, that's just what they're called)
  • no one will know the difference, i can just get cake from costco (nothing against costco, i LOVE costco - where do you think i get all that butter from?!) to keep the  number of servings down. - ummm... nope. most cake decorators have an all-or-nothing clause in their contracts. you must get all cake from them. this is designed to protect them and their reputation. guests don't know that the groom's cake came from one place and the wedding cake came from another. they just know they had cake. and if one is really awful...only one gets all the credit/blame. they won't differentiate. also, sheet cake looks different. it's usually two layers of cake and one of icing/filling, whereas wedding cake is usually three layers of cake and two of filling or icing. you wouldn't want your guests to think there's been a bait and switch!

so how can you save on your wedding cake? when is fake cake appropriate?

  1. be realistic about your budget and share that information with your cake designer. s/he will present you with ideas that are within your price range if you are up front about it.
  2. simpler is usually less expensive. choose a design that will not require hours of detail work. nix the sugar flowers and go with silk or fresh, non-toxic blooms.
  3. choose a smaller cake for display (big surface+fancy details=more details & more time. little surface+fancy details= less details & less time) and other types of desserts like pie or cookies will reduce the amount of servings you'll need.
  4. choose a smaller display cake and kitchen cake provided by the same baker.
  5. supplement the size of your cake by the addition of one or two fake tiers. this may not save you on decorating, but it will save you on the number of serving.

i hope this helps you navigate the world of cake!

which one is real?

design, design, design!

if you watch any of the reality cake shows ( i watch all of them - even the ones i can't stand... more about that in another post), you'll see the bride & groom sitting with the esteemed cake decorator, and then they say something like..."i'm having a luau, spa, winter, outdoor, polka dot wedding, and i want you to make a fantastic cake! oh and we really love our dog, roscoe!". and then buddy, or duff, or someone on cake challenge makes a 4ft tall dog wearing a lei and a parka, skiing down a mountain with polka dot boots, and the bride & groom fall in love the minute they see it (it's perfect! it's better than we could have imagined! it looks just like roscoe if he were skiing in hawaii!) at their wedding reception with cameras rolling, and then said cake decorator gets showered with gratitude. yeah...that's not how it works. brides and grooms come in with a general idea of what they want - something round, or square, traditional or whimsical, (well the grooms come in to taste cake - they're not that interested in the pretty cakes). then i show them enough pictures to confuse them and make them change their mind. this is key to the process, because what i really want to know is how you decorate your house, and what colors you love. whether you'd wear stripes or polka dots or plaid. what country you'd love to travel to. this is where the design comes from, and it can't be accomplished in a 30 second segment. it takes a little time; we have to date a bit so that i can get to know you, and you can get to trust me!

i had a wedding cake this weekend that i absolutely love. i think it is my favorite (for now). it's because it was very different than what i normally do in terms of wedding cake. it was fun because the bride and groom let me do what i wanted! which was what they wanted even though they didn't know it initially. they came in wanting a simple, elegant 3 tier white cake. boring... they however, were not boring people, so why get a boring cake? they were interesting, and quirky, and from the middle east. the reception was at a lebanese restaurant.  plain, white cake? yeah right.

so we looked through some books, and they fell in love with an offset cake (inside i did a little jig, and then a booty shake), but not the design on that cake.

bride: "could you do something that has a byzantine feel/pattern?"

me: "sure!" (running to computer to google "byzantine design")

this is what i found (found some other stuff too, but this was the most exciting, and secretly i was hoping they'd love this too...)

this is the byzantine door interpreted in cake, and their black, white and ivory color scheme.

unmasking unveiled!

now that the last box of cake display stuff has been put away (sort of) and i am emerging from my thanksgiving turkey-induced tryptophan haze, i can tell you all about my experience at the unveiled wedding event in atlanta on november 14, 2010 (www.unveiledweddingevent.com)!

first of all, i must say that i had a great time! the wedding guys put on a FABULOUS event. they take their time to create a vision for the whole event - this year? zen! i suppose i shouldn't put an exclamation point behind zen... let me try again.

zen...ohm (picture me sitting in lotus position. on second thought don't picture that. i'm not as flexible as i used to be)

matthew & bruce, the wedding guys (www.theweddingguys.com) provided not a crumb! with a tremendous opportunity, by inviting me to provide the display cake for their reception rotunda. i got a look book with all of the textures, trends, and inspiration that had spurred them forward. i took from that book two main ideas - bamboo and water. my cake concept = zen garden fountain. i'll share the cake process in another post. i want to share the behind the scenes of getting ready for a bridal show.

there's a few things you must understand:

  1. there's always more than you think. no matter how many lists you make, you will forget something. hopefully not the cake (i didn't, but anything is possible ;)). no matter how far in advance you prepare, you will always be dashing and ripping and running at the last minute. no matter how much you do, there will be more to get done, and don't forget murphy's law - whatever can go wrong will! case in point, me breaking my cell phone the friday before the show. grrrrrr.
  2. there is always chaos before the calm. sometimes there's chaos before the chaos, but one should be optimistic that the chaos is somewhat organized.
  3. you never get the opportunity to record the before, during, and after. hence, my personal paparazzi, jeremiah wallace of j Wallace Photography. thanks jerry for being a photojournalistic phenom!

how things went down

in the weeks leading up to the show, i started making lists (what to bring), drawing diagrams (which cake/table goes where), and stressing out my plastic at home goods, tj maxx, and amazon.com. in the end, i had a living room full of stuff. it took 2 vehicles and 3 helpers to get all of the stuff to the ga world congress center. lucky for us, the wedding guys are really smart; so smart that load in and set up are the day before the show! yay!

it took us about 2 hours to get to a point where we could stop for the night ( i still needed to finish the display cake!). that included chatting with some of the other vendors, and enthusiastically debating the precise placement of the tables.

that's me, my mom, and heidi murphy (nat'l sales director, unveiled) talking about my shopping prowess. that bird figurine was $6 at kohl's!

that would be one of the wedding guys, matthew trettel, and i discussing the laundry list of things left to be done. see me ticking things off on my fingers?  i ran out of fingers and had to use them each several times!

the end result of all of all of the plotting, planning, prepping, and positioning? a great display and wonderful fun, lots of new friends, fantastic opportunities, and lots of scheduled tastings with brides! special thanks to the wedding guys and the unveiled atlanta team! see you next year!

i've BEEN ready for my close-up

so i said i'd keep you posted on when and where my get married! interview would air... there have been lots of changes and big things happening. get married! has switched stations and is now aired on WEtv, every saturday morning at 9:30am, and has a new format and host, founder stacie francombe. so with all the flux and frenzy, my interview (or at least a piece of it) has found a new home on www.getmarried.com being no stranger to the world of hollywood (smile) i knew that my 20 minute interview had the potential to be come 2 seconds after a visit to the editing room. the fates were with me, because after cutting and cutting, there's a fabulous 20 seconds of me in Cakes 101. brides and brides-to-be, please tune in for great advice about how to choose your wedding cake baker, find inspiration, and put plenty of your personality into your wedding cake. enjoy! here's the link! Cakes 101 on www.getmarried.com