I feel like I walk away from every wedding I shoot thinking how fortunate I am to have a job that I love. Getting to be a part of such an intimate time in a couple’s life is something I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted. Being able to photograph Nick & Sara’s wedding was probably one of the highlights of my wedding season. Sara is special to me. Many, many years ago, Sara was my first senior portrait client…ever. So far back, I remember waiting with high anticipation to receive back her prints from being developed! Yes, back when digital cameras weren’t even around. I held this wedding very close to my heart. I enjoyed every bit of the planning process with Sara and Nick. It’s common that I receive text messages from brides sending me images of details/dresses or shoes, but I think my heart skipped a beat when I received one of these texts from Sara showing me her shoes ~ Gah, check them out! Everything about this wedding was beautiful, and I was so truly blessed to be a part of such a special day.
What’s love got to do with it? Everything! When you think of Valentine’s Day, what do you think of? Cupid’s arrow? Chocolates? Roses? I will say all of the above! I remember one Valentine’s Day (many, many moons ago) when I awoke to red streamer-paper that my husband had tied to my legs that led me on a trail through my bedroom, down my hall and that ended with a beautiful box of chocolates with a gold herring-bone necklace inside (yes, it was that long ago, when herring-bone necklaces were all the rage!). *Sigh* Yes, Valentine’s should be all that! It’s not just a Hallmark holiday, but a day to be reminded to take the time to appreciate the ones you love. This FABULOUS styled shoot that I was so incredibly happy to be a part of is my featured blog for today’s special day! As for me, I’m looking forward to my nice glass of cabernet and a box full of chocolates!!!
And a special thanks to the incredible talent that made it all possible!
Floral design and Fashion Styling: Janie Medley Flora Design from The Bride’s Cafe / Creative Direction and Styling: Dana FitzGerald / Dress: Ivy and Aster from Bella Bridesmaid in Richmond, VA / Cake: Candy Valley Cake Company / Makeup: Emily Hudspeth / Invitations: Page Stationery / Venue: Historic Mankin Mansion / Models: Tori + Aaron of Marvelous Things Photography / Flowers: Fifty Flowers
And a big thank-you to Katelyn James for the inspiration and mentorship that has helped me grow to be the kind of wedding photographer that not only pushes beyond expectations but doesn’t settle with mediocrity. The weekend spent with you was fabulous!
It’s time to attack that not-so-little detail…the cake! You could just pop into the bakery down the street and ask for one like the sample in the window. But why do that when you can get something that suits your individuality as well as your taste buds! Taking the time to shop around for a cake is time well spent. Better yet, most wedding-cake artists will and should offer you a consultation before expecting you to book with them. In fact, many will insist because a good cake designer will want to make sure that the outcome is pleasing to the client! There are a couple of simple and convincing reasons why you should make the time for a consult before making your final decision on the wedding cake.
First, you are given the opportunity to give input into a cake design that you really love! Remember that your cake table will be one of a few artistic focal points of your reception. Today’s wedding-cake makers are true artists who can create almost anything; if you’ve ever watched the recent baking reality shows you know what I mean! You can work with a cake designer to come up with something that follows your wedding theme and really reflects your personalities. Often designers will have ideas as a launching point for coming up with something unique to you.
Another reason you should take advantage of a cake consultation is for the tasting! Why pay for a cake that no one is going to eat?! If you are going to bother to choose a cake that looks beautiful, why not also choose one that also tastes amazing? Of course, that means just a tiny bit more work; but really, how much “work” is it to take some time to do a little tasting? I mean, come on; sounds more like a day of indulgence to me!
Seriously though, making time for a formal cake consultation and cake tasting is important and will pay dividends. And don’t wait! Most wedding consultants and cake designers recommend a window of 3 to 6 months if you want things to go smoothly.
Now that I’ve convinced you that a cake consultation is important, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line:
- Most bakers will quote per slice and you want to make sure you know what he or she means by a “slice”. Knowing this may make a difference in the size of cake you ultimately choose. You may decide that their serving size can be divided into two helpings to cut costs.
- There is more to choosing a cake than meets the eye. You will need to make decisions on style and design, shape, size and flavor (cake and frosting/fondant and filling). Bring in samples of designs and especially colors that interest you. Pinterest is a terrific starting point for ideas! Thinking about these things before the consultation will make things a bit less overwhelming once you are there, allowing you to enjoy the process more.
- Have a budget in mind when you go in which will help the designer know which direction to steer you in. The more intricate the design, the more expensive the cake. A good designer can help you find a balance between your budget and vision. So having both in mind up front is helpful.
- Be sure to find out what exactly is included in the final quote so that you are not blindsided by additional surprise costs. There are often additional charges for cake delivery, last minute changes, the cake plate, etc…
- Once you are ready to commit, be sure to leave the shop with some visual design of the cake so that you are both on the same page and there are no surprises. A good cake designer should be willing and able to provide you with a sketch and in some cases, a computer rendering of the cake you’ve agreed upon.
- Feel good…no…feel GREAT about your choice. If you leave your consultation and did not enjoy your interactions with the designer, don’t go back. You want to get the feeling that this person truly heard you, is excited for you and desires to serve you throughout the process. You are the one paying and it is your special day!
One great perk of this particular blog posting was that I had the opportunity to do some cake tasting myself. I wanted to speak to a baker that was local with some experience in the field, so I could talk in depth about what to look for when choosing a wedding-cake designer.
After doing a bit of research and finding out about an experienced local baker, I made the appointment, ran a few extra miles and was ready for my tasting! As I waited anxiously for my treats, there she appeared like an angel holding a plate of cake samples and another plate of fillings and frosting. This was my first meeting with Carolyn, from Your Sweet Expectations. I say “angel,” because not only was she holding a plate of the BEST frosting I ever tasted (not kidding here) but she was such a sweet, warm person, and I could tell that from the moment I met her. Carolyn loves what she does, and from speaking to her that day, I can tell she really enjoys the relationships that develop while working in the wedding industry.
TANGENT: Honestly, this industry is full of authentic, funny, warm, generous and caring vendors out there, YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO SETTLE FOR SOMEONE THAT SEES THEIR ROLE IN YOUR WEDDING DAY AS “JUST A TASK.” That rings true from cake bakers to photographers to DJs. Carolyn is a great example of this. After mentioning my meeting with her on Facebook, I have had several clients mention to me that Your Sweet Expectations made their wedding cake and how wonderful Carolyn was to work with.
If you’re looking for a cake designer, give her a call. She had quite a bit of great information on how to decide on the best flavor of cake/frosting/filling for your cake, and she was definitely up to date on the latest wedding trends. She even told me about some cost-cutting measures that she shares with her clients to keep the costs down when purchasing a cake. Oh, and by the way, she has the BEST frosting ever! It’s a special recipe that she has with a cute little name that I’ve forgotten since our meeting (I was kind of on a sugar high at the time, so excuse my insufficient note-taking abilities), but it is TO DIE FOR, not at all like that “generic” frosting that so many bakers use.
So once you’ve set the date for your big day, it is not too early to begin thinking about the cake. The cake cutting and serving is an important wedding tradition that deserves time and attention. Find a reputable cake maker who will offer you a consultation and tasting that will allow you to walk away knowing you will have a unique and yummy cake that you will be proud of and your guests will enjoy. And as with all of the wedding plans, enjoy the process! And don’t forget to save a piece for your photographer:)