2014- Our busiest year yet!

First up, an apology. I know – I always start my blog posts like this. I’m truly the world’s least consistent blogger. Can you believe it’s a year since I last blogged? Naughty me!

In my defence, 2014 was our busiest (and longest) wedding season so far and I pretty much lived in my kitchen, up to my elbows in icing sugar, fondant and sugar flowers, for a full 12 months.

Melissa Woodland Cakes is currently enjoying a couple of months off before wedding season 2015 kicks off (we welcomed son number 2 into the world at the end of January so are sort of taking a little maternity leave – still checking emails, updating the website and taking enquiries!), so I thought I’d take an hour while the little bundle is sleeping to share some of our favourite cakes from last year.

Dharmesh and Kavita booked me after they attended the wedding of one of my lovely 2013 couples Mel and Chris. They wanted something truly showstopping – an imposing confection that could hold it’s own against the vast opulence of Newland Manor. The result was the biggest cake I’ve ever made. Their five tier extravaganza incorporated deep purple, silver leaf, quilting and damask, plus a bespoke pattern which matched their stunning invitation. The assembled cake stood at just over a metre tall (yes, I did use a step ladder to stack it up!)

Kavita and Dharmesh 24 May 2014 222x300 2014  Our busiest year yet!

Shimmering damask

It’s always lovely when someone in the industry books you to be part of their wedding, so when wedding ‘tog Annabel Farley booked me to make a cake for her marriage to Hugh at Wasing Park, I was delighted! Her Valentine’s Day nuptials made deciding on the look of the cake easy – a bounty of beautiful red sugar roses, silky smooth chocolate ganache and a smattering of tiny sugar cupids! Completely fell in love with this cake.

Annabel and Hugh 2 225x300 2014  Our busiest year yet!

Chocolate Cupid

There are some venues that I get stupidly excited about setting up at. In 2014, that venue was the amazing Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey! Andrea and Yuri’s wedding breakfast took place in the stunning and atmospheric library (where Lord Crawley takes his coffee), while their champagne hued cake took pride of place on the first turn of the imposing staircase. Incredible venue and super sweet couple – a delight all round.

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Champagne shimmer

We do a serious number of weddings at Hedsor House, where we’re honoured to be a preferred supplier, and we never get tired of walking through the grandeur! This cake, for Zenab and Amir, was set up in the centre of the main hall instead of the usual cake spot by the grand staircase. We loved this cake, but what really made it stand out was the stunning floral base it stood on. So much prettiness.

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Cream lace

A few other pretty 2014 Hedsor weddings…

Alyson and Mark Hedsor 26th July 14 224x300 2014  Our busiest year yet!

Petals & Peonies

Amrit and Mark 23rd May 14 224x300 2014  Our busiest year yet!

Monochrome tower

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Embroidery & Peonies

The last cake I want to share was made with a lot of love. This classic beauty was created to celebrate the marriage of my oldest, dearest friend, Natalie to the lovely Tony (I was also honoured to be a bridesmaid). The brief was elegant and timeless and I think the cake lived up to that! It was so nice to be part of the wedding and a real treat to see people enjoying all the different flavours of cake!

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Ribbons & lace

So what does 2015 hold for Melissa Woodland Cakes? Well we’re nearly fully booked for the traditional wedding season, with literally just a couple of Saturdays left. Bizarrely, November is fully booked already too. We’ll be resuming tasting appointments and design consultations at the end of April and are looking forward to meeting more of this year’s happy couples. We’ll be setting up some stunning cakes in our favourite regular venues and some exciting new ones, including Stoke Place and The Berkeley.

Until then, we’ll be having some serious baby cuddles with our new arrival and enjoying the relative peace before the commencement of wedding fever! I might even blog once or twice…

How to choose your wedding photographer

Continuing our series on how to choose your ideal wedding suppliers, we’ve roped in one of our favourite ‘togs to share her top tips. We’ve worked with the lovely Hannah McClune several times and you’ll have seen her gorgeous work in National wedding mags and right here on this blog in our Urban Glamour shoot.

Probably your longest lasting wedding decision (other than saying I do!), your wedding photographs are with you forever, so it’s important to choose wisely. Over to you Hannah!
How to choose your photographer 1 300x212 How to choose your wedding photographerTop questions to help you choose your wedding photographer

Thank you Melissa for inviting me to give a little advice on choosing your wedding photographer. Weddings are such a huge planning project; hopefully this blog series will help you feel confident picking your wedding day team!

Unsurprisingly, I believe your photography decision should not be rushed- it is easy to go with the photographer your best friend had or the one your venue recommends, but be sure they match what you want, not just budget wise, but also style, which leads me on to my first question…

What is your photography style?

What appeals to you? Browse Pinterest, flick through some magazines and see what you are drawn to. Is it the photographs that are light and airy or do you prefer the darker atmospheric images? Do you like editorial styling or prefer a more candid approach? Once you know what type of photographs you would like it will help you to narrow down your selection of photographers. How to choose your photographer 3 300x234 How to choose your wedding photographer

Do they take good photographs?

This sounds obvious, but do not just look at their portfolio that may be a mix of their best photographs. Take a look at an album which tells the story of just one couples day, or ask to see all the photographs from their last wedding.   Also try to look at photographs in different lighting; can they take good shots in a dim church or in bright midday light?

Do you like them?

This probably should be point one, you’re going to be spending most of your day with them and if they irritate you you’re definitely not going to be looking your happiest in the pictures.  Try to meet face to face before you book them. Once you do book them an engagement session is a fab way to get to know each other even better and experience what it is like to be photographed by them.

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Do they have a back up plan?

When I chat through this bit at a consultation I often see the couples eyes glaze over- dull I know, but I really do think it is super important to know about the gear your photographer uses. Do they have back up cameras? How many lenses do they have on the day? It is so so important to know any camera issues are not going to impact your photographs.

Whilst we are on a dull topic you should also double check insurance, in fact every wedding supplier you work with should have decent insurance cover and many venues ask to see our certificates.

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Do your expectations match?

My final question is, do your expectations match what they will deliver? Make sure you understand what they mean by ‘full day of coverage’ or how long your photos will take to arrive or how you pick the album photos or how they know what group shots you want or when do they take breaks or do they retouch the pictures or or or … heaps of things to know. Be sure there are no surprises from what you expect from each other.

Happy wedding planning, please shout if you think I may be able to help you with any other wedding questions you may have x

About Hannah McClune Photography 

circle bio pic How to choose your wedding photographer

Hi there! I am Hannah, my wedding photography style is fun, fresh and authentic. I am honoured to have been voted Berkshire’s ‘Best New Wedding Photographer 2013’ and have had my work published in many national wedding magazines.

My business is all about people in love. Utterly soppy, but that’s really what it comes down to- the photos always reflect people enjoying being with those that mean the very most to them.

 

Hannah McClune Photography

Shinfield, Reading

0118 9887 988, 07832254187

www.hannahmcclunephotography.com www.facebook.com/hannahmcclunephotography

How to choose your wedding florist!

How to choose your wedding florist

As part of our little series on picking your wedding suppliers, one of our favourite florists Tarnia Williams shares her tips on how to choose your ideal florist.

Bouquet close up How to choose your wedding florist!“There are many daunting tasks when planning a wedding and by the time you picked the groom (most important), found your ideal venue and the dress of your dreams it’s time to think about all the finishing touches that make the day unique.

Flowers play a massive part in the day, from your bouquet to the table arrangements. There are many choices you will need to make. Ideally the flowers need to suit the couple, the style of the wedding and the venue.

Champagne bucket table centre How to choose your wedding florist!

Before you even visit a florist do make a list of what you think you will need and try to set a sensible budget. Guidelines indicate flower costs are typically 10% of a wedding, however if you love flowers and want them everywhere you can expect to spend more and if you are less florally inclined don’t be bullied into lots of frothy arrangements that just aren’t you.

Most venues will recommend a supplier and although this is a great way of finding your florist do take the time to research some local suppliers who may be able to offer you something a bit different. Wedding Fairs are also a great way to meet florists and have an informal chat before arranging a consultation.

A Midsummer Night s Dream shoot 04791 How to choose your wedding florist!

Do speak to at least a couple of florists but remember each florist will offer unique designs so it can be very difficult to compare quotes. If you are unsure ask for approximate sizes, percentages of foliage to flowers, or number of stems in each of the designs to make sure you are comparing apples for apples. To prepare you an accurate quote your florist will have worked out the numbers of stems required for each design so should be able to supply you with this information so don’t be afraid to ask.

Remember your bouquet and groom’s button hole will appear in most of the photos so these should be the focus in any discussions with your florist. A good florist will talk you through the shape, size, colour and texture to make sure they suit you, your outfits and your personalities.

Top 10 Tips for Choosing your Wedding Florist

1. Meet with two or three suppliers and make sure you get written quotes.

2. Prepare a list of questions to ask them about your requirements and any concerns.

3. Trust your instinct – you need to be confident the florist understands your requirements, your normally get the ‘vibe’ when you have found the one.

4. Set a budget and don’t be afraid to discuss it. Your florist will help guide you to varieties and designs that will be within your budget.

5. Together make a list of everything you would like then highlight the must haves – it’s really easy to get carried away and this will help you both focus on what’s important.

6. Have some images of designs you love – the more the merrier. This will help the florist understand your style. I always ask my clients to point out some designs that they really dislike too.

7. Be flexible – if you really want Peonies but you are getting married in November let your florist suggest more cost effective alternatives.

8. Get a recommendation from a friend – if someone has had a great experience with a florist in the past they will tell you about it.

9. Look at their portfolio of work – each florist will have a way of working that produces a certain style – make sure you like their previous designs.

10. Check out their testimonials and see what other customers have to say.”

Paul Rachel 438 resize How to choose your wedding florist!

Tarnia Williams www.flowers4weddings.com

How to choose your wedding suppliers

First of all, let me congratulate you on your engagement!

You’re getting married!

What lies ahead of you is a rollercoaster of excitement, opportunity, and at times, complete and utter indecision. Never before will you have had to make so many choices about what seem to be the smallest of details! It’s a lot of fun, but it can be overwhelming, especially when you’re told what you HAVE to have at every turn!

To offer up a little help, I’ve gathered the brains of some of my favourite wedding professionals and asked them to share their top tips on sourcing suppliers and what questions you need to ask. I’ll obviously share my thoughts on how to choose your wedding cake too!

So pop back on Friday to hear from my first expert – Tarnia Williams of Flowers for Weddings. She’ll help you negotiate how to research florists, what to look for and how to pick what you want.
Tarnia coworth park 200x300 How to choose your wedding suppliers
In the mean time, here’s a couple of rules to plan by to get you started…

One: IT’S YOUR WEDDING! (and by ‘your’ I mean you and your intended’s!) Mums/Dads/sisters/in laws/aunties etc will all have advice and opinions to share with you, some more forcefully than others. Take on board what is relevant and helpful if it suits your day, otherwise, don’t feel bad about saying thanks but no thanks! They’ve had their wedding day or will get the chance to plan their own in the future. Don’t be pushed into having things you don’t want.

Two: No-one dies if you don’t have favours/chair covers/an evening buffet etc. Your budget, no matter how big or small, will have limited elasticity. If you want to have specific elements you may have to pare back on something else to afford it. It’s all about prioritising those details that are most important to you. It’s ok not to have every single wedding element going!

Three: It’s only one day. Yes it’s a huge day, but your wedding really marks the start of a wonderful new life with the person you love most in the world! Try to keep that thought with you as plan – it’ll help keep your stress levels down if you keep an eye on the very beautiful bigger picture.

Four: Enjoy yourself! You get to spend months looking at gorgeous things, trying delicious food and wine and sampling oodles of cake. What’s not to love?

So, we’ll be back on Friday with some pearls from Tarnia. Until then, happy planning!

 

2014 Wedding Cake Trends

With a fairly booked up diary for the next 12 months, we’re feeling pretty confident about the most popular trends in wedding cakes in 2014.

Although every cake we design is bespoke, we’re being asked for certain themes or elements on a regular basis and love the challenge of incorporating them them with different ideas to create something special for each couple.

So, here’s our top five wedding cake elements of 2014…

1. Metallics

Whether it’s a subtle sheen of a lustre finish on a single tier to gilt edged flowers to a full on gold or silver leaf covered tier or tiers, metal is massive this year. We love it’s versatility – use it in a solid block with sharp edges and it lends a modern luxe feel to your nuptials. Go for a crackled, mottled finish and add some oversized flowers or lace and you have a decadent, romantic, even vintage, look.

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2. Lace

OK, so lace on wedding cakes is not a new trend… but it’s not going anywhere! While bridal fashion continues to feature lace in all its guises, cake design is sure to copy. I see lots of brides who want to incorporate a feature from their dress into their cake and luckily, there are quite a few options available.

  • Appliqued lace – individual moulded pieces of lace attached to fondant covered cakes. There are limitless designs – you can even use a piece of fabric from your dress to create a bespoke mould.
  • Brush embroidery –  a royal icing technique that creates a textured lace style finish, depending on the design. It’s timeless and elegant.
  • Edible lace – there are now dozens of different mats on the market which can be used to create an incredible, flexible, edible lace that feels like fabric. It can be cut to fit, draped, used as a border, any way you like!

P1070054 225x300 2014 Wedding Cake Trends Victoria 2 225x300 2014 Wedding Cake Trends Bill and Sheila 221x300 2014 Wedding Cake Trends

 

 

 

 

 

3. Multiple cakes and Dessert Tables

2014 is the year when once cake is not enough! We’ve got several weddings coming up which will feature a cake table with multiple confections! Usually one multi tier cake, then a series of single tier ‘satellite’ cakes in different shades, or a main cake with cupcakes and mini cakes. Styled with complimentary ribbons and cake stands, they create a stunning focal point.

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Dessert tables take that focal point to another level and are popular with couples looking to offer an alternative to the standard plated dessert. Guests are wowed with a beautifully styled and themed display and can choose several miniature portions of cakes, desserts and treats plus a selection of co-ordinating confectionery. All our dessert tables are designed and styled by The Sweet Stylist.

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4. All white

Texture is going to be a huge trend this year. Our couples are looking for timelessness and tend to shy away from ‘the’ colour of the year!  So all-white cakes are in, with detail and texture added through piping, blossoms, ruffles, stripes, silhouettes, monograms and lace. We love this subtle, classy look and predict it’s going to be popular into 2015.

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5. Statement Blooms

Budget conscious brides who still want their cakes to pack a visual punch are choosing to have a few larger blooms,like Peonies, garden roses and hydrangea heads, instead of swathes of flowers, floral sprays and clusters.  Supersized flora is impactful, particularly in strong colours, yet is far more affordable than a multitude of smaller blooms.

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So that’s what we’ll be doing this year! What’s your favourite trend? Sound off in the comments! xxx

Urban Glamour Wedding shoot- edgy meets pretty at Sanctum on the Green

Some time ago, we were asked to take part in a shoot at the stunning boutique hotel Sanctum on the Green in Cookham Dean, Berkshire. The home of Luke’s Dining Room, Sanctum is a fabulous blend of modern luxury and a uniquely English country setting.

The shoot used the industrial textures of metal, slate, concrete, wire and red brick as a backdrop for vibrant colours, creative light and textures.

Urban Glamour shoot 159 Urban Glamour Wedding shoot  edgy meets pretty at Sanctum on the Green

From fresh flower jewellery to a unique sweet table suspended between trees, the shoot was full of interesting and quirky details ready for brides to incorporate into their own day.

We created a bright white 5 tier wedding cake with sharp, clean edges, blossoms and ruffles, which was styled with different ribbons and fresh orchids. Just goes to show how versatile a white cake can be! We also made simple monogrammed sugar cookie favours, meringue flowers, passion fruit mallows and meringue kisses for The Sweet Stylist‘s lovely dessert table.

Photographer Hannah McClune captured these gorgeous images and we hope you love them as much as we do! All suppliers listed after the pics!

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Our supplier partners were…

Photographer – Hannah McClune Photography – incredibly creative images!

Wedding Planner – Rachael at Serendipity Wedding Planning – Overall co-ordination and dinner table styling

Floristry – Tarnia Williams Flowers for Weddings – Beautiful bouquets, wired floral jewellery, floral light covers, breeze block centrepiece and hurricane lamps

Sweets – The Sweet Stylist – elegant sweet table, quirky sweet branches and dessert tables

Tissue blooms – Tissue Blossoms –  waterproof water lilies, paper rose bouquet and tissue pompoms

Table plan/table number – Tea and Doilies – Metal ladder table plan, table number and order of service

Other stationery – Paperknots – pretty kraft and metallic stationery suite

Attire – Borrowed Blue and Lace – Wedding Gown, bridesmaids dresses, shoes and accessories

Hair and Make up – Liz Patey – Funky hair!

Lights – Oakwood Events – Incredible paper spheres, light canopy, light curtain

Model – Steffi Green

****We are honoured to be a preferred supplier at Sanctum on the Green****

 

Wedding Cake Whirlwind Part One

Thought I’d share a few of the gorgeous cakes I’ve made for weddings over the last few weeks, the stunning venues I’ve been lucky enough to visit and a few of the brilliant suppliers I met along the way!

First up – Hedsor HouseHedsor House Wedding Cake Whirlwind Part One
Just up the road from Cliveden (and about 15 mins from my house) Hedsor House is a stunning stately home, used regularly for filming. It’s a dry hire venue, so you bring in everything you need from forks to food to flowers… And of course the cake!

I’ve set up two wedding cakes there in the last 3 weeks and will be back there on 1st September. It’s one of my favourite ever venues- imposing and elegant, but not so insanely huge you feel lost. There’s an incredible staircase, massive fireplaces and, I kid you not, a present room!

Our first cake there, for Emma and Scott, was a tower of mini cakes with a cutting cake on top. The venue was lavishly decorated with an abundance of hydrangeas by Lavender Green (which you can see behind the cake) and the wedding was catered by the lovely Melissa Webb

Scott and Emma21 Wedding Cake Whirlwind Part One

The second wedding had a a five tier confection of pearls and peonies, with additional flowers by Ruby and Grace (absolutely beautiful flowers and very sweet florists!). Catering/co-ordination was again by Melissa Webb. The props and furniture were all sourced by the Mother of the Bride Su who has a lovely interiors shop in Old Amersham.

Carla1 Wedding Cake Whirlwind Part One

 Next – Taplow House Hotel

Scenic 009 Wedding Cake Whirlwind Part One

Just over the Maidenhead bridge, Taplow House is a charming country house venue with beautiful grounds and lovely period rooms. We’re a Preferred Supplier there so get to do a good few weddings at the hotel! They have the BEST cake stand I have ever seen at a hotel – it’s massive!

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Will share a few more pretty cakes in a day or two!

Melissa x

 

Becoming Melissa Woodland Cakes

The last few weeks have been insane! This is my first full wedding season since I moved to Maidenhead, and the wedding cake diary has been chock-a-block, which is brilliant. Naturally I decided it was also the perfect time to rebrand!

I finally have a couple of days off actual baking and decorating, so I’m catching up on a bit of admin and blogging before I get back on to making sugar flowers for the next run of wedding cakes!

You will have noticed I’ve become Melissa Woodland Cakes. I set up The Cake Boutique a good few years ago when there was only one other, hundreds of miles away. Since then dozens of Cake Boutiques have sprung up and one of them even had the cheek to use my logo on their Facebook page!

I decided that it was time to rebrand before I got any more established and to use my own name so no one else could! So Melissa Woodland Cakes was born.

I have to admit it’s a little scary to use your own name for your business – I went through so many thoughts – does it look arrogant? Does it make me look like I think I’m bigger and better than I am? After talking to my friends, family and caking peers, I decided it was right to just go for it and future proof my brand.

So I have a pretty new logo and rejigged website courtesy of Chrome Daisy Web Services and a new Facebook page as I couldn’t rename the old one.

What do you think of the new me?

Melissa x

NEW LOGO Becoming Melissa Woodland Cakes

 

 

 

 

Bridal Gown Heaven

I got to spend a blissful couple of hours surrounded by lace, silk and cups of tea over the weekend, when I popped in to see the lovely ladies at the Borrowed Blue and Lace Studio in Wokingham.

settogo Bridal Gown Heaven

A rail at Borrowed Blue and Lace

I’m very lucky to be able to display some of my wedding cake dummies at this gorgeous wedding boutique, so went to have a look at the latest collections and see what exciting new designers the ladies have lined up for the coming months.

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Chic by Hollywood Dreams

 

If you haven’t been there, The Studio is in Wokingham, just off Molly Millars Lane and is home to four beautifully styled rooms of gowns, shoes, accessories, prom wear and wedding inspiration.

Owned by Elaine and Helen, Borrowed Blue and Lace is a marriage of decades of experience in the wedding industry, and The Studio is their latest venture.

With dresses from renowned labels such as Mori LeeAlan HannahBenjamin RobertsHollywood Dreams, EssenseAmanda Wyatt, Callista and Mia Mia, they have something for brides of every shape and size, plus some stunning accessories and shoes to complete your wedding day look.

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Callista Bride

They will also soon be taking delivery of an amazing selection of bridesmaids dresses that I can’t wait to try on! (I get to be a bridesmaid next year for one of my oldest, dearest friends!)

So if you or someone you know is getting hitched and hasn’t found their perfect dress, tell them to  book an appointment at The Studio. They’ll have a wonderful dress shopping experience for sure.

tiara%20borrowed%20blue%20lace%20blog.docx Bridal Gown Heaven

Amazing array of accessories

Borrowed Blue and Lace are having a sample sale next Friday and Saturday 7th/8th June, so give them a call on 01189 792768 to book an appointment!

 

 

 

 

Fabulous flavours!

There are lots of flavours that I would love to be able to distil into cake form, but I’m a firm believer that most synthetic flavours are yucky and not all natural flavours translate when cooked! I’ve tried a variety of options, from Lorann oils to fruit sauces and have ended up with soggy mixtures or chemical tasting sponge.

So when I discovered the Foodie Flavours stand at Cake International a couple of weeks ago, I was in flavour heaven.

cake intenational 2 720x400 Fabulous flavours!

Foodie Flavours have created an amazing array of highly concentrated flavourings for baking (you can also use them in drinks).

My favourite sweet ever is Rhubarb and Custard, so they were the first two flavours I snapped up (I’ve struggled to perfect a custard buttercream that’s the right consistency!)

I also grabbed a Butterscotch and Passion fruit (to accompany the mouthwatering passion fruit curd I’ve sourced).

They smell exactly as they should…how do they taste?

I had a bit of a play with the Rhubarb* and Custard today, whipping up a batch of cupcakes. I split the batter in two and added 10 drops of Rhubarb to one bowl and the same amount of custard to the other (the flavour does bakes out a little so you need to use slightly more if cooking with it)

I made some of each flavour and then combined the left over batters to give a proper R&C experience.

I also mixed up buttercreams in each flavour, using about 6 drops of the liquid.

The verdict? Amazing. The custard tastes like custard – vanilla-y goodness! The Rhubarb is pretty good too, but tastes like the boiled sweet rather than some stewed rhubarb.

If making them again, I think I’d fill the rhubarb cupcakes with a little rhubarb compote and top them with the custard bc to make it a tiny bit more natural tasting.

I will definitely be exploring some of the other flavours in their range and look forward to experimenting with flavouring fondant! No more peeling off the icing if it tastes like it’s part of the cake!

www.foodieflavours.com

*Most of the Foodie Flavours are completely natural. Some, including the rhubarb (unfortunately) are synthetic.