In two years of Little Cake Garden, I’ve held many consultations. And though each meeting is completely unique, one thing is pretty constant, and that is that the bride to be is the one in charge. She has all the images on her phone. She knows the cake has to be “soft glam”, because there is a chandelier in the Main Hall. She knows exactly which shade of coral (palpitations - see previous post) needs incorporating. She knows whether she wants an acrylic topper, sugar flowers or nothing at all to crown the cake.
I’ve had tasters with no groom; tasters where the groom sits silently - looking forward only to tasting the cake; and tasters where the groom only interjects to ask “But what exactly is soft glam? Does anybody know what that even means?” “Yes, we do.” We tell him. (Because we spent hours looking it up on Pinterest.)
So I found myself in a completely novel situation when I got a call from a groom saying that the cake was to be a complete surprise for the bride and that she wouldn’t be involved in the design, nor the choice of flavours for their cake. Cue my old friends, palpitations!
If you’ve ever seen an episode of “Don‘t Tell the Bride”, you will have seen many a groom, so sure that he knows what his bride is looking for.
The most recent one that springs to mind centred on a couple of P.E teachers. The groom, having remarked on how competitive their relationship was, decided to turn the aisle into an assault course. His bride arrived to meet him... dressed in a pink tutu leotard and trainers. She then had to fight her way through inflatables, spraying water, tyres... just to get to the point where she would actually say her vows. It goes without saying that the bride, her mother and the bridesmaids were beside themselves with rage and horror. Though they did eventually forgive him and all went on to have a fantastic day.
I’m delighted to report that the making of this weekend’s cake was nowhere near as dramatic as all of that!
I met with Chris on a sunny September morning to go through the details of this surprise cake. Of any consultation I have ever had, this one was by far the most detailed and also amongst the most enjoyable.
One of the most gratifying returns to me from Little Cake Garden is getting to make a truly bespoke creation for a couple. A one-off, never to be repeated, something just for you. How many things in life can we truly say that about? Even with weddings - we all look to make it OUR OWN special day - and I think the cake is your great opportunity to share with your guests something completely tailored to just the two of you.
I’m not sure if the fact that Chris was going to present the cake as a surprise to Sophy meant that he had to dig deep and think about those things she’d really like, but Chris came prepared to our consultation.
Chris informed me that the wedding would have a Japanese theme and that Sophy would be wearing a red kimono for her wedding dress. He even provided swatches of the materials that Sophy had considered having her kimono made from. He sent me through pictures of exotic flowers they both liked and let me know how fond they both are of cute animals.
With all this imagery to hand, mood board making was next on the agenda.
Without a concrete colour scheme to work to (only to avoid clashing with the bride’s red kimono), there was plenty of colour and culture to be inspired by and I was very intrigued by the Japanese custom of including umbrella shape prints on many of their fabrics.
Originally from China, these Oil Paper Umbrellas are essential wedding items and have been keenly adopted by Japanese culture. Their round shape symbolises a “well-rounded, happy life” and the gifting of them is thought to be a way of wishing the newlyweds well.
With the only instructions from Chris being “A bold, colourful, Japanese themed, yet traditional cake”, I set about designing.
With a few adjustments, Chris and I arrived at this fun, vivacious little number: A three tier cake, with the top two tiers adorned only by Japanese moth orchid flowers.
The Oil Paper Umbrellas on the bottom tier added the much desired colourful and thematic element to Chris and Sophy’s wedding cake.
With only the cute animals left to include, we made two fantasy birds to finish the cake off and to truly stamp it as "Special For Chris & Sophy"!
The cake was put on display on the terrace at the Barbican Centre Conservatory, before being shared amongst the guests later that evening.
The guests were in for a chocolatey treat as the cake comprised of two chocolate fudge tiers and one new flavour – made at the groom’s request, Cocoa and Raspberry.
As we were leaving, guests were arriving. With the many “Wow’s” the cake got, as well as people taking out their cameras to capture the cake, we truly hope Sophy’s reaction was just the same!
So... 結婚おめでとう (kekkon omedetō) – Congratulations on getting married! And happy married life guys!