On October 13th, Ashley & Garrett tied the knot at Laurel Wood Gardens in Dade City, FL. We were honored to create their wedding cake with black Damask and purple accents.
In early August, Melanie shut down the bakery, loaded up the car, and headed to Kentucky to take a rigorous 8-hour skills exam called the Certification Exam. The exam is hosted by the International Cake Exploration Society (ICES) in an effort to encourage its members to “develop their talents in the sugar arts, acquire new sugar art skills, and strive for excellence in cake decorating.” The candidates are vying for the prestigious titles of Certified Master Sugar Artist (CMSA) or Certified Sugar Artist, but the process doesn’t start when the clock starts…no, no…it starts at least 1 year prior to the exam!
Over a year ago, Melanie registered to take the exam in Kentucky, and over the last 8 months, she has been perfecting her “Plan” for the exam. Each candidate has to carefully plan which skills they will perform during the exam, where the skills will be placed on the display pieces, etc. It doesn’t sound very difficult, but don’t underestimate the trickery involved with choosing your 8 best skills and incorporating them into an aesthetic cake design. There is a fine balance between showing your talent and going way overboard (and wasting time) too.
The candidates must write up their plan and submit it to the adjudicators for approval. While the adjudicators are there to help the candidates, they can only do so much. During the approval process, they help ensure the candidates are following all the rules so they are not disqualified and offer some advice where they can. But they can not tell from a drawing and description if the work displayed will be up to CMSA standards or not have quite enough detail for certification to be awarded. That, my friends, is up to the candidate.
So when August finally arrives, the candidates have practiced and thought the exam through until they can do their skills with their eyes closed (or at least, that’s the ideal situation). They load their vehicles and head to the exam location, which moves each year.
Melanie, her husband Adam, and their 4-month-old baby Hailee drove the 12 hours to Lexington, KY and arrived one day prior to the exam. These are the cakes Melanie created during the exam:
Are you having a beach wedding and want a simplistic, elegant cake? But maybe you also want a little sparkle and pizazz??? Here’s the cake for you!
The cake was iced in buttercream and covered with coarse sugar. The sugar naturally catches the light and looks great at any reception! Then, the cake was adorned with fondant seashells and a fondant starfish topper.
Preparation is the key to a successful wedding cake design session. Here are our tips to ensure you get the cake you’ve always dreamed of:
1. Do your cake research.
Look at pictures of cakes until your eyes hurt! Pick out a few of your favorites and bring them with you to your appointment. Don’t bring 50 photos though…that’s not helping your cake decorator see your vision. Try 10 or fewer.
2. Do your bakery research.
Once you have an idea of what you want your cake to look like, start researching local bakeries to find ones you’d like to work with. Even if they don’t have a cake similar in their photo gallery, does it look like they are capable of decorating your dream cake? Will their prices fit within your cake budget? Check out their reviews! Are their previous brides disappointed, content, happy, or THRILLED?
3. Plan your time wisely.
We recommend sitting down for a tasting & design consultation with a minimum of 2 cake decorators. Don’t go with the first one you sit down with (even if they’re awesome like us). I mean, this is the FUN part of wedding planning – who doesn’t love cake?! And make these appointments at least 6 months prior to your big day. Many cake decorators book up months in advance so don’t set yourself up for disappointment if you wait too late and all the “good ones” are booked.
4. Bring your inspiration & information
Bring everything you can to the cake tasting that will help your cake decorator see your vision for you dream cake. Cake decorators are awesome and fun people, we know, but we are not mind readers. Bring color swatches, your wedding invitation, pictures of the cakes you like, pictures of reception decor, etc. Know approximately how many cake servings you’ll need and how much you’d like to spend on the cake.
5. Does the shoe fit?
Ok, you’ve sat down with the cake decorator, designed your dream cake, and tasted his/her cakes. First of all, does the cake taste good?! Secondly, do you feel comfortable with this decorator? If your personalities clash, you might be better off finding another decorator that is more suited to you. This might be the last time you meet face-to-face with the decorator so do you trust that she a) understands your vision and b) is competent enough to bring that vision to reality? And third, does the dream cake fit in the budget?
And last, but not least, if you’re having trouble narrowing down your own cake vision, use your resources. There are tons of wedding magazines and websites at your fingertips. Try TheKnot.com or WeddingWire.com for starters. And we all know that Pinterest is a bride’s best friend.
We shared this wedding cake with you last Friday in a post about designing the perfect wedding cake. But we wanted to show you a few more pictures of the cake itself so here you go!
The finished cake right before it went out for delivery:
For those of you who have not yet designed your dream wedding cake, we thought we’d show you a bit of what we do during a design consultation. We’ll use a recent wedding in Plant City as an example. Kara came to us with 2 of her favorite cakes:
99% of the time, we sit down with the bride and/or groom to design their wedding cake from the inside (flavors), out (decorations). However, we are sometimes contacted by out-of-town brides and design the cake via email or phone conversations.
In July, Ashley and Juan drove from Georgia to get married in St. Petersburg. The reception was held at the Parkshore Grill, and Ashley asked us to create her wedding cake. She sent us a photo of a cake she liked and some samples of her wedding colors, and we took it from there!
A couple of weeks ago, we had the honor of creating a wedding cake for Kristin and Emad. Their wedding ceremony was held at a church in Plant City, and then the guests all traveled to the Palmetto Club in Fishhawk Ranch for the reception.
This just in: We now have online profiles on The Knot, Wedding Channel, and Wedding Wire. That means when you are using these top online wedding planning tools, you can find our profile! And after your wedding, you’ll be able to post reviews of your cakes so other brides can find us too. We are excited to be a part of these amazing wedding resources!
View our The Knot/WeddingChannel.com profile here.
View our Wedding Wire profile here.
Here’s a beautiful wedding cake we had the honor of creating a few weeks ago. We sat down with the bride and groom months ago to design the cake, and Vanessa, the bride, had great vision!