EXPERT ADVICE

FAQs and expert advice about cakes

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Sussex Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@your-sussex.wedding

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Q What is your advice on taking the first steps in wedding planning?
A Carrie Raymond says: Once you've got your venue and a date all booked in, one of the next steps is to book in your wedding cake. When looking at ideas for your big-day bake, your first point of call is to have a look at some of the design options available. Think about what's most important to you in terms of style and overall vision, decide on an approximate budget, and have a look at some of the cake makers able to deliver to your venue. You may click with a particular supplier during your search, or know you want to work with someone specifically if you've followed them for a while. Do ensure they have insurance and a good hygiene rating from the local council before booking in.

Each cake designer will have a unique set of skills and styles, and not every one offers every type of cake, so have a look at their previous work, check their reviews and talk to them openly about what you'd like. Most designers will be able to give you starting prices for the size and style cake you're looking at, and if it isn't in budget, or not a practical choice for your wedding, they may be able to offer alternative suggestions.

Carrie Raymond, Caritas Cake Design

Have your cake and eat it

Have your cake and eat it

Q Tell us how to plan a wedding sustainably
A Emily Fitter says: There are many ways to make your wedding cake more sustainable while still having a gorgeous, and of course, delicious bake at your wedding. Here are a few of my top tips:
•Use your wedding cake as pudding to reduce waste and ensure it's all eaten. Ask your caterer if they can cut it up and serve with seasonal berries or a coulis. Choose rich flavours that will satisfy even the sweetest tooth, such as chocolate and salted caramel, sticky toffee or coffee, hazelnut, and chocolate.
•If you're getting married out of the summer season consider a pressed flower wedding cake. The blooms are pressed at their best and last all year round for that summer meadow look without the imported flowers.
•Ditch the cake topper (unless it's sentimental). If you have a skilled cake designer then a cake topper really isn't needed.
•Don't use dummy tiers. If you're having an intimate wedding a one- or two-tier cake can still be beautiful. Cake can be frozen and enjoyed in the months to come and polystyrene is very slow to degrade.

Emily Fitter, Emily’s Mixing Bowl

Light, fresh and delicate

Light, fresh and delicate

Q How do you inject your wedding day with the spirit of spring?
A Carrie Raymond says:
After the long winter, a spring wedding offers the perfect excuse to raise the spirits with delightful flavours, playful designs and a pop of colour. Spring wedding cakes invite light fruity tastes such as lemon, passion fruit and raspberry. Adding elements of floral or earthy tones such as rose water, basil or lavender is becoming a popular choice and offers a fresh, delicate touch.

Think about being open to some variations to the traditional shape. Mixing up the tier heights, adding separators or changing up the shapes, all help to keep the style fresh, and are a great way to make your cake unique. Spring hails a more organic movement in the design of big-day bakes, with softer edges, flowing details and taller, architectural layouts. Incorporating a floral element with long stems and trailing foliage rather than tight groupings of flowers adds a playful touch.

Spring colours include gentle pastel palettes, natural white tones with plenty of fresh greens or bright cheerful hues. Using white rather than an ivory base to your cake makes the colours pop and adds a lighter air, perfect for the season.

Carrie Raymond, Caritas Cake Design

Abstract thinking

Abstract thinking

Q What are you top 2023 trend predictions?
A Emily Fitter says: "I expect to see more abstract cakes, sometimes with fewer flowers and more texture, with plenty of movement. Here, the rice paper sails mimic the flowing ethereal feeling of a wedding dress. Edible, pressed flower cakes too are going to be big this year, especially for the more relaxed rustic couples.

"Finally, vintage/retro style Lambeth cakes will be making a comeback for couples who want to have fun with their cake; not just in white, but in pastel shades too – how kitch!"

Emily Fitter, Emily’s Mixing Bowl

Winter treat

Winter treat

Q How can we give our wedding cake a wintry twist?
A Carrie Raymond says: Winter weddings can be designed to embrace the stunning array of sensations of the season. Use muted, gentle tones in the decoration like blush pink or ivory paired with deep rich jewel tones such as dark red or ivy green to create a comfy, sheltered feel. If warm colours aren't your thing, icy blues and greys can be used to create a soft modern design. Alternatively, embrace strong geometric patterns or bold textures with a contemporary monochrome vibe. White on white textures can be very striking and lend themselves beautifully to the season.

Whichever colour angle you go for, adding some glitter and sparkle provides a magical, wintry feel. Incorporating a metallic element like gold or copper can bring a warm, inviting feel, or use silver for a bold frosty kick.

Finally, bring in some winter flavours such as orange or apple, cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, or for the adults, spike a tier with a warming, spicy tipple such as brandy, Grand Marnier or amaretto.

Carrie Raymond, Caritas Cake Design

An autumnal treat

An autumnal treat

Q How can we reflect our autumnal wedding theme in our big-day bake?
A Carrie Raymond says: Your wedding cake is the perfect way to bring together the details of your chosen colour scheme, theme or overall vibe for your big day and there are so many ways to incorporate an autumnal feel into it. The distinct colour palette of the season includes bright yet muted colours of dark orange, yellows, rich pinks, browns and greens. These can be brought into play through the use of a floral or sugar flower arrangement, watercolour details, the base colour of the cake or coloured textures. Contrast these with soft, neutral hues for a gentler pop of colour.

The style of the cake can become very organic, with loose foliage, a wide trailing silk ribbon, or a flowing design that encompasses the feeling of being windswept. Including natural textures such as tree bark or stone can also be used to lend it a natural, weathered feel. Dried florals and grasses such as pampas are still popular and these embody the feeling of the seasons turning, as do seasonal fruits, which can be arranged onto the cake, such as blackberries, figs and pears.

You can also flavour your cake to continue the theme. Try swapping out strawberry conserve for fig or blackberry, or adding ginger or salted caramel to your flavour choices for a sweet, warming kick.

Carrie Raymond, Caritas Cake Design

Bloomin' delicious!

Bloomin' delicious!

Q We love flowers and want to incorporate them into our cake design. What would you suggest?
A Carrie Raymond says: Flowers are a wonderful way to feature colour, form and detail in your wedding cake. Fresh flowers are the most budget-friendly option and can exactly match your other floral arrangements. There are however a few restrictions as some popular choices are toxic and cannot be placed near food. Your hands are also a bit tied by what's available at the right time of year. Your florist can give you the best advice.

Sugarcrafted flowers are much more versatile, offering any bloom, any colour, and even metallic elements. Sugarcraft is a specialised skill and many flowers are very time consuming to make as they're made petal by petal, so the cost of these will inevitably be higher than the fresh option. However, done well, they provide a very classy finish with an added touch of luxury.

Given the increased demand for rustic-style cakes using dried flowers, foliage and grasses are on trend. They lend a boho vibe and pair well with fresh and sugar blooms. Hand-painted flowers or those created using buttercream add an arty element. Again, these involve specialist skills, so be sure to find a cake maker who has the capability to create the look you love.

Carrie Raymond, Carrie's Party Cakes

This is us

This is us

Q How can we tell the story of us through our wedding cake?
A Jo Stevens says: I love working with couples who want to use their cake to show their story! It often leads to some fun designs and always a unique bake for their day. A popular style I've create many times over the years and one that never goes out of fashion, is my hand-painted story cake. This depicts when or how you met, something you love and where you are now. It can also be personalised further to match the colour scheme of your day and allow you to add lots of fun, quirky detail.

Show your personalities through the cake's flavours too – I always suggest a selection and recommend choosing the ones you love. After all, making sure the cake is beautiful inside as well as out makes for a talking point for all the right reasons.

Jo Stevens, Peek-a-boo Cakes

Warming bakes

Warming bakes

Q We're having an autumn wedding and would love to incorporate the time of year into our cake. Do you have any flavour suggestions or decorations we could choose?
A Carrie Raymond says: There's definitely a wonderful opportunity here to include colours and flavours that really accent the season. For example, try replacing a raspberry or strawberry conserve filling for blackberry or plum. Also, orange or hazelnut praline flavours can be added to classic choices such as chocolate and vanilla to give them a real boost. Delicious caramel notes are very versatile and have proven popular in recent years, as have gingerbread and spiced carrot cake. These options offer a rich, spicy taste designed to warm the soul.

When it comes to embellishment, decorate your cakes with bold, muted colours of burnt orange, mustard, cream, burgundy and dark green; or focus on grey blues, sage, peach and dusky pink if you prefer a more subtle palette. If you like a classic look, why not swap out the traditional white for an ivory or champagne hue, which will better complement the colours of the season? The use of dried foliage and grasses such as pampas, bunny tails and ruscus is on trend, and adds a distinctive texture with a rustic feel. Lastly, we love rose gold and copper accents, which bring a gorgeous metallic element as the final flourish.

Carrie Raymond, Carita's Cake Design

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