Excited to have another wedding pro on the blog sharing all things wedding cake! My path has crossed with Natalie Bryn, owner of Cake Envy, multiple times through real weddings and styled shoots (like this lavender one and this tropical one!).
When wedding planning, it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to custom cake and Natalie is giving her best advice on making decisions, making the most of your budget, and her favorite wedding cake trends. This post is FULL of valuable information and Natalie’s passion and energy shows through – I know you’ll find it helpful!
Q: What led you to baking, designing cakes, and starting your own business in the wedding industry?
I started out by baking birthday cakes for my kids when they were little. I was a single mama and couldn’t afford pretty cakes. I had always been somewhat artsy, so instead of pottery or painting, I took up cakes!
Q: What are the perks to hiring a professional to create a custom wedding cake?
I think getting years of knowledge is invaluable. When I started out, I was cheaper, but there were a lot of mistakes made and lessons learned.
When you hire an expert, you’re getting as close to a 100% guarantee that your cake will be produced professionally, structurally sound, decorated beautifully, transported safely, in one piece, on time, set up properly, not damaged, and so much more! This is WAY more than a cake – it’s the centerpiece of the whole reception! Make sure it’s perfect!
Q: At what point in the wedding planning process do you begin working with couples?
As soon as you have a date and a venue, I recommend getting your vendors nailed down! For many of us, we can only do so much, and when those dates are booked, they’re booked. I don’t have staff, so I can only do what I can do! The more popular I get, the further out I’m getting booked, so once you know, get that tasting booked and let’s do this thing!
Q: How can a couple prepare for an initial meeting (or phone call) with you and what does that meeting look like?
Have a realistic budget and a good idea of what you like! I don’t mean all the details need to be known, but find your inspiration! It makes the cake design session so much easier if I don’t have to run through everything that’s possible.
When we meet for the tasting and design session, we will taste about 8 flavors of cake and 4-5 fillings and frostings. You get to mix and match flavors to create your perfect combo! We also come up with (and draw out) a cake design so you know exactly what you’re getting and get to dream about the final product!
Q: Since most couples getting married haven’t done this before – tell us what they should know and expect!
I offer wedding cakes and grooms cakes and do a limited number of desserts. One of the important things to know when considering a dessert buffet (which is adorable), prepare to spend A LOT of money! More than a wedding cake even. I always sound like a used car salesman when I say this, but want to set the budget expectations for couple.
The reason dessert displays are more expensice is because if you give people 4-5 options, they are going to want to taste 4-5 items! They may not want to eat 4-5 desserts fully, but they do want to taste! Over and over again, when surveyed, people are most excited to eat the food offered at weddings! Think about it…. these are things that they can’t walk into the grocery store and buy. Guests are being offered custom, premium, high end desserts and they want to try them!
So if a wedding cake is $5/serving, and a dessert is $3.50/serving, then yes, serving to serving, the dessert option would seem lower. However once you order 3-4 per person, you’re spending upwards of $15/person for dessert! So think carefully about this. If you were thinking of 5 different desserts for your display, you need to assume that most everyone will have 3.
Q: Are there any misconceptions about your industry you’d like to make sure brides and grooms understand?
Other than the above about the dessert buffet, another suggestion I see thrown around is the idea of getting a styrofoam/faux cake to display and a sheet cake to feed people with. Let’s think about this for a minute. Someone wants a full on faux cake that looks like real cake, so it’s decorated like a real cake. Then, they want enough cake to feed everyone at the wedding.
So I’m still doing all the same decorating, all the same baking, and the same delivery. I’m not really sure where the savings is supposed to be in all that. What we hear when someone asks for a faux cake and a sheetcake is “I want your design.I want your skill. I want your cake. I want you to bake for all my guests. I just don’t really want to pay you.”
Q: Let’s talk about trends. Is there anything you’re loving right now or see being popular for 2019? Any trends that you don’t love or see fading out this year?
I absolutely love the intentionally “messy” and “imperfect” trend happening now. For my whole 20 years as a decorator, smooth edges and clean sides and perfect lines were what we were aspiring to perfect.
The rustic trend brought us unpretentious and intentionally textured frosting that looked like maybe grandma could have decorated the cake. Then came the naked cakes! For my entire career, you were supposed to cover up the cake.
Now with the popularity of the royal wedding cake, the unclean edges have become a major trend and I couldn’t love it more! I absolutely love taking the things that used to be perceived as flaws, like if your icing was scuffed or if the cake was showing through, and making them the focal point of the cake. There’s just something about taking the ugly and highlighting it that makes it beautiful! (There’s a metaphor for life in here somewhere!)
Q: What is your biggest tip when it comes to couples ordering a custom wedding cake?
First and foremost, have a reasonable budget. I always advise couples to go into their cake tasting and design session with a “no limits” attitude. Design exactly what you want with no thought of budget. You may be surprised at how affordable it can be!
And once we’re done, if it’s outside of a reasonable budget, I now know what you love and what’s important, we can make some adjustments to try to meet the budget. You may be surprised at what we CAN do within budget!
My second piece of piece of advice is to not let too many people have influence over your wedding. I know people don’t love burlap and mason jars anymore, but that’s because WE have seen it a lot. But YOU only get one wedding and if you love burlap and mason jars, then by golly…. you get them! This is YOUR dream wedding. Don’t let your best friend, Pinterest, blogs, influencers, or even your mama sway you from what you love. You do you girl, seriously.
You can find Natalie on her website (http://www.cakeenvyonline.com) and on Instagram @cake_envy_ga