Wedding cake advice: should I have real flowers or sugar flowers on my wedding cake?

As a wedding cake designer with a tendency towards rustic and bohemian designs, flowers are an integral part of the aesthetic and it’s a good job because I adore a floral flourish and to be able to dabble in a bit of floristry is just the cherry on top (pun unashamedly intended)!

When it comes to cake flowers, I often get asked which is better: real or sugar flowers? The fact is, and I know I’m sat so firmly on the fence that I’m at risk of getting splinters, I would have to say that neither is better. It really is just down to personal preference but what I can do however is give you some tips on the pros and cons of each option, so here we go….

Real Flowers


Mother nature already does a darn good job of decorating our green and pleasant land with beautiful botanicals so real flowers are always going to look amazing against the canvas of a wedding cake, and if you’re looking to match the cake flowers to the rest of your wedding florals then it’s a no-brainer. 

To ensure a seamless match of flower types and colours, I would always encourage your cake designer to liaise directly with your florist. There’s nothing that haunts my dreams more than turning up to a venue with a three-tier cake only to find enough flowers for a one-tier just because something got lost in communication along the way. Let us worry about the details and you carry on with the joy of getting married!

When it comes to dressing your cake with flowers, each cake designer has their own methods but, as I’m a teeeensy bit precious, I always personally dress the cake. After all, your florist has enough to be getting on with on the day without having to wrestle with the messy business of cake! Plus, I will have designed your cake with your vision in mind and it’s my responsibility to turn that into reality.

As beautiful as they may be, one thing to bear in mind with real flowers is whether or not they’re safe to put on a cake. A good cake maker will clean and prepare the stems before dressing your cake to ensure that no nasties come into contact with it but some flowers are toxic (hydrangeas and calla lillies are a couple of the cheeky culprits!) so should be avoided unless you want your wedding to be memorable for the wrong reason! 

Also have a think about the time of year. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find a spring daffodil in a summer bouquet so if there’s a flower that is a particular favourite or has special meaning to you, then you’ll need to consider seasonality if you have your hearts set on a specific species of flower. 


If your vibe is rustic then the not-so-humble wild flower (think daisies and cornflowers etc.) can be so simply effective and oh so prettily boho! And if the thought of dried flowers conjures up images of a dusty bowl of pot pourri then think again; the trend for dried stems is really hitting the wedding blogs currently (pampas grass anyone?) and can look a-ma-zing!  


Sugar Flowers


When I first learned how to make a sugar rose about ooh, 15 years ago, I can’t say I was entirely enamoured. Lovely as she was, our evening class tutor seemed to be stuck on a certain look, which harped back to wedding cakes of the seventies complete with pillars and a plethora of peach!

Fortunately, trends have changed and advances in sugar craft techniques have moved on since then and now I love them. There are a variety of styles that can be achieved and the sugar flowers hitting the Pinterest and Instagram feeds today look so incredibly realistic that they warrant a third look and that, I think, is their main appeal.

If you choose to have a wedding cake then it’s one of the key elements of the day and it’s going to take up a fair bit of real estate on your photographer’s DSLR so it needs to be a showstopper and realistic sugar flowers can really add to that wow-factor. There is also a freedom with sugar flowers that you don’t get with real flowers, which means you can have any species of flower and in any colour you like and the bonus, they won’t wilt and die! In fact, they pretty much last forever if you keep them dry and dust-free.

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat it (pun number two also entirely intended!), like any other work of art, sugar flowers take time and skill to make and more often than not, your cake maker will make more than they actually need to allow for breakages, so a lot of time is invested and in turn, that means more investment from the client. Sugar flowers can take days to make; each petal individually cut, veined, thinned, wired, dried, dusted with colour and assembled but the result is a labour of love that makes your wedding cake look INCREDIBLE. 


Sugar flowers can also take other forms and be created using buttercream, royal icing, rice paper and you can even have them hand-painted onto the cake. The options are endless and with a bespoke cake you can literally take your pick of the bunch (and there’s the pun hat trick!).

So there you have it,  I hope that has helped with any dilemmas but ultimately, your cake designer can help you come to a decision that’s right for you and your budget so don’t be afraid to ask them for their creative input, that’s what they’re there for after all!


Top 5 wedding cake trends for 2019

Wedding planning eh? It’s an exciting time but by heck, there are a lot of choices to make. Rustic or luxury, church or registrar, chair covers or no chair covers…the list goes on but whatever you choose, your wedding should reflect you as a couple. After all, this isn’t [insert interfering relative’s name here]’s wedding; it’s yours!

Ultimately, the majority of your decisions will most likely ride on your choice of venue and this is also true of your wedding cake design. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I’m not sure a seven-tiered ornate gold baroque-style showstopper would sit comfortably at a tipi wedding; nor would a rustic, naked cake look at home in a stately mansion. #justsaying

Whatever you choose, you will most likely be influenced by the trends that are hitting the Pinterest boards. Happily, the wedding industry is becoming increasingly diverse, which means couples can still opt for traditional styles but the number of alternative suppliers offering different options is on the increase. 

I follow A LOT of innovative cake artists and have been seeing some exciting designs hitting my Instagram feed, especially from our Australian and Kiwi counterparts, which are making their way into the UK market. So here goes, my top five cake trend predictions for 2019.

Countryside hunting themed wedding cake with pheasant

1. Cake, Paper, Scissors

It’s by no means a new technique but I’ve been seeing an increase in the use of edible rice (or wafer) paper on wedding cakes to create bold and beautiful statement cakes. Printing directly onto rice paper means greater scope for replicating specific designs or artwork, such as this awesome pheasant illustration by Charlotte Argyrou. Whether you have a favourite piece of artwork that means something to you as a couple or you have a particular design that you’ve used on your wedding stationery for example, a rice paper wrap can really make your cake stand out.

Wafer paper flowers are also making a reappearance but this time, the rigid origami look of old is being replaced by more realistic creations. Compared to the delicacy of handmade sugar flowers, rice paper flowers are lighter, more translucent and won’t shatter but don’t be fooled, they still take time and skill to create but it’s worth it!

Cobalt blue and copper metallic wedding cake

2. Bling it on!

Metallic accents and blocking in the form of gold leaf, drips, stripes and splatters have been pretty big this year and I definitely don’t see the trend waning in 2019. It’s an elegant yet eye-catching way to add that special something to a wedding cake without covering it in diamantes! Coppers, bronzes and golds bring warmth and complement almost every colour of the spectrum and it truly spans all styles, from contemporary to classic to boho styles, the options are endless.

Secret garden woodland wedding cake

3. Bring the outside in

Outdoor weddings are becoming ever popular and many couples are looking to bring the outside in with their wedding styling. True beauty lies all around us and there’s nothing more inspirational than mother nature. In fact, it influences the majority of my cake designs, whether it be in the beauty of flowers and foliage, the sea or the sky or the textures and lines that occur in the surfaces all around us. I love how imperfection can come together so perfectly to create free-flowing whimsical designs. 

Black and gold tasselled wedding cake

4. Go bold or go home

Well no sorry, don’t actually go home, I didn’t mean to be rude. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against a white or pastel-hued cake but I do get a little over excited about a boldly coloured creation and it’s appearing more and more as couples embrace a brighter palette for their wedding day. 

It doesn’t have to be glowing pink neon (but hey there’s an idea!); going dark can be equally as show-stopping. Glossy black cakes can be an awesome canvas for brightly coloured flowers or concrete grey against warm hues of red or corals looks AMAZING!

Talking of coral, Pantone recently announced that their colour of 2019 is ‘Living Coral’. It received a mixed reception amongst my peers but I think used the right way it would add a warm vibrancy to any wedding theme. Be brave; if it’s a bit of you then don’t be afraid to go bold

Hand painted yellow wildflower wedding cake

5. Painted Love

Excuse the terrible pun on this 80’s Soft Cell classic but it sums up my feelings about hand-painted cakes; I absolutely love them! I get to unleash my inner Van Gogh and using the cake as an edible canvas allows such freedom to create something really personal for a couple. 

Much like rice paper prints, anything can be replicated onto a cake with the magic of edible paint and a skilled cake artist. Layering painted elements with other decorating techniques can create depth and interest. Take a look at my yellow wildflower wedding cake with hand-painted wildflowers and overlaid with sugar flowers. Pretty cool right? 

So there you have it, my predictions for 2019. Amazing what you can do with sugar, flour and eggs eh?

Credit where credit’s due…

Pheasant illustration by Charlotte Argyrou Illustration

Pheasant cake photography by Hannah Hall Photography

Metallic cobalt cake photography by Ayelle Photography

Secret Garden cake photography by Sam Bennett Photography

Black tasselled cake photography by Nicola Dawson Photography

Hand-painted wild flower cake photography by Dale Stephens Photography

Rustic wedding cakes: naked, semi-naked, dirty-iced. Help! What’s the difference?

So you’re enjoying the excitement of wedding planning and your Pinterest finger is throbbing with all that pinning action. You’ve collated an inspiration board of beautifully rustic wedding cake designs and you’re all set for your wedding cake consultation…

But wait. 

What the hell am I asking for? Is it a naked cake, semi-naked, dirty iced? Hell, it could be bikini-clad for all I know! Whatever happened to just ordering a cake, plain and simple, without all this talk of its state of undress, which frankly gets me hot under the collar?

As a cake designer with a penchant for rustic boho weddings, I get asked to make a lot of naked wedding cakes and the trend isn’t set to slow down any time soon and there’s good reason, they look amazing! More often than not however, couples aren’t entirely sure what they’re asking for and what the implications are of their chosen cake covering. So let me explain…


Naked Cakes

Let’s get down to basics; a naked cake is a cake in its birthday suit, not even a jot of underwear to cover its modesty. It’s essentially layers of sponge filled with jam and buttercream and either stacked into a tiered cake or served as separate tiers. 

Decorated with fresh fruits and flowers, these cakes look beautifully rustic and are great for those who aren’t fans of fondant or too much buttercream and want something simple and understated for their wedding day. 

Don’t be deceived however, they may look easy but they are tricky to get right, as there’s nowhere to hide. Those layers need to look spot on perfect with just the right amount of buttercream oozing temptingly between them. As they are prone to drying out quickly, without the moisture-locking magic of buttercream or fondant, they must also be made as close to the wedding day as possible. 


Semi Naked or Dirty Iced Cakes

Here we give the cake a smattering, a light negligée if you will, of buttercream. A semi-naked, or ‘dirty iced’, cake has a thin covering of buttercream, which has been scraped to reveal a peek of the sponge showing through. 

These look beautiful adorned with fresh flowers and that buttercream helps to seal in the sponge, making for a moister (don’t you just love that word!) cake. If you opt for different flavours for each tier, and therefore possibly different colour sponges, then this can add to the design. Or how about using coloured buttercream to tie in with your wedding styling like this peach and blush beauty? 

Again, don’t be fooled that this is an easy, just slap it together, cake to make. Getting those sharp edges can be tricky and buttercream is a messier medium to use than fondant, which reminds me, buttercream cakes don’t react well to boiling hot marquees. I have some tricks up my sleeve to mitigate the effects of a heatwave but your cake can only bear so much heat in the midst of summer!


Fully Iced Buttercream Cakes

Cloaked in a thick velvety layer of buttercream, fully iced cakes can be as smooth as a baby’s derrière or ridged and textured to create interest and serve as a canvas for that all important rustic look. 

It doesn’t always have to be white either, opt for a different colour buttercream to make your cake pop and you can go dark with it too. Warm greys and navy blues coupled with splashes of vibrant colour can be so eye-catching. 

If boho isn’t your style, then modern, art-inspired designs using buttercream with a palette knife, as if it were an oil painting, are very on trend right now and with a splash of metallic splatter or gold leaf, your cake could be a real showstopper. Don’t be afraid to be different and let your cake be an expression of you as a couple.

Now go forth to your consultation, taste some delicious cake but just make sure you’re decent. Only my cakes get naked round here…

If you want to chat cake, then hit me up at or don’t be shy, give me a call on 07518 800529.

Wedding inspiration - Rock n' Roll meets vintage (and there's a motorbike!)


If your style has a good measure of rock and roll and a dash of vintage, then this wedding inspiration shoot could be right up your street!

And if we do say so ourselves, we think this street is a particularly awesome one where you’ll find beautifully delicate bridal dresses and wild florals living right next door to old-school tattoos, a vintage motorbike and a very cool gold-top Les Paul guitar. If this all sounds like a bit of you then read on…

Tattooed bride with red and pink hand-tied bouquet
Rock and roll bride and groom in church

Located at the beautiful Furtho Manor Farm amongst the Northamptonshire countryside (with its own church I might add!), the scene opens with the arrival of the groom on a vintage motorbike to await his bride.

She meets him within the intimacy of the stone church wearing a beautiful two-piece ensemble; an intricately sequinned camisole matched with the softest grey tulle skirt and finished with some cheeky floral leather pumps, perfect for the bride who values style as well as comfort!

Her hand-tied bouquet is a stunning display of informally arranged scarlet roses and soft pink peonies and feathery astilbe interspersed with eucalyptus, thistles and seed pods.

Groom on vintage motorbike
Rock n roll bride and groom on church pew
Rock and roll bride and groom laughing
Just married with motorbike

For the after party shots, we hit the industrial style barn for his and hers cocktails. Beneath the festoon lights and soft drapes, the table is set for two against a black tasselled backdrop. The red and pink colour palette of the wedding florals is also picked out in the stationery and beautifully hand painted on to the cocktail board and replicated across the menu and place cards.

Wedding cocktail board black and red

The table is completed with a nod to the vintage motorcycle; a battered oil can filled with matching blooms, and the statement cake takes centre stage. A black tasselled creation with gold brushed bas relief roses topped with handmade sugar roses and calla lillies. 

Black tasselled wedding cake with sugar flowers

The motorbike and Les Paul gold top electric guitar complete the couple’s evening shots with the bride wearing a full skirted dress and a beautiful wrist corsage, leaving her hands free to devour a slice of their wedding cake!

Bride and groom on vintage motorbike
Rock and roll bride and groom with Les Paul guitar
Tattooed bride and groom eating wedding cake

The Dream Team…

All of this gorgeousness was created by a collaboration of awesome suppliers who put their incredible talents together to produce a kick-ass shoot!

Photographer: Nicola Dawson Photography

Venue: Furtho Manor Farm

Florals: Wild Rose Florist

Stationery: Anna Jane Designs

Drapes and festoon lights: McGee’s UK Ltd

Cake: Cherry Tree Cakerie

Bridal wear: Sequinned camisol and grey tulle skirt by Bowden Dryden; Jacko floral leather trainers by Florence; and white bridal gown by Sassi Holford. All supplied by Woburn Bridal

Groom’s wear: Model’s own

Models: Cara Hodges-Melia and Wayne Russell

The Gallery