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Last-minute Christmas cake

I absolutely love Christmas Cake. I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I could eat a boozy, marzipan covered bit of fruit cake any day! In fact, when Mr B asked what cake I would like for my 40th Birthday, I requested a stollen Christmas cake taken from a recipe in Sainsbury’s magazine. Because, extra marzipan, obviously!

In an ideal world I would follow in the footsteps of my mum and bake my Christmas cake in August, definitely no later than September. However, I am not always that organised (and who wants the oven on for hours in the middle of a heat wave?). If I am baking Christmas cakes for customer orders or market stalls then I will bake in October, to give plenty of time for feeding and maturing. However, with our own cake I am not always so prepared.

The process of baking my bespoke fruit cakes starts anything from 3 days to 3 weeks before the actual bake, when I soak the fruit. I make both traditional alcoholic fruit cakes as well as a non-alcoholic variety.

For the alcoholic version I put the dried mixed fruit into a bowl, then add in some generous sloshes of alcohol. It doesn’t matter what alcohol you use, as long as it is a spirit of some sort. Brandy is traditional for a European cake, but in the Caribbean rum or spiced rum is the spirit of choice. I am a fan of sloshing in whatever I have, in whatever combination. Our family Christmas cake is a mix of brandy, sherry, rum, spiced rum, bourbon, flavoured vodka, Gran Marnier, cherry brandy and anything else I can find lurking in the cupboard! We sound like big drinkers, but in reality, most of these bottles gather dust in the cupboard all year, only coming out for the annual Christmas cake making ritual. The Gran Marnier came from my mother-in-law’s house with about half of it gone. We’ve just marked the fifth anniversary of her death, so that tells you how long that bottle has probably been open!

Fruit soaking
Fruit soaking overnight

The trick is not to drown the fruit – I made that mistake one year, the cake was delicious and squidgy, but the marzipan and fondant just melted off it! You want to soak the fruit in just enough liquid to coat it, but not so much that it is swimming in the bowl. This is not your morning cereal! My trick for not pouring half a bottle of brandy on it? Add some freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice to the mix, and if you still don’t have enough liquid, pour on some tea too (hot or cold, but without any milk, obviously). Give the mixture a good stir, cover with clingfilm (or mix in large Tupperware) and leave to macerate for as long as you have.

For the non-alcoholic version I make up some black tea, add in the squeezed orange and lemon and leave the fruit to soak. It works in exactly the same way. It’s a myth that you need the alcohol to preserve the cake, dried fruit is so full of sugar it will happily sit in its tea/juice bath and still make a totally delicious cake that will keep for months if stored correctly.

“But how is this last minute, Clare?” I hear you cry. “I don’t have 3 hours, let alone 3 days!” Do not despair. The Christmas cake fairy is here to help!

Phase 1
Have you ever made a tea loaf or a boiled fruit cake? Well the same principle applies. If you can let the fruit soak even overnight, then do so, but if it really is last minute then bung the fruit and soaking liquid in a saucepan and put over a VERY low heat. You aren’t cooking it, you aren’t trying to reduce a sauce, and if you are using alcohol you definitely aren’t trying to burn off the booze! It just needs a gentle heat, stir now and then and watch the fruit plump up before your eyes. Phase 1 is complete. Let the fruit sit and cool a bit, then make your cake as per the recipe (I’ll share mine below).

Fruit warming in saucepan
Gently heat your fruit and alcohol/tea until plumped up

Phase 2
You have baked your cake, the kitchen smells like Christmas, full of warm spice aromas and that festive cake smell. You’ve opened the back door because the oven being on for 4+ hours has heated the downstairs to furnace-like temperatures (or is that just our house?). You have carefully removed your precious cake from the oven and set the tin on a rack to cool and now sat down for a well-deserved cuppa. STOP – switch the kettle off for a moment. Phase 2 commences when you take the cake out of the oven. Whilst it is still hot in the tin get stabbing with a skewer (carefully, you don’t want a dented tin) and pour over a tablespoon (or two) of alcohol (or tea/fruit juice). Let it soak in whilst the cake cools (go and have your cuppa now, these cakes hold more heat than a nuclear reactor). Once completely cool, remove from the tin and wrap in greaseproof paper and then cling film or a large reusable plastic bag. Then freeze.

Feeding straight from the oven
Feed with alcohol/fruit juice straight from the oven

Phase 3
Yep, you read that correctly. Freeze that bad boy. Even if it is just overnight. With some sort of wizardry unknown to all except Santa’s Elves, freezing the fruit cake speeds up the maturation process and makes the cake taste like you have been diligently feeding it once a week for months. To defrost, remove from the freezer and leave wrapped up on a rack for a few hours (time will vary depending on the size of the cake and the temperature in the room). Don’t be tempted to unwrap it to defrost. As the cake warms up condensation forms on the surface. You want this on the wrapper, not the actual cake. (That was the science bit, did you spot it?)

Et voila! You have a rapidly matured Christmas cake. Will it work if you don’t have time to freeze the cake? Absolutely. Just whack on a bit more alcohol or tea whilst it cools.
So now you have no excuse for not making a Christmas cake before the big day. There is still time.

So here (with a grateful nod to Queen Mary Berry, whose classic rich fruit cake recipe I have adapted) is my recipe for a last-minute Christmas cake:

This will make a 6” round cake – perfect size for a family gathering.

Line a 6” round, deep cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof. If making all on the same day then preheat your oven to 120C Fan (Gas mark 1). If not, then do this when you are ready to start your mixing.

To start off put 375g dried mixed fruit, 50g Glace cherries, the zest and juice of a lemon and an orange and the alcohol or tea into a saucepan (or a bowl or Tupperware if soaking overnight). Heat gently until the fruit is plump then set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer cream together 100g of softened butter and 100g of soft dark brown sugar. Once creamed add in 2 large eggs and a big dollop of black treacle. I love black treacle, hence the unmeasured dollop, but it will also add a nice rich flavour to your last-minute cake. Mix in well, then add in the fruit and its liquid.

Finally add in 25g of chopped almonds (if using, if not then omit) and a teaspoon each of cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger and half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg (you don’t have to be exact; it depends how much you love Christmas spices).

Give it all a thorough mix with a wooden spoon (your mixer would break up the fruit and nuts). If you want to start a family tradition, give everyone a chance to mix the cake, making a wish as they go. Pour into your tin and put in the oven. It should take 3 and a half hours to cook, but after 2 and a half check that the top isn’t browning too much. If it is, make a little hat for the cake with a folded piece of greaseproof resting on top. You will know the cake is nearly done when the kitchen smells amazingly festive. If a skewer comes out clean, then take it out and leave it in the tin to cool – don’t forget to skewer it and spoon on another soak of your chosen liquid.

When it is completely cool, follow phase 3. When you are ready, cover in marzipan (if using) and icing of choice. Decorate and enjoy. Try serving it with a tasty bit of cheddar – honestly, trust me. Totally delicious!

All-white bas relief cake
All-white bas relief cake by Betty Bee Bakes

 

I’d love to know if you try this. Pop me a comment below if you have.

Merry baking!
Clare

Wedding Cake trends 2020

As 2019 nears it close (and what a completely insane year this has been!) and we start to look towards next years’ nuptials I thought I would give you my take on the wedding cake trends for 2020.

 

Naked or Semi-naked cakes

This trend has been here for a few years and is not going to go away. I already have bookings for semi-naked cakes for 2020. Barns, marquees and outdoor venues are still massively popular and these cakes are perfectly suited to that setting. They can also double up as dessert, with the addition of fruits and berries. This appeals to a lot of couples these days. Not everyone likes fondant, or the formal feel of a “traditional” cake. A sweep of buttercream on your cake is a great alternative. Which leads to the next trend …

Semi naked cake
Semi-naked cake with natural flowers and foliage by Betty Bee Bakes

 

Naked cake
Naked cake with berries by Betty Bee Bakes

Faultline cakes

These are everywhere on Pinterest or YouTube. A buttercream cake, with a “Faultline” exposed round the middle. Fill the faultine with co-ordinating sprinkles, sparkles, piped flowers, pressed organic edible flowers, a coordinating colour, a metallic – anything you can think of! More often seen in single tiers for celebration cakes be prepared to see this style elevated to multi-tiered glory!

 

Nudes and Pastels

Think peaches, ivories, champagnes, pale golds, pale gingers and macaron hues (pistachio is going to be big in bridal wear, apparently. It’s my favourite flavour ice cream but see my superstitions blog here to see why I’m a bit anxious about this one!). I have already had bookings for 2020 cakes in these shades, and they are going to be beautiful.

 

The Roaring 20s

It’s back! 100 years after we first saw Art Deco, geometry, monochrome with gold highlights, Egyptology, The Great Gatsby and All That Jazz we can fully embrace the flapper girl again. As I browsed the Mac counter the other day I noticed one of my absolute favourite lipsticks, a gorgeous scarlet called Ruby Woo, is once again one of their best-sellers, evoking that opulent 1920s look. Even if your cake isn’t going to be 20s themed, I urge you to dance to some Post-Modern Jukebox at your reception. The 20s was all about glamour, decadence and excess – if you can’t have that on your wedding day, when can you?

 

Black

Another trend that has been here for a couple of years and doesn’t look like it is going away. It embraces the Roaring 20s theme but can also be edgy and more fashion-forward. Black cakes lend themselves to non-traditional shapes too – mix and match square and round tiers, stack at an angle, or think 3-D geometric cakes. Accent with metallics or one theme colour and think architectural pieces that guests will mistake for a sculpture.

Black and coral
Black and coral cake with gold accents by Betty Bee Bakes

Sustainability

In total contrast to a black cake, and more about how the cake is made than how it looks. Sustainability in all areas of weddings is going to be huge news in 2020 and onwards. It is having a particular impact in floristry, where foam oasis are being swapped for more traditional and natural methods of arranging flowers. People born in 2000 are now fully-fledged adults and on the cusp of massive social and political change. These millennials (I hate that terminology – sorry) want weddings that reflect how they live the rest of their lives – recyclability, pre-loved, no single-use plastics. The impact this is having on the food they choose for their wedding can’t be underestimated. From using locally sourced produce or re-imagining “waste” food into an extraordinary feast, to going free-from or completely vegan to cater for all guests needs, this means that couples will be asking their cake maker to provide an environmentally friendly cake too.

 

2020 is a leap year

Once every four years the wedding industry goes into a post-valentine’s day flurry of excitement – it’s a leap year, this means, ladies, that you can propose to your man! But as we all know, in this day and age, women can propose to whoever they like, whenever they like. 2020 may be the year that the leap year proposal starts to lose its mystique. But be prepared for all wedding industry social media to be marketing that February 29th proposal date for all they are worth! Although, if you are going to propose, then I have a cake or cupcakes to help you with that …

 

Are any of these on your wedding planning radar? What else do you think is going to be big in 2020? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear what you think.

 

Clare

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

We all know the rhyme, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Even if you are not superstitious in your everyday life, you have probably thought about this when deciding on what you will wear on your wedding day or what you will have as décor or wedding party outfits. Anything with as old a tradition as a wedding ceremony will come with numerous superstitions attached to it. But what are the other superstitions around weddings?

 

My Gran was a dressmaker by profession. She was also a superstitious woman. Some of those have rubbed off on me. Never eat a mince pie before the 1st December, and its bad luck to speak to anyone during the course of eating that first mince pie! (Even as I type it, I know it’s ridiculous, but I still abide by it!). Don’t put new shoes on a table and don’t put a new hat on the bed. I have no idea where most of these came from, but there is one relating to weddings that she strongly believed, and it had sound reasoning behind it:

 

It is bad luck to wear green at a wedding.

I’m often surprised by how many people haven’t heard of this one, but it is something I must have picked up from her when I was little and it has stuck with me. Even when friends have had teal or emerald green bridesmaid dresses (I attempt to hide the shudder this prompts in me). I will never wear a dress to a wedding where green is the predominate colour. And this extends to décor, and yes, cake too. If you asked me to make you a green wedding cake, I would make it for you, but it would make me feel very on edge. She also maintained that Emeralds were unlucky, particularly in an engagement ring.

So where did her superstition come from?

Once upon a time, green dye was created using lead, a dangerous and noxious substance. Bad enough for the dyers creating the cloth, obviously. But for a dressmaker like my gran, this could prove lethal if asked to sew yards and yards of green cloth with thread also dyed with lead. Think about how you thread a needle. You lick the thread. Now imagine doing that for hours a day, over a long period of time, when your thread was covered in poison. Asking a dressmaker to sew you a green dress to wear on your wedding day (so probably also heavily embroidered or embellished with beads) was tantamount to asking the dressmaker to eat lead. As with many superstitions, it was born out of fact.

 

Peacock feathers in the house are unlucky

Another thing my gran also believed was that it was massively unlucky to have peacock feathers in the house. I found a beautiful example of peacock feather on a school trip once. I hid it in my bedroom so she wouldn’t see it. But in a lot of cultures peacocks and their feathers are symbols of luck or opulance, and particularly feature on wedding cakes.

 

So back to the wedding superstition we all know:

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a sixpence in her shoe

I have to admit, I didn’t know about the sixpence, and apparently it should be worn in your left shoe. The Victorians (instigators of so many traditions we still abide by) added in the last line, to bestow prosperity on the couple. The other items are there to invoke fertility and protect them from evil – presumably leading to a happy marriage.

When I got married, I wore a new dress and shoes, a sapphire bracelet for something blue and borrowed something old, the horseshoe my mum had carried on her bouquet at her wedding 46 years earlier! Which brings me to another wedding superstition.

A horseshoe

I remember when I was probably 13 or so, a cousin got married and I carried a horseshoe on a ribbon which I then gave to the bride after the ceremony. I didn’t know why, my mum just made me! Apparently, it is again about making sure the marriage is prosperous in the chid-bearing department, as female members of the family present horseshoes to the bride to wish her fertility. But remember to hold it the correct way up (ends pointing up) so the luck doesn’t run out! (Another one of my family’s traditions, we have lucky horseshoes everywhere – but then again, we are from the country, I used to ride and horseracing is a family affair).

 

Rain on your wedding day is good luck

This is another one that I think was probably invented to placate an anxious couple before their ceremony. We all hope for a beautiful day, with no inclement weather to spoil photos, hair dos or ruin shoes. (In my case, rain for a cake delivery is always a breath-holding moment and involves a large amount of cellophane and a prayer to the cake-delivery-gods). Certainly, it was not lucky on my own wedding day. It was so wet and windy that we had to have the post-ceremony photos inside the church and missed hearing the bells being rung (the bells we had paid extra money to have rung). We did get married in December though (I was secretly hoping for snow, I’d bought flowery wellies just in case).

 

Throwing the bouquet

This is one I didn’t do, because a) most of my guests were already married, or not in the slightest bit interested in getting married, so there would have been no one to throw it to and b) my bouquet was made of glass and crystal beads – bit heavy to lob at a crowd!

Apparently this superstition comes from medieval times, when the bride would throw her bouquet over her head at the crowd of women chasing her, to distract them. Why were they chasing her? Because it was good luck to tear a piece of her dress off as a keepsake. Yeah, I’d run too! Thankfully we don’t have that superstition anymore!

 

Saving the top tier of your cake

We had to come back to cake at some point, right? This is a cake blog, after all.

This tradition is one that has fallen by the wayside slightly recently, as wedding cakes are created from different flavours of sponge, rather than the more storable booze-soaked rich fruit cake. The idea was to save the top tier to use as a christening cake for your first-born. If you’ve borrowed something blue, been given a horseshoe and abided by the other superstitions, you should be lucky enough to be blessed with a child within the first year of your marriage. The fruitcake, if it’s been properly stored, can then be cut at the christening.

Many couples these days keep their top tier for their first anniversary. Couples marry having already had children, or not wanting to have children in the next few years, or at all. It is possible to keep your sponge top tier for your first anniversary. Ask your cake designer how to store it correctly. But sponge cake is best eaten fresh, so enjoy your cake on or soon after your wedding day, then ask your cake designer to make a new cake for your anniversary (you can replicate design elements from your wedding cake) or make a christening cake for your children.

But if you do want a fruit cake top tier and want to save it then the best way is to strip off the fondant and marzipan, give it another feed of alcohol, wrap well in greaseproof and then foil, put it in a sealed plastic bag and pop it in the freezer. When you want to use it again it can be defrosted and recovered and will taste even more delicious as it will have matured even whilst sitting in the depths of your freezer.

 

What do you think about these? Have you got any superstitions you follow? What superstitions will you abide by on your own wedding day? Or do you think there is no room for these sort of things in this day and age? Leave me a comment and let me know

Touch wood and fingers crossed,

Clare

Why order a custom cake?

You are having a celebration. A wedding, a birthday, an anniversary, a funeral. You want a cake to mark the occasion. So you search the internet for a design you like, create a Pinterest board for cake inspo. Then you get on local social media, google local cake makers or ask friends and family if they know someone.

You find a local baker and discuss your cake. Then they tell you the cost …

Here is where one of two things happen:

1) You are wowed by their design, agree the price and pay the booking fee immediately. The cake is going to look and taste amazing and you can’t wait!

2) Radio silence. You are not paying THAT much for “just a bit of cake” and anyway Aunty Doris has said she will bake it for you and her scones are legendary at the village fete.

So why should you pay that money for your custom cake?

The first clue is in the question. “Custom” cake. Bespoke, unique to you. Combining elements that reflect the style of celebration or the personality of the recipients. You won’t get that from a shop-bought cake. As a cake designer I can create a cake specific to your requirements, including models, themes, flavours and colours that you won’t find in an off-the-shelf cake. Or at anyone else’s celebration. When you get a cake artist to design your cake you can let your imagination run wild. I have made a half-and-half Moana cake for boy/girl twins, the cake was split in half by the parting wave. I have made cupcake toppers with packets of crisps, x-box controllers and superhero logos (all in the same order). Did you see my packet of Haribo Starmix on the last blog? And what about a wedding cake that looks conventional on one side, but reflects the couples love of Harry Potter or sport on the back? The possibilities are endless …

Quality Ingredients. I know exactly what has gone into my cakes, because I have baked them from scratch, using good-quality ingredients. My cakes are made from baking spread, sugar, flour, free-range eggs, natural flavourings* and milk. The buttercream is real butter, icing sugar, natural flavourings and a dash of cooled, boiled water if needed. I don’t make my own fondant/sugarpaste, but I buy a good quality product that tastes nice.

*by natural flavourings I mean real lemon juice and zest, cocoa powder, elderflower cordial etc. I try to avoid artificial essences and flavourings, because I don’t like the taste.

There are 9 separate ingredients in my basic cake with buttercream. Have you looked at the ingredients list on a supermarket cake? Do you even know what some of them are? It’s scary. There are artificial flavourings and colours, preservatives to add a long shelf life to the cake, and E numbers galore. My cake won’t last as long as the preservative-laced mass-produced kind, but it’s not meant to. It’s baked fresh to be eaten within a day or two of the event.

Which leads nicely onto the next point to consider. My cakes taste delicious. Not just nice, not OK, they taste very, very good. I pride myself on making cakes you want to eat. This is, after all, the whole point of having a cake. My daughter recently had a slice of supermarket kids birthday cake at a party. It tasted of air and sugar and not much else. Not memorable, nothing you would go back to for another slice (except maybe for the addictive sugar-rush). Sometimes, that’s the sort of cake you want to eat. But for a special occassion, don’t you want something special? I have repeat customers, they recommend me to their friends and family. They wouldn’t do that if my cakes tasted like they had been magicked up on a frothy, squirty conveyer belt.

I’m sure that Aunty Doris can make delicious cakes with traditional ingredients too, so what’s my point?

Not only will a cake from a professional baker taste good and (hopefully) be made from fresh ingredients (some bakers use “box mixes” packet cake mixes – check with your baker how they make their cakes). It will also look good.

We have honed our skills over many years, perfected the crumb coating, the covering, sharp edges on our fondant, modelling of figures, making sugar flower decorations. Some of us have qualifications, some of us have taken courses or spent hours watching online tutorials, practising to make our cakes and decorations look amazing. Aunty Doris may have wowed the vicar with her strawberry sponge, but has she covered a three-tier cake in fondant, modelled sugar flowers to match your bouquet and then transported and stacked it (appropriately boarded and dowelled to prevent collapse)? Does she know how to do that? Will she know how to tailor the structure of the cake to suit the environment the cake will be sat in? If she does, then by all means, get her to make the cake. I would! Except …

Making a celebration cake takes time. From buying the ingredients and equipment, to baking multiple layers, cooling, filling, decorating. It takes days, sometimes. Does Aunty Doris have time to do that? Do you?

If you are time-poor, then please, pay a professional to do it. In the long run it is an investment, like paying a decorator to paint the bathroom (it took me and the husband two days. I will be paying someone next time! It’s only a small bathroom). Take the stress out of it and let someone who knows what they are doing worry about it for you.

I’ll let you into a secret – I didn’t make my own wedding cake. It was one of those artificial-ingredient-heavy shop brought ones. (The Horror). But three days before my wedding I was struck by flu. The night before I went to bed at 6pm, left my mum to put my then 2-year-old daughter to bed and lay both shivering and sweating in equal measure, dosed on paracetamol and tea. I hadn’t felt that rough since the last time I had had proper flu (when I was breastfeeding my then-5-month-old). There is no way I could have been putting the finishing touches to my wedding cake and then setting it up at the venue the next morning. We also got married in my home village, which is 100 miles from where we lived. I didn’t know any local cake makers and didn’t have time to research any. This was also before I started my business. If I had known then what I know now, (and had the contacts I now have in the industry) then I would have ordered a bespoke cake.

So why does that custom cake cost so much?

Well, apart from the fresh ingredients, the time spent making it, the cost of the ingredients and the equipment? There are the utilities involved in making it – fuel to shop for the ingredients, electricity and gas involved in baking it, the cleaning products I use to maintain my 5* hygiene rating and ensure there is no cross-contamination of allergens, public liability insurance, food safety qualifications and above all, my time. Before you tell me that the price I have just quoted you for your cake is too much, please remember I am a sole-trader small business owner. Not only do I have overheads to pay, I also need to earn a wage from my business. For it to be a successful business I can continue to invest in, it should also earn a profit. How much do you earn per hour? How much do you expect me to earn? I will tell you now, that if it is less than minimum wage then I will not be making your cake for you. I have an MBE for my work in prevention of Modern Slavery. No one should be earning less than minimum wage. That is exploitation. Exploitation is modern slavery. Don’t be THAT person who expects to earn a nice wage themselves but won’t pay for a professional to work for you.

So, there we have it. You know a bit more about what to expect when you order a custom cake, and why it is something worth considering if you want to wow your guests. But if Aunty Doris wants to send some of her scones my way, I wouldn’t say no!

ClareIMG_5395

Cake is cake, Love is Universal

Supplying an LGBTQ+ wedding – why is this even an issue?

This is a blog post I have debated writing for a little while. I know it’s a controversial subject for some people, but I feel it shouldn’t even be a matter for debate in 2019. Apparently, it still is though. And as I sit here typing this, whilst catching up on the final episode of Gentleman Jack, a show where the two female lead characters, and their romance, has captured the hearts of the nation, it seems even more ironic.

A couple of things have prompted me to think about this subject in the last week or so:
Firstly, I read an article that suggested that LGBTQ+ couples were still anxious about approaching suppliers for their wedding or civil ceremony because they couldn’t always be sure of the reception they would get. This makes me very sad. I understand that some people hold strong beliefs about certain things, but there are ways of saying to someone that you can not accommodate their request without allowing prejudice to creep in or make the customer feel uncomfortable. For example, I won’t make a cake with any reference to drugs, drug culture, gang violence or exploitation (I would probably have to hand back my MBE if I endorsed these things, but I wholeheartedly don’t). But if you ask me to make a cake with these themes, I will politely tell you I am fully booked for that date. I’m not here to judge.

Secondly, June was Pride month and in London last weekend the Pride parade celebrated 50 years since the Stonewall riots and was the most well-attended London Pride parade ever. Friends (both gay and straight) who were there commented how much fun they had, how phenomenal the noise was and how vibrant the parade was. London did itself proud. So why are some same-sex couples still uncomfortable about asking suppliers for services for their wedding or civil ceremony?

I don’t profess to have the answer to this, and I am not qualified to answer it. I just felt the need to get it out there that this should not be an issue. That for me, it isn’t an issue.

There are some organisations within the wedding industry, that for a (not insubstantial) fee will go through all your literature, social media and documents to ensure there is nothing contentious in there to dissuade LGBTQ+ couples from engaging your services. Once you pass their scrutiny you get a rainbow badge to display on your social media profiles and website to indicate to couples that you are “inclusive”. Debate about this on wedding supplier groups is divided: Some suppliers are all for it, wanting to show willing and demonstrate their inclusivity. Others are derisive that it is a money-making scheme and isn’t necessary. After all, positive discrimination is still discrimination, isn’t it? It smacks a little of assuming an LGBTQ+ couple will automatically be offended unless you aim something specifically at them. This irks me. Doesn’t it suggests that if you are not heterosexual you need to be spoon-fed assurances that your request for a product or service is as valid as anyone else’s? It suggests that people are looking for offence where none is intended. I don’t believe this to be true.

There are things we can all do as suppliers to make everyone feel we are approachable. Phraseology and terminology are a big part of this. Lots of wedding social media is aimed at brides, because heterosexual brides are still the biggest sector of the market planning their weddings (and as an industry, suppliers will aim to the widest part of the market to make their money). But grooms, heterosexual or same-sex, are now becoming more proactive. So, should we be using “brides” at all? Should we be using “grooms”? Would that alienate female same-sex couples? And what of those who identify as trans, non-binary or non-gender-specific? It can be a minefield, if you let it be. So why not just talk to people as people?

I’m not sure I’ve really given you a conclusion on this. I have probably just thrown some strong opinions at the screen and let them sit there! But hopefully it has got you thinking?

I will leave you with this: I have two sisters-in-law. Not because my husband has two sisters, but because his only sister is married to a woman. I can’t get more inclusive than that. The fact that neither of them like cake much is by-the-by (although her wife does make phenomenal jams and chutneys!).

Let me know what you think in the comments – all opinions are valid, you don’t have to agree with me.

Universal cakey love,

Clare

 

P.S. Why have I given you a picture of a Haribo cake on a blog about LGBTQ+ wedding cakes? A) It’s a pretty cool cake and B) I made it for a lovely customer to give to their husband. The fact that they were both men was totally irrelevant – they love each other, they love cake and they have a sense of humour. These are the important things.

Haribo cake