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Behind the Scenes With Cove Cake Design

Interview Spotlight
05.25.24

Love is sweet, but more importantly, so is your wedding cake!

I adore photographing beautiful wedding cakes almost as much as tasting them. The moment when a couple cuts their cake is always full of emotion, sometimes tears and laughter and lots of fun messiness! It makes for some of the best wedding photos. Today on my blog, I have an exceptional guest, Suzanne from Cove Cake Design, to go over all things delicious and gather some insights into the art and planning of amazing wedding cakes!

Tell me about yourself. What got you into the business of cakes?

I actually trained as a scientist and worked in cancer research in my earlier career. My cake business came about after taking some time off for family. I have always loved food and creating things. I started to bake cakes for family and friends, and it grew from there.

What inspired the name Cove Cake Design?

It’s quite a simple one, really. I live in the beautiful seaside suburb of Sandycove. I love being just a few minutes walk from the sea, so it is a special place. The ‘Cove’ hence comes from Sandycove.

Oh, I love that! Suzanne, you mentioned on your website that you ‘strive to limit your footprint on our beautiful earth.’ What are some of the ways you achieve this in your business?

I think it is incumbent on every business to do as much as possible regarding the environment. At Cove Cake Design, there are a few things that I have implemented in the last few years to improve the footprint of the business. For example, I installed solar panels that fully power my kitchen, particularly during the sunnier wedding season months! I designed the packaging for my cake sample boxes so that they use the minimum necessary amount. They have more environmentally friendly tissue paper, and they can be recycled. The wedding cakes themselves are delivered to the venue in reusable boxes. I also no longer offer fake cake tiers. These are widespread in the cake industry but are made from polystyrene and are thrown out after the day, which is very wasteful. Finally, Cove Cake Design is a restoration member of Hometree Charity, an environmental conservation organisation that works to establish and conserve native Irish woodland. With the membership, two trees are planted each month, giving a little bit back on behalf of my clients.

Despite these positive steps, I am conscious that things still need to be done. For example, the car which I use for deliveries uses diesel. But I think it is a case of continuously improving as much as we can. Importantly, if we have the conversation as small businesses and wedding industry suppliers, we can all inspire each other to do more to reach the common goal.

What is the number one thing couples should consider when planning their wedding cake?

A realistic budget is a key consideration from the outset when planning a wedding cake. There are cakes to suit any budget, but I always suggest choosing the best cake you can afford. I truly believe the quality of the finish and taste of the cake is paramount, and if you value your wedding cake, it is important to allocate enough in your budget for this. If the budget is tight, go for the quality wedding cake but choose a slightly smaller size, or opt for simple or no decoration to save money. You can then use styling to make it a beautiful centerpiece for your day.

Speaking of budgets, why are wedding cakes so expensive? What is something a potential client might not know?

Yes, wedding cakes seem expensive compared to purchasing a sponge cake in a bakery or a birthday cake in a supermarket.  However, this isn’t really a valid comparison. Wedding cakes are made by highly skilled professionals, artists, often on a bespoke basis and a very small scale. The quality and artistic nature of a wedding cake and the client experience make them a superior luxury product. In real terms, wedding clients will generally receive things like a consultation and tasting. They will also communicate with their cake maker over the course of several months as their design is finalised. The creation of their wedding cake will then generally take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks of work, depending on the level of detail. You can hence see that there is a lot of labour involved. Business costs then include everything from chocolate to insurance and investments in things like marketing or training to maintain and develop skills. I think wedding clients now very much value the time, skills, and artistry of a wedding cake and are willing to invest in the experience for their guests.

Your cakes truly are a work of art. Your sugar flowers are incredible! They look so real! How do you do it? They must take forever to make.

Yes, the sugar flowers are a labour of love! Probably one of my favourite parts as it is really creative and quite therapeutic to sit down and take the time to make them. You do have to allocate specific diary time for them if an order is coming up. A flower like a rose takes about an hour to create, with a peony or dahlia taking 1-3 hours, depending on the size and style. So a large arrangement can take a few days’ work from start to finish. Feeding back into what I was saying about the cost!

What are your top tips for styling and displaying a wedding cake?

I have so many! The most important is location. Don’t leave it in the corner of a large function room. Consider alternative locations, such as the drinks reception area. See if there is a nice table, perhaps an antique one, as an alternative to one with a standard white cloth. Consider the lighting and backdrop at the location too. For styling, some texture in the form of linen, atmosphere with candles, and some pretty florals are a fail-safe formula. Final tip; don’t put the bridesmaids’ bouquets on the table; they always look out of place!

Do you have any tips for choosing a wedding cake flavour?

Yes, I do! I always first say don’t start with preconceived ideas about your favourite flavour. Be open to the variety your cake designer may offer; there are so many interesting options now. I suggest choosing one ‘crowd pleaser’ if you wish, and something a little more adventurous. Sampling an interesting and delicious cake is a talking point and experience for guests.

Do you have a favourite cake flavour? Is there a crowd favourite amongst clients?

If I can choose two, I would pick Earl Grey Lavender Lemon for a fragrant option and Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Rosemary to satisfy my chocolate cravings! The most popular choice amongst clients is Guinness Chocolate with Roasted White Chocolate.

Oh wow, they sound sublime. Regarding flavour and design options, is a vegan wedding cake a good idea?

I love vegan cakes and have developed really delicious recipes. However, for wedding cakes at Cove Cake Design, opting for a fully vegan cake will restrict the design options available. This is because vegan ingredients such as butter icings have different properties from those used in our standard cakes. Hence, fondant covering and decorative details such as sugar flowers are impossible. To get the full experience of our decorated cakes, my clients generally opt for a main non-vegan cake and a smaller vegan cake, mini cakes, or treats to cater to vegan guests.

What is the most memorable wedding cake you’ve ever made?

It might have to be one from 2022, where the cake was placed in the most stunning of settings in the orangery at Ballyfin Demesne. The orangery had been transformed into an oasis of natural florals and foliage, lit by an abundance of candles. The couple had their first dance there before cutting the cake, and the atmosphere was just out of this world.

Amazing! What a magical moment to have been a part of! To wrap up our interview Suzanne, what key things do you feel couples should be looking for when inquiring with a Wedding Cake Designer?

The reviews received by the businesses you are enquiring about are key things to look for. Have a look on their website or Google reviews for the latest. You could also ask other suppliers, such as your venue or wedding planner, if they have worked with your wedding cake company. It is also a good idea to look through their portfolio on their website or social media to make sure their design style suits your wedding day. Cake design is like art, with designers specialising in particular styles and techniques, so it is important to ensure you are a good match.

 

Cove Cake Design is a boutique wedding cake studio for style-conscious cake lovers.

Cove Cake Design has been featured in all the most prestigious wedding magazines and blogs, such as US Brides, Vogue Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Image Magazine. Suzanne’s passion for creating luxury cakes that are not just beautiful to look at but also delightful to eat is very inspiring. She believes your cake should be a wedding day centerpiece, with refined style and exceptional flavour in equal measure.

Suzanne has great resources on her blog to help couples plan a perfect wedding cake. Learn more about what you can expect from your budget, get more tips on styling and displaying your cake,  learn more about sustainability in wedding cake design, read about the many exciting flavour combinations you never knew existed until now, and so much more super-sweet advice.  Now I’m craving some cake. I hope this insight into cake Design has inspired you and helped you plan your perfect wedding cake.

Find Cove Cake Design at the following links:

www.covecakedesign.ie
www.facebook.com/covecakedesign
www.instagram.com/covecakedesign
www.pinterest.ie/covecakedesign