A Look Back: Our Marriage Vows (Part 2)

Our first year of marriage promises reveal more about our personalities and our lives than our vows do, which is why I would love to write vows more similar to these for any future renewal. Our lives moved quickly and before long our focus was again turning, this time to how we wanted to raise our children. Having together broken down and rebuilt parts of each other’s souls before and after our wedding day, by asking the most profound and heart-wrenching questions, we emerged certain of our shared principles and priorities. What we wrote was a manifesto that summed up what it was to be a Catley-Richardson, the new family we had created by joining our names.

This is your life
Do what you love, and do it often
If you don’t like something change it
Question everything
Some opportunities only come once, seize them
Life is not a rehearsal
Enjoy the little things in life – one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things
When you eat, appreciate every last bite
Travel often –getting lost will help you find yourself
Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and new people
Do not lose faith in humanity
We are united in our differences
All emotions are beautiful
You are part of a family that loves you very much
Life is a precious thing so don’t burn it up start living it day by day
Live your dream and share your passion
Don’t make do, make happen
Strive, don’t settle
Live for love

The manifesto was inspired by Holstee, but I’ve always been keen to have words on the walls of my home, because the written word to me is one of if not the most beautiful, precious human art forms. I incorporated some of my favourite quotations, borrowed from various sources of inspiration in my life, and we came up with a few key statements of our own that were the lessons of our first years of marriage. The manifesto serves to remind us and our children of what we consider the most important truths to keep in mind every day as you live your life. Less than three years on, the manifesto needs updating and improving to better reflect our reality now, so it is a living document.

How far our relationship has come in those short three years. Bubbles and bubbles – referring to prosecco in the bath – has become even more of an us thing, in the bath that we chose in the house we own together, it’s the centrepiece of Jam Jar Spa day gifts from him, and the at least weekly debrief and destress tete-a-tetes. We have embraced the Cotswold country lifestyle and Ben plays cricket when he can. We are absolutely convinced of staycations and local holidaying. We try to live our lives to the full, squeezing as much in as we can at the weekends, keeping in touch with good friends, travelling to see them and family, improving our home and garden, being involved in the community, individually doing the things we love and both striving little by little to realise all of our hopes and ambitions. We love each other completely, without any part of ourselves reserved, unconditionally, for exactly who the other is, openly and freely. When I gave Ben my hand, I gave him my life to keep. And keep my life he does.

Part 1 of the story is here

A Month Of (Hungry Mummy) Lunches

I thought I’d do a few ‘day/week/month in the life of’ type posts, and since I hear about a lot of moms (that’s mums for the non-Brummies out there) not having the time or inclination to eat well, I wanted to document my own eating habits. In keeping track of what I ate, I couldn’t help but take note of the context of each lunch. I love food. I love cooking and eating in equal measure. I’m like Nigella without the sultry sideways eye flirting. Happy reading x

NB. Halves or thirds listed have resulted from (un)intentional sharing with my husband, two year old son, and occasionally my six month old daughter…

  1. Bacon, red onion and cheese with Worcestershire sauce grilled on a split brioche; orange juice mixed with apple and elderflower juice and water (sat at my laptop on the dining table)
  2. Lemon crème fraiche tuna and sliced cucumber on granary roll, with lightly salted kettle chips; coffee and homemade olive oil chocolate cake (while watching Toy Story 2 again)
  3. Divine/sublime olive oil fried tuna cheese melt on fresh white bread (Seb pulled a face at his mouthful but I could tell Cali wanted a taste)
  4. Late morning: half a chicken and mushroom and half a steak, port and mushroom pie from local butchers; late afternoon: cheeseburger, fries, 1/3 chocolate milkshake (from McDo after swimming and Seb meltdown so it’s allowed)
  5. Husband-made chorizo, tomato, spring onion and various cheese scromelette with asparagus and half a toasted multiseed bagel (in garden in paint-stripping work gear)
  6. Cheese toastie (without the crispy melted cheese crown Jamie Oliver suggests makes it ‘ultimate’)
  7. Leftover tomato mascarpone penne pasta bake; slice of shop-bought chocolate raspberry cream roulade (feeling ill today but plotting a new campaign anyway)
  8. Bit more pasta bake leftovers (somewhat distracted from lunch waiting for Health Visitor to call)
  9. Ham and brie baguette and lightly salted kettle chips (at a new friend’s house!)
  10. More ham and brie on baguette (this time popped in the oven to go melty, eaten while working at laptop)
  11. Leftover roast chicken pickings sandwich with cheese and onion kettle chips for a change
  12. Husband-made bacon and posh tomato ketchup on buttered fresh bread (outside having got filthy working in the garden) choc olive oil cake I made AGAIN, this time hot out the oven
  13. Cotswold home baked ham, brie and fresh bread and butter – eaten stood up in the kitchen eager to get back to ‘exciting work stuffs’ on the laptop – then ate an obscenely big shop-bought white chocolate raspberry (a fave combo of mine) cookie
  14. Our son is ill and days go by in a blur, cant for the life of me remember what I ate for lunch, I mostly get by on homemade low-sugar chocolate fruit cookies
  15. Husband-made ‘for the love of pasta’ our go to al dente spaghetti with butter, nutmeg and parmesan
  16. Red pepper hummus, Moroccan couscous and pea shoot leaves in wholemeal pitta, half a pork pie, bought for husband working from home
  17. Traditional bacon sandwich made by husband we fantasised over while doing the tip run in Swindon
  18. Non-existent, fridge is bare, instead prepare lunch for Seb who turns face away. Some passionfruit yoghurt, a chocolate Freddo and fruit toast for me, later quite a few tomato and olive mini bruschettes while doing the online food order
  19. Really thick and warming homemade roast squash, sweet potato and onion soup; followed by leftover homemade bread and butter pudding served cold
  20. A fave from gestational diabetes pregnancy: three new potatoes microwaved into something resembling a jacket potato, with ample butter and cottage cheese
  21. Toasted bagel loaded with butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon, black peppper and lemon juice, hungrily scoffed in relief
  22. Half a bagel with scrambled egg (Delia style) mixed with smoked salmon and homemade watercress cheese sauce leftover from dinner, not as amazeballs as I imagined it would be
  23. A yoghurt and some fruit toast before rushing out to the shops without the children, while around the shops I grab a’detox’ smoothie
  24. Lip-lickingly satisfying real spaghetti carbonara made with our own eggs on a wet and cold Sunday
  25. Southern fried chicken breast with lettuce, our own tomato, grated cheese and honey mustard dressing sandwich, a husband work at home special, we have to wait for my Mom (who lives with us) to get in with the loaf of bread

Most weekdays I don’t ‘get ready’ because I don’t go out with the kids unless I have arranged a meet up with friends or a full blown day out with them. I’m to be found in the garden, in the bath, in the kitchen or in the Snug with my two young children. Most days when Daddy gets home from work at least one of us is still in our pjs, with dishevelled hair. And most days all three of us, the carpet, and every surface in the kitchen will be covered in the remnants of the day’s meals. This will only be my reality for a short time in my life, and I sure do love it.

An atheist prayer

Do I pray? Can an atheist pray?

Most devout atheists in denying the existence of God reject the supernatural (anything that cannot be explained by science) entirely. This means not believing in ghosts, angels, a spirit/soul, miracles, magic and even luck. I’m a bit of a black sheep among atheists in having a will to believe in these things while choosing not to believe in God. In the absence of proof, belief in the supernatural is an act of faith, or will.

And while I do not have the will to believe in God, I am open to the wonder of the universe. I don’t feel the need to understand or explain everything in human experience, I think beauty can reside in mystique. Experience itself can be intangible, mind-blowing, yet it is no less real. I simply choose to attribute the miraculous, the awe-inspiring, the heart-stopping, skin-tingling wonder that we have the privilege of experiencing to humanity and to the natural world rather than God(s).

So with a deep sense and appreciation of the beauty and power of everything in physical existence, I pray to all that is good and right and meant to be in the world. I pray with all my heart, and with every ounce of will in my soul, most sincerely and seriously for loved ones in pain, sickness, and heartache. I pray to all that is light, true and free, to all that is new, pure and full of life.

I pray that the sheer strength of our shared will to goodness, and our desire to let our own strength, resilience and belief pour out of our hearts and minds reaches those in need. I pray to the spirit of determination and optimism of mankind past, present and future. I pray to the stars, the sun and the moon that watch over us. I pray to the very core of my very own deepest heart.

I pray, and I believe in the strength of the will, in the will to survive, in the majesty of being, and living and loving. I pray. May my prayers be felt by my loved ones in need.

A Look Back: Our Marriage Vows

Three years ago tomorrow, Ben and I said ‘I do’ in an incredibly simple garden ceremony half as long as the average ceremony I have been composing for couples over the past two and half years. I know I would compose a completely different ceremony for us if I could do it all again. But how different would our wedding vows be? And more importantly have we been living up to those vows? These are the promises we made to each other:

I promise to keep myself open to you,
To let you see through the window of my world,
Into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams.
I promise to trust you and honour you.
To laugh with you and cry with you.
I will love you faithfully,
Through the best and worst,
Through the difficult and the easy,
Completely and forever.
Come what may I promise I will always be there.
As I give you my hand to hold,
So I give you my life to keep.

Not long after we returned from our Honeymoon, we found and moved into a cottage in a village which opened up to us the lifestyle we enjoy today. That home and that village came to define our first year as husband and wife. It felt like our shared life started there. It was there that we really found who we were as a couple, and discovered our shared dream for our future. In our jubilation and to help us to cherish each other and our lives there we agreed further promises to live by day to day.

We pledge to have bubbles and bubbles at least once every two weeks and give thanks for our blessings
To explore on foot the village and surrounding countryside once a week – on Sundays if possible
To meet for a drink in the pub every Friday
To buy our meat from the local farm and to try the local oil
To go swimming in (nearby town) once a week
To have people over at least twice a month
To attempt to grow veg in the garden
To improve the lawn and garden
To go to (nearby towns) for shopping
To holiday close to home
To watch village cricket on Saturdays
To share the cooking and washing up
To always smile and greet fellow locals

When we wrote our wedding vows we were still getting to know one another having only met 18 months earlier. What shines through our wedding ceremony and wedding day in general is our relief and elation that we had finally found one another, that we were more than soul mates, we were perfect for each other, and that we really wanted to marry each other and be together, in each other’s pockets, for the rest of our lives. Click to read the rest of the story

Ceremony Music: make or break tips

1. Choose someone reliable to be in charge of setting up and starting and stopping the music
2. Make this their one and only job so they are there when needed and there is no delay in music starting
3. Test any equipment well in advance, not just the morning of the wedding
4. Try out volume levels for entrance, exit and mid-ceremony music
5. The volume for the exit song needs to be louder than other ceremony music, get a few people to clap and cheer over it and turn it up even louder

6. Mid-ceremony music needs to be low enough to talk over and be heard if used during Celebrant speaking
7. Mid-ceremony music may need to be looped so test how smoothly your chosen song can be repeated
8. Instrumental music is best for mid-ceremony whether or not the Celebrant is speaking over it
9. If playing music to be sung over see tip no. 5
10. Choose rousing, exhilarating music for the exit song to best fit the relief and elation of the Bride and Groom

11. Never abruptly stop a piece of music, always fade out gradually
12. Leave your background playlist on right up to the second the entrance song is started to avoid an awkward silence which heightens tension and nerves and makes time go ever so slowly (see tip no.2)
13. Start the exit song the second the Bride and Groom kiss or the Celebrant has stopped speaking – whichever is sooner
14. Start the after ceremony music as soon as the exit song finishes
15. Don’t assume the person in charge of the music will think of these points even if they seem like common sense, don’t assume anything, write instructions, and rehearse!

Symbolic gifts for anniversaries

I haven’t come across a definitive list of the traditional gifts or symbols associated with different wedding anniversary milestones, but this is one I’m happy represents the British consensus quite well.

1st – Paper
2nd – Cotton
3rd – Leather
4th – Linen
5th – Wooden
6th – Iron
7th – Copper/Wool
8th – Bronze
9th – Pottery
10th – Tin
11th – Steel
12th – Silk
13th – Lace
14th – Ivory
15th – Crystal

Ben and I celebrate our third anniversary next week and I haven’t bought him anything, much less anything in leather. Like many couples we can rarely justify spending money on ourselves or each other. Afterall, we’ve got each other, and back massages are free! Yea we’re happy and don’t need gifts to remind us we are loved, but I do love to buy Ben gifts, even if there’s no occasion. He deserves little treats and surprises and it makes me so happy.

For our first anniversary we bought each other papercut design cards, papercut being an ‘us’ thing. Last year we didn’t exchange gifts but we decided to have another baby, who we bought plenty of things made of cotton. I love the idea of us buying ourselves a joint gift. Something for our bedroom or bathroom, something we’d use every day, for each anniversary. It’s ideal that the list of traditional anniversary gifts suggests objects of quality and craftsmanship. Anniversary gifts are among those gifts you’d like to cherish and hand down to your children. Objects that come to define your home and space and lifestyle. We value handmade pieces, prefer unique and unusual pieces, and I love anything with a past and a story.

Cotton: I bought Ben a Liberty print handkerchief for our wedding, a handkerchief he’ll keep and love forever. Leather: the year after we were married we bought an Italian leather super king-size bed, a bed that will last the rest of our lives, we share with our children. Linen: some nice dinner napkins would suit us as we use them every day. Wood: Maybe that year we’ll get round to making our bespoke coat and hat rack with mismatched hooks that reflect our personalities for each the family. Iron: A second fireside companion so each of the downstairs open fires has one each. Copper: copper bathtubs are pretty special and we’ll need a bath when we convert the attic into our master suite, however having just Ebay’d them gosh they’re expensive, I would love copper saucepans instead . Wool: we use throws and blankets a lot both in the snug and on the bed, a Cotswold wool blanket would be perfect.

Bronze: something for the garden. Pottery: maybe we’ll replace our crockery. I’ve been hankering after an Emma Bridgewater hearts milk jug forever. Tin: probably something else for the garden – when in doubt! Tin makes very cute hole-punched candle holders. Steel: We already have a nice cutlery set. I’m sure we’ll find something in one of the nice kitchen shops in Oxford or Witney. Silk: I’m struggling to think of silk items for the home, but I’d start by looking for silk cushion covers. Lace: Like linen, beautiful lace is always something I want to bring home with me from France. I think our Dining Room could pull off a lace table cloth without looking too geriatric. Ivory: Our kids will still be pretty young so we could finally get a piano (if we can make room for one) and it should still see some use as they grow up. Crystal: Instead of the obvious wine glasses, maybe we’ll treat ourselves to an expensive bottle of champagne! Scandalous!

20th – China
25th – Silver
30th – Pearl
35th – Coral
40th – Ruby
45th – Sapphire
50th – Gold
55th – Emerald
60th – Diamond
65th – Blue Sapphire
70th – Platinum

I think it’s sensible to switch to five-yearly gifts of significance once you’ve been married 15 years, but I don’t agree that after a point, a grand gesture every ten years is more appropriate! Anything longer than 50 years of marriage, with so many couples marrying in their 30s rather than their 20s, is bloomin marvellous! All the more reason to celebrate the passing of another five years. If you are fortunate enough to get to 70 happy years together well then you already have more than money can buy – a wonderfully long lifetime of memories.

China: we already have quite a collection of china tea sets, which we plan to use in our tea garden when it’s open, so it would make sense to buy something special for the tea garden this year. The rest of the list is suggestive of jewellery. I know I will much rather buy one of our children a piece of jewellery made of the stones and metals symbolic of our years together as family keepsakes. After all back massages will still be free 🙂

These are a few of my favourite things (about a wedding ceremomy)

As a guest albeit one with the role of Celebrant to play, having an excuse to dress up, wear makeup and jewellery, coif my hair and sometimes even wear nail varnish!
The mad rush to get out the house and into the car with the husband and kids, even though we sometimes snap at each other in the chaos, it’s so us, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s an exciting start to the day!
Reading the script and being impressed with myself and thinking to myself, I’m really good at my job.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Seeing the hard work of the Bride and Groom and their family of helpers, before any of the guests arrive.
Quirky signs using puns of their names and witty personal touches the Bride and Groom have thought of, such as their cut out faces on a wedding bake off trophy.
Checking out and comparing the toilets.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Nervous Grooms, especially if I can make them laugh; and people wishing the Groom luck.
Hearing the reactions of guests to the décor; and guests taking lots of photographs.
Seeing the wedding rings. Hearing the entrance song.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Seeing the Bride’s face (not her dress) as she walks in and looks for the Groom’s face.
Grooms with huge smiles and tears in their eyes when they see the Bride.
The Bride and Groom exchanging a few words when they are reunited at the front (usually sharing how nervous/overwhelmed they are or hot/cold/tired and how good they both look).
These are a few of my favourite things.

The Bride smiling at me. Guests smiling and crying throughout the ceremony, especially gasps of delight.
The ring and vow exchange because it’s such a personal and tender moment between the Bride and Groom we get to witness.
The fact that the rings hardly ever fit easily and have to be forced on (and how keen they are that the ring WILL go on).
These are a few of my favourite things.

Declaring the Bride and Groom husband and wife and everyone cheering.
Seeing all the love for the Bride and Groom in the congratulation hugs and kisses and photographs.
The parents of the Bride and Groom thanking and kissing me.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Picture this

You’ve chosen your professional photographer and come up with a list of must-have shots and group poses. You’ve done your homework and know exactly the style of photography you want for your wedding and have given the photographer a long brief to that effect. You’ve even bought your wedding photo albums. You may have decided to hand out disposable cameras for your guests to take snaps throughout the reception. You’ve bought a nice guest book for friends and family to sign and a special pen to go with it.

STOP!

What about…

Wedding Photo Booth

A photo booth that produces strips of passport photos, unlimited and free of charge to your guests! It’s set up and managed for you. Most companies will provide props.

Needed: Try to get a recommendation for the company you use.

Pro:

  • You can leave the professionals to it, totally hassle free
  • Tremendous fun for your guests, particularly i) squeezing multiple people into the booth ii) time pressure between snaps iii) taking loads of snaps and getting creative with poses
  • The booths produce a copy for the guest and a copy for the guest book
  • Booth prints look cool on your fridge as well as in albums
  • Quality print outs
  • Great if you and your guests like dressing up/getting creative

Con:

  • Close up shots only
  • Limited number of people per shot
  • Crazy rush to change wig/specs/mask in between shots can result in lots of blurred ‘fail’ shots
  • You’re reliant on the props provided – not tailored to your theme
  • More expensive than the DIY option, extra expense if you choose to have a professional photographer aswell

DIY Wedding Photo Booth

The homespun version of the above.

Needed: A backdrop of sorts, picture frames in various sizes, cut out boards, props, chalk and blackboards, a camera, tables, chairs, instructions for guests

Pro:

  • Complete control – you can tailor it to your theme and your guests, you can personalise it
  • A relatively cheap alternative
  • You can set up your booth outside!
  • Flexibility – You could use a digital camera, a polaroid camera, or even disposable cameras
  • Polaroids look cool in frames or pinned to the fridge or kitchen noticeboard as well as in albums
  • You can fit as many people as you like in the shots
  • If you supply a chalk board for guest messages you won’t need a guest book at all

Con:

  • Someone has to take the photo (This could be a paid pro but it defeats the money-saving aspect. This could be whoever is free, but they might take bad photographs!)
  • Stress over/time spent buying props
  • Stress over/time spent setting the booth up
  • Stress over the camera going missing/breaking
  • While digital snaps can produce multiple printouts, you only get one polaroid so you’d have to stop your guests from taking them home!
  • If you don’t use a polaroid, you might wish you had spent a bit extra and got more professional looking pics

Caricature Artist

An artist who will mill around your guests informally and draw funny pictures of them. The drawings can form a photo/guest book of sorts.

Needed: Phone or internet and credit card to book with. Try to get a recommendation for the artist you use.

Pro:

  • Captures your guests personalities as well as their looks
  • A very different type of guest book to flick through in years to come
  • Could be right up your street and your guests could love it
  • Drawings can feel more personal than photographs
  • Doubles up as entertainment for your guests
  • Drawings can be framed and displayed on walls
  • No risk of expensive equipment breaking or going missing

Con:

  • Drawings take longer than photographs
  • The artist probably won’t get round all your guests
  • Single portraits only, no group shots
  • Only produces one copy and your guests are likely to want to take drawings home with them
  • Caricatures are not very flattering
  • It’s not everyone’s cup of tea

Picture Frame Decorating

An activity for younger guests. They can make their own frames for you to use with photos of them from your day.

Needed: Cardboard, scissors, glue, glitter, other craft supplies, on a table covered with an oil cloth (for spills)

Pro:

  • Keeps younger guests entertained
  • A lovely gift from them to you
  • Saves you having to buy lots of frames
  • Cheap and easy
  • Personal

Con:

  • Could be messy
  • You might want someone to ‘supervise’

English country garden wedding: stationary

One of my favourite and a very popular wedding theme: English country garden party/summer fete. This theme usually has an air of nostalgia. Key features include bunting, Pimms, informality, afternoon tea, hay bales, homemade favours.

I *tried* to make my own wedding invitations, but they looked rubbish. I ended up using a design from Tickled Pink and asked them to change various colours and font sizes to suit our wedding (and my perfectionism) perfectly. This was a bit of an extravagance, but they are gorgeous and I’m still so pleased with them. I really wanted to set the scene with our stationary, and I think we succeeded in letting our guests know the type of wedding we were planning and what they could expect. Here they are!

A year has passed so I’m wondering which stationary would I pick out if I was planning my wedding now?

I still love Tickled Pink. Their designs are crisp and impressive enough for special wedding stationary yet so down to earth and unpretentious. That’s a pretty hard balance to strike, but they get it right. Check out these super pretty designs which would all be great for an English garden theme:

Vintage Hearts

English Rose

Lace and Roses

Winter Wreath

Heart Invites has a new stationary collection called County Fayre. It combines lovely pink and green bunting with a fine green polka dot background. I’m not overly keen on the font which is a bit too modern in a wild wild west way for my tastes.

Country Fayre Range

I’ve also found this beautiful hand-painted stationary available from Pip Pip Designs. Their range is small but gorgeously and quintessentially English. This is my favourite design of theirs:

Bunting Wedding Stationary

Victoria Whincup offers these delightful personalised invitations, hand-drawn and hand-painted through her Etsy shop. I particularly like this design, which feels organic, floaty and gives a great sense of relaxed informality. Do browse her adorable designs. Her style reminds me of Rob Ryan’s papercutwork which I love.

Pink Flowers

Giftwrappedandgorgeous bring you Kate Lewis Design Wedding Stationary. Her cake and bunting design is hand-finished with sequins and crystals but remains rustic with a bubbly, fun feel.

Applique Cake

For a more homemade look how about this from Tailored Wedding Plans.

Bunting Style Wedding Invitation

Vintage Brown Card Floral

Tailored Wedding Plans do great table plans too. This vintage glam look would have been great for my think pink wedding 🙂

Crystals, Pearls and Vintage Style Lace

Another fabulously pink invitation is available from Beautiful Day through Not On The High Street.com

This design might be my most favourite of all! It combines bunting, cake, roses, and a bit of glam. Love it! This just shows how researching outside of ‘wedding’ suppliers and websites can yield the very best results!

Shabby Chic Bunting Party Invitation

I search for things like this one of two ways. Type your search terms into Google Images and click into the websites belonging to the images you like best. Chances are if a company does a bunting design, they will do other designs that fit with the English country garden theme too. Or search for local companies who specialise in bespoke or hand-painted stationary. You can link through to great Stationers through the websites of other wedding suppliers who share the same type of ethos or niche focus.

Happy hunting stationary lovers!

Wedding cakes with a twist

Wedding Cake Traditions and Traditional Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes make fantastic centre pieces, and are chosen as much for their visual appeal as for how they taste! The classic multi-tiered affair became popular I believe in Victorian society after a cake designer took inspiration from St Bride’s Church in London. I wonder if the steeple itself took inspiration from the cute older tradition of piling cakes as high as possible to challenge the Bride and Groom to kiss over the top of the cakes? What a fun game! As with most wedding traditions, the couple could expect prosperity and fertility should they succeed in kissing over the cake tower! Nowadays the ritual associated with the special cake is the joint cutting of it and feeding it to one another by the newlyweds. These important first joint acts and exchanges as husband and wife symbolise the bodily and spiritual nourishment the couple have pledged to provide each other throughout their marriage.

http://www.1weddingsource.com/history.php

The luck imbued in the cake was treasured by couple and guests alike after the Wedding too. Ladies! If you sleep with a slice under your pillow you will dream of your future husband! While the convention of saving the top-tier of cake for the Christening of your first-born child has recently given way to saving the top-tier for your first Anniversary. But with fewer people opting for fruit cake and fewer cakes having tiers, the saving of cake to be eaten at the next big event looks set to become a thing of the past.

One delightful cake tradition that has sadly fallen out of fashion is to bake different charms into the cake, (“cake pulls”) so that when ribbons are pulled, your Bridesmaids receive different blessings depending on the charm revealed. A Heart: for love. A Clover: for luck. An Engagement Ring: you’ll be the next to wed.  An Anchor: adventure will come your way. A Flower: love is going to bloom. A Horseshoe: you are lucky in life. If you like the idea of the nostalgic bridal luck charms I discuss here, why not make this sweet tradition part of your wedding too?

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&biw=1280&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbnid=TH4MraMreDuawM:&imgrefurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/webpages/cakecharmpics2.html&docid=_1fZyL9LYPf4IM&imgurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/images/cakecharms/cakepullneworleans.jpg&w=541&h=343&ei=ayViT6__E8ab8QPl3sXmBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=965&vpy=130&dur=515&hovh=149&hovw=201&tx=155&ty=90&sig=104008391997752555404&page=4&tbnh=149&tbnw=201&start=60&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:60

Reinventing the Wedding ‘Cake

I like to deconstruct every element of the wedding so that it can be reimagined in a fresh, fun way which suits the couple and the wedding they dare to dream of. A wedding cake generally serves the following purposes:

  • It is a stunning centrepiece to the reception room
  • It is a tasty treat for guests to look forward to
  • It has to feed all your guests
  • If you want to cut it, it needs to be cuttable
  • It has to not spoil or melt as it stands on show for at least a few hours

Given this ‘cake’ criteria it is apparent that the cake need not be made of make at all. There are many reasons why you may not want a cake cake. If you are servings lots of cakes as part of an afternoon tea spread; if you dislike cake; if you want your food budget to go further; if you particularly like the look of towers or croquembouche; or particularly like another type of sweet treat.

Cheese

Myself and my husband went for a cheese tower draped with tomatoes, figs, and grapes instead of a cake cake. A) I love cheese, and it just seemed so fitting B) we didn’t have a traditional wedding breakfast but afternoon tea, so we needed savoury not more sweet! C) the cheese tower still had the shape of a wedding cake, and the three tiers could still be cut by us.

Pie

Pork, chicken, vegetable… theoretically you could make a tower of pies, with any firm filling. A fruit pie would soon turn to messy mush, but savoury pies provide an easy to slice, tasty and substantial alternative. A practical option with the oooooooo! factor.

Chocolatehttp://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/product/0363/Three+Tier+Vortex

If money had been no object? Choccywoccydoodah, and not just because they have a funky name. These chocolate sensations do look quite tricky to cut and are ‘only’ chocolate coated. But what a coating. These cake cakes are all about the chocolate and the sculpture created. If you were going to choose a cake cake, this company offers the most delectable choice of sponges as opposed to the usual vanilla, chocolate, lemon or carrot.

Don’t Tell The Bride does have its moments. A creative Groom designed his own chocolate box wedding cake which instead of a cake and fruit filled chocolate box tower cake you can order from Patisserie Valerie or Druckers (YUM!) he went further and revealed to his Bride a chocolate made chocolate box with individual chocolates inside it! Marvellous! I wonder if Thorntons do these.

Towers

Pile fudge, l, or profiteroles high to make a wedding cake shaped tower. There are no tiers and it might be impossible to slice but who cares when you can dive in and start scoffing these morish morsels!? Cupcake towers have become uber popular lately. It’s cake already individually portioned so saves all that cutting and holding the crumbley slice over a napkin while you eat it, but it’s still cake. Bitesized confectionary or patisserie somehow seems more decadent. I also love that while the individual pieces of yum are easily plucked one by one, they can be laced together with streamers of chocolate, so that the ‘cake’ is one.

Twistshttp://www.marthastewartweddings.com/226890/gateaux-de-mariage-croquembouche

I think what makes tiered cakes so pretty is the diagonal dressing with flowers or other decoration, so that the tower takes on a twisted effect appearance. Towers can easily be given a twist by stacking slightly asymmetrically. My advice with every aspect of your wedding is to think about what suits YOUR wedding best. So if you are having an early wedding and want to serve brunch, how about a sweet breakfast pastry tower – almond and chocolate croissants, Danish pastries, cinnamon swirls. For an evening do how about an after dinner coffee and mint theme or cocktail theme? For weddings in the tropics, baked Alaska; and for winter weddings serve your cake hot, flambe and carve the sponge and serve with custard?

For a metaphorical twist, there are cakes with a super surprise inside. Yes this could be a full-blown person, but think along the lines of the bridal good luck charms, and perhaps you could hide sweets, chocolate money, lottery tickets, easter eggs, kinder eggs! inside a regular looking sponge cake.

Fountains

If you don’t care about the cake being sliceable, but want maximum tower centrepiece effect, why not consider (guilty pleasures of mine) chocolate and/or champagne fountains? I adore the concept of these edible fountains. They really encapsulate the spirit of sharing and diving in I associate with the wedding cake. An added bonus is that unlike the other options, as they are devoured, they do not lose their shape or illusion of plenty. Who wants to choose between chocolate and champagne? If I could plan my wedding over again, I’d have one of each.

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Our cake 🙂

Cutting our mini cheese tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben getting a mouthful

A cracking cracker