Let them eat cake

After all the baking, brandy feeding, marzipanning (if there is such a word) and icing, the wedding cake was assembled. To be honest even though I was a little worried about it tasting ok and the icing not being smooth, it didn’t look that bad in the end. Ok so it didn’t have piping, flowers or chocolate but it was a cake. Mister B went out and bought some chocolate coloured ribbon, I made a little hessian bunting topper and it was placed on the tree trunk slab that Mister B had cut a few months ago. We did a few vines on the way and as you can see, I did get a little despondent. Think at that point, I was just very tired.

We carefully packaged the cake in a huge cake box and cake carriers and assembled it the night before the wedding. We put wooden dowel into it to ensure the cakes could support the tiers. Funny moment was when I tried to stick dowel through the second tier to bottom tier. I pushed and pushed and then stupidly remembered I had put all the cakes on cake boards so there was no way that sucker would go through! Daft idiot! Dad found it extremely funny.

Verdict: The cake was a big hit. Lots of people loved it and one person who doesn’t like marzipan even said it was good. So all in all I was chuffed that the cake was a success.

Quite a few people have asked for the recipe again so here it is. I multipled the amounts below by six to get three tiers. As I am not a fan of peel I left it out and used more cranberries, currants etc to make the weights up. You will need arms of steel and a huge stock pot/pan to create this beast. Good luck!

Ingredients

200g butter
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g dark or milk chocolate broken into chunks
75ml brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g raisins
250g currants
100g dried cranberries
100g dried sour cherries
100g mixed peel
200g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp mixed spice
3 eggs, beaten with a fork

Put the butter, sugar, chocolate, brandy, vanilla and dried fruits into a large saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until everything has melted together. Remove from the heat.

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep cake tin, 20cm round or 18cm square, with a double layer of baking parchment. Wrap a few layers of newspaper around the outside and secure with string. (This is essential to stop cake from burning round edges)

Mix the flour, almonds, cocoa and spice together. Stir the eggs into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture in the saucepan, followed by the flour mixture. Scrape into your prepared tin and bake for 1½ hrs- 1 hr 45 mins or until a skewer poked in comes out clean. Cool in the tin

(Our cakes took a lot longer due the depth and size of the cakes but just keep your eyes on it and skewer test and you will be fine!)

Here is the finished cake and topper. Thank you to Lisa Stoppard for the photo of the cake).

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Flowery fripperies

If you have ever thought flower arranging is just for those who are just Women Institute material or who are artsy think again. If you are a bride to be who is worried about escalating costs and florist costs are making you feel you may have to sit in a corner and rock for a while, then don’t worry, do you wedding flowers yourself! Don’t be put off, seriously it is not as difficult as people make out. Get some willing friends and family together and have a go. I scoured florists for quotes and I must admit that I just couldn’t justify it. After a lot of research I decided to plump for Triangle nurseries and ordered the flowers wholesale online. If I had lived close to an amazing wholesale flower market then I would have loved to have gone in person but time and location prevented this.

The first thing to do is decide on how many arrangements, buttonholes and bouquets etc you will need. Don’t forget you can stretch your budget if you take the flower arrangements you have made for the church to the reception (guests are happy to help with this), or if you are getting married in the same place as your reception.

The second thing to do is try to narrow down your flower choices. Think about the longevity of your flowers, what look you would like and whether you want scent. Longevity is so important. Remember you will need to prepare them a few days before and to ensure they look gorgeous on the day you need to pick flowers that will stand up to the job. Some flowers such as chrysanthemums will last for weeks, others will wilt quickly.

A good tip is to try and find which flowers are in ‘vogue’ or not in season and avoid them if you can. The costs will be higher. I could not believe how expensive hydrangeas were. They are extremely popular but they were more expensive than roses! I had some flowers in mind and had trawled the internet for ideas on colour combinations, textures and supplies. As our colour palette was white, brown and green, then I was concerned about the arrangements looking a little flat. I really wanted lots of texture and above all else scent. Anyone who knows me, will know I have a rather heightened sense of smell. I am a little like a sniffer dog…I pick up on weird smells all the time that no one else can pick up.

The third thing to do is to do your research and look at types of arrangements and how to do it. You will be amazed just how many ‘diy flower’ videos there are on youtube which give you tips and teach you the skills you need. I also loved looking round Pinterest for DIY ideas and flower arrangements.

I found some amazing displays by Francoise Weeks and I particularly loved the way she used woodland materials. I would have loved to make table arrangements in her style but as I was getting married away from where I lived and materials had to be transported I thought this would be too stressful so I had to dismiss this sadly.
As the venues we had chosen were impressive and we liked the rustic look then I decided to not be fussy with the decorations. Sometimes keeping things simple can be just as striking. To keep costs down we collected lots and lots of glass food jars of all shapes, sizes and colours to decorate the church pews and the reception tables. I must admit we ate a lot of curry, cook in sauces, jam etc in the lead up to the wedding. As I had lots of hessian left after making the table runners, I thought I would cut strips of it and wrap round the jars with some raffia to keep with the theme. You could paint, stencil or wrap with ribbon to liven up the jars too.
To keep the bouquets simple I decided on hand tied posies wrapped with ribbon.

I created a Pinterest board which proved to be extremely useful. Armed with an idea of numbers of arrangements and a rough budget I contacted Triangle nurseries. I was upfront and explained this was the first time I had ordered flowers wholesale and the helpful lady took all my details, the colours and flowers I wanted and sent me an email with rough ideas of what flowers I could afford for my budget and roughly how much I would need to order. After a few emails I had it all sorted. As you have to prep the flowers before arranging them, I ordered them for the Thursday before the wedding (Saturday).All I had to do was get some floristry supplies, buckets and helpers.

Supplies

I got a lot of my supplies from Hobby craft and also the Range. The key items we used were blocks of oasis for the church window displays/pedestals, plastic containers for the oasis, green florist tape for securing the oasis to the containers, green florist tape for winding round the button holes, black builders buckets and good florist scissors. I did buy a lot of wire but actually used none in the end.

Helpers

My matron of honor, Ffion kindly offered her kitchen and her services for arranging the flowers. Ffion’s lovely hubbie Rich also pitched in and so did my mum. Team flower was created!

What we did

We had to make:

10 buttonholes
Four bridesmaid posies
One bridal bouquet
Nine church window displays
12 pew end jar arrangements
One church pedestal arrangement
21 table jar arrangements
One top table arrangement
One milk churn arrangement

Flowers/Foliage we used:

Rose avalanche
Alchemella mollis
Veronica white
Stocks cream
White peony
Freesia white
Bouvardia white
Monte cassini white
White reagen sp chrysanth
White stallion sp chrysanth
White delianne sp chrysanth
White hydrangea
Alstromeria white
Lysianthus white
Gypsophilia
Soft ruscus
Hard ruscus
Cinerea eucalyptus
Papaver seed heads
Hypericum green

Timetable

Thursday

Flowers arrived at 8am and we set about unwrapping the flowers, cutting the stems (at an angle or slicing woody stems) and placing them in buckets of cold water. They were then placed in cool dark place to prevent them wilting and opening too much.

Unpacking the flowers

Unpacking the flowers

Friday

8am until 12.30pm

Ffion, mum and I worked our way through the lists of items and set about making the displays. Music on and smiles on our faces we submerged the oasis in cold water.

Big tip: Don’t push the oasis under the water, let it sink of it’s own accord before using. We attached the oasis with tape to the plastic containers for the church window displays. We laid out the allocated stems of flowers and foliage on the table and set about cutting and arranging the foliage first before fleshing out with the flowers. Lots of umming, erring, singing and glee we quickly had some beautiful displays.

Are you turning into a koala Ffion?

Are you turning into a koala Ffion?

Team flower

Team flower

hard at work

hard at work

Coming together

Coming together

beautiful flowery things

beautiful flowery things

Buttonholes: We picked the most gorgeous roses and foliage and wrapped green florist tape around. You should technically wire these but we didn’t and they still looked amazing.

Buttonholes

Buttonholes

Bouquet and posies. There was something quite satisfying about making my own bouquet. Holding a stem I then alternated the flowers and rotated the bouquet as I went. My bouquet contained freesia, avalanche roses, bouvardia, papaver seed heads, gypsophila, veronica, alchemella and peonies. Smelt divine and looked beautiful. My only regret is that I didn’t make it a little larger. The bridesmaids had exactly the same flowers apart from the peonies.

Posie ladies

Posie ladies

Jam jar arrangements/milk churn: Simply randomly pick foliage and flowers and pop in jars! Easy peasy. Don’t be too hung up on arranging these, they will look fab!

jam jarry goodness

jam jarry goodness

Church pedestal: This makes me snigger. Mum and I took some flowers down to the church literally half an hour before the wedding rehearsal. We were rushing, and did it in 10 minutes. I cut the stems and mum worked like a trojan to put them into the oasis. The combinations of flowers and foliage were brilliant. Sadly in my haste to get the decoration done, I didn’t tape the oasis down enough. During the wedding service, we think someone nudged the arrangement as they walked past and it lurched forward and fell onto the floor.Luckily for us our best man rescued the arrangement and plonked it back on! I must admit I found it hilarious.
Big big tip: Make sure you use plenty of tape to secure your arrangements, as they are very heavy.

A few more tips:

Remember to mist your flowers regularly and keep cool before the wedding. Ffion was brilliant with her mister!

If you have flowers that have soft stems, to prevent them from flopping, keep them wrapped before arranging. Wire the stems when arranging.

If you have flowers which are in bud and you want them open before the wedding, bring them out of the dark the day before to encourage them.

Have fun!

All in all our flowers looked amazing and I was thrilled with them. Team flower were bloomin’ amazing.

Thank you to Team flower (Ffion, Rich and mum), Mister B for collecting and moving the flowers and Sal. We couldn’t have done it without you! xx

We did it!

Well it has taken a while for the dust to settle and get the energy up to write another blog post following our big day. I am happy to say that we had a wonderful day of what we can remember of it. As everyone says, it goes so quickly. We have both sat and discussed the day and do actually wonder if it happened. Very strange feeling.

It is so weird, it is as if we both have some strange amnesia. We both feel like we need to redo it just to experience it again. Despite this we did have a great time surrounded by our family and friends, had amazing weather and everything went fine (well sort of). I won’t lie, it was extremely hard work for those involved and we were shattered afterwards. Mister B and I didn’t stop from the Tuesday before the wedding until Monday afternoon. We felt like we drifted through everything with a big grin on our faces.Bit surreal but in a fun way. We were very very fortunate to have the support of our family and friends which helped no end. I think if we hadn’t had them helping out over the week before the wedding it wouldn’t have been such a slick affair

We really would like to thank everyone who helped out, came to the wedding, sent us cards, presents and their best wishes. We have received lots of beautiful presents and cards (some hand made which were amazing) but we are waiting for some further presents via John Lewis. We will be sending out thank you cards soon. 🙂

We have had loads of people feeding back about how much they enjoyed the day, which I have to say means a lot especially after all the work Mister B and I have put into it. We tried to make it as relaxed as possible, so people there didn’t feel uncomfortable. I have been to a few wedding where etiquette dictates everything and it can really put a damper on things.

Even though we have had to make arrangements from afar, everything we had made, collected and bought actually worked and I have to say I was a little bit teary when I saw it all come together especially after all the planning.

It was so hectic that I was unable to make some posts about the prep work including the restoration of the Hillman, the flower arranging and the night before. I would like to think that this blog was/is not just for our family and friends but also for brides/grooms to be. It is helpful to get ideas and recommendations from others especially when in a bit of a tiz about your nuptials.

So I will post more about the prep, the suppliers we used and what happens after the big day soon. In the interim here is a lovely photo that my cousin Ed took when we were stood at the aisle…

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