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  1. This week's Fanday Friday we're getting peckish so who better to put the spotlight on than Fifi's Cakery.  Fifi's Cakery is owned and run by Fiona Byrne.  An absolute artist, Fiona designs and makes the most jaw dropping, flavour popping wedding cakes.  I can definitely recommend Fiona and her cakery having eaten her delectable cakes (in the name of research, obviously!) and from hearing wonderful feedback first hand.  If you want a truly astonishing wedding cake, then Fifi's Cakery is where you'll get it from. 

     

    How long have you been designing and making wedding cakes?

    I made my first wedding cake about 10 years ago, a tower of miniature individual fruit cakes covered in tiny white and lemon-yellow blossoms. My hands shook like crazy as I placed each cake on the cake stand but once they were all in place my passion for wedding cakes was instantly born.

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    Have you always wanted to be a baker, if not, what else did you want to do?

    I made my first fondant covered cake when I was just 14, so yes, I think cake making was always a passion. After getting side tracked by a career in Montessori teaching, I returned to cake making once I had my own family and started making my children's birthday cakes, then other parents asked me to make their children's novelty cakes and slowly I evolved into a professional cake maker.

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    Do you make wedding cakes only, if not what other types of cakes do you do make?

    I only make wedding cakes as they make me sing with joy whilst I’m making them, my poor suffering neighbours! It’s the whole occasion of a wedding that really interests me, it is such a special and rare event that I still get so excited for every single wedding cake I make.  We all have birthdays every year, but a wedding is such a special and monumental ceremony that the meaning and importance behind the cake far outweighs a birthday cake. To be a part of a couple’s exchanging of vows is still a real treat.

    What kind of wedding cakes do you like to design?

    I love floral themed cakes whether they are fresh organic edible flowers or handmade sugar blooms.  There are just so many ways to arrange and create with florals which can vary wildly from delicate and classic designs to bold and contemporary creations but each time the flowers are always stunning and individual.

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    What’s your favourite cake you’ve designed to date?

    That’s like asking which is my favourite child!! It changes from day to day but now I’m loving the Japanese cherry blossom tree cake with the hand painted branches giving movement throughout the entire height of the cake and the tiny baby pink sugar blossoms filling in the gaps with delicate detail and then the 3D branches going for a wowzer factor.

    What advice would you give to a couple trying to choose their cake maker?

    There’s a cake maker for every couple, just make sure you choose one that has the same priorities as you, so you can work together to ensure you have the cake of your lifetime exactly as you want. Some couples are passionate about the taste of the cake and go to great lengths to get a perfect selection of delicious flavours to please their guests. For others it’s all about the price or the look, so a single tier or dummy cakes with a cutting cake in the kitchen would be a perfect fit. Other couples are more than happy with a Tesco Caterpillar cake. There is no right or wrong, just make sure you choose the cake that will make you the happiest on the day.

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    How many wedding cakes do you prefer to make a year?

    I find it difficult to turn couples down as I want to help as many people as possible celebrate their lives together and create a delicious edible work of art for them. The most I have made in a year is 65 wedding cakes, but this left little time for life beyond cakes, so an ideal amount would be about 50 weddings a year. I only do one wedding every few days, so each cake has my full focus and attention to detail.

    Do you make cakes that take allergies into consideration and if so what kind?

    All my cakes are vegetarian, nut free and milk free as standard. Gluten, dairy, and sugar free cakes are also offered. If any of the couple’s guests have an allergy or intolerance each guest has an individually boxed cupcake with ingredients listed and a gift tag, so everyone can enjoy some wedding cake without worrying about any cross contamination during the reception.

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    Do you like to eat cake yourself and if so, what’s your favourite type?

    I inhale so much icing sugar whilst working with cake that all I crave to eat is salty chips! But when I do need a fix of something sweet it has to be a light zingy lemon drizzle cake or some of my darling Nan’s fruit cake recipe.

    Do you hold consultations so that the couples can get to know you and your work?

    Yes, the wedding cake consultations are a lovely opportunity to get to know the couples and their style and personalities.  Every couple comes to the Cakery, surrounded by display cakes for inspiration, to taste a selection of their choice of different flavours of freshly baked cake along with teas, coffee and bubbly and plenty of chat about their wedding. Then together we create a cake that’s a fabulous statement of their style and personality and brings to life their ideas and visions that will have a lasting impression on their guests. 

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    For more information on Fifi's Cakery click here

    Photographs courtesy of Natalie Delente Photography

  2. Choosing your wedding photographer is a really important part of your wedding planning.  These photographs will tell the story of your wedding day for the rest of your life, so you need to make sure they tell the right story.  I have worked with a lot of photographers over the years and I have learned a great deal about the importance of their role in a wedding. 

    My Fanday Friday this week focuses on Ross Willsher Photography.  Ross is a wonderful photographer and person (which is equally as important!) and I'm really pleased to recommend him.  Ross is about to publish a book, which I believe no couple can live without, titled "How To Have A Wedding As Individual As You Are."

    Learn more about Ross by reading his interview here. 

    How long have you been a photographer?

    I have been a photographer for quite some time but started my business 2 ½ years ago following the completion of my City & Guilds Photo Imaging course at Morley College in London. Whilst a qualification is not essential in becoming a professional photographer, I wanted to make sure I had a broad spectrum of skills and technical understanding prior to marketing myself as an expert in the field. I loved studying the work of iconic photographers and developed a great understanding of the power photography has in telling a story, capturing memories and evoking strong emotions in the viewer. 

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    Have you always wanted to be a photographer, if not, what else did you want to do?

    Before I was a professional photographer I worked in the education, charity and social care sectors and I always took on person-centred roles that required an ability to identify and meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in society. I worked with children with special educational needs for over ten years and have also supported adults with learning difficulties and older people with Dementia. Whilst I came to photography a little later in my career than some (despite now only being 35), my love for creativity, combined with my passion for putting people at ease and celebrating diversity seemed to make the career switch a natural progression.

     

    Do you photograph weddings only, if not what other types of photography do you do?

    I photograph weddings and family portraits – all in a very natural, relaxed and stress-free manner. I love shooting in the great outdoors to incorporate all the colours, patterns and textures that nature provides and I feel that everyone is instantly more relaxed when surrounded by the natural environment.

    I also do the odd bit of event photography too. As long as there is an expression to capture and a story to tell I will be there!

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    What kind of wedding do you like to photograph?

    Although it sounds slightly cheesy, I love photographing love in all of its forms and so I enjoy photographing any wedding where the couple have remained true to who they are and haven’t felt pressured to conform to other people’s idea of how their wedding should look. As a gay man, I also love shooting same sex weddings as they are not restrained by some of the traditions that straight weddings can tend to be. Each year, I aim to showcase the growing diversity of couples getting married and highlight that beautiful weddings are not just for those of a certain age, dress size or sexuality.

    Have you shot any weddings abroad, if yes where, if no, where would you like to go?

    I have yet to shoot a wedding abroad but it is definitely something that I would like to do. I’d love to do a winter wedding in a snow-covered Nordic country! I adore the winter months and whilst there are obvious disadvantages to shooting in these conditions, it would make for truly magical images. I wouldn’t turn down a summer beach wedding either…just putting that out there!

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    What advice would you give to a couple trying to choose their photographer?

    Oooh there is so much to say (hence why I’m just about to publish my book “How to have a wedding that’s as individual as you are”). Firstly, do a little bit of research about the style of photography you like. Have a look online and see if there is a commonality amongst the images you are drawn to. Do they all contain an element of humour? Are you loving muted tones or vibrant colours? Do you like posed images or candid moments?

    Once you have a loose idea of how you want your wedding captured, go to some wedding fairs and meet photographers in person. No amount of website content can replicate that first face-to-face impression. When viewing a portfolio, look at the people in the images and ask yourself if you can envisage images of you sitting perfectly alongside these. Has the photographer demonstrated an ability to flatter people of all ages, shapes and sizes or is their portfolio quite one dimensional?

    In my opinion, the most important thing is to choose a photographer who you feel comfortable with. Do you feel that you can share your concerns (however trivial or silly you feel they are) with this photographer and can be open about any physical flaws you feel self-conscious about?

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    How many weddings do you like to photograph a year?

    I aim to capture no more than 25-30 weddings a year. I like to ensure each couple gets as much time and attention as possible so that we can get to know each other and build a trusting relationship.  I avoid taking on so many weddings that clients aren’t viewed as individuals and weddings cease to be exciting and unique events for me to be part of.

    Do you work from a shot list or do you just take a photograph when you see a great shot?

    I always ask couples for a list of all the important not-to-be-missed elements of their wedding (such as jewellery that has been handed down by previous generations) and a list of any group shots that they want. I can then ensure these essentials are captured and “ticked off” the list before getting creative with romantic shoots and capturing lots of natural moments; a mother’s tears of joy, misbehaving pageboys and Uncle Gary doing his best Strictly impression!

    Do you design physical wedding albums?

    Yes.  I offer 10” x 10” Fine Art Books by Folio that are hand bound and use only the highest quality papers, inks and cover materials.  Images are printed directly onto double page spreads with no centre crease and there are unlimited layout options. I love them and think every coffee table needs one!

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    Do you hold consultations so that the couples can get to know you and your work?

    Abso-blooming-lutely! As I have said, you have to get to know the professionals that are helping to create your perfect wedding and make sure that their values and vision aligns with your own. Consultations are key and I am always open and honest about how I work and whether or not my approach to wedding photograph is going to suit each couple that I chat to. For me, the process is not just a way of “sealing the deal”, it’s a way of making sure we will have a fun time working together. I view my process as a collaboration where both parties feel empowered to add ideas and feel part of the creative process. The consultation is the first part of this.  

     

    Take a look at Ross's website to learn more about his talented photographer.

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    Portrait image courtesy of Carmel Jane Photography