Quirky Wedding Fair March 2015

Cake CoutureBridal Show, Wedding Cakes

QW banner

Now that I’m fully recovered from the Quirky Wedding Fair just over a week ago, it’s time for a blog!

If you aren’t familiar with the Alternative Wedding Fair, it takes place twice yearly at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. The ethos behind the event is to give choice to couples who are planning their weddings. Not every marriage involves the stereotypical bride and groom and sometimes couples feel that their options are limited in terms of how they can make their wedding their own. Cue Quirky Weddings!! Organisers Cate and Saima select exhibitors through an application process to ensure that the businesses they finally invite to the fair, reflect the values that underpin the event. This time there were  over 120 exhibitors and having done a quick circuit, I can vouch for the fact that the standard of displays, products and services is exceptional. The fair is also really relaxed and most importantly a lot of FUN! Which is why it attracts such a crowd…

QW queue  QW gallery 1 floor

This was my second time exhibiting and it was just as crazy busy as last time, if not more so. I only do couple of fairs every year so it’s a great opportunity for me to get out and meet brides and grooms-to-be, face to face, and have a chat about their vision for their wedding cake. It’s also brilliant to meet and network with other wedding industry people like my neighbours for the day The Bearded Candle Makers, The White Letter, Forever Bridal and Aurora photography.

For my display, I decided to go all rustic and opted to DIY my stand rather than use a table. I managed to get hold of some old wooden crates that had seen better days but with a good power wash and a few tacks they were just the ticket- clean enough to handle but weathered enough to suit the theme. I also discovered that they’re a great backdrop for photos, I just need to avoid crate overkill and NOT use them each time I photograph a cake!!

I found a farm down the road where I bought a couple of hay bales, a snip at £3 each!! They were clean, a little damp but these bad boys stunk!! After some deliberation, I realised that the only way I could have them in a public place and not drive potential customers away with the smell of ‘farmyard’, was to bring them into my house to dry out. This took care of the odour issue but constantly sweeping up straw is a pain and hay bales are cumbersome when they’re in your house. My neighbours little boy also thinks I’m hiding a horse.

Then I needed a barrel. This was easy enough to source since Sweetheart Vintage Weddings, Newtownards had very kindly allowed me to hire some of their props before. My mum rustled up some hessian ‘Cake Couture’ bunting and I used this instead of a roller banner. Tied between two pretty blossom trees from the fabulous Floralearth, I think it looked the part!

Web copy QW stand 15 bunting

So after a lot of lifting, heaving and sweeping and with the help of a few strapping young chaps at The Waterfront, this is what my stand looked like the day before the fair. Not a lot to see cake-wise, granted, but it was taking shape 🙂

QW set-up FJ

Here are a few more pics of my finished display taken by Paula Gillespie who I had the pleasure of meeting on the day.

QW 15 PGillespie 1  QW 15 P Gillespie 2  QW15 PGillespie 3

My idea was to dress the stand by filling all the little nooks and crannies between the cakes and crates with cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, flowers, old books and so on. Since I did the chalkboard cake I couldn’t wait to do coordinating Chalkboard cookies. So when I finally got round to buying just the right cutter for the job, this was the result…and I LOVE them!!

Chalkboard cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my Mint Ruffle cake I did mint and coral buttercream flower cupcakes with gold glitter hearts to coordinate with the ‘Best Day Ever’ cake topper. The Brambles and Bark cake had some chocolate cake pops to keep it company and my Autumn Chevron cake had some Red Velvet gold chevron cupcakes.

Mint buttercream ruffle      QW 15 Brambles cake pops     Gold chevron cupcakes

Orla & Neill of Paper Sails took some great photos of the day. Here are a few of my stand- you can see my new buttercream cake with marsala coloured sugar peony, pheasant feathers and gold leaves & berries. Paper Sails is a new photography and film company based in Belfast, you should check them out. They took these amazing photos of the fair as well as this fab promotional video. Wishing them the very best for the future!!

PS Web copy QW 3 cakes  PS Web copy QW 15 side view  Marsala peony and feathers

And this was the cake at the centre of the display. The half barrel and horse shoe at the bottom are made entirely from sugar and on the day a lot of visitors had to touch it to be convinced they weren’t real!!  The wood effect cake topper features none other than the Quirky Wedding initials. (The copper balloons in the background, incidentally, are from Balloon Candy who specialise in fabulous balloons for just about any occasion)

PS Web copy Barrel cake   Barrel and horseshoe

The day before the fair, my little helper and I tackled the seemingly endless task of wrapping and bagging-up cake samples: White Chocolate and Raspberry, Chocolate Fudge Cake and Lemon sponge. I also brought along 2 more unusual cake flavours for visitors to try. This was a bit of market research on my part- I wanted to add a new flavour to the Cake Couture menu so I trialled Chilli-Chocolate and White Chocolate-Cardamom with the latter being a definite hit.

Anna Feb 2015  QW 15 favour bags

It was an exhausting but very productive day for me, as I’m sure it was for all the exhibitors. No surprise really, when you consider there were around 2200 people through the doors! I ran a prize draw exclusively for visitors to the fair- 1st prize 20% discount, 2nd prize 10% discount off the cost of a wedding cake and 3rd prize a box of 12 Mothers Day cupcakes. The lucky winners were announced last Saturday!

For now, I’m collecting my thoughts and preparing myself for the busy wedding season which is fast approaching. I’m also looking forward to meeting some of the brides and grooms I met at the fair, in a few weeks time, when they come for their private consultations 🙂

So, I’ll leave you with more of my fellow exhibitors  in the official Quirky Wedding photos by Fiona Jamieson. Enjoy!!

Bye for now,

Catherine.