Monday, June 27, 2011

Cake Troubles...Fondant: I Do?

All sweet teeth are different. Devil's food versus chocolate, strawberry preserves versus cream cheese...and, of course, buttercream versus fondant.

Now you ask, what the heck is fondant? Cake is cake, right? And frosting is frosting? Not so! Wedding cakes usually come with two main "frosting" options: Buttercream and Fondant. The first you know well. It's what grandma put on every holiday homemade cake and the stuff you licked off the spoon when she was finished icing the layers. The second is tricky. Whether you say fon-dònt or fond-ant, this one word makes tastings complicated and, at times, frustrating.

When approaching wedding cake, you need to know what you're getting into. There's no Easy Bake Oven involved and Betty Crocker is staying out of it, so it's important that you arm yourself with the appropriate questions. Let's explore and troubleshoot.

Lesson #1: Don't knock it till you've tried it.
Fondant has a bad rap. By now, you've likely heard that it tastes like glue, cardboard or plaster. While I hope you've never tried a shot of glue, a slice of cardboard or a spoonful of plaster, one can only imagine how awful this thing called fondant must taste. So, ask your baker what product she/he uses and ask to try a little piece of it at the tasting. Some kinds actually remind me of marshmallow...yum!

Lesson #2: Seasons matter.
You've imagined an outdoor, tented, June wedding since you were 12. Well, start imagining a fondant cake, too. Buttercream likely won't last in the heat and outside, so you may want to go fondant shopping and focus your cake search on this item alone at first. Otherwise, you're looking at a melty mess by the time you and your love cut the cake.

Lesson #3: Costs.
Regardless of how it tastes, bakers charge more to use it. If you're on a tighter budget, consider sticking to buttercream to save fifty cents per slice.

Lesson #4: Smoothing it out.
Looks matter. Even with cake. If you want your decorations to look smooth, fondant is the best route to take. Some bakers can make buttercream look 100% flat, so ask to see pics of previous work.

Now that you know the four major considerations, you can confidently approach cakes and icing. Don't be intimated by the names or options. This isn't a pop quiz...take your time and decide what you like.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sexy Budgets

Really? So you say...but you, too, can make your budget one spicy piece of work. And something to make your bride-to-be friends jealous.

Before diving into bouquets, banquet orders, and bridesmaid dresses, BUDGET!

Follow me on a numbers journey...

Step 1: Go online (or ask your planner) for a wedding budget sheet. HJ uses a detailed, 4 page document, which includes every possible aspect of the wedding that will pull funds from your reluctant wallet.

Step 2: Ask your fiancé to spend an hour of his/her time to discuss the wedding as a whole. This is good practice for financing that first house and making real life money decisions.

Step 3: Be honest! Don't fill in $500 for your reception flowers if you know you want Amaryllis and Asiatic Lilies in all of your centerpieces. Note: You may not know what certain items, like flowers, catering, etc., will cost. A great starting point is to get at least two itemized quotes from two different vendors to get an idea of what you'll need to budget and where you can save.

Step 4: Add it up and eliminate. If your total budget is $40,000 and your budget sheet comes out to $45,000, go back and make changes. Opt for fewer hours of an open bar, less transportation, all in-season flowers, etc.

It's not easy to sacrifice, but you'll know where you stand financially from the beginning and can make wise wedding decisions accordingly. If you're really struggling with the budget, call a planner. Many, like HJ, offer the option of à la carte services such as budget meetings. We're here to help. Budget stress be gone!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We're Back, and Better than Ever!

It has been two years since our last post. Just going to get that out there now. We're not big talkers...we're big doers! We're going to be both from here on out, in hopes of providing sage advice to savvy brides. We'll try to make up for the lost time by sharing pics and stories from past weddings.

We've revealed cost saving tips on Washington Business Tonight, presented gems of wisdom on Let's Talk Live, and entertained you on MTV. Now it's time to open the vault of wedding secrets. Smart brides, stay tuned...