vintage wedding cake

Eibhlín Walsh-Boland, aka Wild Heather Freelance Florist, works as a freelance florist specialising in florist design for weddings and events in the mid Munster area of Ireland. Her friend and collaborator is Jayme Walsh, a cake designer and confectioner who runs the Swell Bakeshop. Here they tell us their insider tips on planning a vintage-inspired wedding!

QueensOfVintage: There has been a recent trend for more alternative, often vintage-inspired weddings – why do you think this is?

Eibhlín: Some of the reason I think has to be a yearning on the bride’s and groom’s behalf, for a break away from the usual script and a desire to express more of their own personalities in the biggest party they will ever throw.

One of my own personal reasons for valuing “old stuff”, is that each little treasure has a story to tell as well as so often reminding me of a place, person or time that makes me feel just simply happy.

Jayme: A new generation. I think we all want to stand out as individuals, and that translates into our weddings. How can we make it that little bit different from Jane’s down the road. We want it to be a reflection of our personalities and our loves. Plus when it comes to vintage, it’s just so darn romantic!

QueensOfVintage: What are the kind of vintage elements do you currently get asked for?

Jayme: I get asked for soft frosted cakes with vintage style real flowers, displayed on vintage trays and stands surrounded by real vintage bottles and jars, clocks, books and more flowers! Also lots of interest in Art Deco inspired cakes and hand painted cakes. It’s really a lot of soft, romantic designs, which I love!

Eibhlín: As a florist I’m increasingly being asked for vintage elements which can be incorporated with fresh flowers in everything from the bridal party bouquets and buttonholes to the church or venue decor and very often the reception centre pieces and seating plans.

The items used and requested vary of course and by the very nature of all things vintage, no two items are completely alike.
Now that the trend for vintage has caught on across the globe, it is possible to purchase brand new, mass-produced “vintage style” items in everything from crockery to cakestands, but wherever possible we would always prefer to use the real deal, which is why we are constantly on the lookout for rusty, dusty, lived in items to use as props

Our most recent acquisition was a great big leather and wood steamer trunk lined with linen which we will repurpose as a seating plan backdrop. We are also working on a collection of smaller suitcases which are used on Jayme’s fabulous dessert tables. These she customises to each couple’s needs but always with a vintage/retro/rustic twist.

QueensOfVintage: Is there a particular vintage era that is popular right now?

Eibhlín: I think when the vintage trend first surfaced, many thought of vintage as just pretty teacups and lace doilies with some fabric bunting thrown in for good measure and this look is still very attractive to many, but now, people are finding that the style of a particular era may appeal to them more than another, so for some, vintage means harking right back to the flapper fashions of the roaring Twenties, for others it’s the glamour of the Forties which appeals most, through to the rockabilly style of the Fifties and beyond.

Jayme: For me its a combination of eras and not a single era, just bits and pieces that really touch me and help portray the look or feel I’m going for.

QueensOfVintage: Are there any particular vintage wedding trends for 2013/14?

Jayme: One of the big trends is soft frosted cakes, cakes sans rolled fondant and naturally just buttercream. There are many techniques that can be used to create different effects. Also separate tiers are also big this year, pretty much deconstructing your traditional tiered cake. Another is the ombré look, the gradual lightening shades of a color. And for the wedding style, unique takes on the guest book, seating plans, invites and overall decor. Themes are big for sure!

Eibhlín: I imagine the release of The Great Gatsby will have quite an effect on those planning a vintage wedding for 2013/14, with everything from dresses, suits, hairstyles and of course florals always being heavily influenced by Hollywood, so prepare for elaborate headpieces, long strings of pearls, dropped waistlines and bob haircuts. For the boys, perhaps the odd pair of spats for the more fashion following groom as well as perhaps a change from more formal morning suits of the current period to the looser styles and lighter shades of the Twenties Gatsby era, with more bow ties than neck ties and of course suspenders to keep the theme going and hopefully a return of the Fedora, although that could be wishful thinking!

vintage wedding table deco

QueensOfVintage: Any top tips on unusual bouquets? 

Eibhlín: There has been a great resurgence lately in the popularity of garden style flowers which are often requested for vintage themed weddings. These include dahlias, sweet peas, peonies and hydrangeas to name but a few, as well as greater use of herbs such as rosemary, lavender and sage instead of heavier foliage.

Also enjoying a great return to popularity recently are the use of fresh flowers in bridal hair styles  which in my opinion, can compliment the vintage look beautifully.

Succulents are also being requested for inclusion in vintage style bouquets more and more as they lend an added dimension of texture and their colour palette works so well with the popular colour schemes of the moment namely dusky, dreamy pastels of pale pinks, blues, creams and mint green, with hints of metallics here and there and very often real pearls and lace, which I’m often asked to include in a bouquet to symbolise a relative of the bride, perhaps some lace from her mother’s own wedding dress or her grandmother’s pearls, to be woven in and out through the flowers or wrapped around the stems.

Which leads nicely on to the subject of brooch bouquets. These have become massively popular in the last few years and I think they are such a sweet idea for using and preserving family heirloom pieces such as brooches of course but also necklaces, earrings even tie pins.

Making a brooch bouquet may take 20-30 brooches and if each piece was given to the bride by a family member or friend or may have been purchased as a reminder of a special holiday with her fiance, then what an amazing heirloom to have in your family to perhaps be used for generations to come. It’s also very possible to work a smaller brooch or tie pin into the groom’s buttonhole.

brooch bouquet

QueensOfVintage: How would you update an old-fashioned three-tiered wedding cake? Are there any alternatives?

Jayme: Add color! Step away from an all white cake! Metallics, bright colors, soft pales. Change up the size you don’t have to just stick with three tiers all the same size, mix it up – do tall and narrow, add a thin tier in to the mix, maybe add a square into the round. Or keep them separate pretty cake stands on different levels.

Go hand painted, your own edible work of art, bring some of you wedding into the cake, maybe elements of your invite, dress, flowers or decor. And of course don’t go cake at all, go mini cupcakes or desserts! Add small single tier cake for the cutting. And above all choose a cake and flavours that people will eat. Ask your baker for a free tasting, they should be more than happy to oblige. That is the whole point of cake, for it to be consumed and enjoyed – you’re paying the money you might as well enjoy it!

bird cage wedding cake

Would you have any top tips for brides-to-be planning their weddings at the moment?

Eibhlín: Aim for your and your partner’s dream wedding – not your mother’s or their mother’s, not your sister/bridemaids or aunty’s, certainly take good advice on board where you think it might work, but never forget whose wedding this is.

Secondly I would suggest when speaking to wedding professionals to be upfront about what your budget is from the get-go,
if they are smart and want your business, they will do their utmost to accommodate your needs you within your means but it can be a little award for both parties,speaking from experience, when you sit down for a consultation, ask all the relevant questions, discuss all of the couple’s plans and wishes, to then deliver the quote only to be met with disappointment if it is out of the couple’s budget.

In our DIY Wedding Workshops, we show the brides & grooms/civil partners to-be and family members how to make pew-end bows, table centrepieces, flower girl baskets or wands as well as decorating cupcakes in a truly vintage fashion which can be used instead of wedding cakes, so these are all things which can help a couple stay on budget.

Also dare to be different if this is what your heart is telling you would make your special day a little more memorable for the two of you and your guests. It’s great when couples are willing to think outside the box a little and go that extra step to put their own stamp on proceedings. I wouldn’t worry too much about staying “on trend” with any of the elements of your wedding,if you like it, then it’s on trend!

Jayme: Make it a reflection of yourselves! Add your personality! Don’t be stuck in a box, there are so many options out there, do some research, you could be surprised what you could find you love! Remember it’s YOUR day!

2 Responses

  1. Patricia Maggs

    Being vintage myself – it’s always lovely to read different ideas on vintage themed events.
    I run both a vintage online shop Pretty Pink Vintage Boutique and also a catering business in Sussex that specialises in
    Vintage Tea Parties for all occassions across Sussex – Vintage Tea Party Sussex.
    Also if you Google my late Mum – Daphne Raven – she
    modelled for my late father Ralph Raven, who manufactured haute couture clothing under the label ‘Daphne Raven’ in London. These beautiful haute couture clothes are still being sold on eBay and Etsy today!
    I myself also went into fabrics but I had an interior design shop complete with curtain workrooms in the heart of Brighton in the 80s.