We talk to Jenny Williamson of Jenny’s Wedding Cakes in Amesbury, MA about when you should order your wedding cake and what the latest trends are in wedding cake designs.
John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. Welcome to our series of podcasts with wedding vendors for the Essex Room, Woodman’s wedding and function facility on the North shore of Massachusetts. Today I’m here with Jenny Williamson of Jenny’s Wedding Cakes, a wedding bakery in in Amesbury Massachusetts. Welcome, Jenny.
Jenny Williamson: Hi. Good morning. Thank you.
John: Jenny, can you tell me a little bit about your business and your style when it comes to baking wedding cakes or making wedding desserts?
Jenny: We have been in business for almost 20 years. We are not a retail bakery. Everything is to order. We do specialize in wedding cake designs, 95% of our business is in wedding cakes.
Then the rest is special occasion’s cakes and then we do so many desserts as well. Like I said, everything is very personal, very custom. We don’t deal with any retail so it’s all very direct. We consider ourselves pretty much experts in the wedding industry.
When to start looking for your perfect wedding cake
John: At what point in the process of planning a wedding should a couple reach out to you?
Jenny: It depends because, obviously, some days get booked up way before others, but I would say at least three months. If you do have a very popular date, like one of the long weekends, the holiday weekends – Labor Day, Columbus Day or Memorial Day – you might want to reach out before six months at least, just because they get booked up really quickly.
Everybody is different. What happens with us, because we are custom and we are small, once we do fill up, we fill up. It’s not like a regular bakery where we can just take on whatever we get.
It depends. Then, obviously, November is a slower month and you can probably do that within two months or so. But some people book us over a year in advance. It really depends. There’s not really a strong guideline on it.
John: Can you walk us through a little bit of your process for working with a new bridal client? When a bride or groom gives you a call, what’s the first thing that they do?
Jenny: As the first thing, we’ll get a phone call or an email. Email is great, only because I do send a lot of information on menus and directions to our location, things like that, via email.
What I do is we set up a private consultation tasting. I have a private bridal studio in Middleton, Mass. which is right near Danvers and that’s a little bit close to Boston, because we do have a lot of Boston clients.
We sit down in private. It’s very cozy. I have samples for people to taste. I use china and antique silver for serving so it’s really nice and comfortable. What I do is, I just basically interview the bride and groom and ask them about the aspects of their wedding and design detail.
As they’re telling me what they have in mind, I’m doing some sketches for them of cake ideas that might work out. Then, at the end of the consultation, we usually have a design in place. Like I said, we do the tasting and then I do a written estimate that day for the wedding cake designs that we’ve come up with.
The consultation usually takes about an hour or so. They’re welcome to bring guests, parents or brides maids, bridal party if they would like. After that, everything can be done via phone and email.
We try to make it stress‑free, very comfortable, really fun. I don’t take myself too seriously, so there’s a lot of laughter and a lot of joking around. We try to make it easy and stress‑free for everybody.
John: That’s great. How has that process of the cake tasting changed in recent years, or has it?
Jenny: I’ve always done mine this way. The only thing that’s changed is, because of the food restrictions, if we’re doing gluten‑free or vegan or dairy‑free samples, I’ll have samples for them in that respect for whatever dietary need they have.
Other than that, no. I’ve always had my consultations be very private, very one‑on‑one. That’s something that I’ve always done for the past almost 20 years. That hasn’t really changed.
Wedding Cake Design Trends
John: You mentioned that you draw out some sketches of the wedding cakes and things like that. What are some of the more popular wedding cake trends for 2015 that you’re seeing couples choose?
Jenny: Right now, texture is still very popular. The more comfortable, relaxed…I hate to say the word rustic because it sounds like it’s informal. The more vintage look. People are still using that a lot. My big thing is, I encourage people to keep it real and stay authentic to who they are.
If they’re formal people, they’ll have a formal wedding. Formal cakes are still in style, they’ll never go out of style, but we are seeing a lot more relaxed designs. More just home‑style looking, but also very sophisticated flavors. It’s not like a home‑made cake, it’s still a special wedding cake.
We’re seeing a lot of butter cream, a lot of fresh flowers which, again, has never gone out of style and never will. A lot of white‑on‑white texture, very delicate. We have a very delicate look anyway, but very delicate, feminine look. That’s what we see mostly.
John: Do couples sometimes choose a wedding cake more as a ceremonial or a decoration type of thing and then they serve a sheet cake or some other dessert to their guests or, in your case, are they more often eating the cake that you’re making?
Jenny: The big wedding cake, again, will never go out of style – hopefully! – it will never go out of style. I’d hate to see that go!
There’s definitely a trend in doing small cakes and mini desserts, but people still want a ceremonial cake to look at. Everybody tells me it’s still a focal point. People still come in and look for the wedding cake.
Depending on the wedding, every wedding is different, people are still wanting a cake but yes, we can do sheet cakes. That’s something that’s usually done if you have a large number of guests and you don’t want to serve a really huge looking cake for design aspect, because you want everything to go together design‑wise for the whole reception.
Every wedding is different, but yes, everybody still wants to look at a cake. That doesn’t go away. We also get a lot of people that just didn’t want a wedding cake and then all of a sudden, two weeks before, oh my god, they want a wedding cake because it just wouldn’t be right without a wedding cake.
Jenny: We get a lot of that.
Gluten-Free and Other Popular Wedding Desert Options
John: Has dessert stations just come into popularity instead of doing cakes? If so, are there alternative desserts that you offer for couples?
Jenny: Yes, we do. We have a whole line of miniature desserts. We also have French macarons, which we’ve been making for several years. They’re getting more popular for weddings. We also do what’s called a “mini‑mac.” It’s just a little one‑bite macarons. Those have been really popular too.
It’s nice, people want to offer a lot of selection and it also encourages a lot of movement. People are getting up and getting more food. It just makes it more interesting.
Our menu is pretty extensive as far as the wedding cake flavors. People find that even though they do want mini desserts, they end up choosing a lot of different flavors for the wedding cake too. That offers a lot of variety as well.
The dessert stations are definitely popular. It’s a great idea. Again, anything that offers movement and people are up and moving around I think makes a wedding more festive.
John: You mentioned before that some couples have some dietary restrictions. What do you offer in terms of gluten‑free wedding cakes or vegetarian/vegan types of cakes?
Jenny: We have been working on gluten‑free cakes for a number of years. We do have a pretty wide selection of gluten‑free. We can also do eggs‑free, dairy‑free and totally vegan. We can do vegan and gluten‑free, all in one cake.
What we do is, because we’re a small kitchen and everything we do is small batch, and by hand and from scratch, we try to accommodate any dietary needs that anyone has. That’s something that we’ve been doing for a number of years, so we’re pretty experienced at it. We offer quite a bit.
John: Why don’t you tell people how they can reach you?
Jenny: The best way to reach me is probably email. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach my by phone, 978‑269‑7195. We are getting to launch a brand new website, which I’m really, really excited about. It will be the same address, jencakes.com. Of course, we do a lot on Facebook as well.
John: Can people just reach you if they go to Facebook and look up Jenny’s Wedding Cakes? Will they find you?
John: Thanks again for speaking with me, Jenny. I appreciate it.
Jenny: Thank you so much.
John: For more information about the Essex Room and tips on wedding planning, you can visit the Essex Room website at essexroom.com or call 978‑768‑7335.