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Survive Wedding Planning: Cake Design

Survive Wedding Planning: Cake Design

The first part of our Survive Wedding Planning blog series is all about the cake! Learn all you need to know from local expert, Lori Hawkins from Desserts by Lori in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Passion

I started this business purely for the love of seeing people’s faces when they see and then taste my cakes, desserts, or other sugary creations! With wedding cakes, we set up before everyone arrives, so I miss that initial reaction – so when they follow up with me by sending me pictures of them with their cake, and let me know how much they enjoyed it – that is a great feeling!

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Advice from the Expert

All brides should make a point of having a taste-test and consult with several bakeries. Just because someone’s website shows their artistic skill, does not mean that their cakes taste good, and vise-versa! Be respectful of the appointment – I have had a few no-shows or late appointments – most brides do not understand that the bakery probably baked a special cake sample just for them!

Bring ideas with you. Your cake artist will want to get a sense of your style! Many times our brides bring us several pictures, and want different features from each cake picture. We will then combine it to make it uniquely theirs.

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Bakeries will be charging you by the slice, not the size of the cake layers. Each cake shape/size serves different amounts of people. Have an estimate of your guest list and the cake artist can help you figure out how big of a cake you will need. A tip for budget-conscious brides: Most brides are getting a smaller cake, and then ordering sheet cakes to make up the difference in guest count. After you and your groom cut the cake, it is whisked away to the kitchen to be cut and served to your guests – along with the sheet cake that will already be in the kitchen.

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Another “hidden” charge comes from your venue. Check with your venue to see if they have a cake cutting/serving cost. I’m shocked that some of the venues charge more to cut and serve the cake than I charge to bake, design, and deliver it!

With that in mind, we are seeing a lot of brides wanting cupcake towers, so their guests can serve themselves; therefore cutting out that cost. To keep with the cake-cutting tradition, a small one-layer cake can be made for cutting.

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Fondant: A big misconception is that fondant (rolled sugar-dough that covers the cake) is bad-tasting. Yes, there are some bad-tasting ones out there, but there are some great-tasting fondants now! The fondant gives a great artistic-palate for us to work with, is exceptional smooth and perfect-looking, and allows us to put on satin ribbons and other special things on the cake. There is buttercream underneath, and the fondant is soft enough to cut, so your guests can choose to eat it or eat around it!

Trends this Season

1. Black and white cakes

Black and White Trend

Desserts by Lori

2. Cake jewelry – broaches (some heirlooms from grandparents, some new) placed somewhere on the cake (in the middle of bows, etc.) Dripping crystals on wire, rhinestones.

3. Ribbons – satin ribbons can only be put on fondant. (Buttercream will soak right through them)

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

4. Surprise Groom’s cake (the sky is the limit on these!)

5. Table cakes – each cake gets a little cake, some decorated specifically for those guests, and the couple married the longest gets to cut the cake. The wonderful thing about these is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on centerpieces, because they are eaten!

Susan and Lori from Desserts by Lori

Susan and Lori from Desserts by Lori

For More Information

Check out designs and more information at Lori’s website.

Phone: 616.554.5500
Find Desserts by Lori on Facebook

Thanks for the great information, Lori! What does your dream cake look like? Did you find this article helpful? Do you have a question for Lori? Leave a comment below! We love to hear your thoughts!

For more wedding inspiration visit March 27 Designs!

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Reminder to Celebrate!

Reminder to Celebrate!

Seven months ago yesterday, I walked down the aisle toward my best friend, a wonderful man I like to call Matt. That day, I promised to share my life with him, to love and cherish him always. No matter what!

I know that it’s only month seven, but we try to celebrate in some small way each month, whether it is just dancing to one of our wedding songs, or going out for dinner, or writing a special note to each other.

Don’t get me wrong, these types of things don’t have to be limited to anniversaries—nor should they! But it’s good to take the time to do something special every once in a while to remind your bride or groom that you care about them and that they are important to you! A little bit goes a long way, especially when it is unexpected.

I just want to share just a couple of the memories from the day that I married Matthew Olson (photos courtesy of LVL Photography!). Hope you enjoy!

The Men

The Ladies

Bride and groom in the church

Waiting in the stairwell

Matt and Mara


First Dance

Visit my website to learn more about March 27 Designs.

It’s all in the details… maybe?

It’s all in the details… maybe?

I’m not going to lie, I love details. Anything fuzzy, sparkly, small, intriquite, intriguing and delicate. Love, love! So as you can imagine, putting together my wedding this spring caused a few headaches…

One such headache came on the morning of my first dress fitting. I had an appointment at noon, and I didn’t have shoes. At all. Because my wedding was at the end of March, I had procrastinated so badly in this, debating whether or not to buy closed-toe boots in case of a far too common Michigan snowstorm, or if I should go with the traditional elegant heels in hopeful anticipation of decent weather.

When the stores opened at 10, I knew I had just over an hour and a half to find the perfect pair. Elegant, classy, and comfortable, with just a little something to make them perfect. Details. Oh, and they had to be ivory to match my dress.

So I began my rampage at the local mall, running from store to store several times, trying on shoes and annoying the sales associates by asking for different colors and sizes that clearly didn’t exist… I tried! On my third run to Macy’s I found a pair on the clearance rack that were perfect–all except for the size, so the sales associate there politely called all of the other local Macy’s stores and asked if they carried my size. There was one pair left at the mall across town and I had 45 minutes to go before my appointment.

I’m sure I drove like a maniac. And I’m sure that in my crazy bridezilla head all I could think about was how my dress would be altered incorrectly if I didn’t have my wedding shoes when I went to try on the dress. So I got to Macy’s, ran to the shoe department, asked for the shoes by name, bought them and left to go to my dress alteration appointment.

After arriving, I realized I had a problem. The shoes were the wrong color.

Can you believe it?

I must have had fifteen minutes to go when I saw a DSW and was able to go inside and immediately find my wedding shoes.

(thanks for the photo, LVL Photography!)

After all of that, it only took 15 minutes to find my wedding shoes and the color, height and sparkle were just right. And they didn’t even have to alter the length of the dress.

Weddings can be very stressful, but at the end of the day, you will be married. And nothing can stop that, not even an elusive detail.

Visit my website to learn more about what I do at March 27 Designs!

I’m Back/Random Cute Centerpieces

I’m Back/Random Cute Centerpieces

After a long couple weeks of adjustment, I’m back and ready to go!!

I have had tons of fun getting together new invites and am loving working full time in March 27 Designs. Unfortunately… my camera is needing a download before I can show you what I’ve been up to! So here’s this instead:

Flower Cake Centerpiece from Better Homes and Gardens

Flower Cake Centerpiece from Better Homes and Gardens


Isn’t that the most adorable centerpiece? I found it on the Better Homes and Gardens website. For my wedding, I thought about putting a miniature cake at each table for the reception, but thought it would be too costly… So here’s just another way to make it happen, and definitely a fun DIY project!

And because it’s October 🙂

Pumpkin/Carnation Centerpiece from Better Homes and Gardens

Pumpkin/Marigold Centerpiece from Better Homes and Gardens


This lovely little piece also comes from Better Homes and Gardens, gosh I love that magazine! : )

You know what else I love? Fall.
I am ridiculously pumped to go pick some apples, do a corn maze and haunted house and carve some pumpkins!
How about you?

Visit my website to learn more about what I do at March 27 Designs!

Just a little bit of me

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So last night my wedding photos arrived. It had been almost exactly four months after the wedding and Matt and I had finally ordered them from our wonderful photographer, Leda. I was excited! One might even say ecstatic… My husband took this opportunity to tease me when I called him at work, begging him to bring home “the tools.”

“Which tools, Mara?” he asked.

“The picture hanging tools!” I responded, getting frustrated at his pretend lack of knowledge about which tools to bring home.

“So I’ll definitely need my sledge hammer then.”

After a few more moments of this conversation, I finally just told him to bring all of the tools and he agreed.

I carried about my business, unwrapping the frames that I had decided to put the photos in, and carefully placing each photo inside. Well… kind of. You see, there was this one photo that just wouldn’t quite go in, so I worked on it, shifting it back and forth, determined to get it in place and completely ignoring that annoying scraping noise… until I turned it over and found out that the center of my beautiful wedding photo was scratched beyond repair.

I remember Matt saying something about just filling it in with a crayon, but I am way too much of a perfectionist for that… so I will just have to reorder. Soon!!

Visit my website to learn more about what I do at March 27 Designs!