Weddings: Just Desserts

Jean Michel Raynaud, award-winning Patissier from Baroque Bistro in The Rocks, gives his expert advice on catering for your sweet-toothed guests on your wedding day

“Firstly, a wedding dessert has to be in line with the rest of the meal and event. We need to have a clear understanding of what the style of the client is and take a holistic approach. You aren’t going to serve something fruity if you have had a heavier offering at the front. We work with the chef to makes sure it is aligned with the rest of meal. Sometimes I put incorporate an ingredient from the main meal. For example, if it is Duck a l’Orange I make sure I have the tang of orange in the dessert.

People used to have big weddings with a big fluffy dress but they are a lot simpler now. It is the same with the food. We used to overcomplicate things with multiple textures and flavours but now we have gone back to simpler food, focussing on quality ingredients. It doesn’t make it easier at all to do but I think it is much better food.

For example, I am making a Saint Honoré cake for an event which has been made for hundreds of years but making it modern. Or I might make éclairs but instead of with custard, I will make a chocolate emulsion with freeze-dried lime. They are classical desserts with a modern twist.”

For more wedding dessert and cake inspiration, visit the Cake Bake & Sweets Show taking place on the 21-23rd March 2014 at the Sydney Showgrounds. The event will host the likes of Jean Michel Raynaud, Adriano Zumbo and British Pâtissier of the Year, Eric Lanlard.

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Wedding Trends 2014

Interior designer and TV presenter Tara Dennis shares her wedding styling tips

Make the wedding theme yours with ‘handmade’ touches for a unique celebration. Crafting allows you to get involved and include beautiful, considered details and fun elements which all add to the party atmosphere.

Bunting, garlands and tissue paper pom poms are some of my favourite ways to add instant life to a room and are all easy to make. Photo booth backdrops are always a hit and on a smaller scale a decorated picture frame is a cute idea to hand around for guest photos.

Recent wedding trends have centred a lot around typography — that is, the art of written words. Whether it be calligraphy or a handwritten sign, typography is everywhere. It’s a really nice way to demonstrate the style of your wedding theme right from the word go with save the dates, invitations, and finally place cards, and signs on the big day.

Get your friends involved and organize a “crafternoon”, or, if time is short and you still want the handmade look, shop online at fabulous sites such as Etsy.

For the truly romantic wedding theme, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Heirloom tableware from Nanna such a vintage floral plates, condiment sets, pressed and cut glass and old-fashioned cakes stands can look stunning paired with modern pieces. For this look, avoid overdone floral bouquets and opt for small, simple arrangements in anything from tea cups to jam jars. Places to shop for vintage include op shops, garage sales and Gumtree.

Keep it simple. If fuss is not your thing, take inspiration for your wedding décor from Scandinavian style which focuses on clean lines, classic materials, plenty of white and pops of colour. I’m loving this season’s Scandi pastel palette which includes sherbet yellow, mint green, powder blue, soft coral and blush pink.

Shiny metallic accents add glamour and style to any wedding theme and silver and pewter have always been popular. This year thought they’re being given a run for their money by warmer metallics like rose gold, yellow gold, bronze and copper. Pair any of these with blush pink details and plenty of pearly white for a divine wedding palette. I love the metallic patty pans which are easy to find and if you want to add your handmade own touch, try creating cake toppers from toothpicks and pretty cardboard, Cut out hearts, little flags, stars, or whatever shape you prefer and glue to the top of the toothpicks. These can be personalised with names, and really do add an individual touch.

Success with succulents: For table centre pieces with a difference, consider succulents instead of flowers. They make fantastic and original table decorations, and can even make it into the bridal bouquet! As an alternative to traditional wedding favours, use small ceramic or clay pots and plant them weeks ahead of the big day to save time.

Be inspired by the seasons: Choose key colours and textures and incorporate them into your plans.

Wedding cakes have been changing over recent years. From the traditional tiered fruit cake, to the iced mud cake, now more popular than ever is cupcakes! You can even have your guests personalise their own cupcake by having an array of decorations to add to the already iced cakes.

Do it yourself dessert bars are so popular at parties of any kind and really fun for modern weddings too. You can even theme your dessert bar so that it goes with the colour scheme for your wedding. Chinese noodle boxes make convenient alternatives to plates and bowls. Simply choose lollies and sweet treats that match with the rest of your decorations, and let your guests do the rest.

Say cheese!  With so many of us having smart phones you can be sure that any big event such as a wedding will have your friends’ social media accounts going berserk. Have any guests wanting to take photos on the day set up an Instagram account, and personalise any photos they take with your own unique hashtag, that way, you’ll be able to look at the range of photos that everyone has taken later on, and it’s a great way for everyone to feel that they have made a contribution!

For more of Tara Dennis’ great styling tips, see her at Reed Gift Fair Sydney, February 15-19, 2014.

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Find the perfect engagement ring

The guy’s guide to engagement ring shopping by Larsen Jewellery

You have finally found “the one” and you have decided that is time to get down on one knee and put a rock on her finger. All of a sudden you might be feeling completely overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing the engagement ring that is going to win her heart!

Grooms-to-be, there is no need to panic. This is just a small obstacle in the road and with a bit of savvy detective work you will be back on track with confidence and excitement with your choice. Here are five helpful tips on how to find that perfect engagement ring for the love of your life.

1. She may already be dropping hints.

It’s time to wake up gentlemen, because it is quite likely that if you have come to this decision, then she has probably been patiently waiting for you to propose, leaving little hints right there in front of you. Keep an eye out for magazines or websites she might leave open on a certain page or comments she might make on friend’s engagement rings that she loves or loathes.  

2. What is her style?

This is so important. You are not going to choose a fine floral vintage-inspired engagement ring if she loves big, bold and modern jewellery. Take a note of what kind of jewellery she normally wears. Doe she wear white or yellow gold-coloured jewellery? Does she wear fine and elegant pieces or big ostentatious statement pieces? Is her style more modern, clean and sleek or pretty and feminine?

3. Does she have a favourite gemstone?

Diamonds are not the only option for an engagement ring. She might have a favourite coloured gemstone. I suggest only going down this road if you are absolutely certain. If you are unsure, you can’t go wrong with diamonds.

4. Ask her family and friends

In this time of need, friends and family are an invaluable resource. So do not be shy to ask their opinion! There is a very good chance that her best friend will know in detail exactly what she wants in an engagement ring and may even be your moral support at the jewellers.

5. When all else fails…

 If after all this detective work you are still not confident that you will choose the right engagement ring, then there are two choices:

Option One: a classic diamond solitaire engagement ring – timeless and elegant.

Option Two: simply propose with a diamond. This is a fantastic option, you get the best of both worlds; the dream proposal with that dazzling diamond and she will get the ring she has dreamed of. Together you can enjoy the process with your jeweller; designing and bringing to life a ring that you both love.

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Overcoming Wedding Speech Jitters

By Blossom Benedict

Speeches can be some of the most memorable and treasured moments in a wedding. They are a beautiful opportunity for the people closest to the happy couple to share memories, give their blessing and create greater closeness among the guests.

Unfortunately, the joyful candour possible is often annihilated by the simple fact that public speaking is continuously rated among the top fears in the world.

This means many of the guests bestowed the great privilege of making a special toast may spend more time worrying about their wedding speech and what they will say than actually enjoying the wedding!  Sweaty palms, nausea, forgotten words or simply being preoccupied with your speech until it is over can quickly take away the true joy of the occasion.

Here are some quick tips for overcoming fear, having ease at the mic and giving a great wedding speech!

Before Your Speech

Notice what your are telling yourself If you are saying things like “what if I forget the words?”, “I wish I didn’t have to do this”, “I hate giving speeches”, none of those are helpful, and if you are preoccupied with that energy, that is exactly what you will create.

Try replacing all the statements you are telling yourself with questions. Some of my favorites include: “What would it take for this to be fun?”, “How can this turn out better than I could possibly imagine?” or “What else is possible?”

Ask: Is this fear or excitement?  It’s so easy to assume that we are afraid of things that are actually quite exciting! Butterflies are not necessarily a bad thing before your wedding speech. They only get in the way when you conclude you are afraid. We all hear amazing stories of little old ladies lifting cars when they have adrenaline coursing through their veins. Learn to use this adrenaline and excitement to your advantage.

During Your Speech

Let down your barriers We think we have to protect ourselves in front of people so we often erect walls around ourselves. Vulnerability and authenticity are actually two of the most seductive and captivating characteristics in front of a crowd. Before you speak, take a couple of deep breaths and intentionally push down anything that makes you want to protect or defend yourself or try to get it right. It’s a little uncomfortable at first, but the difference it makes is dramatic.

Don’t take yourself too seriously When you are uncomfortable, your audience gets uncomfortable. Shake off your jitters with a bit of humor and let them know that you will all live through your speech and could even possibly enjoy it!

Forget everything you have been taught about speeches Instead of giving a speech… just talk!  The most memorable wedding speeches do not feel like speeches. Rather than writing everything down and reading it, try just putting bullet points on a note card.

If you have been asked to give a wedding speech, you probably know the bride or groom well. Your life with them has been your preparation. Why do you love this person? What are some of your fondest memories that other quests may not know? And what is your wish for them and their new spouse going forward? Tap into that energy, trust yourself and just talk to them.

After Your Speech

Don’t judge your speech during the applause  When people are clapping, it’s easy to want to wave them off or divert your eyes down, especially if you don’t think you did your best. Resist this urge. Take this moment instead to be grateful for the couple and for everyone in the room listening to you. If you stay in this grateful and confident energy at the end, people will actually remember your speech as much better than if you start judging yourself.

Forget about it The night is about the happy couple, not about you. No matter great or how terribly you feel your wedding speech went, when it’s over, it’s time to get back to celebrating. Every time anything pops into your head trying to figure out how well you did or did not do, say to yourself “how does it get better than that?”  Good or bad, you are asking to have an even better night!

Blossom Benedict is an international speaker and radio host. For more information please visit or

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Hen Party Games

Cocktails, your girls and some hen party games...a recipe for a fun night!

By Sabrina Mable

Hens have the license to have the time of their life during their hen do. Make that happen by adding some hen party games into the mix of activities. Though hen nights can be out-of-control expensive, games will add heaps of fun without adding much further expense.

Play It Anywhere

The hen party itself can take place in a pub, bar, club, restaurant, private home, hotel room, or pretty much anywhere. The location will of course change the hen party games you can play; though bashing a piñata can be a lot of fun, pubs or clubs might not be the best place to get into it!

However, there are a lot of other hen party games to enjoy in a club, bar, or pub. If the party will be held in a packed place, make sure to bring a set of bought or homemade hen party dare cards which can be done anywhere.

A Private Affair

If you decide on a private gathering, such as a hen party in your home, there are a lot more games to choose from. Here are some simple hen party games to get your night started.

Bridal Pictionary

The organiser should write wedding-related words on pieces of paper and put them in a container. Players should split into two groups. A person from one team chooses a pieces of paper and attempts to draw the word on it. Her team has to guess what that word is. If her team fails to get the correct answer, the opposing team is given a chance to guess what that word is. Each correct answer is one point and the team with the most number of points will win.

Balloon Questions

Make the celebrant blush by playing Balloon Questions. The party’s organiser should write 10 embarrassing questions and put those inside balloons before inflating them. To play the game, the bride-to-be pops each of those balloons and answers each question.

“I’ve Never…”

This is a fun and simple drinking game for those that plan on getting a bit wild. The group just needs to gather around in a circle and take turns saying something they have never done. The first person can then say, for instance, “I’ve never slept on a sandy beach.” Those who have done should then take a shot of alcohol. It is a great ice breaker as it is a fast way to get to know something about everyone in the group.

Advice for the Bride

It’s time to get creative with a beautiful Origami arrangement of flowers and hearts for the bride filled with advice for her. Each guest should just come up with good or wacky advice for the bride and fold them creatively. Gather all those Origami works and create the bouquet. During the celebration, the bride can unfold and read out the advice given and choose the best one. The friend that gives the best advice should win a prize.

Handbag Game

The Handbag Game a great ice breaker. Each guest should get three items from their handbag and put them in one container. To play, each guest picks an item from the container and tries to guess who owns that particular item. Each correct answer is one point and the one with the highest number of points wins.

Male Model

To play Male Model, the whole group will have to be divided into different teams. Each team gets some clay to work with and a body part to work on. After moulding the body part they were assigned to make, all the parts are gathered in one area. Then, everyone will have to guess the body part based on the moulded creations. This game gets quite funny when guests make the wrong guesses on some innocent-looking body parts.

Sabrina Mable is an author and authority on planning hen parties. She currently works for (where you can find even more hen party game ideas!) and specialises in creating hen party packages for fun and memorable hen parties in Ireland. Follow her on Twitter.

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The top 5 wedding accounts to follow on Twitter:


5. Wedding Market  @weddingmarket  55k followers

These guys are a one-stop-shop for those who want to know, or are in, the wedding industry. Showing trends and marketing information about the wedding industry, as well as the bridal market, these folk are a great source of information and a fantastic insight into how vendors and designers interact and share their ideas.


4. Wedding Wire  @WeddingWire  181k followers

Based in Washington, these people provide fantastic ideas to make the planning and execution of your wedding as easy as possible. Their twitter account is a great place to wile away the hours and get inspired for your own wedding.


 3. Weddingbee  @weddingbee 36k followers

This account is a great way to feel a part of a huge community interested in weddings. Build your own online presence by interacting with the various bloggers who are mentioned on weddingbee’s twitter account. (Favourite post: 63% of women wouldn’t say yes to a Jumbotron proposal at a stadium – would you?)


 2. Ruffled®  @ruffledblog 44k followers

Ruffled’s account revolves around creative, DIY approaches to your own wedding and can be an amazing source of inspiration, from saving on just some of the smaller aspects of your wedding to designing an amazing wedding day at a minimal cost. With references to both Australian and international weddings, they are a great way to gauge wedding trends around the world.


1. Vera Wang @VeraWangGang 500k followers

This has to be our number one source of inspiration and general drooling. An American based fashion designer, Vera Wang has been a source of industry idolisation for decades and her twitter account is the number one place to keep up to date with her latest designs and personal opinions. (Latest post we love: “A wedding gown is about self-expression. It’s about a woman’s creativity, sense of self, intelligence and sense of romance.”)


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A Favourite Wedding Planning App:

Wedding Planning App Image

Having recently posted about fantastic wedding inspired apps as well as wedding organisers, here is a detailed look at one of the best wedding planning apps available on the market.

Developed for the iPad by Createful, designers had user experience at the forefront of their minds when creating Wedding Planner.

This app puts all the little things you would need to keep in check into the one app.
You can manage your seating plan within a designated section of the app, adding tables, rotating them, adding guests from your guest list and managing more than one template if you want to see how different arrangements work or if you have multiple rooms in use on the night.

As mentioned, the guest list is covered, including those that are there for the whole day
or an evening only guest, plus their RSVP status and any other notes you wish to add.

Colour schemes are covered, as well as To-Do lists and quick post-it style notes
that you can drag around your home screen.

But there are three major faculties of this app that will make it that much less stressful to organise your wedding.

1.    A Budget Planner: forget about countless spreadsheets and lost pieces of paper under    the couch; your entire budget can be planned and adjusted within this app.
2.    A Vendors List: you won’t be able to create your budget if you don’t have a clear idea of the various company’s you will be using to service the success of your wedding. You can track costs, what you have paid and what you have yet to pay and get an overall idea of what your spend will be.
3.    A Day Schedule: you can have the entire wedding day planned to the minute (though we know how impossible this can be). But there is no doubt that you will be able to plan out the major events of the day, and finally export this timeline for your bridal party and family so they know what will be going on.

This app is a great mix of creatively led design with considered substance: unlike some other similar apps, this has everything you need to keep your ideas and plans in order.

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10 Wedding apps you’ll fall in love with

10 Wedding apps to fall in love with
By Samantha Little 

Get tech savvy with your wedding planning with these helpful weddings apps in the palm of your hand. There’s an app for everything from planning to speeches, here’s our pick of the 10 wedding apps you’ll fall in love with;

1. Wedding Party App
Price: Free
System: iTunes, Google Play
Why we love: Bride and Groom can sign up their wedding and use the wedding name as the secret password. Connect with guests of your wedding party wedding, to share photos, notes and memories.

 Price: Free
System: iTunes
Why we love: Wedding inspiration mixed with online wedding shopping. Search, save, shop and share weddings inspiration and products. Create bundles of inspiration from hundreds of photos. This is an American based company, which means most shop items are from the U.S, check for international shipping options. iTunes 

3. Eversnap – Wedding Snap
Price: Free
System: iTunes, Google Play
Why we love: Share photos instantly from your mobile, or upload later on the website. Eversnap allows instant sharing between guests of your gorgeous wedding shots. Great to create albums to share for the engagement and bachelorette too.
Wedding Snap – Google Play
Wedding Snap – iTunes

4. Wedding Speech Creator
Price: $2.99
System: iTunes
Why we love: Learn tricks of the trade of giving speeches at wedding. Whether you’re the bride and groom or the hilarious maid of honour (at least you think you are) the perfect speech will be written for you will all of the sentimental details.
Wedding Speech Creator – iTunes

5. Appy Couple
Price: Free
System: iTunes, Google Play
Why we love: An ultimate wedding planner with quirky touches. Everything from alarms and planning management to interacting with guests and photo sharing on the day. Add design themes to match your wedding.

6. Tiffany and Co Ring Finder
Price: Free
System: iTunes, Google Play
Why we love: Spend endless hours browsing through the Tiffany and Co collections to find the perfect engagement and wedding rings. There is also an engagement notice  to send out notes to friends and family, announcing your happy engagement.
Tiffany and Co Ring Finder – iTunes
Tiffany and Co Ring Finder – Google Play 

7. iWedding Deluxe
Price: $4.99
System: iTunes
Why we love: iPhone users will love the iWedding Deluxe, with easy to use iPhone features. Easy to export info from the app by email to move information lists around easily.

8. Wedding Plandroid
Price: Free
System: Google Play
Why we love: Simple to use wedding list planner for android users. Allows brides and grooms to follow budget planners and track the progress of planning, counting down to the big day. Keep track of RSVPs and keep contact details of vendors and caterers.
Wedding Plandroid Blog 

9. Pro Wedding Planner
Price: $5.49
System: iTunes
Why we love: Simplify your wedding by keeping all your information linked in one app. Import your own seating charts, control thank you notes and set reminders so that everything is covered.

10. How to tie-a-tie
Price: Free
System: iTunes, Google Play
Why we love: An app that the boys will love. Step by step instructions to tie special knots including Windsor knots and pocket squares.
How to tie-a-tie – iTunes
How to tie-a-tie Google Play 

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Wedding Planning Helpers

Organisation is the key to a successful wedding. Here are our favourite little wedding planning helpers. By Tahlecia Love

We’re not going to lie; planning a wedding can become just a *little* bit stressful with so many elements involved. Many brides prefer to plan their special day by themselves, however it can become quite daunting if you haven’t done it before and you may not know where to start, so here are a few helpful organisers to assist you in your planning. Documenting it all will mean you can look back on it later and relive the special moments that you created.

The kikki.K Wedding Organiser, $39.95, is in a folder form and consists of seven divider tabs with helpful prompter sheets including a wedding countdown checklist, guest list, budget checklist and allows you to add in and keep together your various receipts, price quotes etc.


If you’d prefer more of a journal format, kikki.K also have their Wedding Notes journal , $29.95, which is a more compact size and includes helpful checklists, appointment trackers and budget sheets.


Papier D’Amour offer a flexible leather Bride’s Notes book, $60,  that can be used as journal for thoughts or notes while planning.


Pepe’s Paperie also offer a variety of wedding organisers on their website, ranging from $19.95 to $54.95. The featured wedding planner has eight dividers and lined notepaper, $24.95.

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Kitchen Tea Party – Themes

By Samantha Little

A kitchen tea party traditionally celebrates a bride being hitched to the kitchen. Female friends and family of the bride bond over tea and cakes, sharing recipes and bringing kitchen presents. But if your bride is already a domestic goddess, why not host a themed kitchen tea for the adventurous, cute or quirky bride to be?

candle in a teacup

Floral Kitchen Tea

A typical kitchen tea party with arrangements of flowers, floral tea sets, paper doyleys and a large selection of sweet treats.

Location: Garden or patio

Time: Afternoon tea

Tea: Floral tea, rose tea, camomile, earl grey, green tea.

Food: Savoury bites, sandwiches, sweet biscuits for dipping. Set up a sweet and savoury popcorn bar for guests to flavour their own bags of popcorn, provide flavoured salts, rocky road, caramel and butter toppings.

Guest Gifts: Coloured cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes or coloured kitchen items such as wooden spoons or egg whisks.

Activities: Get crafty; create personalised teabags from coffee filters or make you own teacup candles.

High Kitchen Tea:

Ever dreamed of sipping tea with a royal? Set a decadent dining table with cake stands and vintage fine china plates.

Location: Kitchen or dining room

Time: Afternoon tea

Tea: Earl grey, English breakfast with cream and sugar on the tables.

Food: High tea stands with pinwheel sandwiches, scones and jam, petite fours.

Guest Gifts: Silver spoons

Activities: Create a cupcake bar – customise your cupcake with icing, sprinkles, glitter and sugar art flowers.

Raspberry and Vanilla Sundaes - Martha Stewart

Breakfast Brunch Tea:

Perfect for an early kick off, piles of pancakes and mimosas all round.

Location: Kitchen

Time: Breakfast/brunch

Tea: English breakfast of course.

Food: Breakfast bar of savoury or sweet options, oatmeal cookies, make you own muesli, pikelets and egg and bacon mini muffins. Some make sneak a cheeky champagne cocktail.

Guest Gifts: Tea or jam gift packs.

Activities: Get guests to share sweet and savoury recipes and create a book of secret recipes for the bride!

Mad Hatter’s Tea party:

Bring out the magic of a childhood tea party with an Alice in Wonderland or Mad Hatter’s theme. Think green grass and playing cards, dozens of roses and white rabbits.

Location: Garden

Time: Afternoon tea

Tea: All kinds, mix and match teapots and coloured cups.

Food: Tea party foods, Tic Toc cup biscuits, Spoon cookies, Drink Me potions and Eat Me cakes.

Guest Gifts: Packs of playing cards or red roses.

Activities: ‘Lolly Lane’ – use lolly jars and custom gift bags. Lolly bags for the child in all of us.

Chinese tea ceremony

Drinks of the World:

For the adventurous bride, take a trip around the world.

- Oriental tea party: Drink jasmine tea out of china cups or have a Japanese tea ceremony.

- Mexican: For the non-tea drinkers, strap on a sombrero and hang some paper flowers for a Mexican fiesta party with sweet quesadillas.

- Tiki: Pineapple punch and flower leis for the bride who’d rather have a fruity cocktail out of a coconut.

Charity Kitchen Tea:

With all the wedding gifts from the engagement and reception, Why not host a charity kitchen tea? Sip tea and give to a good cause.

- Pink Ribbon Tea: Everything pink! Iced vovos, pink lemonade and fairy floss machines to support breast cancer research.

- Daffodil Day Tea: Drink camomile tea with lemon and spread daffodils all around for The Cancer Council, send guests home with daffodils seeds to plant.

Picnic in the park

Picnic Tea Party:

Laid upon a grassy flat, spread some picnic rugs with a delectable array of baskets and breadrolls.

Location: Grass area, picnic area.

Time: Lunch, afternoon tea.

Tea: Green, peppermint, fruity tea.

Food: Picnic baskets filled with sandwich supplies, fresh fruit, cheeses plate with quince paste and a picnic punchbowl.

Guest Gifts: Mini gift baskets

Activities: Lawn rounders, bat tennis, hopscotch, rope ring toss.






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