Featured Vendor: Sweet Joy Cakes

How long have you been in the wedding service industry, and what inspired you to start your business?

I started Sweet Joy in January 2023 with my mom, Karin.  I was working as a waitress in a coffee shop. The coffee shop got orders for birthday cakes, and there was nobody to make them, so I took the initiative and started making them. I remember thinking to myself, wow, I have a talent for this. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I had to leave the coffee shop, and I started my home baking business with my mother, my passion grew. I attended a wedding cake course with the SA School of weddings, and my true passion for wedding cakes and sugar flowers was born. I continued learning on YouTube and online classes, slowly developed my style, and made a name for myself in the wedding industry, winning international and local awards.

What types of wedding services do you provide, and which one is your speciality?

My speciality is fondant-covered wedding cakes with textures and handmade sugar flowers, but I also do birthday cakes, cookies, beautiful cupcake gift boxes, cupcakes, cake jars, and figurines.

Can you describe the process you follow when working with couples/brides to plan their wedding?

Firstly, I will receive an email from the couple asking for a wedding cake, I will then send the couple our information brochure with a few questions, our flavours, and our cake-tasting information. We will then meet with the couple for a cake tasting and consultation, where we will design their dream wedding cake together. I am a cake designer and prefer not to copy other designers’ cakes. I take inspiration from their stationery, dress, venue, love story, and the photos they saved on Pinterest. When the couple leaves, she will have a unique wedding cake we designed together to embody the couple’s personality. Every bride is different, so every cake I make is different. I have had couples come to me with the exact same photos and colour scheme, but they leave with two completely different cake designs. If the couple is international, we also do WhatsApp calls and email conversations to develop the perfect design.

What sets your services apart from other providers in the industry?

Our cakes not only look beautiful but taste amazing, the secret…. Quality ingredients! We use real butter, Swiss meringue buttercream (the best buttercream), real chocolate, and delicious fillings. We also offer unique, one-of-a-kind cake designs and special attention to the bride and groom.

Are there any trends or unique ideas currently seen in the wedding industry?

A trend I have noticed most recently is adding a pet to your cake as a topper, I have been getting a lot of requests for this. Bringing personality to your cake and involving your pet in the wedding is fun.

How do you ensure that you understand and fulfil a couple’s vision for their wedding day?

This is why cake tastings and consultations are so important. It helps me see the couple’s personality and style clearly. Designing a cake together gives both me and the couple confidence.

What challenges do you typically encounter when working on weddings, and how do you overcome them?

Gravel roads are a cake artist’s nightmare, but we have learned to stack the cakes at the venue when we know a road is particularly bad. When visiting a new venue, we must first research how bad the roads are. Another challenge is how the cake will be displayed, which is very important.  A cake table in the corner with a wrinkled tablecloth is really going to have a negative impact on a beautiful wedding cake (we have experienced this on more than one occasion.)  We always ask our couples to arrange with the venue and the event organizers to ensure the cake table is presentable. A wedding cake needs to be seen and admired.  Wedding cakes are not cheap and are a work of art and a showpiece for both us and the bridal couple.   It needs to be displayed with pride.

Can you share a memorable wedding experience or success story from your career?

I think my most recent success story would be having Cake Master’s Magazine, which is the biggest cake magazine in the world, contact me for their “ask the expert article” for their wedding cake issue. My most memorable wedding cake experience was making a 7-tier wedding cake with sugar flowers on a hanging cake stand for a bride from the UK. It was an exquisite and wonderful challenge.

What advice would you give to couples who are just starting to plan their wedding?

Do the big things first: Venue, décor, photographer, and then do your wedding cake consultation, this will make it easier to choose a wedding cake design that will complement your wedding. Book a cake tasting and consultation, you need to taste the cake because your guest will remember the taste.

How do you stay current with the latest trends and innovations in the wedding industry?

I am a big fan of Pinterest and Instagram for getting my latest inspiration. But I also like to go against the trends sometimes and try to keep my designs classic so that when you look at your cake 30 years from now, you still like the design.

Do you have any recommendations for couples who are working with a tight budget?

If your budget is tight, go for a smaller cake; a two-tier cake can be just as artistic and beautiful as a giant wedding cake. Rather than compromise on design, go smaller. You can combine your wedding cake as wedding favors. Cake Jars are the latest trend, order a one-tier wedding cake for the cutting of the cake ceremony and then give your guest cake jars with a beautiful ‘Thank You’ sticker as a wedding favour. You can also use fresh flowers instead of sugar flowers to save money. Sugar flowers are more expensive because each petal is hand-crafted, you can save some money by choosing fresh flowers instead.

Do you particularly enjoy working with any specific wedding themes or styles?

I love romantic, vintage, and textured wedding cakes. I also love cakes with movement, such as leaves flowing out of the flower arrangements. I also adore adding little details to my cakes, like flowers, birds, fruit, berries, and different textures.

How far in advance should couples book your services, and what is your availability typically like?

We do not make more than two wedding cakes on a weekend, depending on the intensity of the designs, to ensure that we keep our quality high. We do not mass produce; therefore, book as quickly as possible if you are getting married in high season. I would say a year to 6 months in advance would be a good idea, but we accept orders even a month before if we have availability for that date.

What type of support or communication can couples expect from you during the planning process?

We are there for our brides via email and WhatsApp; they can communicate with us whenever needed. We also deliver and set up the cakes so that they can relax on their wedding day.

Why the Garden Route? How did you end up here, and what makes this region so unique for weddings?

My family and I moved down here after my dad landed in hospital with Covid and realized life is too short to stay in Johannesburg. We used to have family holidays in Hartenbos, so we had beautiful memories of the Garden Route. It’s the most beautiful place in the world with such a wide variety of nature. You can have farmland, Ocean views, mountains, forests, wilderness, lakes, and fynbos within an hour’s drive.