Designing a Cake Smash

One of the best parts of my job is putting together Cake Smash sets! I love doing art projects and designing, so these sessions are right up my alley! I've chosen my favorite Cake Smash as an example as well as broken down how to best put together a set and what to plan for!

The one I had the most fun with is our October pumpkin themed flower set! This mama was a dream to work with! She sent me an email with all the details and info I needed! The more detailed the descriptions given to me are, the easier it is for me to put together exactly what you are hoping for.

We break down what we need in e-mails a few weeks before the session, but parents are busy with kiddos and sometimes they need to give us the information piece by piece. We love getting it all in one email like the one below! However, we understand that might not be realistic for everyone to sit down and do it all in one sitting!

This mom was very thorough and clear. I quickly understood what she was looking for! In my perfect world, this is every parents response. Again, we know this doesn’t work well for everyone but it’s great to give an example of what we need from cake smash parents!

You’ll see below, we don’t always get height and weight right away. Some parents like to wait until a couple weeks before the shoot so that the measurements are up to date. We totally understand that, we just need that information far enough ahead to give the order to our awesome board artist!

The only thing not included in this email was the outfit she was hoping to put her little girl in. We discussed it later on in the email thread and she decided to use one of the outfits we have here in studio! It was beautiful all together. Normally the board perfectly matches the set but she decided she would like some light blue on her board. Below is the final product of her session!

This set took a big trip to Hobby Lobby! Thankfully, I know my way around there now. I studied the picture of the set she showed me, grabbed some foam pumpkins, lots of flowers and greenery, and several cans of spray paint. I had a blast painting the pumpkins (I definitely don’t have a problem with getting dirt and paint underneath my fingernails) and arranging the flowers was super fun too! It was really cool to see that picture come to life.

All of the items for a Cake Smash are included in the cost of the session. We love providing everything you need! Items included are a 10 inch circle cake, a milestone board with the little ones information, decorations for the set, and an outfit for regular pictures and the cake smash piece of the shoot! If we don't have something similar to what you are looking for already in the studio, we are open to ordering something new. Within reason, of course! We always send clients to Pinterest for ideas for these items. Our Cake Smash page on our website also has lots of themes that we’ve done in the past. A lot of inspiration also comes from parents occupation (fireman, farmer, etc.), the little one’s favorite show, favorite stuffed animal, etc. Other parents choose favorite colors, bedroom colors or seasonal colors as a theme. I'd say most parents already have a 1st birthday party theme in mind and they typically want their set to match that! The board is yours to keep, so displaying that at your little one's party is awesome!

We store all our session information on a website called Trello. That keeps our information organized and allows our baker and sign artist to see what we need from them in terms of orders! We couldn't survive without it, not easily anyway!

Picking a cake is probably the most important thing aside from picking the theme. It ties the rest of the background back in and connects it back to the little one as well! Our baker is Katie at Dizzy Cakes Bakery! She is located not far from us in Prior Lake.

We love fun, detailed cakes but we don’t recommend cakes that are super busy as it draws attention away from the star of the session! We can even order super cool specialty cakes such as the one below for an additional $25 fee. We have had some very fun ones such as a fishing bobber, vikings helmet, birch log, car tire, etc. With specialty cakes, we always run them by Katie before we put the order in. We keep the client updated if the cake is considered a specialty cake and has the additional fee or if it just can't be done and they need to pick a new one. We don’t use fondants on our cakes because it doesn’t smash well so you can imagine some designs get a little tricky. However, we can substitute fondant with frosting a lot of the time.

Picking a board is usually the easiest part! Our milestone chalkboards are made by Katy at Freeze Frame. SHE ROCKS. She has done such awesome, detailed designs for us for a couple years now. She is truly an artist!! We offer black or white chalkboards. The most common choice is a black chalkboard (it's really a foam board), however, sometimes a white chalkboard matches a theme better than a darker board. The chalkboard lists the information that makes up the little one’s personality so far. Most include their favorites, such as, first words, number of teeth, etc. The clients keep the board so we always leave deciding on information for the board up to them. It’s included in the session cost so it really isn't our board to decide! The colors on the board are also important to tie into the rest of the set. We never want the board to stick out, we want it to blend in and not take the attention off the sweet baby!

Picking decorations can be fairly simple depending on the vision parents have for their set. The more props there are in the set, the more depth there is in the images. If kept too simple it can be too flat of an image. We love simple sets, we just have to find ways to make the image come alive with only a few props in it! One way to keep it simple is by using only one or two colors in the set! If the set is too decorated, it takes the focus from the baby and drowns them out in the images.

Marggie has a real eye for filling the set and knows better than anyone how it will photograph. I never question her judgement. When it comes to photographing certain colors together, I’ve found that she’s always right! The main decorations we use are tissue “poofs”, balloons, and a banner! Those are our most popular set fillers. I love when people come up with new ideas for props but that usually takes a specific theme. We did a baseball set that we used baseballs as fillers and that was a great look!

We use WAY too many balloons for our sets so we finally upgraded to a huge helium tank in our storage room thanks to Minneapolis Oxygen Company! We were going through those little tanks way too fast. The new tank is a life saver!

The last part of a Cake Smash is the outfit! Lots of parents like to have individual pictures of their child taken at these sessions as well. Just to capture their little one all clean and dressed nice before they get all messy! Some parents choose to do family pictures at this session too. We only wish every one year old would give us the time and patience to change their outfit a million times and take pictures for hours! Sadly, most run out of patience pretty quickly so we try not to take too many pictures before the Cake Smash or they won’t stay focusd and happy for that portion. We have LOTS of 12 month outfits here. Some outfits are for cake smashes but we have outfits that are great for regular pictures too! In fact, we may have too many options! As I mentioned before, outfits are included in the session cost so if a client would like something we don’t have, we will consider investing in it to keep at the studio for future use. We can’t guarantee that we will purchase it but if we don’t, we will look for something similar or something else that they love instead!

Another thing that can be added to the already fun Cake Smash session is a milk or bubble bath! Baths are SO fun!! I have never seen a kid not enjoy the bath piece of a session! Who doesn’t love to splash around all they want? There is so much joy on their faces when they are playing in the water. They get to be that fun, messy one-year-old that parents hope to hold onto forever! These images capture those exact moments! They are great for hanging in the laundry room or bathroom!

We tell everyone that Cake Smash sessions are the most fun sessions we offer here! It starts with giggles and begging little ones to eat their cake and ends with Marggie and the parents dancing around to the song "Baby Shark". I usually get the most laughs because I'm the one sitting at the desk watching it all! There is never a dull moment during a Cake Smash. If you have a little one on the way or a baby nearing 12 months, come on in! You won't regret it!

See you soon!

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