Back in the day, cake smashing when you’re about to turn a year old is unheard of. The tradition that time being having a cake with a candle to blow out and a bunch of colorful helium balloons hovering at the background while kids of all ages circle the table and sing you a happy birthday. The cake then would have to be sliced and eaten. My sepia photos from when I had this are still safely-tucked somewhere where dust has already settled.
When I’ve seen some cake smash pins on Pinterest while checking out some pegs for my daughter’s first birthday party, I thought of how great a photo op material it would be. And even when the subject didn’t smash her cake, we found our way around this by tricking the little bub. Credits to having a good photographer who knows her way with babies. We also did use the photos for the Rhianne’s first birthday party invites and giveaways.
And now for some tips:
1. Decide on your venue. A cake smash photoshoot, from what I’ve gathered, is usually held outdoors picnic-style. If you opt to do it indoors, make sure you have proper lighting. It helps that there are studios offering this concept complete with props and outfits. All you have to do is bring the cake.
We had it outdoors at 14Four Cafe as suggested by our photographer, Nicolai Melicor who is great with natural lighting. As we had the shoot in April, it was quite hot so we made sure Rhianne is hydrated throughout the duration of the shoot. Also, you need to give the baby water after licking off that icing or having a bite or two of the cake. Bring fans – whether makeshift or battery-powered along.
Our venue rental included the use of their cafe which is airconditioned so we stayed indoors in between feeding and outfit changes.
2. Schedule the shoot to coincide with the time the baby is most active. If you’re keen on having an outdoor shoot, the best time to have it, I was told, would be from 9am to 12nn and from 3pm to 5am where the lighting wouldn’t be too harsh. You also have to consider the time which would be spent on the road if you’re travelling to the shoot location.
We scheduled our shoot on a holiday which meant less or no traffic at all. Rhianne was sleeping throughout the entire ride and when we arrive, it was just in time for her light morning snack.
Make sure the baby is fed but there should still be room for the cake. As we’re dealing with a baby who needs to nap, feed and poop, keep in mind that you have to set time for all these which would meant a break from the cake smash session.
3. Choose a good photographer. It helped that Nicolai Melicor is a baby-whisperer. I knew she has a good rapport with the baby since day 1 when they first met for a family shoot back when Rhianne was still 7 months old. Aside from taking really nice photos, Nicolai made the shoot as easy as it can be as she helped in entertaining the baby (by singing nursery rhymes and Rhianne’s favorite songs from Moana).
4. Plan the look in advance. You can scout for the look you want online. You can even DIY your props. As for me, I bought the white tutu dress from Cotton On Kids; the felt crown and cone headpiece from Jia Agape whose IG account I have stumbled upon. The pompoms are from Celebration Central which have physical stores in malls. There are party needs suppliers all over IG these days and they deliver online, too. The latex balloons which are the easiest to source out are from a kiosk in SM Fairview.
Do an ocular of shoot location if you have the time so you would know where to place your props and would know early on if your theme is executable. Should you decide to be in the photo with your little one, prepare clothes that will coordinate or match with the theme. I have a seamstress who made our matching outfits.
Also check for parking spaces and if there is a comfort room that is within close proximity.
5. Consider the type of cake to have. The cake and it’s icing should be easy for the baby to smash. Do not go for a fondant cake as it would be too rigid for those little hands to break down.
Our cake was made by a good friend, Tet Encarnacion-Franco who is behind the @thesugarcougar in Instagram. She made a cupcake type of cake which has a generous mound of icing on top which would create the intended effect – more mess.
Our cake supplier also made sure that the cake was yummy and we requested for it to have less sugar as it would be the first time that Rhianne would be eating cake and or icing.
6. It can get really messy. If it isn’t messy, then it wouldn’t be a cake smash. Bring wet wipes, hand sanitizer, change of clothes, towel, comb, trash bags, etc. The icing can also get into the baby’s hair leaving it sticky and unruly.
7. Have fun. No matter how prepared you are, expect that there are things perhaps within your control or not which would present itself. In my case, Rhianne just wouldn’t want to touch the cake to my horror and that of everyone’s. What is a cake smash session without the cake being smashed, right? No amount of cajoling would make Rhianne go near the cake much more, touch it. The hot midday sun is also making the situation worse. So we then took a break, went inside the cafe which is closed for the day as there is a shoot, entertained Rhianne and gave her a snack.
After a while, we went back to resume the session, Rhianne did cry again upon seeing the cake. This time, we tried putting some icing into her hands even letting her eat bits of it but she just doesn’t like the texture as well as the taste. She’d rather have none of it. So, we gave her the teething wafers which have yay, saved the day as she went on to eat it. I just then smeared some icing on her face and hands for the photos. Hahaha.
Sometimes, it is easy to lose your cool when things don’t go your way. I try to always remind myself that things are now different with a baby. And even it if sometimes hard to do, I just let all those glitches slide and just savor each moment with Rhianne. She did have some fun wandering about and getting mesmerized by the balloons.
8. Bring your village as you would need all the help you can get. I have my village with me including the yaya who didn’t take her holiday that day. And with so many hands helping out, I can focus more on the actual shoot while my family members worked behind the scenes.
There you have it. Hope you can make the most out of my experience and have a cake smashing good time while you’re at it.