smash the cake gif

The IVF diary / 1 June, 2018 / Ellie & Jamie

How We Created The Perfect Smash The Cake for Baby’s 1st Birthday!

It’s Maddie’s first birthday today, and long term My Baba / Jellie Diary followers will know it’s been quite the journey for all three of us. To celebrate this amazing milestone we enlisted the help of Carly Michael, one of the most brilliant photographers I know, to capture a beautiful smash the cake session.

Styling & colour scheme

There are some standard smash the cake kits out there, but if you’re spending money on a photographer, consider creating your own look to achieve something really special. You’ll find hundreds of smash the cake photoshoots on Pinterest with different backdrops, colour schemes and props, (not to mention AMAZING cakes) to give you lots of cool ideas.

The backdrop / background

This is where your photographer comes in, unless you’re braving a home shoot yourself. Home shoots are easily done if you’re willing to invest in a little bit of kit, and have a good eye for a photo!

I decided to rely on the professionals. Carly chose a subtle grey background colour to suit the pastel colours and I think it worked really well.


Etsy is about to become your best friend. I found it was really the only port of call for beautiful smash the cake props. With Etsy it’s worth noting that some of the shops are based abroad so products can take a while to be shipped. Make sure you plan ahead of time.

I personally prefer pastels, blush and peach colours as opposed to straight-up girlie pink, and to compliment Maddie’s golden hair, I decided on a mint tutu by ThreeLittleSwans. The tutu seems to be a staple item for a girlie smash the cake sesh, and although initially I wanted to find an alternative to be a little different, eventually I succumbed. There’s not much cuter than a baby girl in a tutu!

I found these super-cute tulle pom poms by PomChickShop to match the tutu and sit playfully in shot. Tulle pom poms aren’t particularly cheap, but you can easily recreate this look with tissue paper pom poms.

I found this awesome gold baby glitter crown for Maddie to wear at Monsoon for Kids, but it didn’t stay on for long. We did manage to get a couple pics of her wearing it after the shoot, before she whipped it off her head! We had the foresight to think that might be the case, so came prepared with a rather sweet peach and gold sparkly hair clip from Sainsbury’s. Pretty much all her hair clips come from Tu!

Balloons and bunting

It wouldn’t be a smash the cake without a balloon or two. It can be tricky to find the right colours to match your props – you can only see their true colours when they’re inflated. I found that pearlised balloons worked best with the pastel colours I’d chosen, and found some cheap on eBay.

A top tip: make sure you buy balloons that are latex in material if you want the option of adding helium on the day. I popped into The Non-Stop Party Shop in Cobham en route to Carly’s house, and they pumped up six balloons for about £1.50 each. It’s important to note that they only last a day once inflated, so it’s something you’ll need to consider in your plans.

I decided against a ‘one’ cake topper, and found this air-filled foil ONE balloon from Amazon to use in the back of the shot, to sit above Maddie. This rose gold star garland from Etsy shop Castles and Cupcakes was the perfect length for hanging below the ONE balloon to add a little more sparkle. To add a little more detail to the floor, these rose and cream coloured petals did the trick.

The cake

There are some fabulous off-the-shelf cakes you can buy to suit your budget, so it’s worth checking out M&S, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. When ordering or buying your cake, just bear in mind it will need to have a soft butter icing (or the dairy free equivalent) on the outside of the cake so your baby can get stuck in.

As Maddie is dairy free, I turned to my local expert cake maker, Laura, from Laura Cook’s Cakes. Laura made Maddie’s Christening cake which was out of this world, so I already knew what a beautiful a job she’d do.

I tasked Laura with making a peach rose bouquet cake with dairy-free buttercream, which was no mean feat. Dairy free buttercream is even softer than the real thing and can melt very easily. I felt bad that such a beautiful creation was abused in a smash the cake photo session. It tasted delicious, so Jamie and I ate fistfuls of it in the car on the way home stuck in traffic on the M25, so the cake was done justice, and the car was left needing a valet.

Handy tips for a smash the cake shoot

  • Wet wipes. You’ll need lots on hand to clean cake from, well – pretty much everything!
  • Get your props in place and the shot ready BEFORE you put the baby anywhere near the cake
  • Take a third person to entertain the baby while you and the photographer prep the scene
  • Take some test shots to make sure everything is in place
  • Undress the baby last minute – change nappy and put her/him in their outfit
  • Play their favourite music – Maddie had some Kylie to bop to!
  • Have your iPhones on hand to capture/film the first few moments
  • NB: The shoot does not last long – so be prepared to get the shots done and dusted within the first few minutes – it’s very fast paced
  • Have a warm bath and towels waiting so baby can be dunked in and cleaned off

The photographer

Carly Michael is a creative and destination wedding photographer by day, but in fact, she can turn her hand to pretty much anything. Carly is based in Potters Bar / Enfield and for any queries, you can email her here.

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