Tara Leigh Cakes

Styled Shoot at Willowdale

Tara LeighComment

It's HERE. The exciting beginning of our Tara Leigh Cakes Blog. Here you will find recipes and tutorials, as well as exciting happenings at the shop.

When I came up with the idea to write about my experiences at Tara Leigh Cakes, I knew sharing recipes would be a huge part of it, as that is one of the most common questions I get from clients.

"How do you get your Brown Butter Cookies so soft?"

"What makes your French Macarons so bright and vibrant in color?"

"How do you make your buttercream frosting?"

(....and we'll get to all of that, promise)

 I also loved the idea of sharing my experiences with my wedding couples. Their stories, their ideas for designs, and of course, the end-product-a beautiful, edible work of sweet art.

SO much goes into that one day outside of the cake itself, and if there is one thing I have learned in my 2 short years in the wedding industry, it's that our tiny little area of 'Bahhhston' has such incredible talent when it comes to wedding professionals. I always love being able recommend vendors to my clients that I would trust with my own "celebration of love", people who I know both personally, and from former events.


Right around Valentine's Day, a light bulb went off in my head; "Why not put together a photo shoot to showcase the amazing local wedding talent just in time for 2017's busy wedding season? A way to showoff trends and ideas that are 'in' for the year; a great way to collaborate with some of my favorites in the business?" I immediately begin reaching out to vendors, hoping my local favorites would want to be involved. I recruited some girlfriends to model for the shoot by telling them they could essentially play dress up with gorgeous gowns and diamonds AND eat Macarons & wedding cake for a day, and they obliged.

And then on April 10th, after what seemed like the longest winter and start to spring EVER, the sun came out and we had an absolutely perfect day for our "elegant garden" styled shoot at Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, who so generously hosted us.


For those of you who have never been to Willowdale Estate, picture something straight out of a garden fairytale. The gorgeous grounds meticulously maintained are the perfect backdrop for the stone architecture that makes up the main building. The majority of our photos for the shoot were taken in the 'Conservatory Room', with wall to ceiling windows and (quite literally) picture perfect natural lighting for a wedding or event.

Our models were in the library for Hair/MUA which was another favorite room of mine; super cozy atmosphere with books, oversized plush chairs, and a gorgeous view of the courtyard. I reached out to Brittney Trainito, owner of Brittney Eileen Makeup Artistry after admiring her beautiful work on social media. Her eye for glamorous yet natural makeup was exactly the look we wanted for the shoot. Rachel Hanlon of Charles David Salon in Hanover was another perfect fit with her gorgeously elegant hair styles and years of experience in the industry. These two worked all morning with our models while myself and the rest of the vendors set up the Conservatory room.

Now, like most women, I'm a sucker for a gorgeous piece of jewelry. That's where Nerissa Hill of Tesoro Boston came in. Nerissa owns Tesoro with her husband David, and I'd be lying if I told you they weren't two of my favorite people I've met in my business venture thus far. I was fortunate enough to be their "shop" neighbor at my first retail location and from the start, they welcomed me with open arms (AND let me try on the most beautiful diamond jewelry when I was having a tough day). Nerissa was a key part in some of the gorgeous jewelry staging for the shoot and provided stunning pearl bracelets for the ladies, as well as the diamond jewelry for our bride-to-be Julie. A visit to their storefront in Middleton is well worth the trip if you're looking for the perfect custom engagement ring or wedding band.

We were also blessed with beautiful fashion jewelry pieces from Chloe & Isabel's Alexandra Ksana. She styled our bridesmaids Natalie & Savannah with on-trend statement necklaces, as well as beautiful jeweled bouquet clips. (Fun fact about Alexandra-she's ALSO an interior designer and was a HUGE help when I was frantically trying to set up the dessert table after setting up all of the props).

Add in the stunning lace bridal gown and blush pink bridesmaid gowns provided by Bella Sera of Danvers and the ladies looked like they walked off the pages of a high fashion wedding magazine. I personally LOVED the romantic style of the bridesmaid's gowns and am always a sucker for anything lace.

Certainly one of the most important parts of a wedding day is someone to capture every special moment-the first look, first kiss, first dance, and of course the cake cutting...

I met Savannah Dos Santos of Amor As Art Photography through a Boston Businesswomen networking group we're both a part of on Facebook, and after seeing her portfolio, I knew she would be the perfect person to capture our photo shoot. She has such an artistic and different approach to photography and we clicked immediately. I think the photos speak for themselves. She is one incredibly talented lady and was great in both directing the girls and capturing the perfect shots throughout the busy day.

So many other people contributed to our shoot as well. Liz White of Mason & Madison (another one of my local favorites) provided elegant menu cards as well as thank you's and invites that perfectly matched our theme (and are completely customizable). If you're looking for invitations, menu cards, or even a gift for the married couple-to-be in your life, Mason & Madison is the perfect one-stop shop.

Samantha and John Miller of Vinum Wine Shop were kind enough to provide us with delicious champagne, which the girls were more than happy to indulge in about halfway through the day and Tina Pangratis , owner of Konstantina's Floral Design in Middleton provided the gorgeous floral centerpiece as well as bouquets for the girls. Tina is another professional whom I've known from the "start" and is always at the top of my list for local florists. She is a true artist with her designs and such a wonderful person to work with. Donna Dunne was another great addition with her beautiful calligraphy signs, which we see showing up at many of this years weddings on dessert and buffet tables, as well as seating charts.

The desserts were another welcomed indulgence towards the end of the day. S'more cookie sandwiches, Lemon Cream Trifles, and THREE flavors of wedding cake graced the dessert table display. The girls couldn't help but sneak a taste of our Maui cake, which also gave us one of my favorite shots from the whole shoot. And no Tara Leigh Cakes dessert table would be complete without a tower of delicate French Macarons to match the blush pink, gold, and greenery reflected throughout the theme. I chose Strawberry Milkshake, Green Tea, and Salted Caramel for nice light flavors and made sure to send the ladies home with boxes of cake & sweets for their hard work. I love the touch of small favor boxes on a dessert table for wedding guests to bring home as a "sweet ending".

We definitely had a great day and I'm so appreciative of all of these incredibly talented local ladies for helping my vision come to life. For those of you planning your "dream weddings",  I could not recommend these vendors more. Cheers to a wonderful wedding season!