Zen and the smashed wedding cake

I adore this post by Claire of the lovely,thoughtful, funny blog Cakes and Bunting.  It tells of those moments every bride feels in the run-up to their wedding, and then the one thing that should tip a “typical” bride over the edge…didn’t.  Because Claire had perspective.  And THAT’s what this is all about, and THAT’s what we seek.   

I give you Claire:     
In December, a few wedding Tweeters were talking about wedding zen, in a conversation sparked off by Emma of Another Ring Coming .

And this got me thinking about ‘wedding zen‘. The idea that at a certain point, all brides will enter a calm, meditative state where they are at one with the wedding. Where suddenly you sit, possibly cross legged in the middle of a room, surrounded by neatly stacked stationery, decorations and booze, all ready to become a wife. I have no idea where this concept came from, but it seems to have stuck.

If you’d asked me a week before our wedding, I’d have probably thrown a stack of orders of service at you and said the concept was total tosh. Why the hell would we be calm? Even if we’d got everything done and ready, I still wanted to be madly excited. I’d have said that zen was one word that would never have applied to me at any point in the process.

Until, that is, we actually got to our wedding. We pulled up on the farm the day before, and I felt suddenly calm, though still very anxious. I knew that now, the wedding would happen. It was almost out of my hands. 

Over the coming hours, as guests safely arrived, the remaining anxiety slowly dropped away and then, an event happened, which eliminated the last of it and turned me into the most zen version of myself I have ever been. 

What was that momentous event? Was it a declaration of love from my fiance? A quiet moment alone with my mum? Was it a moment of peace, staring out across some fields in the twilight?

No. It was the arrival of one very smashed wedding cake.

What you are now looking at is the bottom tier of a pretty large and delicious cake. The top two tiers were also smashed, but less so. It was a complete freak accident, no one’s fault. 

Here’s what happened: as mentioned, I was already anxious about people arriving safely – after all, the wedding was a drive away for almost all of our guests. This, above all, turned out to be the thing I was most worried about on the wedding weekend.

So when during having my nails done the day before, my mum came into the room with a grave expression on her face to tell me: “Don’t freak out. Something’s happened,” my immediate thought was: “Oh my god. Car accident? Motorway crash? Child fallen off trampoline in garden, gone to hospital?”

Me: “What? What is it???”
My mum: “It’s the cake. It’s erm…a bit…smashed…”

I have never been so relieved in my life. I asked if it was still edible (well, I’m only human) and on hearing a response in the affirmative, felt all stress leave my body. Thank god. It’s just a cake. Hey, it’ll be funny, a good anecdote. 

Seeing my friend that bought the cake in tears was upsetting. But when she said she’d bring the cake, I’d promised her I wouldn’t care if anything happened to it. When she realised I wasn’t joking (“it’s just a cake!”) and everyone was happy, there was basically no denting the zen, if that’s what it was. The realisation that all the important things were in fact not things, but the people that were coming, and they were there, or almost there – that was all we required. As long as everyone was safe and happy, that was it. I was calm and excited and collected. Probably for the first time in my life, to be honest. 

Of course not everyone will feel like this. But sometimes, when things go wrong, it can make you realise what has gone right and what, at the end of the day, really matters. I don’t know if that’s zen, but it was certainly a welcome, receptive calm. I felt open to what was going to happen, like a happy little sponge. 

Oh – and the cake? As it turned out, a minor wedding miracle occurred. The farm owner mentioned she had a friend that decorated cakes. Maybe she could do a bit of a repair job on the broken bit. 

I’m not joking when I say a miracle happened. The friend came over, took off all the decorations and re-iced like a mad woman. Miracle worker indeed.

Categories: Life Experience, Wedding Planning
9 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    This story fills me with joy. We often need perspective on what's really important and Claire had it. And what a perfect ending!

  2. amy f
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Um that cake is gorgeous – whoever fixed it was a miracle worker.
    I loved reading this. I'm severely lacking in Zen so it gives me confidence!

  3. Esme
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I literally cannot believe that your cake went from picture 1 to picture 2. That is incredible!

  4. Liz
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    That cake looks amazing!!
    My zen moments were mostly relating to flowers – the buttonholes they sent us were appalling, i didn't care, we remade them with bits from the garden and it all worked out. I got to the church and realised I'd left my bouquet at home, I laughed!
    The closer the wedding got the more calm I became, i felt so serene, haha! I wish that there was a way to be that calm in normal life…sadly not!

  5. Posted January 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow that cake rescue was amazing, the transformation!

    If I'm being honest I don't think I felt zen until our actual wedding day and I had more important thigns to worry about, and look forward to, than whether the reception venue had been set up properly like I'd been stressing about the day and night before! Can't say I'd have been as calm if our cake had gotten smushed, I'm impressed Claire!


  6. Posted January 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Your friend is some kind of ninja wizard cake genie. That is phenomenal.

    I love the wedding zen. I wish for wedding zen. And a cake genie.

    K x

  7. Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    In the end I didn't get my zen until the morning of. This may have had something to do with the fact that I was still sewing my dancing dress at 1am the night before. No matter! There were various minor hitches on the day and they just didn't bother me. I agree, Claire – it becomes glaringly obvious that it is not things, but people that matter.

  8. Posted January 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    WOW!!! You have a Cake Fairy Godmother. That's an amazing repair job.

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  • By Any Other Photo {Claire and Jon} on February 29, 2012 at 12:07 am

    [...] Claire, she of Zen and the Smashed Wedding Cake sent me her Any Other Photo I was at work, and had to do an “I’ve got hayfever (in [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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