The (Delicious) Story of My Cake

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while. After all, it is, next to ice cream, the thing that makes me the happiest in life. That is: cake. (Cue: Rihanna).

And for me, finding my wedding cake artist – Fine Cakes by Zehra – was the easiest, best vendor meeting a girl planning her wedding could ever ask for.

I still remember the day vividly: a brisk winter afternoon when SM and I were on the hunt for our wedding cake. Our first stop was Just Temptations, a vendor which is without fail at every South Asian bridal show in the GTA. I remember walking in to their store in Mississauga, trying a few different cakes and, well, being extremely underwhelmed. I mean, they were okay, but by no means did they taste exceptional to me. And I was looking to be blown away.

Our second and next stop was Fine Cakes by Zehra, in Vaughn. Now, I’d also seen her cakes at a bridal show, and was instantly taken by the intricate mehndi (henna) like designs. But when we went to her boutique, I was in heaven. Hot pink, with models of beautiful cakes displayed on the wall. Literally, I was a kid in a cake store (as you can see from the below!)

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Zehra then warmly greeted SM and me and we sat down on her couch to discuss my vision. I had maybe said three words (“pearls”, “red roses”, “classic”) when she stopped me and said: “I know exactly what you want.”

And then she said: “Here’s what I’m going to do for you. A five tier, classic ivory cake, with pearls hanging from the side, antique gold embellishments, topped with red roses dipped in gold.”

rose top

I was amazed.

And then, she brought out cake for us to try. Not itty-bitty samples, but real pieces of cake.

Ferrer rocher chocolate. Red velvet. Chocolate fudge. Classic wedding cake.

First bite in and I wasn’t just amazed, I was sold. It was delicious.

Zehra continued: “this is what I’m going to do for you. SM’s favourite is red velvet, and yours is chocolate. I’m going to alternate each layer, but the bottom layer, which is the layer that you cut into, I’ll make red velvet, so that when you cut into your cake, it will be red – to go with your theme.”

Okay, clearly, this woman is pure genius — where do I sign?!

And it was truly as easy as that. Since I wasn’t having a dessert table at the wedding – just whatever dessert our caterers provided, and the wedding cake – I got enough cake to feed around 225 guests (according to Zehra, we wouldn’t need more than that because not everyone eats wedding cake) and the cake cost just under $1200.

The whole experience was by far the easiest search for a wedding vendor that we had.

Fast forward to my wedding day. I’m in my full bridal outfit, hair, and makeup, ready to make my entrance, and someone comes into the room and says: “okay, everything is set…except the cake isn’t here.” My heart sinks. “WHAT? What do you mean the cake is not here.” At this point, I’m so nervous (I was a nervous wreck on my wedding day) and this was the LAST thing I wanted to hear, especially because I had 100% faith in Zehra and the cake! So, imagine me sitting in the bridal room, with my mom, and bridesmaids, calling Zehra on speaker phone and telling her: “I’m about to make my entrance on my wedding and have been told that the cake isn’t here.” She replies, “I’m so sorry, it’s on it’s way.”

Fast forward another 20 minutes or so, and the cake is there, I’m told by my bridesmaids, and it’s perfect. I make my entrance and the first thing that I see after I see SM, is my cake, my beautiful, 5 tier, theme-appropriate, wedding cake, sitting their in all its glory. Relief!

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To this day, the moment where we got to cut the cake is one of my happiest from the wedding day. In fact, I’m currently looking through wedding pictures to put together our album, and I know that if I look at cake pictures I’ll actually be smiling (like I said, I was a bundle of nerves throughout this day!)

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Also, right after the wedding, Zehra called me and told me what happened: the driver who was delivering the wedding cake to my venue got into an accident. Thank God he was okay, but because she is so particular, she asked him to drive the cake back to her so that she could check it because she didn’t want a broken cake being sent to me. She checked it, it was fine, and was sent on its way, but that’s why there was a delay. She was SO genuinely apologetic, and felt so bad, that she made it up to us by making SM his birthday cake that year. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Zehra, despite the mishap on my wedding, (it was an accident, after all!) because she was nothing but professional, pleasant and so talented!

So there you have it guys, the story of my cake!

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The Ugly Side of Desi Weddings

Pakistani weddings are great. This is fact. More than the couple, Pakistani weddings are about family, warmth, joy, and jovial celebrations. But there’s a truly ugly side to desi weddings that I think needs to be addressed. And that is: the inevitable comparisons that guests make about the events thrown by the girls side (shaadi) versus the events thrown by the guys side (valima), the moment the celebrations are over.

You know what I’m taking about: “oh you think the hall was nice on the shaadi? well the valima venue is even better” or “the food was just okay on the valima, but on the shaadi, it was out of this world.”

Most of the time, these comments are completely biased because it’s almost always the guests of the bride’s side asserting that the bride’s event/food/decor, indeed, everything, was better, and vice versa with the groom’s guests. Everytime I hear such statements made, I can’t help but think how silly they sound, especially when the guests are praising their own side! But more than that, I can’t help but think how ugly the whole dynamic is. The idea of marriage is supposed to be that two people and families come together, but mere moments after the celebrations end, the guests start critiquing which side threw a better party. And even more sad is that what it comes down to is the side that was deemed to have hosted a better event is usually the side that has more money to have spent on a more impressive venue, floral arrangements, number of dishes, variety of desserts, and on and on. It’s this type of crass competition that only perpetuates the stigma around marrying outside one’s social class – a continuous reality in desi culture – and goes against everything that marriage is supposed to symbolize.

I admit: during my wedding, I wanted three events because the traditions around each day having their own place appealed to me. But I do think it’s a great idea to cut the traditional three day wedding into two by: 1. Having a  joint mehndi (because really, everyone knows the mehndi is the best part!), Followed by 2. A nikah ceremony and  valima reception in one event. This eliminates the inevitable shaadi / walima comparisons, and sets up the main function so that it’s a unifying one. (And yes, I’m sure people will still find ways to criticize, but that’s human nature for you isn’t it.)

However brides and grooms decide to structure celebrations ultimately comes down to personal and family choices. But one thing that I’m consciously trying to do as a wedding guest is not participate in those ugly comparison conversations. At the end of the day, the bride and groom, and each of their families have done the best they can within their means, and so who are any of us to comment that one venue was nicer than the other, when we’re really supposed to be there to celebrate love?

-Safa