THE ARTFUL WEDDING CAKE DESIGNER: MARINA MACHADO
"Every wedding is a new adventure; the cake should be no exception"
I am a specialist in contemporary and artful wedding cakes. I am drawn to creating something stylish, steeped in art, something that is authentic and inspiring, yet never predictable and always unexpected.
Uniqueness is my main focus of inspiration. My designs are truly authentic, minimalist yet refined. They are wildly creative, textural and organic, and they are curated in harmony to inspire and to push the boundaries of what is ‘expected’.
Sources of Inspiration
I have a deep love for imperfection, for the unexpected. Imperfection is like an understated elegance; I find it so intriguing! Pursuing imperfection is accepting and celebrating the way things are, rather than trying to make them what they are not. It’s basically the principle of Wabi-Sabi - the Japanese Philosophy for a perfectly imperfect life, where you prize authenticity, and value complexity equally as simplicity. Also, nature plays an essential role in my creative process. In particular, I am inspired by movement and texture in nature, whether it be ocean waves, sea spray, windblown fallen leaves, the bark of a tree, or rock formations. I like to design cakes that imbue some drama and motion but are fundamentally beautiful at the same time. Of course, they have to taste amazing as well; otherwise, what is the point of it all!
“food is part of my soul.”
What sparked your journey?
My childhood roots ignited this journey. Food is essential to Brazilians. I spent much of my childhood in our rural heartland where food is made lovingly from scratch, and it’s an all-day process; once breakfast is finished, you begin to prepare lunch, and once lunch is finished you prepare dinner. It’s a communal affair, where stories are shared with family, friends and farmhands while splitting peas, stirring great pots of stew or making compotes and jams. It is something I dearly miss, food is part of my soul, and sweet food especially. After I moved to London to study business, I longed for the food of my childhood, so I lost myself in cooking again. I soon realised that I was in the wrong industry and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu to study French cuisine. After one or two steps sideways, I found myself making pastries at Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, one of the great pastry kitchens of London. It was not long after that I found myself in Australia, where my cake design journey began.
Describe your style in a few words?
Ornate yet underdone, ethereal yet moody. Dramatic and refined, organic and textural.
What do you love most about what you do?
Every wedding is a new adventure; the different moodboards, the colour palettes, the great suppliers we get to work with, and of course, the challenge of creating something so unique and beautiful for that one couple. There’s a fire burning inside me to blow their minds and to surpass their wedding cake expectations, which is a thrill by itself, that repeats its course at every wedding. I challenge myself to evolve my art in every experience I accept as a development of my craft. It is not a job; it is a passion, a vocation. It is an opportunity to be what I am: someone who delights in creating beautiful cakes, knowing it will be an integral part of an unforgettable day!
Describe a day in your life
Oh, my days can be very hectic! Apart from having a busy business life and working in a seasonal industry, I have two young kids that keep me on my toes. It is that type of juggling that I complain about, but secretly, I absolutely loooove it! A true chef enjoys the thrill of always being busy - another little secret for you!
After an early morning with my family, I sit in front of the computer, a hot cup of tea in hand, and I get through the dreaded admin part of my job. All I want is to get my hands dirty in the kitchen, making cakes and petit fours for dessert tables. Once I have released myself from admin duties, I am ready to immerse myself in the art of cake making in my kitchen, where I work through kilos of flour and sugar, and dozens and dozens of eggs. Not to mention all of the ‘to die for’ kilos of Belgium chocolate!
After that, I move to my other kitchen; my Cake Studio. I control the ambience with aircon and dehumidifiers, minimising the effect of the heat and humidity - a cake designers least favourite part of Queensland living! And there, I will free myself in cake designs and art, to create something unique for whoever chose me to be a special part of their day.
“Your wedding cake design is a link to the whole wedding concept.”
What should couples should consider first before contacting you or a cake designer?
There are so many key details that are very important once it comes to creating a cake for a wedding. So, before contacting your cake designer, consider asking yourself the following questions: Is the cake going to be served as dessert? Or perhaps you need just coffee portions, which is usually the choice if there are other desserts on the menu? What design do you have in mind? Is it a buttercream cake, or a fondant cake? Is your wedding reception going to be inside or outside, as it might restrict your cake options? What do you envision as a wedding cake?
What do you believe to be the biggest misconception for your industry?
There was a time that cakes were ordered only weeks before the wedding, as a cake design may not have been as elaborate as the current wedding cake trend. Not anymore! An artful and inspiring wedding cake demands a lot of time to be brought to life. From coming up with a concept and being able to deliver it on your wedding day is a long and detailed process that deserves time to be meticulously thought through and executed. So, do not be misled - if you are after something inspiring and unexpected, steeped in an inimitable beauty and art, give the creator the time it deserves to bring the cake life for you.
When in the wedding planning process, should couples consider reaching out to a cake designer?
For each cake, there is an intense creative process - bringing a cake concept to life with an authentic and inspiring design and one that aligns with the couple’s vision, is just the start of it. When you are confident that you would like a cake designed by me, feel free to engage and start the conversation, so we can begin the process of planning your wedding cake. Something I have experienced recently is couples being so driven to one of my cake designs, that it becomes the inspiration for the whole wedding. That is a privilege for me. I feel honoured and very emotional about it all! The concept of having weddings styled with the cake being one of the main focuses of inspiration is just mind-blowing! Couples have been engaging in my services as early as when they decide on a venue, which gives me a great deal of time to plan and create their wedding cake.
Can you share your most popular flavours with us?
The most popular flavours change according to season. I think of the composition of my cakes as a combination of flavours and textures. I love mixing pralines, crumbles and sauces to my cakes. I find it adds depth to the entire cake flavour and it makes it much more interesting than just cake and filling. So, as examples, for a summer wedding, a moist coconut cake, with chunky pineapple sauce, or a vanilla bean Swiss buttercream and a touch of lemon curd to serve is a definite. But during wintertime, a pistachio financier, with vanilla bean Swiss buttercream (or Belgium white chocolate if you dare) and a sour cherry sauce to serve, is an indulgent choice to warm hearts.
Are cake tastings before your wedding date important?
Before Covid, I used to hold cake consultations in my Studio at Tamborine Mountain, for couples to sample a variety of cake flavours. Despite the pandemic, the cake show needed to keep going. Therefore, I designed my signature cake tasting box, so that couples still have the opportunity (and pleasure) to taste my signature flavours and to be able to move forward with the decision-making process regarding the wedding cake. It comes with 8 of my signature flavours, and it is available for pick up, or delivery (And yea, I can send it to everywhere in Australia!)
Do you offer cakes for more intimate celebrations?
Definitely! I have an array of available cake sizes that will suit elopements and micro weddings. In my opinion, the beauty of a cake is in its essence, not its size. A one-tier cake can be just as beautiful, elegant and powerful as a 4-5 tier cake. It is all about the couple’s dream and creating a masterpiece suited for their chosen wedding style.
Can you divulge what the average costs of a wedding cake is?
It’s impossible to average the cost of a wedding cake as there are so many elements involved in creating it. It depends on the number of cake portions, and whether the cake is the only dessert or if it’s in addition to the wedding dessert menu. Of course, then there’s the cake design! And there are so many ways of designing it - from a basic buttercream cake to a highly designed fondant cake with a mix of textural elements and colours. My recommendation is for a couple to discuss quotes with the cake designer in detail, so both parties clearly understand the vision for the wedding cake. That way, their expectations become a reality.
Do you have other dessert options for those wanting something a little less traditional?
Yes, definitely! I am a big fan of dessert tables. They are so versatile and a real feast for the eyes. When I am planning a dessert table, I always think about a variety of flavours, so guests can be spoiled with an array of delightful petit fours to suit everyone’s palettes. Also, it is a great way to cater for dietary requirements, as you can easily include gluten-free and vegan options.
Marina’s creative expression captures the emotion, textures and intricate details of nature and landscapes while remaining a true reflection of each couple’s love story. I am drawn to creatives who take risks and think beyond tradition and push boundaries of wedding ideas, and Marina’s gift to create edible masterpieces are no exception.
Photographer Credits ;
Profile Image @caseyjane_photography
Image 1 @simone_g_imagery
Image 2 , 3, 4 , 5 ,7, 8 & 9 @megankellyweddings
Image 6 @ivyroadphotography
Image 10 & 11 @thisdayforward_weddings