When we first started Carousel a few years ago we realized that wedding cakes were never really a priority to brides in this region. Most of the time they were neglected and not given any consideration as a design element in a wedding, however, we felt there is nothing more striking than a beautiful wedding cake. The cake cutting ritual can be a very emotional and touching experience. In our quest to introduce to brides in our region to the art of wedding cake design, we started researching wedding cake designers in North America, and that’s when we were introduced to Ana Parzych’s sweet masterpieces. Ana has been recognized as one of the world’s top wedding cake designers by the editors of BRIDES, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, and THE KNOT. She’s a regular contributor to major wedding publications and her work has appeared in numerous national and international lifestyle magazines, including PEOPLE, Victoria, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Arabia Wedding, as well as in cake decorating magazines in the U.S., England, and Australia. Ana has also appeared on The Food Network. When we met Ana, we were working on our “Old Hollywood Glamour” wedding and we couldn’t help but daydream about having an Ana Parzych’s cake grace the ballroom! So we decided to ask Ana if she was interested in flying out to work on a wedding cake for us. We leave you now with Ana’s account of the whole experience.
“We were thrilled when we received Zainab’s inquiry for a cake in Dubai. I like the challenge of creating a cake for a wedding of a different culture. Having lived and worked in three countries on three continents (Peru, Japan, and the United States), I always welcome the opportunity to travel and experience a different part of the world.
I usually hold a personal consultation with each bride, but I wasn’t able to meet with Reem (the bride) before the wedding; Zainab and Leena were very good at translating Reem’s vision and preferences.
Zainab knew the bride very well, so she kept me very well informed about what Reem had chosen and how her vision was evolving, to the point where after several weeks I felt like I knew Reem. Zainab sent me photos of Reem’s flowers; photos of the Park Hyatt Dubai, where the reception would be; Reem’s color palette; and some computer renderings of how the ballroom would be set up. Zainab had Julie Gibson of Studio Grace, the invitation designer, send me an actual invitation to provide some design inspiration and harmony.
Although, unlike most of my brides, Reem couldn’t see my cake displays firsthand, she got some idea of the possibilities from the portfolio of cake photos I had sent Zainab.
Once I had a good idea of Reem’s style, I sketched 4 conceptual designs, each of them incorporating the different elements of Reem’s wedding.
After Zainab showed her the sketches, Reem seemed to gravitate towards one of them in particular, which also happened to be my favorite. After learning what attracted Reem to that design concept, I sketched 3 variations on that theme.
I was very happy to see that Reem chose my favorite design among the three variations.
I liked the design, because it featured several of my favorite techniques, and the cake was large enough where it didn’t seem lost in the large ballroom.
The gum paste drapes were inspired by Reem’s dress. I felt that the large number of drapes needed some brooches to put them in place; out of the color palette, I chose gold for the brooches, making them a good match for the vases of Reem’s centerpieces, and the chairs. I also planned to paint the cake tiers themselves with gold pearl dust.
I was glad to have the opportunity to use a lot of gum paste flowers, in the varieties and colors of Reem’s bouquet and centerpieces in off-white, lavender and purples. As main flowers, I made several different sizes of roses, as well as hydrangeas, freesias, and leaves
The detailed piping on the side of the cake was inspired by Reem’s invitation.
I like the balance of the design; the cake features some lush flowers, yet I didn’t want to overwhelm with flowers, and left room for the drapes and the piping. I wanted to integrate several techniques to make a customized and unique centerpiece.
My staff and I spent several weeks handcrafting the flowers, coloring them, and boxing them for transport. We make our flowers unusually thin, and they are very fragile. We packed them very carefully, and brought enough flowers to make 2 cakes, in case any flowers were damaged in transit. We hand-carried the flowers every step of the way, and brought them into the cabin of the airplane on our direct flight from New York to Dubai. The crew from Emirates was extremely helpful and accommodating; the service was excellent and we had a great comfortable flight.
Later that day, we finally met Zainab and Leena; after months of numerous, detailed e-mails and phone calls, it was great to meet in person. After taking us for a short tour around the city and treating us to a delicious lunch, they took us to the Park Hyatt to meet the chefs and see the pastry kitchen were we would be working to put together this cake.
The Park Hyatt generously allowed us to use their pastry kitchens, and their staff very graciously assisted us in every possible way. Working with the equipment in the kitchen and some of our own we had brought with us, we covered the cakes in fondant, painted them gold, made and applied the 70 gum paste drapes and the brooches, stacked the tiers, and arranged the flowers. Hours before Reem’s guests arrived, we performed final assembly in the ballroom, and made some adjustments once we saw the whole cake assembled for the first time.
Zainab and Leena had designed the ballroom to make the cake a true centerpiece of the reception. They completely transformed the ballroom, custom-built large mirrors to serve as a backdrop, as well as a platform for the cake table. Their expertise and talent was obvious in every aspect of the décor.
I was thrilled to be able to attend the wedding reception and see Reem’s vision come to life. I was fascinated to see the different traditions all in one room, from the procession of dancers and musicians, to the cake cutting ceremony. The highlight was finally meeting Reem in person; I felt that I had already met her in the course of the indirect consultation process, and was happy to have the opportunity to finally meet her in person and see her reaction to seeing her cake.
After the wedding, I was able to spend some time in Dubai. I was fascinated with the rich blend of cultures, and found inspiration in the art and architecture of the beautiful mosques, the luxurious hotels, etc. I have long been attracted to the intricate patterns, and other design elements of Arab, Persian, and Indian art and architecture, and was happy to see more examples. I could spend months there and find fresh inspiration every day.
Designing and creating Reem’s cake was a challenge, and a great opportunity to expand my horizons, in more ways than one. I am very much excited about the chance to return to Dubai, helping other brides develop their own unique visions.”
We loved having Ana in Dubai and the cake was a stunning success, it was truly a beauty and beyond what any of us had ever seen before. Next to our beautiful bride Reem, it was the co-star of the night. We leave you now to see for yourself Ana’s beautiful creation…
Long Live Love,
The Carousel Girls ♡