By Lia Spencer
It’s messy, it’s exhausting, and it’s chaotic. But it’s oh, so sweet.
Gone are the Polaroids our parents used to take of us, perched in a highchair with a single cupcake on the tray and a messy face in all our glory.
Now there’s a new must-have picture in town.
The ‘cake smash’ phenomenon is the latest trend sweeping the nation – where, for the sake of a cute picture, a professional photographer gets paid to brave the tears and tantrums to get a great shot of your bubba digging into their sweet treat to mark that first birthday.
When my daughter turned one, the mother’s group I am part of decided to take up the challenge. Since there are two sets of twins, there were six of us adults and eight, almost-one year-olds. Most who had never had cake in their short, 12 months of life.
Lucky for me, one of the mums volunteered to bake my cake, as there were only three cupcake shaped cake pans available for our group to use.
We spent several weeks organising and co-ordinating beaded necklaces for the girls, bow ties for the boys, birthday hats and bloomers. We then matched our icing colour to their accessories.
One of the brave mummas offered to use her living room as the backdrop. She prepared a bath for the kids after the messy event, and we all had cloths and wipes ready to go to wash down the walls and hardwood floors once the photo was over.
Our photographer, Jessica Paige, was a professional snapper and had done many cake smash pictures before, so she was better prepared than us for the colourful cyclone of meltdowns we were about to encounter.
First, getting all the babies together, wide awake and willing to co-operate was pretty much impossible. Some of the babies were tired, some were hungry, and some were noticeably concerned about why all the others were crying.
We placed the cupcakes in order, and at the count of three, sat our children behind them. Cue the storm.
Most babies burst into tears, some dug into another baby’s cakes, one baby rubbed the icing all over his eye, and my little girl tried to run away. There were eight babies wailing and moving in all directions, icing spread across the floor and six mums trying to co-ordinate an orchestra – singing nursery rhymes and doing silly hand actions, snapping their fingers and waving their hands in a desperate attempt to keep their attention.
Meanwhile, Jessica – cool, calm and collected – snapped away. Within a few minutes, she stood up, smiled and said: “Okay, we’re done”.
EASY PEASEY! JUST LIKE THAT!
Luckily my husband had turned up to help, so he wrapped Isla in a towel and walked her home (which was just around the corner) to bathe her and put her to bed (despite the copius amount of sugar she just consumed). A few of the others did the same, and a couple rinsed their kids in the bath at the brave mum’s house. It took us only about five minutes to wipe off the walls (which luckily didn’t stain), throw the demolished cakes in the bin, and wipe down the floor.
It seemed like a lot of preparation and effort for five frantic minutes – but soon after, when we received the photos, we realised it was well worth the time and money to get such priceless photos!
They will forever tell a story of a time we, as mums, were daring and patient and our children were naive and cried for cake. They will be pictures brought out at 21st, engagements and weddings. They will be pictures our children will show their children, and their grandchildren.
They will forever tell a story of a simpler time in life.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I highly recommend taking on the challenge – as the pictures at the end of the day are the icing on the cake.