Cake Attack!

When a Toastmasters project coincides with just the perfect event….

“Harusi si harusi bila keki?” That’s Kenyanspeak for a wedding is incomplete without cake. Wedding cakes are like small gods and only fall second place behind brides in weddings.

Think about it. Other than the bridal tent, which other tent gets the most stolen glances from guests at a wedding? Which other table is well-covered with white cloth glittering with decorations? I’ll give you some free advice. If you know what’s good for your reputation, do not devastate your guests by making them go home without having a piece of cake!

Fellow Toastmasters and guests,

Today I’ll tell you how I aced my Cake matron duties at my brother’s wedding this past weekend. In these Covid-19 times, parties are in short supply. Weddings in particular are scarce…and when you get an opportunity to be among a handful of thirty invited guests, you take it even if it means taking up a role you have never played before.

I love weddings – of people I know very well so I am seated at a good table where the cake comes to me not the other way around! To be honest, I find some of the drama around cake-cutting unnecessary. For this particular wedding, the rib-cracking aunt who does an amazing job as cake matron didn’t make the cut. And the cake matron had to come from the chosen thirty guests. A task that fell on me. I quickly recovered from the shock and with lucidity, determined to honor my beloved brother and his bride by making the cake-cutting event memorable. After all, I am a Toastmaster and if I’ve learned anything on my journey so far, it is being ready to seize opportunities and be ready to wear all manner of hats at short notice. The unusual, Covid-19 wedding, where guests rocked face masks and sat 1.5 meters apart was about to get more interesting!

With a week to the wedding, my strategy was to master the art that is cake-cutting and go on to wow and mesmerize the invited guests, making them salivate as they waited for a piece of the cake! Since the guests were mostly close family members, I was also not taking chances that each time they watched the wedding video in the future, memes and snide comments would be directed my way. I was going to do such an outstanding job that the professionals at the posh Hemmingways hotel would refer me to their future clients!

Three days before the wedding, I reached out to the cake baker to confirm everything was in order. I am glad for the tips she shared…like how not to hack into the cake as if bringing down a mall on riparian land! The delicate cake tower was not going to topple over under my watch. No, ma’am!

I had my grand opening to capture the cake mood – “One of life’s tragedies is that we actually have to cut up this beautiful piece of art…but it would be a greater tragedy if we left it uneaten…” I would then go on to describe the cake. My friend, if you have only heard about black or white forest cakes, this is not a job for you! It was an orange poppy seed and top apple spice cake with caramel buttercream frost all covered with fondant icing. I was ready to school the guests in basic cake language!

Cake cutting at weddings symbolizes a couple’s first official joint task as newlyweds. My message, delivered in under five minutes was simple…The Dinner Table as a Place of Connection, Brokenness and Blessing. And there I stood. All resplendent as I watched the guests nod their heads at each sentence. I was proud of my exhilarating performance. The couple confirmed they couldn’t have had a better cake matron. The guests congratulated me. What more could I ask for?

As I conclude fellow Toastmasters, I will quote Will Rogers who once said “A vision without a plan is just a hallucination”. A strong communication plan ensures your message will have the desired impact. You must:

  1. Clarify the goals you need to address,
  2. Identify your target audience, and
  3. Formulate your central message in a manner that it fulfills the goals and reaches the audience.
  4. Determine the resources and strategies you will need and use them effectively, and finally;
  5. Have a clear set of criteria for assessing your plan’s effectiveness. These should include getting the desired response to your message.

If you do not do these five things, you may as well plan to be your audience’s worst nightmare!

Madam Toastmaster.