WiTW Hearts…Sift & Gather

The mistress of cakes and all round amazing boss lady of Sift & Gather shares her story…

We are so lucky to be surrounded and advocated by some amazing, gifted suppliers, and we are super thrilled to be able to utilise our platform to showcase their talents, their backstories and their genuine passion for what they do.

As part of our WiTW Hearts feature, we are talking to some of our absolute favourite vendors from across the world; turning the spotlight on them…the ones who go above and beyond to make your day happen in the way you want it to. The people without which this industry would not be at all possible.

Today, we are chatting to the mistress of cakes and all round amazing boss lady, Amber Markland of Sift & Gather. Her story is beautiful and passionate, and I hope you enjoy reading it…

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So tell us Amber, how did you come to be doing what you do?

I didn’t know I loved cake, I was just looking for something I could do with my family to give back to others less fortunate. It changed my life forever. 6 years ago, I became the chapter organizer for a non-profit called “Birthday Cakes 4 Free” in the town of Milton, Massachusetts. I started baking cakes, and my entire family would deliver them with me to children, and seniors that could not afford a cake on their birthday.

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I had know idea how much a cake could impact someone’s life. My children got to experience all the things a parent preaches about, being kind, genuine, respectful, giving, loving, and man did if feel good. From the very first cake that we delivered to a single mom, with 6 kids, on the verge of being homeless… I knew I was doing what I was meant to do. Since then, I have been perfecting my craft and finding a place in the industry that allows me to be uniquely me!

What aspects of weddings do you love the most?

This is easy, I love the LOVE aspect of a wedding the most! Here’s why… 14 years ago, I got married to the love of my life. Sounds amazing right? Well it was not what you see on Wed in the Wild, let me just tell you that. We were stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in potato country Idaho, in the United States Air Force.  I had a 1 year old on my hip, standing in front of a judge at the local courthouse. No family or friends to witness the once in a lifetime moment, no special vows written from the heart to read to each other, and no wedding rings.

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Now that I have witnessed and participated in real life weddings and elopements, I can see how special every aspect is to a couple and their loved ones. But the love that radiates between two people is so fulfilling to the soul.  Don’t get me wrong, I also love the design, florals, signage, cake, and all the details that pull it together. But I love the LOVE part of a wedding the most!

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What is your USP? How do you set yourself apart in the market?

It’s ME. I see how people can get caught up in doing what everyone else doing. I try and do the opposite of that! I do what I want…   I look at my business as a reflection of my individuality, it’s authentic to who I am as a human.  My brand is my aura, a beacon of light around me that puts off good vibes only and attracts people that want and need me. I sprinkle that shit in everything I make, along with a whole lot of my heart and soul. That’s what I want people to respond to first, ME, and then scream over how dope their cake looks and tastes! 

We really couldn’t agree more…you are your biggest asset!

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Are you keen to or have plans to launch any other products or services?

Not at this very moment… Right now, I am 100% focused on getting the brick & mortar, Sift & Gather cake studio up and running! Once that happens, you can bet your sweet ass we’re going to turn it up a notch! And don’t be shy about reaching out to me with questions, new ideas, or collaborations. 

What do you love most about the wedding industry?

Besides the couples, it’s hands down all the other vendors doin’ the damn thing. I can say, without a doubt I have made friends for life with several of the vendors I’ve worked with over the last year. These people that are pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into the products/services they are creating and providing for the couples we’re all so fortunate to meet is INSANE. I am humbled and honored daily by how lucky I am to be working in an industry that is so inspiring and supportive. 

Hail. Amazing, supportive suppliers can make all the difference when you are a solo business owner.

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Describe your ideal wedding?

My ideal wedding would be a small intimate ceremony, somewhere outside. Warm weather, no shoes, and a wedding dress that hangs off my shoulders and moves with the breeze in the air.  I’d walk down the isle with my 3 children by my side, to music that speaks to the soul.  The seasons most beautiful flowers, and a custom backdrop you’ve never seen before. Vows. Dinner around a gorgeous table setting, food, drinks, and a whole lot of dancing! Ohhh… and a beautiful cake! 

Which celebrity wedding style do you love?

I fell in love the very moment I saw the three individual cakes at the Royal wedding this last year.  It was so outside the box from what the past royal wedding cakes have ever been, and man did they make a statement. Simple, sophisticated, elegant, each one unique but still complimenting the others, and completely edible!

We agree…Meghan & Harry struck so many perfect chords! 

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What do you think is the biggest issue in the wedding industry?

Not giving credit, when credit is due. Sometimes the importance of a vendor’s role, gets minimized next to all the other important parts of a wedding. In my eyes, there is not one aspect of a wedding provided by a vendor that is not just as important as the next. The wedding comes together via a collective of talented, hardworking, worthy humans.  There is no i in TEAM, you know what I’m sayin!

We really do. Crediting is vastly important!

And finally, lovely lady, what does love mean to you…

Love to me is nourishment to the mind, body, and soul. It’s a feeling that feels so good, it almost hurts. Love is compassion and compromise. Love to me means, you can put your heart in someone else’s hands and know that they will hold it gently and protect it.  To me, love is something you give and receive. An explosion inside your chest when you look into the eyes of your children. An ache when you’ve become disconnected and distant from love you once had. Love to me means being gentle and kind. Love is loving yourself and all that you have to offer the world.

Love is CAKE!

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Photography Credits

Cast & Forge

Marnie Cornell

Sam & Sola

WiTW Hearts…Esme Whiteside

Introducing photographer Esme Whiteside: a cat loving, Northerner with a beautiful photography style.

As our platform grows and grows, we want to shine some loving spotlights on the amazing talent which make the wedding industry tick. From photographers to dress designers, cake artists to florists, stationers and jewellers…we want to bring you the most inspiring stories behind some of the wonderful faces in the wedding industry.

Whether you are a bride looking for kick-ass suppliers for your wedding, a fellow vendor looking to connect with fabulous creatives or you are simply interested in hearing peoples unique stories, then Wed in The Wild Hearts is the feature for you.

First up, we’re introducing photographer Esme Whiteside. In her own words she’s a cat loving, Northern gal. She’s a a traveller, an observer and she’s downright addicted to love. Based in Northwest England, Esme offers her services both nationally and internationally. We started following Esme a while back and we are completely obsessed with her raw, emotive and nostalgic photography style. We wanted to find out more about the face behind the camera…

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How did you come to be doing what you do?

Esme: I studied Fine Art at university. My uni was really liberal in the sense of what we could do within our own studios, and I ended up specialising my degree in fine art photography and videography. I was really obsessed with conceptual photography as an art form.

From there I went into working in a family photography studio, which I ended up absolutely loathing. It was too target driven and sales based with 0 creativity. I left and decided to jump into weddings, I’ve never looked back.

What aspects of weddings do you love the most?

Esme: I really love meeting people. I love hearing people’s stories, and creating a full documentary of the most special days of people’s lives. Often my couples cherish the images that they didn’t know I’d even taken the most. I love presenting couples with moments they didn’t realise happened, and allowing them to relive the love from the day through my photos.

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I love being there for people throughout the day too, offering advice and little words of wisdom to help calm nerves. There’s a lot of adrenaline flying around at weddings, which massively brings out my creativity. I feel, daily, very privileged that I not only get to share this experience with people, but I get to document it for them – I also often cry at super soppy weddings…but don’t mind me, the tears will only ruin my makeup and not the camera!

What is your USP? How do you set yourself apart in the market?

Esme: I definitely feel like my work meets at an interchange between Fine Art and documentary. I know there’s a lot of fine art wedding photographers, and there’s a lot of documentary wedding photographers, but I don’t think there are many that cross over. My work is really warm, dark and moody. Again, there are a lot of dark and moody photographers, but I feel there’s something really tangible and nostalgic about my images, whilst also being interactive and very in the moment.

(We really couldn’t agree more, Esme) 

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Are you keen to or have plans to launch any other products or services?

Esme: I’ve got so many plans for this year. I definitely want to look at being uber creative and channeling some of my visions. I’m thinking lots of styled shoots; I’m a control freak and LOVE organising. I also love networking and bringing together amazing creatives to make something beautiful and inspiring. I love helping newer photographers too, and sharing my visions with people needing more content, so I’m definitely thinking portfolio builders for photographers too. 

In terms of for my couples, I’ll be launching some new add ons to my full day package – new albums, post shoots instead of pre-shoots (I’ve got my first one this year which I’m so excited about!) and special destination and elopement pricing. 

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What do you love most about the wedding industry?

Esme: I love how supportive everyone is of one another. The majority of suppliers I’ve met, especially other photographers have a real community over competition spirit. I love how weddings can be anything you can dream of now, and how suppliers across the industry come together to create really incredible visions for couples.

What do you think is the biggest issue in the wedding industry?

Esme: As I said, most suppliers are really lovely, supportive and welcoming. On the odd occasion I’ve found suppliers to be quite intimidating, especially to newbies. I’m firmly in the community over competition camp, and don’t think acting like a rockstar gives a good impression to anyone.

I think there’s also a lot of pressure on couples for their wedding to be the biggest, best, most elaborate celebration, especially when amazing viral images go around of incredible destinations etc. If you get married, then everything went perfectly because you are married. No one needs the stress or pressure of co-ordinating everything to a tee. Celebrate your love your way.

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Describe your ideal wedding?

Esme: My favourite weddings are always the relaxed, pared back, stress free ones. I love an elaborate plan, and I love it when a plan comes together, but what I really love most is when couples celebrate their love, their way.

As I’ve said already, at the end of the day, as long as you get married then your day went exactly how it should have. Weddings that really give me that warm fuzzy feeling, of wow these people are SO IN LOVE, are essentially my favourite. Especially if it happens in a barn… with lots of pampas grass.

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Which celebrity wedding style do you love?

Esme: Honestly I really loved Miley Cyrus’ wedding recently. I know we didn’t get many major details, but it all just looked so sentimental and sweet. Super intimate and private, just the right amount of fuss, and perfect pared back details.

Her dress was really minimalistic, on trend muted dusky blooms, and simple hair and makeup. I loved everything I could get my hands on to see about it, just really personal and gorgeous.

What does love mean to you…

Esme: I think love comes in many different forms, and manifests itself differently to everyone. Love to me is coming home to my cats and my man, and feeling safe and secure every day. 

Love is being with someone who supports you, lets you dream but keeps your crazy in check. Love to me is definitely having someone balance you out, keep you on an even keel and run with your wild ideas every once in a while.

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