Wardrobe Wednesday {First Birthday Session}

The one kind of how-to post that most people do NOT love is the kind that looks like no one could possibly pull it off! And that is why Kelly’s post is so, so awesome.

You could do this. I could do this. I will do this.

Parents, please make sure you read to the end of this post; there are some very nice fan discounts from various vendors.

Oh, and one more point: I love the tie. LOVE IT!


My little guy recently turned one, and I couldn’t wait to take his birthday portraits, complete with a cake smash. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, you plunk the birthday boy or girl down for some instant photo fun — just add cake! The results are always messy and memorable once they dig in.

In addition to capturing my son covered in frosting, I also wanted some images of him outside — exploring, reacting to his surroundings for those natural expressions I know and love.

First birthdays are a major milestone and a popular reason for booking a portrait session. But rather than just picking outfits and props randomly, if you give it just a little extra thought, you can plan and style an amazing first birthday session so all of your images (although very different) are coordinated and look amazing when paired together for an album, wall display or however you choose to enjoy them. And because I just went through it myself, I have real examples to illustrate — which always helps, right?

Need another reason to read to the very end? I lined up some awesome deals for you from some very incredible vendors.

Okay, for Evan’s portraits I opted to go with the colors of his nursery because I know I’ll display some of the photos there. (For more on matching your outfits to a room in your home, see this Wardrobe Wednesday post.) Evan’s nursery is filled with light blue, navy and red, so I knew I’d have a ton of options. If you’re interested, check out his room here.

I did a little shopping and came up with a few great outfits and props for outdoor portraits as well as his cake smash in my chosen color palate.




Okay, so how awesome is that giant cupcake cake? Well guess what? I made it! That’s a photo I took in my studio. And you can make one too!

Wait. Just wait. Before you get all, “Yeah, but you’re super creative … I can’t do that” on me, I am the World’s Worst Baker. I ruin just-add-water brownies. (Just ask my family.) But I really, really, really wanted one for Evan’s cake smash photos, so I did a little research online and decided to give it a try.

Here’s what I purchased:



Yes, you could certainly use your own cake batter recipe, but being the World’s Worst Baker, I decided to keep it simple and leave it to the expert Duncan Heinz. You could keep it even simpler and apply the frosting with a spatula, but I was feeling adventurous, so I went for it. The decorating tools were fairly simple to use, and the little turntable was a minimal investment and really saved the day when it came time to add frosting. My 4-year-old spun it while I applied the vanilla.

In my research process, I checked out a lot of photos of other people’s cupcake cakes and decided I didn’t really care for the bottom half when it was unfrosted or frosted. I thought it either looked unfinished or weird. Then I found this incredible tutorial on how to make a giant cupcake liner using chocolate melts! Brilliant!

I followed the directions exactly and nailed it on the first try. It was super easy and slid right out of the pan. I didn’t even have to trim the sides of the cake for it to fit, just a little off the top. Easy, peasy.

The last tip I found that really made things simple was how much batter to put in each side of the pan. After you’ve coated both sides with cooking spray and lightly dusted them with flour, fill the portion that will become the top half of the cake with 2½ cups of batter. Fill the bottom half with 3½ cups of batter. No more, no less and both sides will bake evenly. Bake at 225 degrees for one hour.

Let your cake cool, trim, place inside your kickin’ chocolate liner and decorate!

* * * * *

And here are a few of the final results with my birthday boy. Even though the images are very different, they still coordinate! Can’t wait to design his mini albums to pass out to family.



Where to shop


Tie: $17.95, Trendy Ties

White button down: $14.94, Old Navy

Jeans: $16.94, Old Navy

Plaid hat: $6.99 (on sale), Gymboree

Headphones T-shirt: $12.99, Old Navy

Navy pants: $14.94 Old Navy



Pennant: $32, Blue Moon Studios on Etsy

Personalized name shirt: $18, Three Lulus on Etsy

Diaper cover: $5.99, Amazon

Tie and jeans (see above)



Wilton cake pan: $22.94, Amazon

Jumbo confetti sprinkles: $0.99 per ounce (I purchased 2 ounces) Shop Bakers Nook

#1 candle: $1.29, Amazon

Two boxes of store-bought cake mix, two containers of store-bought vanilla frosting

One package of chocolate melts, $2.99 at craft stores

Cake decorating turntable: $14.99, Shop Bakers Nook

18-inch decorating bag: $8.14, Amazon

Large cake decorating tip coupler: $4.56, Amazon

Large decorating tip: $3, Amazon


* If you’d prefer to avoid shipping fees, I purchased all of the cake-decorating items — including the pan — at Michael’s Craft Store


What’s that? You need one more great reason to shop? Done. Here is a discount code from a few vendors featured in this post exclusively for my clients and Wardrobe Wednesday fans! Enjoy!