Stuck on the Damn Cake

Shawn talks cake drama, being Bethenny's therapist, and his long-lost twin!


The cake, the cake, the cake ... Bethenny was stuck on the damn cake! If it wasn’t one obsession it was another; the tides changed from the Four Seasons to the cake - a specific Red Velvet Cake with a specific frosting. It had to be THAT cake and it had to taste like her favorite cake from her favorite bakery. The problem was that the bakery she loved only did one wedding cake per weekend (they were booked), and they didn’t work with fondant, another strike. We had one week until the wedding and my check list wasn’t getting shorter, it was getting longer.

As her planner it was my job to provide exactly what she wanted. I had no issues doing that. However, the problem was that I was working close to 18-hour days trying to get all the other details organized and finalized, which left little to no time to run to the bakery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to taste her favorite cake. It wasn’t like we were saving puppies in Rwanda!

Regardless of how I felt I knew deep down that I had to get this right, so I trekked up to UES (with my passport) because if I didn’t she would rip the "fruits and veggie off my body!" No way was I willing to sacrifice my "produce section" so she could feed Cookie's hunger for my blood!

Yes, I know NYC is filled with hundreds of bakeries and amazing cake designers. But not all of them do Red Velvet Cake and not all of them decorate a cake the way Bethenny wanted. Oh and did I mention not everyone was available? That’s what you get when you plan a wedding in four weeks.

When everyone else said no, Anne Heap, owner of the Pink Cake Box, said yes. Having worked with her before I knew she would do a great job. She was doing me a huge favor because they were already maxed out on the weekend of Bethenny and Jason’s wedding. When I arrived for the tasting Anne was prepared like a Girl Scout with drawings and samples for me to taste, one of which was Anne’s traditional Red Velvet Cake.

This might be hard to believe, but I know and love Red Velvet Cake! I knew what Bethenny was talking about when she said she wanted a specific kind of Red Velvet Cake. Not all Red Velvet Cakes are the same, just like not all apple pies are the same. So after tasting Anne’s version of Red Velvet Cake, I was almost sure that I had struck gold. But there was no way to tell if Bethenny and Jason would like the cake and I wouldn’t know until the wedding day. No pressure there... So with the fear of Bethenny in me I was onward and upward, my next stop pulling together the floral / decor demo. Some of you may not know this, but my company not only plans weddings, we design them as well. So when it came to the flowers for the demo I made sure I personally designed the floral arrangements.



As you know from our first meeting, Bethenny said she wanted classic New York, nothing foo-foo, nothing over the top, nothing with frills. She told me she wanted red flowers, tulips and roses. I always work hard to satisfy my clients wants and needs, but at the same time I weave in my personal style to create texture and movement so that there is something different at every angle. Weaving in your personal style is something all designers do whether you’re an architect, interior designer or painter. My concern however was that we didn’t see eye to eye on some of the planning elements, so would we see eye to eye on her flowers? The purpose of the demo is so the client can make adjustments and give input, so they ultimately have exactly what they want. This is the way any good event designer works and as a professional, I am no different. Let’s be honest, even the best designers aren’t mind readers! When she arrived at the demo she was in a good mood and her eyes lit up when she saw the flowers. I thought to myself, "Phew, she likes it," and for the most part she did. She actually changed very little. She switched out the linen, removed the orchids from the table and requested I remove a few flowers and add in a few more tulips. Done, done, done and done…it was easy breezy, certainly nothing out of the ordinary.

What wasn't ordinary? I still had not met the groom. To be honest in the back of my head I was a bit surprised we had yet to be introduced, so I thought I would ask. I had no idea my role as planner and designer would soon turn into the role of therapist. Therapy sessions in the world of weddings are nothing new, but playing the role of Bethenny’s therapist was new, at least for me. Up until this point Bethenny and I weren’t cozy-cozy. We certainly weren’t doing each others hair and nails at night. But as I was listening to her I could tell she needed to vent; I could tell that our relationship had finally turned a corner. This was the moment that she finally trusted me. She trusted me enough to open up, and she trusted me enough to let me give my opinion. She and Jason needed to talk about the things she was feeling. I always say a person’s feelings are valid and hers certainly were. I had no issue listening to her, but she had to tell Jason what she was telling me, and she had to speak up before they walked down the aisle.

The week before the wedding came and went and it was time for me to do my final meeting with Bethenny (and it was nice to finally meet Jason). To ease her jitters I voluntarily reproduced the floral arrangement for her. It definitely put her at ease, she loved it! It was perfect!

What wasn’t perfect was that she was stuck on the damn cake! It had come to a point that I had to put my foot down. I had to convince her that I would not allow something she didn’t like at her wedding, period, end of discussion. At this point, although hesitant, I think she did trust me. Who obviously didn’t trust me? Cookie. After she bit me it was my time to exit and create a fabulous wedding!

Before I sign off, I have to address the buzz on the web regarding the fact that Tony "Buster Bluth" Hale and I look like we were separated at birth. When I first saw the "buzz" it was here on, and to be honest I was a bit horrified as I thought there was only one "me." But as it turns out after looking at a few photos, we just might be separated at birth. I now think it’s funny and it no longer bothers me. I am not sure how Mr. Hale feels, but if you are out there somewhere and you’re ever in NYC, stop by, I’d love to see myself in person.

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Only Time Will Tell

Shawn talks about his journey with Bethenny, and thanks his family, friends, and fans for their support!

It is so hard to believe this journey with Bethenny, Jason, Bryn, Julie, Max and yes, Cookie is coming to an end! When I take a journey (such as this one) I always try to reflect back and look at the bigger picture. I like to assess what I did right, what I did wrong, how I can improve and how I can grow. Working with Bethenny on her wedding took me out of my comfort level and pushed me to work the hardest I ever have. It made me stronger as a person and as a business man. She taught me so many lessons and things that I can't even begin to list them all. There were many ups and there many downs. And there were many "oh s*@t" moments …but from each one I learned a lesson.

When I was working with Bethenny on the baby shower she was a different person, but so was I. I had confidence; I know that sounds self-righteous, but you have to understand it took me 35 long years to get to the point I am today and to be as confident as I am today. Working on her wedding brought me further to the point of "I can do it."

When Erica and I were unwrapping the cake for the baby shower, I was getting the sweats thinking it would be smashed. Something in my gut told me something would be wrong with the cake. And there was. I was fearful I would disappoint Bethenny! Listen, the cake came from a bakery in California (one of Bethenny's favorites) and the overnight carrier was not kind to it. When I pulled the lid off, I mortified that the top had been smashed and little Bryn's face had been ripped off. She was like "Baby of the Opera." So I mustered up the confidence to fix the cake. This was for sure one instance where I did let them see me sweat. But with Erica's help I pulled it together and fixed the cake and Bethenny was never the wiser. I guess that's what I'm talking about. I'm not a pastry chef, but I had the confidence (and watched plenty of cooking shows) to know what to do next.

Seeing Bethenny walk into the baby shower as relaxed as she was, was reward enough for me. She was calm knowing the shower would be fabulous, once again she trusted me. She was able to sit, relax and visit with her friends. It was great to see her like this. This is a woman who isn't able to sit and enjoy a quiet moment because she is always on the go. Which is exactly why she chose Spa Chakra on 5th! There is no better place to have a baby shower than at a spa. It was the perfect! She loved it, said I did a good job and that's all that matters! A client for life? Who knows…only time will tell.

People always ask if Bethenny and I are friends. You don't become friends over night. You both mutually have to open up and trust each other. You have to work at it, it's a relationship and all relationships require work equally from each party. After working on her wedding and now her baby shower I definitely think that we have a mutual understanding of each other. I know what she likes and what she doesn't like. And I think in turn she pushes my limits. She wants a fabulous party (and of course I want to plan one), but I think she also wants me to be the best that I can be. After all it benefits both of us. The more I grow, the better person I become and the better events I design and plan. And it all takes confidence to do so.

It did take confidence to do what I did for Bethenny, but it also took the love and support of my family and friends. My parents have always been super supportive and have never doubted my abilities and have always encouraged me to do what makes me happy. My sister has always been there for me when I have good news or bad or if I just need a shoulder to cry on. And my brother-in-law and nieces, although they don't always say much, have stood by me in my ventures 100%! Then there are my friends - there are too many to count, but their excitement, love and endless support helped push me further to reaching my goals. And then there is Michael, my partner in life and the love of my life; words can't describe the support he has given me. He truly is my driving force. To each and every one of these people, thank you and I love you!

And finally there is all of you, thank you for watching me grow, thank you for your (very honest) comments and thank you for watching my journey. I appreciate all your love and support!

I am not sad to see this journey end, only happy at what awaits me in the future. Until that chapter begins I wish you all the best and cheers!

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