At heart, I love being a creative person. I am all about flipping a piece of furniture, styling an outfit, trying a hairstyle, and one of my favorites, taking pictures! I think this also ties into my other favorite hobby… getting a good deal! So, when it came to doing a cheap DIY Cake Smash, I was all about it.
Where to Begin for a Cheap DIY Cake Smash!
Smash cake photos can range from $300 – $1500 depending on the photographer you hire. I am all about a great family photo, and adore the girl who takes our photos, but I can’t afford professional photos for everything!
So, I poked around at different Pinterest inspirations and first decided on what theme I wanted. These can range from super simple or become VERY elaborate with lots of props. There were two things I wanted to keep low – cost and effort. Logan is a my second born, and unfortunately, chasing a toddler and one year old around did not leave me with a lot of time.
I ended up settling on a color theme of blush, gold, and cream colors. Not very original, but hey, you like what you like! I also always keep in mind “Would I want this framed on my wall?” I like pictures where my subject stands out rather than a life size cut-out of Little Mermaid.
What You Need for a Cheap DIY Cake Smash!
After you pick a theme, it is time to buy you “props” and a couple other items. Things I ended up buying for my cheap DIY cake smash:
- A balloon arch kit -These are super cheap on amazon and really simple to make. The one I purchased was only $8.00! They take a bit of effort as far as blowing up the balloons, so I suggest getting a balloon blower.
- Cake Stand – I got mine for $12 at TJMaxx, however, you can really get one anywhere. This is not a necessity, but it helps get the cake on your baby’s level.
- The Cake – If you are from the south, you know the Publix is the best place to buy a cake. I got the 10 inch cake for dramatic effect and it was actually less than $30. They are so great about taking a picture and making it come to life. You also get a free smash cake with an order of a larger cake. So, we did end up with two cakes to share with all the guests.
- An outfit – I have one winter baby and one summer baby. Summer is SO much easier to buy cute outfits for. However, I did find an awesome cream sweater on baby Zara and got it monogrammed at a local shop. I also got a cute blush tutu to tie the colors together.
- Birthday Banner– This was actually just intended for extra decoration, but I used it in the set-up.
- White Photo Back Drop – This was my most expensive item and I definitely went back and forth on whether I should get it. However, I figured I would use it again for other projects, which I have, so it was worth the investment.
- “One” Banner – I ordered this with the intention of putting it on a high chair. So, I found a way to incorporate it! Retrospectively, I would not have ordered it. It did make a cute touch though!
So, in total, all of the items for the backdrop and props cost me $68! I am not including the outfit or cake in this cost because I would have bought cake and outfit regardless.
We set up the props the day of the party. The balloon arch can be done the night before if you are pressed for time. There really isn’t “key” to how you set it up. I just began adding in items until it looked “right” to me. I did end up using some clear string and clear type to secure everything. The backdrop is on a frame, so we secured the arch to the frame and used clear tape to hold the “Happy Birthday” up. The only other key to set-up is getting wrinkles out of the back-drop. Try to steam it or press it before you hang it. This will help a lot when it comes down to edits.
Before guests arrived, we did take photos of Logan in her birthday outfit without the cake. She was SUCH A HAM for her photos. It also gave me the opportunity to play with the backdrop and make sure it looked right. I also wanted my aunt to play around with taking some photos as well. She helped me take some of the smash cake ones so we could actually participate in the moment vs. being behind a camera. I’m telling you though, anyone with a steady hand and focus can do this! I also recommend just putting you phone or camera on a tripod and telling someone to just “snap, snap, snap”! I do have a nicer Canon camera, but my aunt took some on her Iphone that literally turned out just as good.
The Smashing of the Cake
The smashing of the cake is obviously the best part. Again, I am glad my aunt took photos so I could enjoy the moment. My daughter was not about getting messy and we did not get that “head to toe” covered in cake outcome. Nonetheless, she was still super cute.
I think my favorite part ended up being my toddler entering the photos. She was ALL about eating the cake and trying to feed it to her sister. I had not envisioned getting sister in the photos, but I am SO glad I did. It made it more memorable and organic. Posing is fun to an extent, but in my opinion, the candid photos end up being the best.
Remember, the KEY is to just keep snapping. I probably had a couple hundred photos when we were done. Did I use them all? Absolutely not. However, babies and toddler are hard to capture, so you are bound to get some good ones if you just keep snapping.
Where the Magic Happens
So, the final step of all of this is editing. This is where the real magic happens. For this step, you will need to down the Lightroom App on your phone or computer. This is a free app but does have a subscription fee for more advanced editing. I do have this subscription because I take so many photos, but you definitely don’t need it.
Once you have the app, you will want to go to Etsy and look up “Lightroom Presets”. This will bring up HUNDREDS of options. Honestly, price does not really mean better. I generally try to find one that is less than $5.00 and comes with 5-10 options. For Logans, I used some presets under “Bright Baby” I had purchased from a website that no longer exists. At the end of the day, you just want to scan the options and choose a “look” you like best. After you purchase, instructions will be included on how to get your presets into Lightroom. Each vendor has different instructions, but they have always been super easy to follow.
Once you have presets in your Lightroom App, it’s time to start applying them to your photos! Usually, I just go through each preset and see what looks best with the photo. After I find the one I like the most, I actually play with the tinier details. Under “Light” I tend to play with brightness a good bit. On the tab called “Color” I like to adjust vibrancy to pull out specific color. I also like to got to “Effect” and adjust the texture and clarity. This helps to smooth out skin and give that “airbrushed” look. If you have never used Lightroom, I encourage you to just play with every button and see what it does! You may find something you love.
So, there you have it! Take professional cake smash photos for an extremely low price! Also, you now have some photography items for future picture opportunities! Hope this helps you with your cheap DIY cake smash!