By Ingrid Schnader
For as long as she can remember, JoAnna Feldewerth has enjoyed cooking and baking.
Her Nana moved in with JoAnna’s family when JoAnna was still in high school. JoAnna learned little cooking tricks from her Nana, who was always sitting in the kitchen with her. But JoAnna never made a wedding cake until the day of her own wedding.
“I had never made one before, and all my friends and family were like, ‘This is crazy! We support you, but you’re crazy,’” she said.
She and her husband, Andrew Feldewerth, wanted to have a hand in as many details of their wedding day as they could. So JoAnna started researching how she could DIY their wedding cakes.
“I just did all the research I could,” she said. “For one of my showers, I made a small, two-tier cake just to test … and it turned out great. At that point, I probably had too much confidence in myself, but it all seemed to work out.”
During their wedding weekend, while other brides might be pampering themselves with massages and manicures, JoAnna was hard at work in the kitchen.
Two days before her wedding, she spent the entire day baking the cakes at her parents’ house.
“That was such a special moment,” she said. “We just spent the whole day in the kitchen, and it was fun. My nephew helped me; I gave him a stick of butter, and he helped me butter the pan and mix.
“It really set the tone for the weekend. It was almost like a pre-party.”
Then the morning of her wedding day, July 21, 2018, she got to the venue early and spent two hours assembling and icing the cakes.
“It did take like a day and a half of my time, but it really was a labor of love,” she said. “It was such a stress relief and was almost therapeutic in the midst of all these plans that were happening.”
Their four-tier almond wedding cake with almond buttercream icing and her husband’s three-tier red velvet groom’s cake with Oreo buttercream icing together fed about 300 wedding guests.
She posted about her DIY wedding cake online, and her wedding guests told her how delicious it was. From there, she started getting requests.
“The first bride to reach out to me was not a wedding guest. She was just a friend that I had met after our wedding from our church,” JoAnna said. “She sat down with me and she was like, ‘What would it take for you to do mine?’”
Instead of charging her friend money for the cake, JoAnna just asked for her to cover the cost of the ingredients.
“As long as my ingredients are covered and I’m not out a certain amount of money, anything past that, I just accept as a gift,” she said. “I’m not really charging people, which again people are telling me is crazy. And it might be a little bit.”
She cooks in the kitchen of her 600-square-foot apartment. She has to exile her husband from the kitchen when she’s at work. He offers to help, but there just isn’t enough space. She does recruit the help of their dog, Lenny, when she’s done. He’s the vacuum that licks up all the fallen icing from the floor.
“I’m definitely not a professional baker,” she said. “This is really just a joy and a gift to my friends. But it’s also a gift to me because it gives me a reason to get in the kitchen and bake, which is fun.”
Sharing Her Passion
Since her own wedding, she has done three other wedding cakes and a handful of smaller cakes for showers and parties. After completing a four-tier cake with multiple flavors last month, JoAnna was reminded of her Nana.
“I know she would be so proud to see this,” she said. “The last one I did, it’s embarrassing, but I just started crying as I was making it. I told Andrew, ‘Nana would have been so proud and excited to see this.’”
JoAnna said she thinks she has the potential to make this into a serious business. But that’s not something she’s pursuing just yet.
“It’s been such a joy just the way it is,” she said. “I don’t think I want to have it be a real business yet. At least not next year (2020). But maybe the next.”
Her dream business goal is to open a coffee shop someday with her husband. They worked together in a coffee shop for a year when they first got married and loved it.
“My dream is to have little seasonal things, so seasonal scones, tarts,” JoAnna said. “But in that, if people want to order a wedding cake, we can do it.”
Seeing people smile about something they love is what makes JoAnna so passionate about cooking and baking, she said. She also enjoys the creative side of it.
“Just getting to see people’s reaction is a joy in itself,” she said. “But then actually making and I think having my hands in something, doing something with my hands that’s creative. And you can’t go wrong with anything that has sugar in it.”