About four years ago, Bethany Thomas was working at a popular events venue, helping with a wedding for a couple where the bride was pregnant.
As a surprise for the couple and their guests, they had their wedding cake dyed the color associated with the unborn baby’s gender — pink — and as the couple cut the cake, the whole room knew the couple was expecting a baby girl.
“That was the first time I really saw it,” said Thomas, a Denton-based wedding and event planner.
Since then, making a separate event to reveal the gender of the baby has become a trend. Couples throw parties or have photography sessions to learn the baby’s gender instead of learning when the doctor performs a sonogram.
“I’ve been planning and hosting gender reveals as part of other experiences for a number of years now,” Thomas said. “It’s typically an excuse to have an extra party, and especially for first-time moms who are just really, really excited.”
Now, instead of expectant mothers and fathers looking at the sonogram to determine the baby’s gender at the 20-week sonogram, many are opting to turn their heads and wait until that evening to find out while they are surrounded by family members and friends, Thomas said.
Typically, the couple will let the doctors, nurses and ultrasound technicians know their preference, and will either sign a release for someone else to learn the results or take a sealed envelope with the gender when they leave. The person who does find out is normally a close friend who is helping plan the party, the bakery responsible for the cake, a party planner or a photographer.
Expecting parents will normally have the sonogram in the morning, and have the planning person immediately find out so the party can be prepared for that night.
“That’s one of the biggest challenges I think, wanting to know immediately,” she said. “Most people have it the morning of the party, and only have like six hours to figure out the color of the icing or candy or balloons. A lot of times you have duplicates, just in case.”
The reveal can then come in several different forms, Thomas said. For her baby reveal party about six months ago, Thomas said she had a piñata filled with blue candy to announce she would have a son. Many opt for a cake or cupcakes that are gender neutral on the outside but are filled with pink or blue.
At Candy Haven in Denton, cake decorator Cara Blair said these types of orders have been a big trend in the past nine months, and they will normally either dye the cake batter the corresponding color of the baby’s gender or just the frosting between layers of cake.
“Usually, the outside is a question mark or has a cute little saying like ‘he or she — open to see,’” Blair said. “We usually even fold up the order form so the people picking up the cake can’t see.”
A lot of the time, the event also involves the attendees guessing what they think the gender will be. Blair recalled one order where she made cupcakes, some with pink sprinkles and others with blue sprinkles. Guests picked their cupcakes based on what they thought the gender would be, and when they bit into the cupcake, the filling showed the color representing the actual gender.
The big reveal is just one aspect of the party, though, Thomas said. It is the equivalent to an engagement party, where family and friends come together to celebrate what is going to happen and isn’t focused on just the mother or the father. The timing is also perfect for a party, after the initial morning sickness has worn off and before the mother is too tired, Thomas said.
“They’re really able to enjoy the moment, as opposed to a baby shower in the third trimester,” she said. “It’s also very man-friendly, because there’s not so much of the really girly stuff.”
Other families opt for a more private reveal and choose to learn during a photography session, said Cynthia Holsclaw-Francis, owner of Your Candid Memories in Denton. The gender reveal is generally part of documenting the pregnancy, since many of her clients hire her as soon they find out they are expecting. These clients tend to be families who want to find out together, she said.
“I think they choose this method to reveal because they get the moment of surprise without having to wait for when they actually have the baby,” she said. “I think it’s really important because they get to plan.”
The most common method Holsclaw-Francis sees is clients telling her or a close friend the gender, then decorating a cardboard box asking “boy or girl?” and filling the box with pink or blue balloons. As the family opens the box and reacts, Holsclaw-Francis documents their experience and then has them pose for additional shots.
“I tend to take a more photojournalist approach to it — I want to capture the moment ... their real reaction,” she said.
These new reveals are part of a larger trend, Thomas said, which she thinks comes from the popular website Pinterest. People are able to see the types of parties they can have and gravitate toward the idea.
“Once Pinterest really took hold, that’s when I think people really took hold of these things,” she said. “It’s been really more popular and commonplace recently. If someone said this five years ago, they would have never known this was an option.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.