Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! (or how to get started on creating your dream wedding cake)

Chocolate cake table

The wedding cake has been part of marriage celebrations since Roman times, meant to bring good luck to the new couple, as well as their guests.  Modernly, the cake has become the centerpiece of the reception, not only as a showpiece, but a reflection of style, personality and family traditions coming from the bride and groom.  Gone are the days of traditional white on white, so choosing your ideal design and flavors can be a daunting task.  Here are some key points to guide you to the cake of your dreams:

  1. Determine your Style–Timeless elegance?  Modern whimsy?  Bright, bold colors or subdued pastels?  Think about incorporating your wedding theme and colors into the appearance of the cake, and consider the venue.  An outdoor mountain ceremony might call for a rustic iced cake with organic elements, like branches, leaves and natural wood cake stands.  A spring garden party atmosphere lends itself to pastels, delicate flowers and details like lace and pearl sugar work.  Consider your own personal tastes and then spend time looking at pictures on wedding sites, Pinterest, bridal magazines, etc.  Even if you have a design in mind, seeing other possibilities will help you fine tune your ideas.
  2. Seek out your Cake Designer–Once you have a style in mind, look for a baker/cake artist whose style matches up.  Ask for referrals from other professionals you are working with or friends who have recently married.  Find 3 or 4 possibilities and arrange for a cake tasting and time to review design and the baker’s portfolio.  Bring with you any pictures, ideas, color swatches, etc. that you have to share.  Be sure that your ideas and wishes are heard, and the artist is receptive, yet also brings helpful suggestions to the table.  Most importantly, make sure that you are pleased with the product.  The tasting is important for getting a sense of the quality of service being offered.  Be up-front about budget and make sure this person is willing to work within your means and offer alternatives.  Many couples who want a “couture” cake are opting for a small, yet beautiful focal cake for display, with sheet cakes to be cut in the kitchen.  If your aim is to have a table of sweets to compliment the cake, make sure that this person offers the items you desire.
  3. Book Well in Advance–Once you have found your match be sure to take care of any required deposits to secure your date on the calendar.
  4. Fine Tune the Details–Once a basic design is established and tasting done, you will need to determine not only the cake flavors, but fillings and icings.  Consider the season of your wedding.  If summer heat is on the menu, consider light textured cakes with summery fruit fillings.  Do you prefer fondant or buttercream?  Fondant is a popular covering for sleek, modern designs, but many people prefer the taste of straight buttercream.  Your cake designer can help guide you in these decisions, but in the end–be sure that you have the most appealing combinations for your taste!  You will also need to decide on shape and size, whether to have stacked tiers or multiple individual cakes.
  5. Get Creative with the Display!  Many couples are opting for full dessert tables, incorporating lots of visual eye candy through different levels, textures and colors. Think about whether just the cake will serve as dessert, or if you want to compliment by adding an array of small cookies, pastries, truffles, etc.  If you want a smaller cake, this is a way to add additional dessert servings, as well as offer a wide variety of tastes for your guests.  Think about fabrics, display pieces and stands, backdrops and other visual elements to add interest to the cake table.
  6. Be Crystal Clear on Delivery and Timing–Most cake designers prefer to deliver and set up their own cakes, a fee for which may or may not be incorporated into the cake price.  Be clear on your expectations for time of delivery, location, person of contact, etc.  If using fresh flowers for the cake, be sure to have coordinated your baker and florist on the plan for cake flowers.
  7. Enjoy the process and eat your cake!  Many couples find that creating the wedding cake is one of the most pleasurable parts of the wedding planning process, from enjoying the tastings to having fun with the design and making it uniquely their own.  Be sure to take a moment to savor your mind’s creation at the reception.  A sweet finish to the day of your dreams is definitely the icing on the cake!