Choosing your wedding cake should be a super fun part of planning your big day. Cake is awesome! Here’s a few tips, pointers, and things to think about when hunting for your dream cake…
FIND YOUR CAKE DECORATOR
When looking for your cake decorator, word of mouth is the best place to start. Ask family and friends who have married or attended weddings recently. Facebook and wedding forums are great places to ask for recommendations and reviews, but also ask advice from other wedding suppliers that you are using – a good wedding supplier will recommend decorators that they know are trustworthy. The next step is to check out the work on their website to see if you like their style of cakes. When you get in touch with them, you’ll want to already know your wedding date, venue, and an estimated number of guests.
When you meet with your cake decorator to discuss ideas and options, don’t be afraid to ask questions! This is a pretty special cake for your big day, and you want to be sure you know what you are getting and that you can trust your decorator. If you’ve never ordered a wedding cake before, (and you probably haven’t!) you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with choices and options, and unsure if your cake vision is even realistic. A professional cake decorator will be able to work through the details with you – will those berries/flowers be available then? Is that icing suitable for that weather/location? How can you incorporate something that’s really special to you, into the cake design?
Ideally, you want to order your cake at least 6-12 months before the wedding. Smaller businesses can only take on a limited number of cakes each week, so if your wedding date is in peak season it may pay to book in sooner rather than later to ensure you don’t miss out.
CONSIDER THE COST
The cost of a cake is determined by the number of serves you will need, and the complexity of the cake design. Detailed work such as piping, edible gold or silver, ruffles and sugar flowers are all time consuming additions that will bump the cost up. Fondant icing is generally more expensive than buttercream. Have a budget in mind, and let your decorator know this. If the cake you want is way out of your price range, let your decorator know what design elements are most important to you and they can offer suggestions of how to incorporate these into your cake design without blowing your budget.
For big weddings, a more cost effective option could be to have a smaller 2 or 3 tier wedding cake, with extra kitchen cake to make up the number of serves you need.
If you are thinking about making the cake yourself, or a friend or family member has offered to make it for you, then think carefully before choosing this option. Whilst it might save you some pennies, wedding cakes are incredibly time consuming to make, and can lead to a lot of last minute stress on the wedding day if not done correctly. It needs to be internally supported with dowels and boards to ensure it doesn’t collapse - the last thing you want to be worring about on the day is the cake toppling over! If you want to be confident that the cake will taste amazing, be beautifully decorated and not wonky, and be safe and sound for travel, then it’s wise to choose a professional to make your cake.
When thinking about the design of your wedding cake, have a look for ideas in magazines and on websites. The cake should tie in with the theme of your day and also the wedding venue – for example, an extravagant black and white cake covered in crystals and beads might not look quite at home at a rustic barn style wedding. Think about the style you like –Rustic? Fun? Romantic? Modern? Sleek and glamorous? Instead of a traditional tiered cake, you could have a trio of smaller cakes, or a cupcake tower with a small cake on top for cutting. Get inspired and create mood boards with images of cakes you love, your wedding colours, your dress fabric and design, flowers, any shapes or themes that are running through your wedding – the possibilities are endless! Bear in mind that some types of icing don’t hold up well in the heat or humidity and may require refrigeration – your decorator will advise you on this. And most importantly, choose a design that YOU both will love! Just because mother-in-law thinks you absolutely MUST serve a fruit cake with marzipan, does not mean that you have to go with that option. Tradition schmadition. This is your day and it’s about the two of you, do what makes you happy!
TASTE THE CAKE
Wedding cakes aren’t just for show, they have to taste fabulous too! So you’re probably going to want to try some flavours before you commit to ordering the cake. Ask your decorator what flavours they offer and if you can organise to taste some samples. When choosing flavours think about what the cake will be served with. If you are having a rich chocolatey dessert then maybe choose a lighter flavoured cake, such as citrus or raspberry, to be served afterwards. If the cake is being served as the main dessert then ask the venue what the cake will be plated with on the evening. If some of your wedding guests have allergies you could consider ordering a few allergy friendly cupcakes too, so they don’t have to miss out on the sweet treats.
Super important. How is the cake going to get TO the venue? Travelling with a wedding cake in the car is scary. I find that most couples who don’t opt for the delivery option, end up in a last minute panic when they realise that no one is actually comfortable enough to pick the cake up, travel all the way to the venue, and then set it up safely ready to go. Arranging with your decorator for them to deliver the cake is definitely the safest option, and the cost for this will usually depend on the travel distance and time involved. Certain types of cake do require some assembly once they get to the venue, such as those decorated with fresh berries and flowers.
AT THE VENUE
Now that you have your dream cake booked in, think about how it will be displayed at the venue. Is there a cake table or wine barrel for it to sit on? Will it be in a well lit spot, but out of direct sunlight? What about sitting it on a beautiful cake stand? (A great idea to give smaller cakes a bit of a boost) Is there a cake knife? Think about using a table cloth with a table runner or some lace, maybe decorating the table with fresh flowers or greenery. Or maybe the cake will be part of a dessert table, surrounded by plates of macarons and sweet treats? Wherever it’s going to be, you want your guests to be oohing and aahing over it so make sure it’s a feature!
EAT YOUR CAKE!
When it comes to the cutting of the cake it’s important to consider when the best time to do this will be, and how the cake will be served afterwards. If you cut it quite late in the evening will the guests be too busy on the dance floor to notice that the cake has been piled onto a platter in a far corner of the room? You could ask the bridesmaids or a family member to offer plates of cake around to guests as they mingle, or have platters of cake put in the centre of each table. If your photographer isn’t going to be there all night then consider cutting the cake earlier in the day while they are still around, or do a mock cake cutting so you don’t miss out on professional snaps. And if there’s any cake leftover, take it home and enjoy it the following day with family and friends that are still in town – it will always go down a treat the day after the wedding too!
[ Written by Kirsten Howat from Sweet Avenue Cakes ]