Most wedding cake ideas have been inspired by something else – a glossy image in a bridal magazine, photographs of your parents’ cake, or the flavour you tasted at someone else’s celebration. When it comes to choosing the perfect cake for your big day, how do you make sure that your cake is truly reflective of your uniqueness as a couple?
Traditional wedding cakes usually comprise of several tiers stacked on top of each other, decorated in white fondant. The details can simple or intricate, but tend to lean towards classic designs and details such as lace and flowers. Modern wedding cakes come in all sorts of shapes and designs, from simple white cakes that cut away into rainbows, to cakes that don’t look like cakes at all – take a look at these unique designs from Cakes by Robin for inspiration.
Remember that you don’t have to be limited to a single cake, either. Lots of couples are choosing cupcakes, macaroons, cheese wheels or even pork pies instead of a sweet sponge.
If you’re not sure how to start planning your design, look to other details of your wedding for inspiration, like your venue, your dress, or even your honeymoon destination. When you have a few ideas that you’d like to incorporate, have photos or colour swatches set up in a mood board. A good baker will be able to run with your vision, and produce something beautiful and unique.
Find your baker.
This leads us nicely on to the next step, which is finding the right person to create your wedding cake. Word of mouth is still a very common way to choose you baker, but if the recommendations of friends and family haven’t yet convinced you, don’t despair. Wedding fairs are an excellent place to find several bakers under one roof, and you’ll be able to sample to your heart’s content without having to sign up for a formal consultation.
Another option is to scan the social networks. Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are brimming with exceptional wedding cake designers, and can lead you to a baker outside of your local area. Find reviews and testimonials to get a more complete idea of the bakery’s service, and visit in person to check that the quality of their work is consistent. It should also go without saying that you shouldn’t ask a baker to create something outside of their expertise; just because they create incredible fondant sculptures doesn’t mean they will make equally impressive naked cakes.
Before you get attached to a particular bakery or designer, make sure that their schedule and prices are compatible with your own date, budget and headcount.
What’s inside counts!
It’s not as simple as finding a nice design and choosing a delicious flavour – you really need to consider your venue when picking your cake options. Maybe you’re desperate for a chocolate buttercream extravaganza, but if you’re planning an outdoor wedding in mid-summer, your beautiful cake won’t handle the heat. Whipped cream and meringue should also be avoided.
Thinking of sticking to vanilla sponge to keep everyone happy? Don’t! It’s your wedding, and if you want lemon drizzle or praline and hazelnut, go for it. Wedding cakes can come in all kinds of flavours, just check whether certain fillings may bump up the cost.
Does size matter?
Of course, it’s important that you have enough cake to serve all of your guests. If you are having a tiered cake, three tiers should serve up to 100 guests. Depending on its style, a five-tier cake will serve 200-plus guests. This guide will give you a rough idea of numbers.
If you’re concerned about costs, what about having a modestly-sized “official” cake for pictures and ceremonial cutting, but serving your guests sheet cakes from the same recipe? As any cake designer or baker will tell you, it’s the ornate decoration that can send the price-per-serving rocketing, but it’s the taste that will matter most to you guests!
What about when you have enough cake, but it looks… tiny? Well, if you want your cake to look more impressive (perhaps to make it a centrepiece or focal point in a large room), there are a few presentation tricks that can make it look bigger. Instead of stacking your layers, consider using columns and bridges to add height without adding cake, or spreading satellite cakes out with cake stands. Dummy cakes (otherwise known as a polystyrene block, decorated to match the edible portion) are still used, although depending on the intricacies of your icing, may not work out to be much cheaper.
Finally, don’t forget your cake topper. There are many ways to do this in a unique fashion, so there’s no need to immediately reach for the plastic figurines. Maybe there’s a family heirloom that could be carefully incorporated into the cake decoration, or a more unusual way to represent your relationship and interests. It really comes down to speaking with your baker to design a cake that meshes perfectly with your special day.