Of all wedding-planning tasks you need to check off before your big day, choosing a delicious cake is probably the sweetest. But as fun as sampling flavors and yummy fillings is, you should still keep in mind that your cake will take center stage during the reception (not to mention, it’s what your guests are having for dessert). So to help you select one that wows not only in photos but in taste as well, we asked top wedding cake designers to share their inside tips.
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1. Bring your Pinterest inpo with you, but keep an open mind.
“Even where a bride-to-be has a definite, clear idea, there is room for creativity because we always end up exploring a few other options. Clients love that we’ve taken those ideas, added some twists, made a ‘wow’ piece, and they say ‘yeah, that’s it! That’s my cake!'” says Denise Smith, owner of My Daughter’s Cakes, an appointment-only bakery and cake studio.
Knowing what you want is great, but consider your designer’s suggestions. After all, making sure you end up with a beautiful and delicious confection is not only their job, but their goal as well. And let’s be honest — most of us don’t have any idea of the skills and craftsmanship it takes to create a custom wedding cake, so leave that to the pros.
2. Have fun with the flavors.
“Although basic flavors [chocolate and vanilla] are still delicious, I always suggest having one tier of the cake something unique that the couple would like — i.e. our Almond Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream filling or Funfetti cake with an Oreo Buttercream,” says Jennifer Bunce of The Hudson Cakery.
After all, how often do you get a chance to order a custom wedding cake?! You might as well be a little adventurous and have fun with it.
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3. Consider your venue.
Don’t forget that, in a way, your cake is part of the wedding décor, so not only it should match your wedding theme and colors, but it should also look good when it’s displayed in your reception venue.
“If it’s huge with tall ceilings, a tall cake would be more appropriate and not get lost in the décor,” explains Deborah Lauren of New York’s City Sweets & Confections.
4. If you are on a tight budget, opt for a smaller cake.
“Having a smaller decorated cake and supplementing the balance of the servings with other desserts or kitchen cakes is a great way to keep costs down,” says Smith. If you go the kitchen cakes route, just confirm with your designer that there will be no difference in appearance between the slice from the decorated cake and the kitchen cake.
Keeping the flavors simple and opting for a less luscious cake decoration are other ways to save money. For example, instead of having a garland of roses, choose a couple of larger sugar flowers, suggests Lauren.
5. It’s your wedding, so don’t try to please other people.
What’s that now? Your second cousin is not a fan of chocolate and your best friend once mentioned she hates hazelnut filling? Tough luck. Make your peace with the fact that you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) please all of your guests. It’s your special day, not theirs.
Lauren says that one of the most common mistakes couples make when they select a cake is not going with what that they like. “People often won’t order an unusual flavor because although they absolutely love it, they’re afraid their guests won’t,” she adds.
6. Save the top tier.
What better way to celebrate your first anniversary as a married couple by sharing some cake from your wedding? Yes, this is totally doable but you have to think in advance.
“Have your caterer take the top tier off after your photo, place the tier in two layers of tightly wrapped plastic, place in small box, wrap the box in foil, and place in the back of your freezer for a year. Let defrost for about three hours before you plan to eat and toast your first year of marriage!” suggests Bunce. Genius, isn’t it?!
7. If you’re not a fan of cake, there are alternatives.
I once went to a wedding in France that had the most beautiful macaroon tower instead of cake and it looked uh-mazing.
Mini pies, ice cream cookie sandwich cookies, bacon bourbon popcorn, spicy chili desserts are just a few of your options, according to Smith. “Tailoring a dessert table — think nostalgic, childhood favorites, or maybe that dessert shared on your first date— makes it very personal. Donut towers are always a hit at rustic-themed events,” she explains.