Things to Consider when Planning a Wedding Cake...
There are many things to consider when choosing your wedding cake, not least how many guests you need it to feed and therefore how many tiers the cake needs to have. Some smaller weddings don't need a three tier cake, but many couples prefer the look of three tiers and so it is possible to have a small three tier cake which will provide a similar number of portions as a two tier cake.
The cake will be a focal point at the reception and will feature prominently in the photos, so it needs to be beautiful to look at and professionally presented. The quality of the ingredients is obviously an important consideration as it will have a direct influence on the taste of the cake and therefore the enjoyment of your guests.
The type of cake is worth careful consideration as there are now other possibilities besides the more traditional rich fruit cake. Maybe a sponge cake would be preferred or even a delicious light fruit cake with apricots, ginger, cherries and pineapple. If you love chocolate, then moist chocolate cake is becoming more popular, covered with real dark chocolate ganache and decorated with real chocolate decorations, it provides a totally different look to the traditional white wedding cake, or it can be covered in white chocolate for a creamy coloured finish.
The design of the cake is a matter of personal taste , whether to go for a simple sophisticated style, or something much more elaborate. Would you like the colour of the decoration to match the bridesmaids dresses? Would you like to have fresh flowers on the cake, which will match your bouquet, or would you like silk flowers or have flowers specially made in sugar? Maybe you want to break with tradition and not have flowers on the cake at all?
Would you like the cake tiers to be assembled using pillars in the traditional way, or do you prefer a stacked cake in the American style? Maybe you like the look of a spiral cake stand, or maybe we can come up with another idea for a unique and personal look.
What type of icing do you prefer? The modern sugarpaste icing is soft to cut and has a softer look on the cake whereas the traditional royal icing has a crisper, more formal look and is firmer to cut. Some people consider royal icing to be superior in taste.
Do you need the cake delivered and set up on the day, or would you prefer to pick the cake up and ask your caterer or venue staff to set it up? Experience has taught me that not all caterers or hotel staff know the correct way to set up a wedding cake and I have heard some real horror stories of caterers storing the cake in the fridge which could spell disaster for certain decorations!
In these austere times when budgets are tight it is often necessary to try and save a little money wherever possible. The trick is to do it without your guests being aware that you have done so! There are various ways of spending less on your wedding cake. It is possible to order your cake from several well known high street chain stores, but beware! I am not the only cake decorator that has been asked to bring one of these cakes up to standard at short notice by a disappointed and panicky bride and groom! Chain store cakes are often not very deep and sometimes not very level!
There may be a friend or a relative who offers to make the cake. Although at first this might seem like a good money saving solution, careful consideration should be given to whether the person really has the necessary skills as a wedding cake can be quite a daunting prospect for someone that has previously only ever made the odd birthday or Christmas cake. Most brides would not trust the making of their wedding dress to an amateur, so why risk the cake?
A better money saving option would be to choose a professionally made but simply decorated cake because a large proportion of the price is made up from the time taken to decorate your cake.
If you are having a large number of guests at the wedding it can work out cheaper to have a cake that is a bit smaller than you need, but then to have extra “cutting” cakes that are not displayed to provide the extra portions.
Sugar flowers tend to add a lot to the price of the cake because they are time consuming to make. Consider having flowers only on the top tier to keep the costs down, or maybe your florist could provide some fresh flowers for the cake top? However, not all fresh flowers are safe to be in contact with the cake as some are poisonous! Also, if your florist is going to add the flowers to the cake, please make sure she is not intending to push the flower wires into the cake as this would be a hygiene issue! (Yes some florists really have been known to do this!)
Cupcake wedding cakes have been popular recently and a prettily decorated cupcake could double for a dessert and help keep costs down.
Above are just a few considerations to take into account when choosing your wedding cake, there are others! For the sake of your big day, please make sure that you go to a wedding cake maker who has plenty of experience and who is prepared to take the time to find out what you would really like. I have 35 years experience in making and decorating wedding cakes and would be delighted to talk you through all of the above options to make sure that your cake is worthy of the very special occasion that is your wedding.