Choosing the Perfect Wedding Cake

The cake you choose for your wedding will be one of the lasting memories that your guests take away from the day, so it is very important that it reflects both your personality and the theme of your wedding. The days when a wedding cake had to be three tiers of royal iced and marzipanned fruit cake are long gone, but this move away from traditional cakes can leave a bride-to-be bewildered by the huge choice available.

What sort of wedding are you having?

The size and type of venue needs to play a part in your choice of cake. If you are having a small wedding at a country pub with a few close friends and family as guests you aren’t going to need an enormous six-tier confection, and a 6″ single tier would be dwarfed inside a grand castle venue with dinner and dancing for 200.

The time of year is also a factor. Wedding cakes are still food no matter how they are decorated, so the choice of cake needs to reflect the environment in which they are served. A marquee wedding reception in the height of summer is beautiful, but if you want the cake on display throughout the day, avoid a cake made with chocolate and fresh cream and go for something, which will not suffer in the heat.

How many people does the cake need to feed?

Bare in mind the number of people you want it to feed. This may include people, who couldn’t attend the wedding, so don’t forget to add these people to the number of wedding guests when calculating how much cake you need. Don’t forget that only needing a small number of slices of cake doesn’t necessarily mean that you can only have a small wedding cake – extra tiers can be made around a polystyrene dummy, and as long as you don’t forget which tiers are cake and which are artificial when you cut it, no one would ever know. Likewise, if you need 300 portions for your guests but don’t want a monster cake, ask for undecorated cutting cakes to make up the numbers.

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What type of cake do you want?

Some people love fruitcake, some people can’t stand it. Other people will eat chocolate cake until it comes out of their ears but won’t touch a crumb of carrot cake. And you can almost guarantee that what the bride loves, the groom can’t stand! The simple solution here is to have a bit of everything. Most cake makers will make different tiers from different types of cake for you, as long as it doesn’t make your cake structurally unstable (balancing a heavy fruit cake on top of a soft butter cream sponge in NOT a good idea…. have the fruit cake at the bottom.).

The type of cake you choose as a base determines the style of decoration that is possible. With their long shelf life fruitcakes can be used as the base for elaborate and heavy designs, while sponge cakes have to be made at the last minute so more simple decoration is the norm. A good cake decorator will be happy to tailor their recipes to your tastes and needs – if you can’t stand cherries in fruit cake, they will replace them with other dried fruit. It is important to make them aware of any requirements at an early stage, particularly with fruitcakes, made up to 3 months in advance.

What style do you want?

If you look in any wedding magazine or on any wedding website, the choice of cake styles is overwhelming. Fortunately, it can be surprisingly easy to narrow down all this choice to the perfect cake for your wedding. A formal wedding is the perfect setting for a formal cake, while a softer design or a novelty cake will compliment a more relaxed event.

Look at any themes running through your wedding: dress fabric, invitations and flowers are all good sources of inspiration for cake design, and matching the cake to the colour scheme you have chosen for bridesmaids and/or flowers can look beautiful.

Having individual cakes for your guests has become popular in the last few years. These can be a cluster of mini wedding cakes, each covered with marzipan and icing with piped or floral decoration, individual chocolate cakes or fairy cakes iced with a variety of designs. The best thing about these mini cakes is the flexibility, as the cakes can be made of pretty much anything you want, in any combination. They can, however, be an expensive option as there is a lot of work in decorating each individual cake, and the cake maker may have an upper limit on the number of cakes they are willing to make (about 100 fairy cakes is probably the upper limit unless you approach a specialist mini cake maker).

Choosing a cake decorator?

Unless you or as relative are making the cake yourself you’ll need to have a cake made by one of the following:

Your wedding venue – some venues offer the wedding cake as an extra in their wedding package. This is good as there is the minimum of stress involved, but the downside is that these cakes can be expensive, and you often have little choice of style. A bakery or sugarcraft shop – buying your cake from a larger company can work in your favour as they will have a wide range of designs to choose from at a reasonable price, but they can be more inflexible than a smaller designer.

A wedding cake designer with set designs – designs are usually customised to match your colour scheme and flowers, but choices are limited. Choosing a wedding cake from a range can be very cost effective if you don’t want something designed specifically for you, but would still like the attention to detail that a small-scale cake designer can provide. A bespoke wedding cake designer – a bespoke wedding cake designer will generally design each cake they make through face-to-face meetings with the wedding party. An individually designed cake can be whatever you want, no matter how extravagant or wild and wacky it may be. The price will often be higher than a standard design due to the extra work in designing them.

It is absolutely essential to look at some of your chosen cake decorator’s previous work – often websites are a good starting point, as you can get an idea of their style in the comfort of your own home. Don’t despair if the cake decorator who seems to offer the best service in your area doesn’t have an example of your dream cake on display, often they will be keen to try out new things. Watch out for hidden costs when you speak to the designer, as delivery, Stand hire and knife hire can add a significant amount to the bill.