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The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Wedding Cake

The wedding cake is the centrepiece to your day. Beyond how beautiful the bride looks and how stunning her dress is, the cake is likely to be the next most talked about item. There are many size configurations available and shapes to choose from. Your decorator should be able to give you guidance on this, which will be based on the portions you require and the design.


Wedding Cake Editor, Edith Yemoh Blue_Symphany_tea_party_cakes.jpg

Now before I begin, I know there is a small proportion of you that say, “I’m not fussed about the cake” – Ok...remember, the younger you, probably wanted it all. I know we change, but don’t have regrets. Plain with simplistic beauty is the key - inexpensive and nicely done. Work with a small budget and it might not hurt so much that you’re having one for traditions sake. Cakes with a chocolate finish are great as they can double up as dessert. Imagine it served with cream and/or a fruit coulis. Excited yet, you might even save money on the catering.


So...as a starting point square cakes assist in creating a traditional look to your cake, and beyond being easier to cut, yield more portions than other cake shapes of the same size .Choosing a round cake will help facilitate more contemporary designs. Think about the number of guests you’re having, and determine how important it is to you to have impressive height in your cake. If this is important to you, and you have a small wedding, you may want to consider having an open stack design.

 An open stack is fantastic for adding height, as each tier sits on pillar, allowing flowers to be introduced in between, if desired. This will not break the bank for an intimate celebration. Another great style is a double height cake. Due to the proportions, and the dependent on the size of your wedding, you may only need one. Believe me, the height will allow you to cascade fresh or sugar flowers down the side for a dramatic statement. My absolute love, is brush embroidery and pipe work. White on white, or white on ivory will simply take ones breath away on this – no mistake! You may adorn the cake simply with a few flowers of your choice and have petals cascading onto the sides – it works every time!

 For the larger wedding, by default your cake is likely to tower. A closed stack is ideal for cakes of 5 tiers or more, however, if you like the style of an open stack, you may wish to have 1 or 2 tiers on pillars.

Beyond a certain number of guests, one may struggle to accommodate the portions you require for your cake, you can opt to have a cutting cake which is covered with icing but not decorated. Don’t worry, no one will see this! Its only purpose is to be cut in the kitchen and not displayed. The alternatives to make up those portions, are to have 1 or 2 of the tiers double height, have a larger base tier, or for those willing to entertain quirkiness,  why not have a combination of square and round cakes.

When looking at configuration, I would be here a long time as portions and design will drive this. Do not get caught up in this segment, as I only want to help create a visual. All you need to do is equip your designer with portions and your design ideas and let them help you work out the rest. It’s your designer’s job to take that stress from you and work your design into a configuration.

The key point! - You do not have to have the cake going up in 2” stages, nor do they have to be stacked. The tiers can be 6”, 10”, or 4”, 8”, or you can use a staggered metal cake stand to present them. There is a ‘but’! Be cautious, for larger cakes! ...I would advice having a 2” difference between each tier in this case. For example – 4”6”8”10”12” this configuration is tall and slim. Using 3” stages as an example can result in a very dumpy look as the cake grows. You may get the portions you require in 4 tiers however, it will be shorter and fatter:  4”7”10”14”.

Talk through all these aspects with your designer to see what suits you best. A good designer will provide you with the information to help finalise your design.

Your budget

Let’s face it! Many people’s budgets do not stretch into the depths of the abyss. If you don’t have a big budget, you can still have a stunning hand-made cake. Work your way up from a plain simple iced cake with ribbon or piped border then start to incorporate your theme within your budget. The important factor is that you accommodate your portions first. Dress it with a bow and that brooch you love so much, which has been stored in that treasure trough of a jewellery box of yours (or your mums). Fresh flowers will also transform your cake into a luxury statement.  However, consider the cost of flowers as depending on the style of your cake you may need quite a lot. There are plenty of inexpensive flowers available on the market. Carnations may not be a firm favourite for some, but they look great in between tiers on an open stack, and will be kinder on the wallet. If a specific flower is the focus of your wedding, try putting them randomly on the ledges of your cake to keep the cost down, as you will not need many.

Now, for those with the mammoth ‘budget’, quite frankly you can have what you like. The main advice I can give is, unlike your budget, less is more! Remember not to put all your ideas into the mix just because you can.

Getting the cake

If you’re wedding has a distinctive theme or colour, take along to your consultation, clippings from magazines, a photo of your flowers, stationery, or fabric samples from your bridal dresses. These items are vital when design or colours need matching. They are the tools your cake decorator will need to execute your cake, how you have envisaged it.

Traditional cakes can generally be organised without the need of having other items already sourced. So get one thing out of the way, to ease your load later on. If you are having pipe work on the cake, for example, to introduce embroidery from your dress, take a close picture to illustrate the design.

Having said the above, takes me on to when to order your cake! If your only sway is a particular cake designer, book 12 months ahead. Don’t underestimate this! If you want that designer that much, so will many others, just make sure you try the cake! It’s so easy to fall in love with a designer’s style and want them to be a part of your day. However, you also want it to taste fabulous and have excellent texture.  If you still haven’t decided on design, because it is dependent on other components of your wedding, call the decorator to see if they accept holding deposits. This will reserve your date until you’re at the point you can have a consultation to finalise your design. Note: this may not be refundable if you choose to go with someone else.

For spring/summer weddings it is a good idea to book at least 9-12 months ahead as this is peak wedding season. For autumn/winter weddings, booking 6-9 months ahead will secure you a good cake decorator. Basically, the earlier the better!

At the consultation, ask your decorator what else is included to help you plan better. For example, will they provide a cake stand and is it included the price? If it isn’t, you will need to talk to your venue to ensure they provide one. Is there an additional cost for setup and delivery? This also has to be considered in your budget. It’s a good idea, to make a note of all the questions you want to ask when you see them. This is your day so don’t feel restrained, it’s important you feel secure with your choice.

Hopefully, you can now see your cake better in your mind, and are close to ticking another item on your list as booked. I wish you all best for your plans send you huge congratulations and just have a fabulous day!

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