The wedding cake is a highly anticipated element of your day, not only because it's delicious, but because it encapsulates the whole theme of the wedding and is a masterpiece to be admired.
Making an appointment
Start making appointments with cake decorators about six months prior to your wedding.
- Before your appointment decide on a basic cake shape and size and also the decorations you want.
- Call decorators to obtain quotes, and weigh the price against the workmanship involved. Quality should always be the deciding factor.
- Take pictures of wedding cakes that you like, swatches of your dress fabric and samples of your flowers so the cake decorator grasps the theme of your wedding.
Factors that determine price
- The wedding cake size will determine the basic cost - the bigger the cake the bigger the price tag. If you are serving your wedding cake as dessert the slices need to be bigger than if served with coffee; so you'll need a bigger cake.
- Adding tiers to your wedding cake will add to the price
- Unusual shapes such as hearts or hexagons can often be pricey, as they take longer to ice than a regular round or square cake.
- Intricately handcrafted decorations such as sugar flowers, iced embroidery lace-work and icing sculptures are expensive.
- Hand-painted cakes will also be more costly due to the time and skill required to create them.
Ordering the wedding cake
Order your cake at least 12 to 16 weeks prior to your wedding. This allows your decorator to book you into their baking schedule and make time-consuming decorations.
The size of your cake
The size will depend upon the number of guests at your reception, the size of the slices you'll serve, and whether you are keeping the top tier. Most cake decorators are experienced in determining how much cake you will need, and can design a wedding cake that will serve up to 500 guests. If you want to have your cake and eat it too they can design a magnificent showpiece cake and bake an undecorated and less expensive one to serve your guests.
Wedding Cake flavours
There's no need to adhere to traditional fruitcake. Choose from mouth-watering alternatives that include:
- Chocolate mud cake (an overwhelming favourite)
- Hazelnut torte
- Banana cake
- Carrot cake
- Orange cake
Many couples opt for rich chocolate mud cake or smooth chocolate truffle cake instead of fruitcake. White chocolate mud cake is a delicious and lighter alternative to the dense, dark chocolate mud cake. Most cake decorators suggest you serve your chocolate cake with something extra such as a white or dark chocolate sauce, a fruit coulis, ice-cream or cream.
Try before you buy
It's hard work, but the way your wedding cake tastes is just as important as the way it looks, so it's best to sample the cakes before you confirm your decorator. When you make appointments, tell the decorators you'd like to sample a few of their cake flavours. Most large cake decorating businesses will offer a selection for you to taste. Some decorators may charge a small fee.
Wedding cakes are often iced with sugar-dough icing, but can be iced with buttercream or chocolate as well.
- Sugar-dough icing is referred to within the cake decorating industry as 'plastic icing' as it has a perfectly smooth texture.
- Buttercream is a very soft icing made from a combination of icing sugar, cake shortening and butter. But beware - in hot weather buttercream has been known to melt.
- Chocolate covered cakes are a delicious alternative. The chocolate can be smooth, melted, layered in panels, scrolls or a collage of jagged pieces or flakes. Chockie is versatile and looks and tastes amazing!
When it comes to wedding cakes - white is traditional, but if you like you can have a cake in any colour of the rainbow. A colourful cake as your reception centrepiece will no doubt grab attention. Whether it's a bold, striking blue or the palest hint of pink, your decorator can colour your cake to the exact shade of your dress, bridesmaids' dresses or flowers. Go crazy with colour to compliment your theme and brighten up your reception.
Cake toppers are back in style. You may opt for traditional bride and groom figurines, or you may break the rules and go for spaceship sculptures and cake craters! Ornaments, ribbons, cherubs, sculptures, , fruit, wire hearts, chocolate or tulle are all popular.
- Sugar flowers are the most popular way to decorate a wedding cake. Most are also edible.
- Gold and silver decorations come in all shapes and sizes and look fantastic. You will find that most metallic decorations are inedible, so remember to remove them before serving!
- Bows offer a fresh, contemporary effect and can be made from sugar-dough icing, ribbon or creamy white chocolate.
- Fresh flowers are a great way of tying in the overall theme. Your cake can echo your bouquet.
The big day
Your wedding day has finally arrived, but will your cake? "¨Ensure you confirm the date, address and time of your reception in writing, and well in advance of the wedding. "¨Most decorators will deliver your cake to the reception, so re-confirm the details at least one week before the wedding day.
Dressing the cake at your reception
In amongst all the wedding preparations, it is easy to forget about your cake table. If you are having your reception at a hotel or function centre, a cake table decorated with a linen cloth and ruffle will generally be set near the bridal table. Otherwise, you will need to organise one yourself. "¨A cake simply placed in the middle of a bare table will not look very exciting and won't flatter the cake. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Try swathing the base of the cake in tulle
- Decorate the table with ribbons, a sheer voile or crisp white tablecloth,
- Sprinkle rose petals around the cake
- Foil hearts, cherubs, gold glitter or sugared almonds will ensure the table sparkles.
- If you are having ribbon on your cake, ask your decorator for some to tie around your cake knife.
Cutting the cake
The cutting of the cake is traditionally performed after the main meal. If it's a fruitcake, a serrated-edged knife must be used. A long, tapered, sharp knife will suffice for mud cake and other flavours. "¨Traditionally, the groom places his hand over the bride's hand and they cut the cake together. The couple may cut a slice and eat it in front of their guests as a sign of luck and fertility.