Updated: Jan 26, 2019
After your dress, venue and flowers, your choice of wedding cake is going to be a focal point, especially at the wedding reception, so it deserves more than just a fleeting thought; there are going to be lots of photographs of you posing with it, cutting it and feeding each other, so it's worth making it a memory to remember. Below are my top tips for ensuring your wedding cake is everything you dreamed it would be, and more.
1. Start to think about the Types of Cakes you like and don’t like
Wedding cakes are a long-standing tradition and have been around, in one form or another, for hundreds of years. As with everything else, styles change, and trends come and go, so there is a lot of choice out there. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but you are likely to gravitate to what you like and don’t like. Start adding some designs you like to a mood board or Pinterest board.
The different types of cake available include:
Tiered and stacked cakes in various shapes (eg round, hexagonal, square, novelty), covered in fondant, buttercream or ‘naked’.
Cupcake Towers with or without a cake tier
Mini Cakes, including spherical cakes called Temari cakes
Cheese Wheel Cakes – a range of different types of cheese, stacked in a tiered formation to resemble a cake. Not a real cake at all … in other words, an imposter :D
Take some time to think about which of these options you really don’t like or want to start your journey on narrowing down your choices.
Many couples don’t know how much to budget for a wedding cake as they haven’t had the need to buy one before, and may be surprised that the 4-tier regal design they were considering is closer to the £1k mark rather than the £200 they were expecting. Remember you are paying for a bespoke, one-off, edible work of art, and that takes skill and expertise. The more elaborate the design, (eg ruffles, flowers, intricate piping, complex flavours etc) the more skill, expertise and time is required by your Cake Designer.
If budget isn’t a considering factor then, by all means, go all out on the design of your cake. However, if you do have a budget you need to stay within, it is best to be honest with your Cake Designer on what that is. Every good Cake Designer will relish the challenge to create the best possible cake they can in your price range (although be aware that some Cake Designer do have a minimum order value).
3. How many guests does your cake need to serve?
You need to have a fair idea on your guest numbers before you finalise the size of your cake. That’s not to say that your guest number has to dictate the size of your cake, but it is a good starting point.
When thinking about your guest numbers, consider whether your cake will be served only to your day guests or whether you cake will be served later on to include your evening guests. You may also want to factor in absent guests.
If you are having 80 guests but you still want that 5-tier elaborate regal cake, speak to your Cake Designer about using ‘fake cake’ for some of the tiers. This is where a styrofoam/polystyrene dummy is used instead of real cake, so you get the effect that you are going for but you’re not having to waste a lot of cake. Likewise, if you have your mind set on an elegant 3-tier cake but you have 200 guests to feed, your Cake Designer is likely to suggest having a separate ‘cutting cake’. This where your Cake Designer will make a plain square or rectangular cake. You can choose your flavour and it will be covered in buttercream and/or sugar paste, but it won’t be decorated. This cake is kept in the kitchen and is cut up and served along with your main cake.
4. Serving your cake
The ’when’ and ‘how’ of how you plan to serve your cake will also be an important factor in deciding the size and number of portions you need. The main ways of serving your cake are:
Instead of Dessert:
Simply put, your cake is served to your daytime guests as the last course of their meal and instead of a dessert. Your portion size, when served in this manner, will usually be 2”x1” and you will need to ensure you have a portion for each guest at the Daytime reception. You will first need to check with your venue/caterers if this is an option available to you and, if so, if you will incur any additional charges.
During the Evening Reception:
If you choose to serve your cake during the evening reception, you will need to include the number of evening guests into the equation. However, two important things to consider are that a) not everyone will need or want a piece of cake (so assume you will need enough portions to serve about 70% - 80% of your guest numbers and b) you can elect to serve a 1”x1” portion size instead of the 2”x1” portion size.
Given to guests as a Wedding Favour:
You may choose to go down the traditional route of packaging your cake into individual portion boxes, ready for guests to help themselves when they leave your reception. Usually you would include evening guest in this number too and you are probably safer allowing for 90%-95% of guests (at the end of a long day, and because it is packaged, more guests may be willing to indulge in a slice). Make sure that your venue or caterer is prepared to wrap the portions in clingfilm and box them up. You will usually be expected to provide the boxes yourself but it’s worth talking to your Cake Designer and caterer about this option too. Don’t forget to include labels, specifying the cake flavour and allergy info.
As part of a Dessert Table:
If you are having a Dessert Table with lots of tasty treat options, it is highly unlikely that everyone will have a piece of cake. In this instance you can serve smaller portions (ie 1”x1” and you only need to cater for approximately 50% - 60% of your guests)
Tip: Make sure to tell whoever will be cutting your cake what portion size you would like served. You wouldn't want to run out of cake if the slices are cut too thick. Also let the venue staff/caterers know what you want to do with any leftover cake, as they may land up throwing it away if you haven’t given them specific instructions.
5. Style & Design
It is likely that your wedding cake will, in part at least, be influenced by the general theme and style of your wedding. You can take greater or lesser inspiration from things like …