The All-important Cake

By Amy Winter

October 29, 2010 6 min read

Brides and grooms have many options when searching for the perfect wedding cake. They are no longer limited to the traditional white cake with flowers and hearts. Tricia Spencer, the wedding planning feature writer for Suite101.com, says that personalized wedding cakes are becoming more popular. Couples choose the colors, flavors, fillings, shapes and d?cor that complement their wedding themes and individuality.

"Today's most sought-after cakes include those that are shaped and styled specifically to reflect the personalities of the bride and groom," Spencer says.

When looking for the right cake, a bride and groom should visit bakeries to taste cakes, ask questions and look at portfolios. Anja Winikka, senior editor for The Knot, recommends selecting a cake that's "compatible with the style of the venue, the season, your gown, the flower arrangements or the menu." Bring cake photos if you have a particular design in mind.

When it comes to picking the cake's style, TheKnot.com suggests answering these questions: What is your reception site like? Do you want an extravagant cake, or do you prefer a simpler design? Do you like the classic styles or a more personalized cake? Some common types of cakes include contemporary, dramatic, ornate, simple, traditional, unique or trendy. If you want an elegant cake, Megan Hermeling, senior marketing manager at WeddingWire, recommends picking a circular and boxed-shaped cake. Black-and-white cakes serve as a more traditional option; mod cakes provide funky designs; and two-tiered cakes present a simpler style. For a more unique option, Winikka suggests custom cake stands or 3-D cake designs. If the couple want a certain design, a laser-printed fondant cake could be a good choice. What tier shape will fit your cake's style -- round, square, rectangular, topsy-turvy, mixed shapes, scalloped?

The traditional white cake is still popular, but today's brides and grooms want to add some color. If you are trying to decide on the perfect color, remember that you don't want the cake to clash with the rest of the wedding d?cor. Show the baker your wedding colors to make sure the cake will go along with the rest of the reception's style. Hermeling recommends natural hues, such as white, ivory and blush, sage green and delicate blues. Some couples choose to bring in other colors, such as ice blue, pale pistachio, rum pink and lavender splash, according to Winikka. These colors go with the bridesmaids' dresses rather than the bride's gown. When it comes to traditional cake accents, Spencer suggests rosebuds, cherry blossoms, leaves, lace and ribbon designs. For a more unique cake topper, Hermeling says to consider vintage details (family heirloom) or chic toppers (lovebirds) rather than the plastic figurines.

The bride and groom should pick fillings and flavors based on their favorite tastes. Winikka says that lemon, vanilla, chocolate, spice and carrot are always popular choices. Recent trends include chocolate-covered or pistachio-enhanced cakes. Or for a unique taste, look into fruit flavors, such as pineapple, wild cherry, passion fruit or mango. Red velvet is another option that is different but not too unusual, according to Hermeling.

Couples might even choose to go the eco-friendly route. Cakes can be made with organic ingredients, as well as with components that are vegan and locally produced. Spencer says that recycled cake bags and serving papers add to the eco-friendly theme.

Brides and grooms don't have to pick cakes for their receptions. Spencer says cupcakes could serve as a replacement to cake or as an add-on dessert. Benefits include beautiful cupcake trees, more variety in flavors and easier distribution. Forks are optional, according to Hermeling. Robin Ross, owner of Cupcakes Squared, says that chocolate, red velvet, lemon and carrot cake are popular flavors for wedding cupcakes. Another new trend is the dessert bar, which consists of several mini-desserts for guests to enjoy.

"Our square cupcakes are like little gifts," Ross says. "They are less expensive because there is no cake cutting fee, and they are clean and neatly wrapped."

Now you know the type of cake you want, but how can you fit it into your budget? To save some money, Hermeling suggests using a buttercream icing with fondant accents because fondant icing can be pricey. Winikka recommends having your perfect cake produced on a smaller scale and then ordering sheet cake with the same flavor to be sliced in the kitchen. Remember that more complicated decorations, more tiers, more detailed patterns and brighter colors will mean a higher price tag.

"The cake, which is the focal point of the reception, should be chosen with care based upon budget, style and taste," Spencer says. "A wedding budget is effective, but the cake represents one very spectacular life moment and should get to lead the wedding reception priority list."

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