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An architectural wonder draped in fondant or a simple pound cake with butter cream frosting and fresh flowers—today’s wedding cakes delight the eyes and palate and are steeped in tradition. In medieval times, guests crumbled bits of wedding cake over the heads of the bride and groom for good luck and fertility. Today, we throw rice or birdseed–who wants to waste cake? A thirteenth century French baker stacked and iced layers of wedding cake, the traditional cake we still enjoy.
Meet with the baker
Before meeting with your baker, prepare an outline of details about your wedding and questions. Plan to discuss include the size of cake needed to accommodate the guest count, cost estimates, charges for delivery and/or set up, rental fees for cake stands, deposit and final payment requirements. If yours will be an outdoors reception, ask about cakes that hold up best under such conditions. Since the cake is normally the reception centerpiece, an exception may have to be made for a summer outdoor wedding. Arrange delivery time accordingly, as well as a safe, cool place to store the cake until needed.
Ask the baker whether cakes are baked in advance and frozen. If you prefer a fresh cake, confirm this with your baker beforehand. Then ask to see photographs of the various styles of cakes.
A wedding cake should taste as wonderful as it looks, so schedule a tasting. With so many cake flavors, you can order a cake with a different flavor on each layer, though bakers may charge an added fee for this option. Providing guests with flavor choices is a thoughtful gesture, particularly for those with food allergies.
Pair the cake with any one of a wide variety of icing flavors to excite the taste buds. Rolled fondant, as seen in many bridal magazines, is one of the more costly and popular cake styles. Ask your baker about a less costly fondant “look” that can be created with butter cream. In the same way that restaurants price desserts, bakers price wedding cakes by the slice. The cost per slice increases if your choices are more extravagant.
Trends, tips and traditions
Consider several new cake trends for your celebration. One cake per table gives guests a close-up cake centerpiece to admire while dining. They can substitute as your floral arrangement to help keep costs in line. Each centerpiece cake can be unique in flavor and design. Cupcake towers are another popular trend.
“His and Hers cakes” are popular at large wedding where there may be a chocolate cake and a fruit cake, each prepared for half the guests. The bride and groom will serve each other from “their” cake and guests can have their choice.
Reduce cake costs for a very large wedding by having a smaller wedding cake. A sheet cake for guests is held in the kitchen and cut at serving time. Or, increase dessert options with an assorted dessert and fruit bar.
Since many guests depart shortly after dinner, consider conducting the traditional cake-cutting ritual earlier in the reception. Regardless what some may think, “cake smashing” is disrespectful of the new spouse and guests gathered for a dignified occasion. Serve cake to your new spouse as lovingly as you intend to treat him or her through the years.
The top tier of the wedding cake was traditionally preserved and eaten on the couple’s first anniversary but feel free to celebrate the little milestones and enjoy it on your first, second or third-month anniversary. The baker can recreate your cake top for your first year anniversary. What a “sweet” way to celebrate!
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” www.a-dreamwedding.com
Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.