Wedding cakes have come a long way since the Roman Times when they were round plain wheaten cakes broken over the heads of brides as a symbol of fertility and goodness. Nowadays, ‘the cake’ often takes centre stage at any reception, being the only guest with its own table! There is so much choice out there available to a modern bride, as luxury wedding cakes have taken on a life of their own.
I first wrote this article nearly 10 years ago but so much has changed in the cake world in terms of style and taste and there have been huge advances in technology and cake decorating techniques.
Cake designs can vary in style from contemporary cakes with clean lines and very little adornment to the most complex and intricate multi tiered concoctions adorned with thousands of sugar flowers.
In addition to the emergence of luxury dessert tables; alternatives to cake such as macaron towers, donut towers, éclair towers and even Oreo cookie towers with or without a cutting cake are also popular, especially at relatively informal weddings.
The recent royal wedding cakes have focused attention on the spectrum of luxury wedding cakes available with one royal bride opting for a buttercream deconstructed cake and the other a monogrammed hand-painted affair with sugar flowers.
To help you explore further, Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium is delighted to provide the definitive A to Z guide on how to choose your luxury wedding cake.
A for Advice
Seek advice from a variety of sources such online such as wedding blogs, pinterest, wedding fairs, recent brides, venues, wedding planners, other wedding vendors and leading wedding publications and directories. Ultimately, one to one meetings are still the best way of finding a talented cake artist to help translate your ideas into reality.
B for Baker and Budget
Get the names of a number of recommended luxury wedding cake designers, visit their website and social media pages to get a feel for their ‘style’ and ring them up to have an informal chat. Next arrange an appointment to pay them a visit if you think you have the budget that matches their offering. At Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, we are happy to have an informal and relaxed consultation with you tailored to your needs. We strongly advise that you write down any questions you might have and feel free to ask away. Remember to take your other half along once you’ve narrowed your choice down, especially for the consultation and tasting, for which you might be charged a nominal fee.
At this meeting, one of the first topics you should discuss is your inclusive budget so the cake designer is aware of it and respectful of it.
C for Chemistry
Just like any other relationship, no matter how talented a cake designer is, there should be positive chemistry between both of you. He or she should be finely attuned to your requirements and should be able to guide and steer you in the right direction, making helpful suggestions on possible design options, flavours and fillings and how you would like the cake presented.
D for Design, Decorations and Dietary Requirements
Even of you don’t have a particular cake in mind, or even a photograph, make a collage of all the things that inspire your wedding style and take it along to your cake maker. It is important for you to have an idea of your wedding colours, the reception venue and flowers and the ambience you wish to create for your guests before planning the cake.
In terms of the cake design, a talented cake designer may be able to match the details on your stationery for instance, particular textures you love, your initials/monogram and wedding colours. They should also be able to offer other practical advice you may not have considered.
If you are vegan, vegetarian or have certain allergies/ special dietary requirements, please let the cake maker know, so this can be taken into consideration. It is also important to ask your guests too so provision can be made. It is possible to have great tasting and looking cakes that suits every dietary requirement.
E for Etiquette
Read up on wedding etiquette, so you know who has responsibility for what. In some cultures, it is the norm to also have a groom’s cake at the wedding, or even special sweets and treats, which may affect cake flavours and portions. Timing of the cutting and serving of the cake is also critical. Get your cake maker, wedding planner or coordinator to liaise with the venue’s kitchen and caterers ahead of the big day.
F for Flavours and Fillings
Gone are the days when wedding cakes were heavy, stodgy fruit cakes. You now have a choice of a variety of luxurious and delicious flavours. At Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium our cakes are made from the finest ingredients and we offer at least 50 different flavours. These range from triple chocolate delight, old fashioned caramel, tangy lemon to the more unusual white chocolate, toffee nut latte, green tea, and wasabi and white chocolate. Fillings can range from luxury chocolate ganache, to buttercreams and mousses. For a bit of variety, you can have each tier a different flavour to cater for all tastes.
G for Ground work
You have to do a lot of ground work to uncover the right cake designer but it is worth it for the peace of mind and confidence it will give you in the long run.
H for Hire costs
Just like it is essential to choose the right accessories for your wedding dress, the right accessories and how a cake is displayed can make all the difference. However, the right accessories tend to come at an extra cost, so make sure you bear this is mind when discussing your requirements.
I for Icing
The icing and coverings on luxury wedding cakes can include one of the following: royal icing, sugarpaste, ganache, chocolate wraps and butter cream. All these can be used to achieve a flawless, textured or rustic look. Sometimes cakes may even have a mixture of coverings. If you have a particular preference in terms of look or taste, do let your cake designer know. It is worth noting that the style of your wedding, the time of year and where the cake may be displayed and design considerations may affect the covering medium.
J for Judgement
Trust your instincts and the evidence when choosing a cake designer. It is better to go for a less elaborate cake that will be delivered on time, to cost and to standard than to go for a badly executed elaborate cake.
K for Kids
If you will be inviting a lot of children to your wedding consider having a separate table for them with their own mini wedding cake. It is gestures like this that help to make weddings memorable.
L for Leftovers
In the old days, it was customary for brides to save the top tier of their wedding cake for their first wedding anniversary or the birth of their first child. You can of course do this, and at Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, we offer you advice on the best way to preserve your top tier should you wish to do so.
Some brides choose to give individually packaged cupcakes to family and friends as an edible momento of such a special day. We have also worked with some altruistic and ethically conscious brides who donate leftovers to organisations such as homeless shelters (however you have to make sure that this is acceptable for health and safety reasons).
M for Marzipan
Commonly used by cake decorators to cover fruit cakes, it is made from almonds and has a sweet, distinctive taste. However, be aware that some of your guests might be allergic to nuts in any shape or form and it is advisable to warn such guests.
N for Notice
It’s best to give your chosen cake maker as much notice as you can, preferably a minimum of three to six months’ notice, especially if the cake design is quite elaborate. This will ensure that there is enough time to discuss and execute every detail of the design and content of your cake and there is also enough time for the designer to incorporate any changes. Having said that, you will find that some bakers can accommodate time constraints if it is not within peak wedding season and if you enquire very nicely.
O for Order
As soon as you can, obtain a written quote/invoice and contract on aspects of the cake design, such as the number of tiers, delivery costs, hire charges and other details. This will give you time to see if every requirement of yours had been noted accurately and to raise other issues that you might have.
P for Price
While it is advisable to shop around for the best price in order to get value for money, you may have to pay a premium for a particular cake designer’s brand, design skills and expertise, experience and reliability.
Q for Quality
You want you cake to accurately reflect your sense of style and elegance. When looking at wedding cakes, pay attention to details such as the finishing touches, how cakes are displayed and the accessories to ensure that they are what you require.
R for Reception
As the cake will take centre stage at the reception, discuss possible display areas and how the table will be dressed with your venue or event planner and cake maker. If for instance the cake will be iced in butter cream for a summer wedding, it is advisable not to display the cake in a hot room or place it near a window.
S for Size or Servings
The size of the cake should be appropriate to the number of guests. So if you are expecting hundreds of guests, you will need several cake tiers. Having said that, in the past we have worked with brides with small guest numbers who however love the impact and effect of a grand wedding cake. There are ways in which this could be achieved and this should be discussed with your cake designer.
T for Tastings
This is a huge topic and we will deal with it in much detail later on in the blog. First of all, it is important that your cake tastes as good as it looks. A good cake maker will offer you a tasting of a variety of flavours of cakes and fillings from which you can make your choice. There may be a charge for this which is usually deducted from the overall cost of the wedding cake should once you book the cake maker.
U for Unusual
If you want something a bit unusual and off the beaten track, some cake makers such as Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, will happily design a one off cake for you. We have a reputation for creating opulent. bespoke, ground breaking cakes using unusual shapes and colours. Some of them include our pillow cakes, Marie Antoinette cakes and painted cakes.
V for Venues and Value Added
Venues can be a great source for finding a luxury wedding cake designer and some may insist that you can only choose one from their preferred suppliers list. Some may even offer a wedding cake as part of their package. As you would be spending quite a considerable sum of money on your wedding cake, choose a cake maker that will contribute something special towards making your wedding great. It could be lending you an unusual cake knife, a great cake stand, a fabulous table cloth or even being a surrogate therapist.
W for Websites
A number of reliable cake designers will post pictures of their creations on their websites and social media pages, enabling you easy access to their portfolios and latest creations at a click of a button. This is a great source of ideas for your wedding cake and you will instantly know if you like or dislike a particular cake designer’s work.
X for Xtras
To quote a strap line from a famous advert, every little helps. With all the added extras such as the delivery and set up costs, the use of a special display table and table cloth, costs do add up and when deciding your budget be clear whether it’s inclusive of extras or not.
Y for You
Yes you! Organising a wedding can be stressful, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Once you’ve chosen a cake designer, relax, being confident that you’ve made the right choice. You are after all paying for the service of a professional who in collaboration with the other wedding vendors wants to make your day special and additionally has a reputation to protect.
Z for zzzzzzzzz
Again, in the run up to the wedding, the importance of getting lots of rest and relaxation cannot be overemphasized. Remember that although as a couple you will be the centre of attention as this is arguably the biggest event you may ever hold. Be careful to care for and nurture your mind, body and spirit. So relax and enjoy your special day.
Copyright Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium 2019