'Tis the season for weddings. Summer is the easiest time of year for most brides and grooms to take time off work (and school), according to one Huffington Post article. During the preparatory weeks and months leading up to the "big day," love is in the air for engaged couples throughout Utah. The sound of wedding bells might be ringing in their ears, but there are a few things they'll need to plan first, like selecting a wedding cake. Wedding cakes come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, costs, flavors and styles. This list offers 12 tips from local wedding cake bakeries on how to choose the perfect wedding cake.
“Do a little homework," said Laurlee Morrison, president of Cakes de Fleur in Salt Lake City. "Search the Internet and determine what you like. Do you like a tall skinny cake? Do you like a simple texture? Something more elaborate? Do you like fresh flowers? Sugar flowers? No flowers? Do you like round cakes, square cakes or some other shape? Do you like the tiers to be stacked one tier on top of the other, or do you prefer space? Or satellite cakes?
“Once you know the cake styles that appeal to you, schedule a consultation with your cake designer or start a dialog via email. Provide pictures of cakes so that your designer knows what appeals to you and so that they can help you design the perfect wedding cake."
“Well-meaning friends and relatives may offer to do it; it may be hard to decline this offer. But there is both a science and an art to making the perfect wedding cake,” said Pete Tidwell, owner and pastry chef of The Mighty Baker in Provo.
“Pinterest is a great source to find a lot of good ideas and most cake designers can use those ideas, even exactly, if you would like. But a good consultation will also provide you with other options or ways to make sure all your needs are being met," said Jennifer Lindberg, owner of Kaysville-based Sweet Whimsy Cakes by Jen.
“A good example of that would be a scenario like this: Say you found a cake with the design you wanted on Pinterest, but the cake was a six tiered wonder that would cost the groom's arm and leg. ...During a consultation, a designer can find out what you love about the cake, and work those elements into a smaller more practical cake that won't cost you as much and is better suited to the crowd you want to feed (most weddings won't need a cake that feeds 1200).
“The bride in this story got a cake that she absolutely loved, had the design ideas she had dreamed of and was perfectly happy because her groom still had matching arms and legs! Go to a consultation prepared, either with an idea or an open mind,” Lindberg said.
“Ask your cake designer for their recommendations. There are many different ways to achieve a specific look,” Morrison said about consultations.
“Be sure to attend this with your fiancé and don't send someone to do this for you so there are no miscommunications,” Tidwell suggested.
“If you have a specific cake budget, let your designer know in advance," Morrison said. "If the cake you want is more expensive than the cake budget, don’t hesitate to ask your designer for suggestions on how to get the most of what you want within your budget.”
“In order to get the most bang for your buck, cut the wedding cake early in evening so that your guests will still be around to eat the yummy dessert," said Jennifer Hill, owner and “caker” at Salt Cake City. "Everyone wants to see the ceremonial cutting of the cake and let's be honest; it can take quite a long time to cut up a 4-tiered cake."
“Consider your venue when selecting a cake," Morrison said. "Make sure that the cake size and style fits the space. Always keep temperature in mind. Buttercream frosting will hold its shape, for a while. It holds a little longer if the cake starts out cold and is displayed indoors. Fondant will hold up better in the heat, but it is still cake and frosting. If the cake is to be displayed outdoors, have the cake delivered about an hour prior to the event. Enough time is needed to deliver the cake, make sure it’s perfect, and leave before your guests arrive, but not early enough to be damaged by the heat."
“Is the venue outdoor or indoor?" Tidwell asked. "Where will the cake be displayed? What will the temperature be? There are a lot of different frostings, buttercream and fillings that will be affected by certain factors. All these factors can be discussed with your baker at the consultation."
“Be aware that choosing a simple wedding cake design will not necessarily make it a less expensive wedding cake," Tidwell said. "Wedding cakes are typically priced based on servings and design. Some people try to cut corners and use false Styrofoam tiers, but these take longer for the baker to decorate, and cost the same as a normal cake."
“There are three things you need to consider when picking a cake: budget, quantity, style," Lindberg said. "Usually, one of those is more important than the other two. A good cake designer will help you find a way to work with all three areas and make the cake of your dreams. And it is also important to realize that quality does not ever have to be sacrificed to get that dream cake."
“A lot of people come to consultations and say ‘wedding cake doesn't taste good.’ It can," Tidwell said. "Wedding cakes can be creative, unique and delicious. There are many delicious flavor options out there."
“The taste of your cake should be as important as the look of your cake," Hill said. "I always encourage variety so that your guests can have an option at the reception. I usually suggest doing a chocolate flavor, a fruity flavor, and a safe flavor. Why not do something fun and unique that your guests will talk about for years?"
“There is a right and a wrong way to cut a wedding cake," Tidwell said. "If you have a caterer then they should know how to cut the cake. You may want to request a cutting guide from your baker to assist you in the process if a family member or friend is performing this task."
“Pick a cake size that looks good to you. If you need additional servings, have them made as side cakes (that are not displayed)," Morrison said. "Caterers like this because it allows them to magically send out slices of cake shortly after you have cut your wedding cake. And you’ll like this, because you can generally make changes to the side cakes much closer to the event date."
“I always tell my brides that their cake can be a centerpiece of the wedding that matches the decor, ties in wedding colors, and can even bring out the personality of the couple," Hill said. "Think about ways to tie in color through fresh flowers or designs and mimic patterns being used throughout the wedding decor.
"A fun trend is to match the bride's wedding gown to the cake decor through edible lace, pearls and shimmer. Some of the latest trends in wedding cakes involve going back to rustic, buttercream designs. Doing a semi-frosted or naked cake topped with fresh flowers and berries brings in a rustic feel with a modern twist. Here in Utah, this can evoke feelings of being in nature since we have the scenery all around us to help."
“If it's in the budget, consider doing a surprise groom's cake," Hill said. "It's a great way to tie in the groomie on HIS special day as well.
"If a groom's cake is not in the budget, one of my favorite ways to tie in your personality is to do something fun and personal to you on the cake.
"For example, one of my couples did an all white, very elegant cake but wanted to incorporate Batman so we did a white batman logo with their last name on the top tier so that it was subtle but such a fun detail for the guests."