Choosing a wedding cake is a delicious and joyful part of the (at times) stressful wedding day planning process. Sitting down with your partner to taste and rate a bunch of different cake flavors? OK, twist your arm…
As for ideas for wedding cakes, the possibilities really are endless. Keep your budget top of mind as well as you and your fiancé’s preferences. (Maybe you have a real red velvet or carrot cake lover on your hands.) Also look for a bakery or cake baker who you trust and ask your planner and other brides for reccs.
When you think of a traditional wedding cake, the classic, multi-tiered white cake is probably what first comes to mind. There are, of course, endless variations and different styles of this type of cake. Start by looking through photos online or with your baker and see what appeals to you. Then consider your venue (if it’s outdoors, you’ll probably want to go with fondant so it doesn’t melt), budget, and guest list to determine what size cake is best for your reception.
Love the idea of a beautiful white cake, but want to personalize it a bit? Choose decorations like flowers in your wedding colors, or find a unique wedding cake topper that speaks to your personalities.
Modern wedding cakes that might include geometric shapes, contemporary decorations and darker colors are all showstoppers at a modern reception venue.
Some options include geometric patterns like triangles, dots, or prisms as decoration. You could also go with a watercolor brushed look or ombre cake design. Forgo white and choose a dark fondant in black or navy and contrast it with decorative florals or metallics.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to cake flavors and fillings, says Feyisola Ogunfemi, owner of Statuesque Events Wedding Planning in Washington, D.C. “Many clients love flavors, but get nervous about going too far 'outside of the box' for fear that guests won't like the flavor,” she says. “Going with flavored fillings gives an interesting taste, and gives pickier guests the option to eat around it.” Some of her favorite recommendations include raspberry peach, pomegranate and other luxurious flavors paired with a vanilla cake.
Take the locale into consideration for your wedding cake, recommends Maui-based pastry chef, Teresa Shurilla. “Since I'm on Maui, I like to use/suggest tropical flavors like toasted coconut cake with coconut cream, white butter cake with Liliko'i (passionfruit) curd and white chocolate mousse,” she says. “In terms of design, I often make a ton of seashells out of gum paste or white modeling chocolate. And I try to incorporate fresh orchids—we have so many different kinds here. It looks unusual and stunning.”
Naked cakes (without exterior fondant or frosting) are a popular option for a rustic or outdoor wedding. They also are budget-friendly. A naked cake isn’t as labor-intensive as a fondant cake, so you might save some money. You can jazz up a naked or rustic cake with decorations like flowers, succulents, chocolate, or fruit.
A deconstructed cake is where the tiers are displayed separately, rather than stacked, explains Valentina Ring, a wedding planner and owner of The Stars Inside in London. She loves recommending this setup to her clients. “When the tiers aren't layered on top of one another and instead are displayed next to one another, the display itself can be creative and dynamic, particularly by adding some levels,” she says. “This can look very chic and modern, and has the added bonus of being less logistically challenging.” She says this can save you some money, too, because the layers don’t need to be constructed, making them easier to transport and set up.
If the thought of an over-the-top, humongous cake doesn’t appeal to you, serve your guests mini or individual wedding cupcakes. These would work well if you are having a smaller wedding. These are enough to serve on their own, or alongside other desserts like cookies, macarons, or a candy bar.
You can choose the perfect wedding cake that honors one or both of your family’s heritage(s), says Margarita Navarro, the vice president of catering and custom cakes at Porto’s Bakery in Glendale, California. “At Porto’s, customers can select from a few unique cake flavors and fillings like a Cuban cake with pineapple and custard filling and meringue icing,” she says.
You may want a cake with a special color or a style (maybe a Caribbean rum fruitcake, Italian tart, or Indonesian kek lapis), be sure to choose something that’s meaningful to you and your family.
Even if you have a general idea of what type of cake you’d like, it’s still easy to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. For example, do you want fondant or buttercream? How about multiple flavors in the same cake? And are you having a display cake and sending slices of sheet cake out to your guests?
The best place to start, Navarro says, is to research some different cake styles you like then visit bakeries prepared with your general vision. “A couple researching wedding cakes should start by looking for a design they both like and consider whether they are looking for a style that is traditional, ornate, trendy, simple, unique, or one that matches a specific wedding theme,” she says.
When you’re ready to visit potential bakeries, make a consultation appointment and check if there’s a fee to consult. “Bring questions and photos to the appointment,” she says. “The more prepared the couple is, the better the consultation will go.”
Try to hold the consultations at least two or three months before your wedding day and have the venue locked down beforehand. That way, the bakery can confirm they deliver there and how much it will cost.