That moment where the silver lining on the wedding planning cloud has finally arrived – the “design wedding cake” item on your wedding-to-do list! The venue has been selected, and contracts have been signed. You have met with every wedding vendor possible from photographers to wedding planners and décor professionals to hair and makeup artists. You have never been more ready to move on to more delicious tasks – choosing and designing your dream wedding cake!
Everyone in the wedding planning entourage is likely to get on board with this task. Couples may already have favorite flavors in mind and are looking to match the design with the overall theme for the wedding reception. Pinterest is a bride’s best friend during the wedding planning process, and even more so when it comes to designing the wedding cake. The challenge lies in finding the perfect design, while still ensuring the cake tastes delicious. A seemingly simple task is suddenly made more difficult, but at least tastings are involved!
Factors to Consider
You will likely have a design in mind as you begin the process of selecting the baker who will make your dream wedding cake come to life. You may have sampled scrumptious cake at a previous wedding or event or have seen incredible designs on Pinterest. As you begin the task of narrowing down choices for your design and baker, some of the same factors that play a role in selecting the venue, décor, and other wedding components are also important in this selection. Mercedes Blackwell, Owner of and Cake Designer at The Cake Studio agrees and says “[your cake designer] will be able to suggest the best options in order to achieve your vision for your wedding. Today’s dessert and cake options are so unique and varied, that you will surely find several alternatives that will make your wedding a memorable experience.”
Budget: Your budget will impact how intricate the design of your cake as well as the number of tiers. Using fresh flowers vs. sugar flowers, Styrofoam layers, a sheet cake for serving, all of these are options for optimizing budget. Speak with your cake designer to determine the best way to achieve your dream vision without breaking your budget.
Venue: Is the wedding reception outdoors or indoors? The temperature and serving time will influence the choice. Some frostings can withstand heat, whereas others need refrigeration. With the right details, your baker recommend flavor and frosting pairings accordingly.
Guests: The guest count is crucial as many bakeries charge per serving. The number of guests will also help determine the number of tiers needed for your cake. Will other desserts be served leaving the cake to present the “wow” factor? In either case, your baker can suggest ways in which to maximize serving size and still amaze your guests.
Flavors: With so many flavor profiles from which to choose, couples can feel inundated. Trust your baker, s/he is the expert and can recommend complimenting flavors. For couples who want to offer a variety, Zehra Laljiani and Saba Hasnain, founders of Zehra’s Cupcakery, suggest they “opt for dessert tables featuring a variety of miniature desserts or cupcakes along with a smaller wedding cake, or feature a groom’s cake along with the wedding cake.”
Theme: Consider the overall theme of your décor, invitations, and event in general when selecting your design. Jovana Boksen, Owner of and Chief Pastry Artist at The Artistic Whisk suggests that “the bride and groom should research what styles of cake they think suits their theme. We recommend coming to the tasting with some sort of inspiration, i.e. color swatches, invitations, Pinterest boards, dress photos, etc.”
Prepare for Tastings and the First Meeting
The list of possible bakers has been narrowed, and now comes the fun part – the tastings! The experts all agree that keeping an open mind during the process is key. Tastings give couples an opportunity to not only sample the baker’s specialties, but to also understand flavor pairings and profiles. Boksen shares “We prepare 21 unique flavor combinations at our tastings, which is a lot of cake! Remember to choose which flavor you think is best. Don’t try to please everyone, it’s impossible.”
Coming to the tasting with the right people is just as important as bringing your appetite. Laljiani and Hasnain advise couples to “bring only the people who will have a final say in the decision regarding the cake design and flavors. While it may seem fun to have your bridal party, parents, and in-laws at your tasting, it can result in too many varying opinions and make the experience more daunting for the couple.” Staying true to what you as a couple enjoy will be important as you make the final decision. Though your guests should enjoy the cake, ultimately, the cake is one of many memories you will remember from that day.
The first meeting also gives bakers and cake designers to get to know the couple. An understanding of the bride and groom’s personalities as well as their likes/dislikes will shape the final design. Blackwell shares that “getting to know the couple a little bit is also very important to me. I enjoy getting a glimpse of their individual personalities and finding out how they met. This conversation usually reveals something interesting and unique that can be incorporated into their wedding cake.”
As you venture out to tastings, some additional questions to keep in mind include:
- Can the baker accommodate dietary restrictions?
- Will the baker be preparing other wedding cakes the same day?
- How far in advance should orders be placed?
- Will the baker offer recommendations on the best to way serve?
The Perfect Wedding Cake
The experts share their thoughts on the perfect wedding cake.
Jovana: My idea of the perfect cake is probably what I made for my own wedding! I particular like classic cakes, but with a twist. Something original that hasn’t been seen before, those are my favorites. As far as flavor goes, I enjoy cakes that are made from scratch while using all-natural ingredients. I can always tell the difference!
Mercedes: My cake preference is a simple, clean design with some height and a very marked focal point, such as a large bloom. I like muted shades with a touch of “bling” such as gold or silver. My flavor preferences are complete opposites because I always like to offer two flavors. The first would be a light Raspberry Lemonade combination, which is Lemon Chiffon cake with Raspberry and Cream Cheese fillings, and second would be Dark Chocolate cake with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache fillings. Offering completely different flavors makes it more exciting!
Zehra and Saba: We always enjoy a cake that is unique, exotic, and daring. The one we enjoyed creating most was our dragon cake, which was a coconut cake with a mango buttercream and mango, passion fruit, and basic reduction as a topping. This cake was the perfect blend of sweetness, tanginess, and spice and would be a wonderful choice for a bride who is looking for an exotic dessert.
Special thanks to the experts who contributed their advice and tips for designing a wedding cake.
The Artistic Whisk
Jovana Unietis Boksen, Owner & Chief Pastry Artist
Tel: (727) 560-5662
The Cake Studio
Mercedes Blackwell, Owner & Cake Designer
Tel: (407) 614-2860
Zehra Laljiani and Saba Hasnain, Co-Founders
Tel: (678) 640-6415
About the Author
Rina Shah is the CEO and founder of The Arpan Group, a boutique ad agency and public relations firm that specializes in capturing untouched ethnic markets. From press releases and media kits to marketing materials and by-line articles, The Arpan Group customizes solutions based on the client’s needs. Based in the Bay area, The Arpan Group works with clients across the US. For more information, visit www.thearpangroup.com or call (703) 651-6670.
Article appears in the September 2016 issue of Desh-Videsh.