Fondant Wedding Cakes: Should we order one?

Fondant wedding cakes are perfect for couples wanting a smooth, luxury finish. They tend to look more formal and regal than (semi-) naked wedding cakes, so really suit historic or grand venues. If you want to find out what a fondant wedding cake is, what weddings they suit and/or see some fondant wedding cake designs, then please read on!

What are the differences between (semi-) naked, buttercream and fondant wedding cakes?

There are 3 types of wedding cake icing that are popular today. Fondant, buttercream and naked (or semi-naked) wedding cakes. When fruit cakes were popular, there was also another icing called royal icing, which dried rock hard and was spread over the marzipan covering of a fruit cake. But this icing doesn’t suit sponge cakes very well and therefore isn’t used anymore. So let’s focus on the 3 main icing types you are probably considering for your wedding cake.

Buttercream is a softer icing made with butter which a cake designer spreads over the cake. Most of the time, it doesn’t have the same perfect finish that a fondant wedding cake does, and is easily dented or textured. This is great for a patterned/textured design, but not if you want something perfectly smooth. However, it does look really great for some modern designs and more relaxed/rustic designs. Naked and semi naked wedding cakes are also covered in buttercream, but only a very small amount. Enough to roughly cover the cake underneath, but leave as much on show as possible. They are very modern, and work great for more relaxed weddings or for couples who want a more sustainable, low waste wedding cake option.

Fondant (AKA sugar paste or ready to roll icing) is a soft paste which cake designers roll out and smooth over the top of a ganached or buttercreamed cake. When done properly, it will make the outside of the cake look completely smooth and perfect. It will dry slightly on the outside, creating a durable and airtight cover on the cake. As fondant is really just a paste made of sugar, it tastes quite sweet to most people. However, the right wedding cake designer will know how to balance the flavours and make it delicious.

What should we know before ordering a fondant wedding cake?

Fondant wedding cakes are so smooth and perfect, they are almost like a blank artist’s canvas. There are endless different designs you can achieve with them – painted cakes, printed icing designs, using lustre/shimmer/metallics, creating textured effects, and all kinds of artistic effects. And, if you’re going for a more traditional style, fondant works really well because you can mould it into different shapes and create elaborate relief designs (like sculpted pottery, wood or stone work) or edible flowers.

As you have probably guessed, fondant wedding cakes are on the more expensive end. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it takes more time to create a fondant cake. The reason they are so smooth on the outside is because both the ganache layer underneath and the fondant layer on top are applied with such attention to detail that they are flawless. This can easily take 1-2 hours per tier. Secondly, couples choosing fondant wedding cakes tend to opt for more complicated or extravagant designs. Whereas with buttercream or semi-naked cakes, it tends to be just fresh fruit or flowers. With fondant cakes, couples often opt for sugar flowers, moulded decorations or artistic effects. All of which take a long time to create. In fact, for a single ‘statement’ sugar flower, which might be a focal rose, peony, anemone or orchid, a typical price is around £25 per flower. So one small arrangement of sugar flowers with 2-3 focal flowers and some filler flowers could be in the region of £100 – £200. You can find more information about my wedding cake pricing and how to set a wedding cake budget across my website.

Finally, I personally tend to class fondant wedding cakes as the least environmentally friendly option. A lot of this comes down to your guests’ tastes, but most people will eat the cake (maybe eat the chocolate ganache) and leave the fondant. This means kilos of fondant are applied to the cake, just to be thrown away at the end of the wedding. There’s also a balance with shelf life – in order to create more elaborate designs, cakes need to be baked earlier in the week so are often made on a Monday or Tuesday (although I bake on a Wednesday), then decorated over the rest of the week. The cake will certainly still be fresh by the weekend, but is coming to the end of its ‘best time’. With a buttercream or semi-naked cake, most designers will bake on a Wednesday or Thursday (and I will usually bake Friday) for a Saturday wedding, meaning the cake is fresher for a weekend wedding. As naked cakes are completely exposed, they deteriorate more quickly, so it’s less of a factor for comparison.

What type of weddings/designs are fondant wedding cakes suited to?

Obviously, it’s your wedding and you can have whatever cake design you both want. But it’s worth noting that some designers only work with certain types of icing, and/or may only offer certain icings at certain times of year. So when looking for designers, it’s always helpful to mention upfront what your preference is so that they can provide their best advice.

If however you are opting for a more style-led wedding, or are just in the early stages figuring out what options you have, then fondant wedding cakes work really well for:

  • elaborate, intricate designs (like the picture to the left)
  • clean, minimalist designs (like the picture at the top of the page)
  • hot Summer days
  • weddings where you’d like the cake to be on show all day
  • really modern, edgy designs
  • more traditional, white/pearls/flower designs (like the middle picture on this page)
  • formal, grand venues
  • designs with added dummy tiers for height
  • couples who really want to impress their guests with a visually outstanding cake

I absolutely love fondant wedding cakes – they really are the height of sophistication. Not only in the level of skill required to make one, but also the amount of time a cake designer will spend creating each tier. They can be incredibly traditional or wildly modern, and everything in between so work for lots of different couples. Every wedding cake designer will have a slightly different style or specialty, but there are lots of incredible cake designers out there who can create breathtaking fondant wedding cakes, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that can help you both. If you like the cakes you’ve seen on this post, then please do send through an enquiry to see what I can create for you.

Good luck and happy planning!

With love from lila xx