When most couples first enquire with me about their wedding cake design, they mostly talk about flavours and style. However, there are quite a few elements that make up a wedding cake, and when you take the time to think about each of them, you can come up with a truly showstopping wedding cake design. Whether you personalise them, fit them into the theme, or leave them up to your cake designer, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know the role each plays in creating that wow factor. And more importantly, how they all complement one another.
Choosing Quality Ingredients
From the very beginning, everything that goes into a Love from lila xx wedding cake starts with good quality ingredients. That means Fairtrade sugars, free-range local eggs, responsibly sourced vanilla, British dairy products, and much much more. Each of these specially selected ingredients brings a subtle richness to my sponges, and you really can taste the difference. If you’re looking to work with other wedding cake makers, ask about their ingredients. Do they buy cheaper ingredients to keep the cost down for couples, or do they invest in luxury ingredients?
Choosing Great Flavours
Once you have a delicious base cake, you can play with different flavour combinations. People will always love the classics – vanilla, lemon and chocolate – but the flavours can be a really subtle way of bringing the couple’s favourite things into a wedding cake, or even to pair it with the food served. I often tweak my recipes for my clients – a sharper lemon, different jam flavours, new buttercream flavours – so that they have something unique for them. When the cake will be served as dessert, it also makes sense to pair the flavours with the meal. Like pairing wines.
Choosing the Style
The style is what I think most people are referring to when they talk about wedding cake design. They’re thinking about how the cake will look on the outside. Will it be rustic? Maybe it will be simple? Perhaps it will be a heavily adorned cake? Sometimes couples find this really easy – they see some examples online and they think ‘we love that’. Together, we then create something which suits the style they’ve picked but feels like it was designed especially for them. Other couples struggle to find one style that suits them. One of them likes rustic naked cakes, the other likes heavily detailed fondant cakes.
This is where it often helps to step back and think about the entire wedding. How would they describe the design or style of their wedding? What colours are they using in décor, flowers, stationery? If it’s in a stately home type venue, then heavily detailed fondant cakes fit a little better. If the stationery and signs use a lot of pastel colours and geometric lines, a cake with brightly coloured sugar flowers may not pair well. You can definitely pull off slightly more bold combinations, but it takes careful thought and skill. By picturing how the cake’s style will fit into the whole wedding, you can create a design that complements the whole day. In my opinion, a beautiful wedding cake is one that looks as if it belongs in the venue. And a skilled cake maker can guide you in making that decision.
Once you have settled on the style of the cake, you often find that different decorations suit different styles of cakes. For example, sugar flowers don’t always look right with a naked cake. And vice versa, fresh flowers don’t always look right with a fondant cake. So what decorations might you think about for your wedding cake?
- Flowers (whether fresh, edible, wafer paper, sugar, silk or otherwise)
- Fruit (fresh, dried, painted)
- Textures and patterns (stencilling, wafer paper, royal icing piping, colour)
- Use of colour
- Use of metallics
These are quite broad categories because almost anything is possible when it comes to wedding cake design. Whether you go for overly detailed, or elegantly simple, pair the decorations with the style to create wow factor.
Choosing a Stand
I always ask my couples what stand they will be using. Often, couples tell me that their stand is included with the venue hire, where others have already found the perfect stand online. Sometimes couples don’t even know what the stand looks like, but just reassure me that it will be there. While it might save you money by using the venue’s stand, it does impact how the cake looks. There have been a few times when I’ve been presented with a dirty, chipped or battered old cake stand. If you’ve invested the money in a good quality wedding cake that’s styled and finished beautifully, you should think about how you will present it at the venue. You can decorate cake stands with fresh flowers to tie it into the other arrangements. You can use statement stands to give the cake the attention it deserves. Or you can opt for a hanging wedding cake, for a truly showstopping cake. The one in the picture is from the beautiful Millbridge Court.
Choosing a Topper
Toppers aren’t for everyone. Gone are the days when couples had sugar horseshoes or bells tied with ribbons on top of their wedding cakes. To some extent, even models of couples have drifted out of fashion. Most commonly now, I see couples opting for their names, initials or some kind of message for their toppers. Think about the style of your cake and think about what might work. A very modern wire topper might look out of place with a classical fondant cake. Equally, a mirrored plastic topper might clash with the rustic style of a naked cake.
Instead of wordy toppers, you can think about having a monogram piped onto the cake. You might decide to have your name and wedding date etched onto a wooden log stand. You can even get cute animal or wooden peg couples now! Whatever you’re thinking, it’s really important that you liaise with your cake maker. They can advise you on the best size, good suppliers and the style that would suit your wedding cake.
Choosing a Wedding Cake Menu
With every wedding cake, I give the couple flavour cards. On the front they have the flavour of each tier of cake. On the back are the responsibly sourced ingredients and allergens in each tier of cake. They let your guests and venue check the information they may need to know. Most importantly, they get your guests excited about the cake. They hopefully find a flavour that they love, and they look forward to the cake being cut. If your cake maker doesn’t provide flavour cards or a menu, then think about ordering one. Speak to your stationer or planner/stylist to see if they can create one using the same design as your table plan/place cards. It’s always a shame when the cake is passed around to guests, and the venue can’t remember what the flavours are. If the guests can see the menu, they know what they are enjoying.
Styling the Wedding Cake Table
The final piece of the puzzle is the table. Most venues provide a standard table with a plain white tablecloth for the cake. Whilst this will work for some cake styles, it won’t work for all of them. So put your cake maker in touch with your stylist/planner, and/or ask them if they have any of their own ideas. Make sure your cake is given pride of place, and the decoration it deserves. The one in the picture is from Rivervale Barn – with the glass table, flowers and barrel, this semi-naked cake with organic edible flowers looked amazing. It makes every one of the 7 elements come together into the most beautiful cake that you have ever seen.
For me, a quality wedding cake design doesn’t start on the outside of cakes! At the end of the day, most guests will be tucking into a slice of wedding cake. That wow factor they got when they saw the cake should still be there when they eat the cake. In the words of Adriano Zumbo (phenomenal Australian pastry chef) – taste is the experience you leave with. And it’s true. Guests will remember how the cake looked and how it tasted, so a good wedding cake should balance those elements. The right wedding cake maker will be able to talk you through each of the 7 elements above and guide you in choosing the most beautiful wedding cake. If you’re looking for the right wedding cake maker in Surrey and Hampshire, please do get in touch. Good luck and happy planning.
With love from lila xx