For a bride, the wedding is a social occasion that has to be done perfectly, as well as a solemn occasion marking her commitment (and her partner’s too!) to the relationship. If it goes “wrong” we take it very personal, and if it goes “right” then it’s a good omen for the marriage as well as a feather in the bride’s cap regarding her ability to serve as a hostess.
Just don’t expect a bride to be “reasonable” about her wedding plans, even if she does stick to her budget, etc., anything that goes wrong is going to cause an immediate panic stricken melt down. Months in advance.
The wedding cake is the centerpiece, so to speak of the entire event. It has to be beautiful, delicious, and exactly what the bride dreamed it would be. With a professional price tag averaging $500, for many brides, this is just out of the question in terms of their budget. At the same time, a budget cake from the grocery store bakery isn’t exactly a “dream come true” for a wedding cake.
Many of us are gifted cooks, bakers and artists. If we aren’t, often a friend or relative is, and they can help with the wedding cake, and are often honored to do so. I did my first wedding cake when I was about 21 years old, for an aunt that was getting married for the second time. To me, she was “kind of old” but if memory serves me right, she was in her mid thirties. Compared to my age now, she was young!
The cake came out nicely, although I doubt I would be pleased with it today, as my standards are more critical, especially when I am doing it. But…it was sweet, a three tier heart cake. I knew nothing about decorating, and used one of those metal tube decorating kits, which left me with a swollen, bruised and very painful hand. Today, I would use the triangular pastry bags and tubes, with far less strain and pain on the hand!
Next, after you have your “volunteer” for the baking and decorating, you’ll need to choose the perfect wedding cake recipe. There are as many cake recipes as there are brides, so choose what pleases you! For the die hard traditionalists, the white cake with white frosting is the frequent choice. Yellow, chocolate, marble, and carrot are other popular flavors. Take the top few recipes, cut them down to make a single layer cake, and then bake them to provide a sampling opportunity. Invite your bridesmaids, sisters, aunts, mother…whoever you want, to join you in the ultimate taste test and see what is really perfect for you. Do this months in advance!
The wedding cake frosting is the next choice. Part of this will depend on the skills of your volunteer. Rolled fondant isn’t in everyone’s repertoire, but that is what is used to create that smooth, seamless look that many wedding cakes sport. Other options include “White Mountain Frosting”, butter cream, cream cheese, or flavored/colored frostings. White or chocolate are the most common colors, with pastel colored cakes falling in behind.
Many brides coordinate their wedding cake with their wedding dress or the wedding colors. This doesn’t mean that if your colors are mauve and peach that your wedding cake has to be mauve frosting with peach decorations however! Even coordinating it to your wedding colors does not mean you “have” to choose a color for the base frosting. White frosting with accents in your wedding colors can be either understated or quite dramatic, depending on how you handle the decoration portion on your wedding cake.
When it comes to decorations, it doesn’t have to all be piped by whoever is doing the cake. Many decorative accents can be purchased, premade by professionals, and shipped directly to your cake maker. These can be “decals” that add professional looking decorative touches, gum paste flowers, or fondant flowers. Any feature you have ever seen on the most elaborate of wedding cakes can be purchased and added to yours.
You don’t even have to choose to do a traditional tiered cake. Many brides choose “trees” or racks containing cupcakes as their cake of choice. This makes serving especially simple at informal and outdoor weddings. Another easy solution is to serve cupcakes and have a small tiered cake for the cutting of the cake ceremony for the bride and groom, and even if this small tiered cake is professionally baked…your volunteer bakers could theoretically make enough cupcakes to serve 1,000 guests if you like! Architectural shapes can allow true creativity to come through with a modern flair as well.
Don’t forget the wedding cake topper! If you want to splurge and have a keepsake, this is ideal, as it contains no calories, never goes stale, and makes an ideal memento for the bride and groom. They range in price from solid gold (literally) to around $10, depending on what you want and how much you are willing to pay for it. Custom toppers are also available. There are even videos on YouTube showing how to make your own!
Need some ideas and inspiration?
- Try Martha Stewart Weddings here.
- Some wedding toppers are found here.
- Wedding cake recipes and directions are found here.
- Chocolate transfer sheets are found here. Another company here. Company #3.
- How to use chocolate transfer sheets is found here.
Just because you can’t afford to pay a small fortune for that dream wedding cake doesn’t mean you have to “settle” for something far less impressive. Many of these items can help the less than stellar wedding cake volunteer turn out something that makes him or her look like a real pro, even if they aren’t. A little creativity, some skill, a bit of luck…and you’ll have your wedding cake and eat it too!