Ordering your wedding cake can seem straightforward, and it certainly doesn’t have to be hard. But there are a lot of details involved in making sure that your wedding cake is as perfect as you want it to be, plus all the things that come with the cake; its position to ensure it has as big an impact as possible, when you’ll cut it, how many portions you’ll want or need and everything in between.
When I meet with my wedding cake couples, we can spend a good couple of hours talking about all things cake. Not just because I love cake, but because there a a lot of things to consider…
That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide to ordering your wedding cake, so that between you and your cake maker, you don’t miss any of the important details…
Style and design
You might well have chosen the style of cake you like, seen photos of what you want, or already envisaged the exact cake you’d like to have for your wedding. It’s worth considering that different wedding cake styles come not only with different price tags, but also some suit certain types of wedding and venues more than others.
Take the humble semi naked cake for example; a simple icing finish on a cake which might be topped with fruit and/or flowers. While this is a really versatile option, it might also be considered too ‘rustic’ for some weddings. Similarly, an opulent royal-wedding-esque towering number might look out of place at a barn or tipi wedding.
So, while you might have taken a shine to a particular cake, consider how it will fit in to the overall styling of your wedding. Of course, you don’t want your cake to simply be a wallflower, but you can work it so your cake will perfectly complement the other components of your big day. Your wedding cake designer should help advise you on this as a first step.
The type of icing you choose to have on the outside of your wedding cake will directly affect the final product. Lets briefly talk through a few different options:
This is that heavy icing that creates a flawless high-quality finish. It is like the stuff you used to get on a fruitcake at Christmas at your Nan’s but it has evolved a lot since then! Traditional fruit cakes do use marzipan under that icing but more modern wedding cakes that are usually sponge cake, don’t. I use a layer of chocolate ganache underneath my fondant icing (white, milk or dark chocolate depending on which works with the flavour of the cake best) meaning that your fondant cake won’t only look amazing, but will taste out of this world too! (can you tell I am biased to this option?!) Fondant can also be marbled, painted and texture can be added to give it a more interesting finish.
There are different types of buttercream available. The most traditional one is American Buttercream which is simply a mix of butter and icing sugar or Swiss or Italian meringue buttercreams. These are both based on a meringue with butter added. As buttercream is a lot softer than fondant it will give a different, softer finish, but a lot of interesting layered textures and piping techniques can also be used with buttercream.
This is my weapon of choice to use underneath fondant icing to give it a really neat finish and to create super sharp edges, but chocolate ganache can also be used on its own as a finish for a cake. If you’re a chocolate fiend (like me!) then you might be interested in a head to toe chocolate wedding cake with chocolate decorations. White chocolate can also be coloured opening up a world of options for decoration. So if fondant isn’t your thing and neither is buttercream, for the chocoholics among us, chocolate ganache is a great option!
Modern wedding cake stand option. Photo by Amy Faith Photography
You might want a towering castle of a wedding cake, but only have 50 guests, or you might have your mind set on a three tier. The reality is that there aren’t any rules with the sizing of your wedding cake (and the rules that are there are made to be broken!). If you only have a small party, your cake could have fake tiers to add height to it. Or you might want a three tier but your guest count is much higher than a three-tier cake could serve. In this case I’d advice adding more tiers or adding a few cutting cakes for the kitchen to serve to your guests. Make the most of asking your wedding cake designer about this side of things to get the most from the size of your wedding cake.
I’ve added a specific paragraph here about height because I think it’s important to consider. You can really add the wow factor here with a tall wedding cake. Make it so that your guests can see your cake in a crowded room. If your venue has high ceilings a tiny cake could get completely lost. The cakes I make tend to be taller rather than wider to create a taller cake overall. Cake stands are also a great way to make sure your cake can be shown off.
Number of portions
As much as I don’t like to admit it, not all wedding guests eat cake! This does depend though, on how and when it is served. In my experience a lot of guests won’t even know the cake has been served. It’s also worth considering how much food you’ll be having throughout the day at your wedding. If you’re having a three-course meal, serving the cake much later when your guests aren’t full is definitely best. Why not make serving the cake part of your evening entertainment for your extra evening guests? As a general guideline, I would take 10% off your guest count and that should give you a good number of cake portions to go for. But then again, the cakes I make are usually very generous, so there may well be extra portions. A lot of my couples want left over cake for them to enjoy with their family and friends the following day. One of my couples even took some left over slices of their wedding cake all the way to Tanzania with them on their honeymoon!
Lemon and blueberry cake. One of my most popular wedding cake flavours. Photo by Sophie Lake Photography
Choosing cake flavours is usually the most difficult decision for my wedding cake couples to make. I offer a large menu of flavours and I am aware that this doesn’t help with indecision! I always recommend that there are at least two flavour options, but no more than three as this can give guests too much to choose from. You can read more about my cake flavour recommendations here and I also have a blog post on my top 5 cake flavours.
It’s worth mentioning any allergies or dietary requirements any of your guests might have. Some wedding cake makers will have gluten free and vegan options. I tend to offer my dietary requirements cakes as separate cutting cakes for the venue kitchen, to be served at the same time as the rest of the cake.
Cake set up
The set up of any wedding cake is overlooked a lot of the time, but cake makers, couples and venues alike. That’s why I am giving you a heads up! In my experience, a lot of wedding cakes are set up in ugly and forgotten about corners of venues in front of radiators, fire escapes and other nasties. It’s worth considering where the cake will be set up when you’re on your venue visits, and your cake doesn’t have to be set up in the usual spot cakes are put in your venue if this doesn’t work for you.
Consider the look of the table where your cake will be set up and if it will work with the design and style of your wedding cake. Can the table be decorated with flowers of props to complement the cake? You could even have a backdrop for your cake display.
Modern wedding cake set up with the perfect backdrop and modern stand option. Photo by Marianne Chua Photgraphy
Cake stands are a great way of adding height to your wedding cake. A lot of the stands that venues provide as part of their packages can be the wrong size or be simply too traditional for a lot of more modern cake designs. Your cake maker may be able to supply you with a more modern alternative that will perfectly suit the style of your cake.
One thing not to be forgotten, and this does happen! Sometimes, a cake maker will assume that the caterer will have a cake knife. Other times the caterer will assume that the venue has one. Sometimes these are bought specially by the couple to use for their cake cutting. Either way, if you don’t want an ugly kitchen knife for your cake photos, make sure the cake knife is being provided. As a cake designer, I don’t provide cake knives as standard, but I do always ask if one will be provided and that this has been taken care of.
Wedding cake cutting as part of your evening entertainment. Photo by Amy Faith Photography
Cake cutting time
As I mentioned earlier, the number of portions you chose for your wedding cake to have can be determined by when you actually serve your wedding cake. If you were to serve it in the evening and really make a moment for serving it, more people would be likely to eat it. I have been to many a wedding when the guests never even knew that the cake had been served. I’d recommend making sure the serving of your cake is announced and that you make it a feature of your day. You could have a cake and Prosecco moment or serve it with your favourite cocktail as a way of welcoming your evening guests.
I told you that I could talk about cake until the cows come home… That’s not only because I am cake-obsessed(!) but also because I think it’s so important to make sure that all aspects of your wedding and your wedding cake are as perfect as they can be and things don’t get overlooked.
If you’ve got any questions about ordering your wedding cake get in touch! Can’t wait to hear from you!