Wedding cakes have come a long way since the Roman Times when they were round plain wheaten cakes broken over the heads of brides as a symbol of fertility and goodness. Nowadays, the cake’ often takes centre stage at any reception and there is so much choice out there available to a modern bride, both in terms of design and content.
Cake designs can vary in style from very clean lines with very little adornments to the most complex multi tiered concoctions. Cupcake towers with or without a cutting cake are also popular, especially at relatively informal weddings.
Cake Queen, Elizabeth Solaru of Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium provides an A to Z guide on how to choose your luxury wedding cake.
A for Advice
Seek advice from a variety of sources such as the internet, wedding fairs, recent brides, venues, vendors and leading wedding publications and directories such as the 5 Star Wedding Directory. Ultimately, one to one meetings are still the best way of finding a talented cake artist to help translate your ideas into reality.
B for Baker
Get the names of a number of recommended cake designers, ring them up, visit their websites to get a feel for their ‘style’ and pay them a visit. Write down any questions you might have and feel free to ask away. Remember to take your other half along once you’ve narrowed your choice down, especially for the consultation and tasting, for which you might be charged a nominal charge.
C for Chemistry
Just like any other relationship, no matter how talented a cake designer is, there should be a positive chemistry between both of you. He or she should be finely attuned to your requirements and should be able to guide and steer you in the right direction, making helpful suggestions on possible designs, flavours and fillings.
D for Design, Decorations and Dietary Requirements
Even of you don’t have a particular cake in mind, or even a photograph, make a collage of all the things that inspire your style and take it along to your cake maker. It is important for you to have an idea of your colour scheme/theme of your wedding before planning the cake.
In terms of the cake design, a talented cake designer can match the details on your wedding dress for instance or the exact colour of your bridesmaid dresses if you provide a swatch of the fabric. If you are vegan, vegetarian or have certain allergies/ special dietary requirements, please let the cake maker know, so this can be taken into consideration. It is possible to have great tasting and looking cakes that suits every dietary requirement.
E for Etiquette
Read up on wedding etiquette, so you know who has responsibility for paying for what. In some cultures, it is normal to also have a groom’s cake at the wedding, so ensure that you are clued up as to what is the right thing to do. Timing the cutting and serving of the cake is also critical. Get your wedding planner to liaise with the venue and kitchen ahead of the big day.
F for Flavours and Fillings
Gone are the days when wedding cakes were heavy, stodgy fruit cakes. You now have a choice of a variety of luxurious and delicious flavours. At Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium our cakes are made from the finest ingredients and flavours range from triple chocolate delight, vanilla ripple, old fashioned caramel, an uber moist carrot cake tangy lemon to the more unusual white chocolate, toffee nut latte, green tea, and wasabi and white chocolate. Fillings can range from luxury chocolate ganache, to buttercreams such as orange, caramel, bailey’s, mocha and Morello cherry. For a bit of variety, you can have different flavoured tiers to cater for different tastes.
G for Ground work
You have to do a lot of ground work to uncover the right cake designer but it is worth it for the peace of mind and confidence it will give you in the long run.
H for Hire costs
Just like it is essential to choose the right accessories for your wedding dress, the right accessories and how a cake is displayed can make all the difference. However, the right accessories tend to come at an extra cost, so make sure you bear this is mind when discussing your requirements.
I for Icing
The icing on wedding cakes include royal icing, sugarpaste, ganache, chocolate wraps and butter cream. If you have a particular preference, let your cake designer know, although it is worth noting that a particular design or look may only be achieved using a particular medium.
J for Judgement
Trust your instincts and the evidence when choosing a cake designer. It is better to go for a less elaborate cake that will be delivered on time, to cost and to standard than to go for a badly executed elaborate cake.
K for Kids
If you will be inviting a lot of children to your wedding consider having a separate table for them with their own mini wedding cake. It is gestures like this that help to make weddings memorable.
L for Leftovers
In the old days, it was customary for brides to save the top tier of their wedding cake for their first wedding anniversary or the birth of their first child. You can of course do this, and at Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, we offer you advice on the best way to preserve your top tier should you wish to do so.
Some brides choose to give individually packaged cupcakes to family and friends as an edible momento of such a special day. We have also worked with some ethically conscious brides who donate leftovers to organisations such as homeless shelters (however you have to make sure that this is acceptable for health and safety reasons).
M for Marzipan
Commonly used by cake decorators to cover fruit cakes, it is made from almonds and has a sweet, distinctive taste. However, be aware that some of your guests might be allergic to nuts in any shape or form and it is advisable to warn such guests.
N for Notice
It’s best to give your chosen cake maker as much notice as you can, preferably a minimum of six months’ notice. This will ensure that there is enough time to discuss and execute every detail of the design and content of your cake and there is also enough time for the designer to incorporate any changes. Having said that, you will find that some bakers can accommodate time constraints if you enquire very nicely.
O for Order
As soon as you can, obtain a written quote on aspects of the cake design, the number of tiers, delivery costs, hire charges and other details. This will give you time to see if every requirement of yours had been noted accurately and to raise other issues that you might have.
P for Price
While it is advisable to shop around for the best price in order to get value for money, you may have to pay a premium for a particular cake designer’s brand, design, experience and reliability.
Q for Quality
You want you cake to accurately reflect your sense of style and elegance. When looking at wedding cakes, pay attention to details such as the finishing touches, how cakes are displayed and the accessories to ensure that they are what you require.
R for Reception
As the cake will take centre stage at the reception, discuss possible display areas and how the table will be dressed with your event planner and cake maker. If for instance the cake will be iced in butter cream for a summer wedding, it is advisable not to display the cake in a hot room or place it near a window.
S for Size or Servings
The size of the cake should be appropriate to the number of guests. So if you are expecting hundreds of guests, you will need several cake tiers. However, to save money, you can be creative by copying a practice in China whereby a Styrofoam cake is hired for the cutting ceremony but a plainly iced cake is served to guests.
T for Tastings
Some wedding cakes can be a case of style over substance. It is important that your cake tastes as good as it looks. A good cake maker will offer you a tasting of a variety of flavours of cakes from which you can make your choice.
U for Unusual
If you want something a bit unusual and off the beaten track, some cake makers such as Elizabeth’s Emporium, will happily design a one off cake for you. For example, the current trend is the cup cake tower, where hundreds of cupcakes are displayed in multiple tiers. The advantage of a cupcake tower is that it is easier to serve the wedding cake as dessert saving on cost.
V for Value Added
As you would be spending quite a considerable sum of money on your wedding cake, choose a cake maker that will contribute something special towards making your wedding great. It could be lending you an unusual cake knife, a great cake stand, a fabulous table cloth or even being a surrogate therapist.
W for Websites
A number of reliable cake designers will post pictures of their creations on their websites, enabling you easy access to their portfolios at a click of a button. This is a great source of ideas for your wedding cake and you will instantly know if you like or dislike a particular cake designer’s work.
X for Xtras
To quote a strap line from a famous advert, every little helps. All the added extras such as the delivery and set up costs, cake stand and cake knife hire costs do add up and when deciding your budget be clear whether it’s inclusive of extras or not.
Y for You
Yes you the bride. Organising a wedding can be stressful, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Once you’ve chosen a cake designer, relax, being confident that you’ve made the right choice. You are after all paying for the service of a professional who wants to make your day special and also has a reputation to protect.
Z for zzzzzzzzzzzz
Again, in the run up to the wedding, the importance of getting lots of rest and relaxation cannot be overemphasized. Remember that you, the bride will be the centre of attention and you cannot afford to let the stress and strains of organising what is arguably the biggest event you may ever hold take it’s toll on your looks. So relax and enjoy your special day.
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