Traditionally, wedding cake symbolized abundance and was served to bring good fortune to the newly married couple and to their guests. The cake also represented life’s sweetness and richness, which were best when shared. Though the symbolism still stands, the purpose of today’s wedding cakes incorporates even more.
Wedding cakes serve as centerpieces, conversation pieces, and outright works of art for your guests to admire at the reception. They may serve as a continuation of your wedding theme or as a chance to show off your creative style. And, of course, they serve to satisfy, so they have to taste delicious! With options for cakes limited only by your imagination, how will you choose? Your personal preferences will guide you, but current trends may give you much needed inspiration.
• Choose a cake with understated designs that mimic your bridal gown detailing. Forget the over-decorated cakes upon columns that you have seen at past weddings. Think simple and classic instead. This wedding cake design is both fashionable and economical.
• Choose a cake with an unusual shape. Traditionally, cakes are round, but why stick with tradition? Cakes of unexpected sized have been appearing more and more frequently, especially at modern weddings. When atypical shapes are tiered, you get the sophistication of a traditional cake, but with a modern edge. For added interest, you may also want to pair and tier cakes of different shapes.
• Decorate your cake with fresh flowers. Again, think simple. Although some brides still prefer ornate sugar-paste flowers, many are opting instead the real deal. The most popular choices are roses, orchids, calla lilies, tulips, and gardenias. Daisies are fashionable at less formal weddings.
• Opt for an artistic cake. Brightly colored cakes have gained popularity in recent years. Along with unexpected bursts of color, these cakes also combine sharp angles, rounded edges, and geometric details that will leave guests wondering if they are looking at a mere cake or something that belongs in a museum of modern art.
• Choose a cake with a subtle hue. Wedding cakes have come a long way since they were limited to being varying shades of white to coordinate with the bride’s gown. Today, a cake’s color often mirrors the wedding’s theme colors or the shades of the bridesmaids’ dresses. Subdued hues of ice blue, pistachio green, and soft pink have become increasingly popular.
• Break through the flavor barrier. White sponge cake flavored with almond or vanilla is still a classic choice, but cakes of other flavors are moving to center stage. Chocolate cakes (unheard of in the past, except for as a groom’s cake) are becoming common. Cakes flavored with fruits such as pineapple, wild cherries, passion fruit, mango, and exotic berries are in demand. Blood orange mousse, orange chocolate, and banana with a crème brûlée filling cakes are also in fashion. The complex combination of such flavors will taste so unexpectedly good that guests will salivate over the memories of your wedding cake for years to come. Be sure to stop in one of the Taos, Santa Fe or Albuquerque bakeries to sample their wedding cakes.
• Offer a cake buffet. If you can’t choose just one favorite kind of cake, many of your guests will likely feel the same way. Spare them the agony— have several single-tier cakes of different flavors available.
• Serve cupcakes instead of wedding cake. For a casual wedding with laid-back guests, this may be the way to go. Cupcakes may be a good choice if you want to add a touch of playfulness and potentially minimize costs. If your desire for cupcakes stems mainly from financial limitations, though, reconsider. Hundreds of elaborately decorated cupcakes may cost about as much as a simple wedding cake. And if your cupcakes are not elaborately decorated and stunning, you may come across as being cheap.
No matter what you choose, be prepared to meet with potential wedding cake designers and bakers at least three months in advance. To help you choose a baker who can pull off the cake of your dreams, consider a baker’s availability, timing, design capabilities, and reputation:
• Does the bakery have a portfolio of wedding cakes?
• Does the bakery provide the opportunity to taste potential wedding cakes?
• Does the bakery offer custom wedding cakes and welcome design input?
• If not, given the established designs offered, can you make adaptations? What does this cost?
• Does the bakery charge extra for the use of cake stands, tiers, etc.?
• Does the bakery already work with a florist for cakes designed with fresh flowers? If not, how does the bakery get the flowers?
• Does the bakery have a list of references?
• How does the bakery price wedding cakes? What may result in extra costs? Ask for a written proposal. Make sure the proposal completely and accurately describes the type of cake you want.
• How much does delivery cost?
• Will the cost of delivery include the cost of making any repairs to a cake damaged in transit?
• Will the delivery person be skilled to make any necessary repairs? If not, who will be available to help?
• How much time is required for delivery and set-up?
Armed with knowledge and creative ideas, reaching a final decision should be a “piece of cake.” Take a friend along with you and enjoy the journey.