It is time, with 3 months to go before the big day, to make yet another one of “those” nearly irreversible decisions. This one concerns our wedding cake. And though I freely admit to a mild case of wedding-decision weariness, it seems the wedding industry, which thrives on creating ever more [costly] options from which brides and grooms must select, has been working overtime in the wedding cake arena.
Most alarmingly, the wedding cake decision now includes both the decision of whether to have a cake at all as well as whether to have not one, but two cakes — a more traditional “bride’s cake” as well as a more theme oriented “fun” groom’s cake. Really?
There is no bride and having two groom’s cakes seems redundant, so we’re going to pass on that idea.
Our guide to getting to yes…
COST: Pricing generally is quoted per slice. If you go the custom cake route, per slice cost starts at $5.00 and moves up from there. It can easily top $10.00/slice for more complicated detailing, so buyer beware.
Naked/buttercream vs Fondant: Not a hard decision for us. A less formal and less fussy design suits us better. Naked it is, with buttercream filling as a maybe. However, buttercream and whip cream are not summer-temperature friendly, so be careful if your event is outside in the heat.
Tiered vs Deconstructed: A tiered cake generally is [much] more expensive, and probably too “wedding-y” a look for our tastes. The deconstructed option could allow for a smaller symbolic wedding cake while your guests are served from single layer versions.
Warning here – there is an additional “option-within-an-option” to consider. An increasing number of couples are opting to have a mini-cake for each guest table.
The rationale is that the cake serves as a centerpiece substitute — reducing your florist bill. True enough, but price out the cost of individual cakes before you happily bank your savings. Cake bakers spend much more time decorating many small cakes than one larger cake – and will charge 3 to 4 times more as a result — easily tripling your cost per slice. Depending on your guest count, those flower table-top centerpieces my start to look like a bargain.
Square vs Shaped: I’ve spent considerable time reviewing wedding cake images from the world wide web and the more I viewed, the less I liked the over-the-top uniquely shaped designs. Shaped cakes also are budget busters of the first degree. Square is a more efficient shape to cut – serving more guests. This decision becomes much less of a concern if you decide on having only a small ceremonial cake and is a much bigger concern if you decide to have one wedding cake per table.
Standard Flavors vs Exotic: I say, go with what you know. I’m a dark chocolate addict, and I’ve successfully converted my partner over to the dark side. Our son, however is a vanilla hold out, we’ll figure something out.
Piped Detailing versus ribbons/berries/flowers: We’ve all seen how intricate detailing can create a visual masterpiece. Our view, a cake is to be consumed, not curated. I want it to be appetizing visually and delicious, but mostly delicious.
COST: Less than traditional cake, but guests may eat more than one.
By now, tiered cupcake holders, cupcake carts and designer cupcakes have become part of the normal wedding reception discussion. Cupcakes offer a chance to provide a more varied selection, but often are more of a self-serve type dessert. Many couples have paired a mini-wedding cake with cupcakes as an alternative to the deconstructed sheet cake thing.
Doughnuts, cookies, mini-cheesecakes, rustic-pies, fruit tarts, brownies, cinnamon rolls and ‘candy-bars’ all have supporters. And for those with the budget to handle it, creating a dessert station with any number of these treats so that guests can choose their sugar-fix can be an awesome option. Many of these options also are delivered to guests via a food cart for added fun and atmosphere. I’ve not listed costs here, because quotes seem to be all over the board, which gets to another concern I have with some of these alternatives. I very much value being able to make this decision and not feel as though I need to then worry about whether my artisan-mini-fruit-pie person is going to go out of business between now and wedding day. These one-of-a-kind desserts are often prepared and supplied by fantastically talented – and over-worked – sole proprietors.
As it turns out, we easily agreed on a cake / sheet cake combo. The ceremonial cake will lean toward “naked,” and it will not be tricked out – too much. And it will be chocolate – dark. We’ll be sure to post a picture. Next up – play list…
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