The Sweet Sensation
Gorgeous-looking wedding cakes are almost ubiquitous — they grace the pages of glossy magazines, are featured in reality shows and are especially present online on wedding blogs and social sites like Pinterest. But scoring that divine, delectable cake for your own wedding might prove a little more difficult.
Sarah Chancey, owner of Chancey Charm, a wedding planning and design company based in Atlanta, suggests that brides-to-be start thinking about their wedding cake as soon as possible. “I recommend that they start looking into cakes as far out as they can, as far as choosing a baker and reserving a date, because if they want an exceptional baker, they want to make sure that they’re on their books in plenty of time,” she says.
Erica O’Brien of Erica O’Brien Cake Design in Hamden, Ct., recommends securing your venue first, adding that the bride also needs to know the approximate number of guests, which “will determine the size of the tiers, the number of tiers and the cost of the cake.”
The bride’s inspiration is the next part of the process. O’Brien, who has been a professional in the wedding cake industry for nearly a decade and does about 75 wedding cakes a year, says that it is helpful for brides to have some design ideas of cakes they like as a “jumping-off point.” She estimates that nearly 85 to 90 percent of the brides she works with have an idea, if not for their cake, at least of a general theme or feel for their wedding.
“When I first started, brides would come in with their folder or portfolio, and they clipped photos from magazines. Now, they’ll more than likely come in with an iPad and just sort of flip through some pictures,” O’Brien says.
But bringing your baker a photo or two of the cake you love doesn’t necessarily mean she can — or will — copy it for you. “Each artist puts their own touch on it,” O’Brien says, and bakers have different philosophies on whether or not they will replicate each other’s cakes.
It’s also important to remember that photos of cakes you see in magazines or online might not be realistic — for your location or budget. “A lot of what you see online in photo shoots are often faux cakes, and sometimes those designs are a bit more challenging to execute on a real cake in the middle of July with 95 percent humidity,” O’Brien says.
If you’re concerned about the cost of the cake, consider asking the baker to make a smaller display cake and have a sheet cake in the back (that no one sees) to serve to your guests.
“It’s more economical,” O’Brien says, but she cautions brides to make sure the size of the display cake looks proportional to the number of guests.
“Having a smaller cake or doing multiple cakes or pies, more of a dessert bar kind of thing, is also a great option for budget brides,” Chancey says.
Last, but definitely not least important, is the taste and flavor of the cake. “You want to get a cake people are going to want to eat,” O’Brien says.
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