The Wedding Cake Process
Congratulations on your special day! You're about to embark on two amazing adventures - the first, of course, being your life as a wedded couple and the second being the exciting, yet often overwhelming process of planning a wedding! A wedding will probably be the biggest and most involved party or ritual either of you have ever put together. Before you get overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Put on a cup of tea. Grab some friends and family and have a seat. Your wedding cake process is likely going to be one of the most fun (and SWEET!) decisions you'll make for your wedding day. Enjoy It!
No matter which cake artist you decide to work with, it is helpful to most to have a sense of (more or less) what you like / don't like, what you are looking for etc. when it comes to your wedding cake / cupcakes / etc. There are so many great tools online and in print today that should make this process much easier for you and your artist. Consider emailing, pinning on Pinterst or bringing photos of things that you like to your initial cake meeting.
If you don't have an image of what it is that you are looking for and are moreso looking for your cake artists creative touch, then a general overview of your wedding theme / colours / textures etc. would be most helpful in allowing your cake artist to come up with a "concept" for your cake.
When thinking about your wedding cake, consider the following:
A) What kind of impression would you like to make?
~ Taller (more tiers) cakes tend to give a more "grand" look
~ Cupcakes tend to be more whimsical and non-traditional. Can come off as less "mature" depending on what your family is accustomed to traditionally
B) Your Budget
~ Generally speaking, the larger you go or the more detail on the cake; obviously the greater the cost of the cake. Educate yourself and call around. Many newlyweds or those new to custom cakes are often surprised by the cost (and thus extensive cake artistry time and resources) that it takes to make a wedding cake.
~ If you have a really clear sense of budget for your project, be honest with your cake artist up front. He/She will generally be able to work backwards from your budget in order to come up with a beautiful design that works within it.
~ Don't fall into the common misconception that cupcakes are cheaper than a wedding cake :) Cupcakes can cost you the SAME if not MORE than a traditional wedding cake due to their labour intensity, display structures (tier stand building or rentals) / table dressing / toppers / fancy liners etc. that need to be considered as part of the cost.
~ Also don't fall into the common misconception that adding "fake" tiers to your cake as opposed to real cake tiers will save money whilst adding to the "grand" look of your cake. Styrofoam artificial cake tiers for most bakers are actually the same (if not more!) cost than just baking an extra cake tier from scratch. For us its a difference of a little extra flavour, sugar and eggs :)
C) How Many People You Need to Serve / How Much Food Is At Your Wedding
General rule of thumb for a wedding is to order about HALF the amount of cake for the number of people you have attending (i.e. if you have a 200 person wedding, order a 100 person cake). The reason being that guests are often really full after a traditional large wedding meal + other desserts that are generally offered.
However if your wedding is a cocktail reception only or lighter in terms of menu, consider order for a least the number of guests you have attending OR even more! Traditional wedding cake sizes are based on 1" thick wedding slices. If your guests are not being served a meal then a traditional 2" party slice is highly recommended.
Every cake shop has a different way of going about the cake tasting. Commonly in bakeries where they have product in stock all the time, you can often just pull something off the shelf to try right then and there. With sole proprietor cake artists working from their home like myself, it is generally more common to have to book appointments in advance to have your flavours fresh baked if you want to try them.
For my business, I have a unique approach to cake tastings :) Its called the Cupcake Sampler Box. ...READ MORE
When selecting wedding cake flavours, consider the following:
A) Who's taste buds are you trying to appeal to?
If you and your future spouse are gung ho on having your favourite unique flavour(s) at your wedding, then ce la vie! Go with that! However if you are trying to appeal to the masses, selecting really unique wedding cake flavours or your favourites may not be your best bet. It is generally advisable and common to choose standard wedding cake flavours such as French Vanilla or Chocolate when you are trying to appeal to your guests and larger variety of preferences. But the choice is up to YOU as a couple! If Red Velvet is what your heart desires, order it!~
B) How Is The Cake Going To Be Served?
If your wedding cake is going to be served pre-sliced to your guests' tables, then it is generally advisable (if not mandated by your banquet venue) to stick with one flavour choice, as it makes for a much smoother table dessert service. In addition, there is really no way of knowing which flavour would be more popular when it comes time to serve. You wouldn't want to turn some away from their first selection if you run out.
If your wedding cake is going to be sliced in a buffet / station-type setting, you may still want to consider keeping your flavour options at a minimum. Once again to allow for a smoother service, but also to preserve the "look" of your wedding cake as its on display. If your banquet venue is having to take slices out of multiple tiers of the cake at the same time, things can get a little messy (or structurally unsound :) or they may just have to completely disassemble the wedding cake into its separately flavored tiers in order to properly serve it. This decision comes down to how much of a "showpiece" you want your cake to be at that service line.
If your goal is to provide a wide assortment of options (and budget, the appearance of the cake as it's served or the type of service is not an issue to you); select flavours till your hearts content :)
C) Do you have any critical allergies of a close guest to keep in mind?
I've seen it before where the mother of the bride (or another close relative to the bride and groom) has a critical allergy; thus the wedding cake flavour decision is based to accommodate that guest. If this person is important to have a slice of your wedding cake and gives you peace of mind, considering their allergies in your flavour selections may be a great idea!
D) How will the cake be stored prior to / during the wedding? Will it be on display?
When selecting your wedding cake flavours (and particularly your wedding cake fills), consult with your cake artist on how long you intend to have your cake out on display for. Milk-based fills such as mousses, whipped cream and sometimes fresh fruit can only stay out so long unrefrigerated. If you want your cake on display as soon as your guests arrive and until dessert is served (generally much later in the evening), then you'll need to consider this (especially if you have lots of warm / bright lighting!). In addition, be sure to check with your banquet facility on their refrigeration / storage options for your cake prior to the event.
Step #3 ~ Find A Cake Artist You Love & Commit :)
Check portfolios, ask for references, call around and moreso get to know your cake artist! If you like what your hearing and have a good feeling about ideas discussed, then you're generally good to go! Especially if you are getting married during the busy summer wedding season of July-September, BOOK YOUR CAKE ARTIST IN ADVANCE! With sole proprietor cake artists like myself, you generally will be the only wedding client that he/she takes for your date and they can book up fast! Avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a cake artist that does not have your date available.
From There your cake artist will likely go through additional details with you on:
~ sketches of your cake
~ collection of decor items for your cake (i.e. ribbon, toppers, special decorative items etc.)
~ delivery & set up the day of the event