Andrea Dee of Home Grown Cakes is one of my favorite bakers. Andrea is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and had the pleasure of working with and she knows her stuff! She’s a regular contributor to agricultural publications and carefully sources each of her ingredients. There’s no pro with better advice on How to Pick your Wedding Cake than Andrea.
Wedding Cake 101
by Andrea Dee of Home Grown Cakes
( www.homegrowncakes.com )
Cake-tastic vs. Cake-tastrophe: How to Pick your Wedding Cake
A sweet perk when planning your wedding is the open opportunity to taste cake options from
local bakers. Don’t over do it, but don’t miss out either! Do your homework, read reviews, gaze
through online galleries, and narrow your beloved bake shops down to 2-3 and then schedule a
tasting appointment.This is also a great time to ask those cake questions that may be important
to you like…how fresh are your cakes? what ingredients do you use? what does your price
include? what is your payment schedule? what is your favorite style? what are your most
Cake preferences are all over the place…there is no right or wrong flavor selection. However
offering too little or too many flavors may effect how far your cake servings go. If you choose
just one exotic flavor for your whole cake, expect to have leftover cake since not all guests will
be so adventurous. Alternatively, if you offer too many selections a good number of guests may
get caught up in sampling multiple flavors, running you low on cake servings overall. Cupcake
weddings often require extra servings for this reason precisely. For guidance, one flavor per 50+
servings is usually appropriate. And don’t be afraid to have some fun with flavors, it is an extra
special occasion after all!
It is a neat idea to select a wedding cake style that reflects your overall wedding theme. But
don’t get so caught up in a theme that your wedding cake starts to include a plethora of
unappetizing features. Remember guests are mainly interested in a delicious dessert, they will
likely be turned off by finding glitter or fabric fuzz in their cut cake from decorations. You may
avoid adding too many non-edible embellishments to speed up cake cutting service also.
Locally, buttercream icing seems to be much preferred to fondant. While fondant designs can
appear near perfect, it may not be worth the extra expense or distaste from guests.
Naked Cake Know-how
Naked cakes (cakes with no outer icing), or nearly naked cakes (cakes with just a smear of
outer icing) are fun and photo beautifully! Keep in mind that icing does serve a purpose though
in holding in moisture. So if you are opting for a naked or nearly naked cake design, you will
want to talk to your baker/coordinator about the best flavors to use, and how long your cake will
sit open-air prior to cutting. It is best for naked and nearly naked cakes to stay boxed or
wrapped until just before guests arrive for optimal freshness. This fresh-is-best theory also
applies to cupcakes and cut kitchen cakes.
Your baker may request you sign an agreement when adding fresh florals and other non-edibles
to a wedding cake design. This is due to food safety risks regarding pesticide residue etc that
may come in contact with the cake from adornments. To prevent contamination, request that
your florist wash and prepare florals for cake decor. Sourcing florals directly from a grower can
also help guarantee clean florals from field to cake.
Each cake artist naturally has a different style. So for best results, select a cake maker because
you like their overall style. Then work with them on designs that you both find appealing. Leave
some wiggle room in your concept for design adjustments that may need to happen last minute.
You may even choose to provide your cake decorator with several designs that you like so they
can get a feel for your overall style…and then they can surprise you on your special day with a
Some of the embellishments that appear edible in popular cake pics, may actually not be
considered FDA food safe. This is up for debate with the recently trendy use of metallics in cake
design. While 24k gold leaf is considered FDA food safe, it is very expensive to use and does
not fit every cake budget. Some cake artists are using non food-grade golds and silvers that are
labeled non-toxic on cakes instead. Non-toxic metallic cake dust is intended to decorate cake
embellishments only, like gumpaste flowers which are removed and not served with the cake.
Don’t be shy in asking your baker about these topics if metallic designs interest you.
Ways to Save
Multi-tiered cakes are often more expensive than single tier cakes and cupcakes. You can save
big by accompanying a small cutting cake with less expensive offerings like sheet or layer cakes
that are served directly from the kitchen, called kitchen cakes, and not displayed. Cupcakes are
also sometimes less expensive to serve. Tall stands and other unique displays can make even
small cakes standout big!
Cake pricing is by the serving and generally includes basic cake decor. Elaborate cake design
will likely cost extra though. This often includes requesting handcrafted sugar flowers, advanced
piping, 3-D molding, and other extra time-consuming hand crafted embellishments.
Tables and Toppers
In most circumstances the venue or event coordinator sets up the cake table and dresses it in
linens. The cake baker is usually responsible for supplying cake stands and displaying the cake.
The baker will also typically add flowers and a cake topper upon delivery per your request. If
you are interested in a more detailed display with florals, frames, and other fun items it would be
a good idea to discuss this with either your event coordinator or baker ahead of time so they can
execute your vision beautifully.
Delivery is the most stressful part of preparing a wedding cake. Good communication is
important in culminating a successful wedding cake set-up. The venue usually provides a
window of time when a cake can be delivered. Let your baker know what that timeframe is, and
who the delivery contact is in advance. It is also a good idea to provide an extra emergency
contact number, someone who will be with the bride and/or groom on the big day. Just in-case a
surprise occurs and the couple needs to be reached regarding special circumstances. If florals
are to be added to the cake, they will need to be delivered in advance of the cake of course so
they can be added upon delivery by the cake decorator. If the wedding cake is to be set outside,
make sure the timeframe for delivery is appropriate for the predicted weather. Sometimes late
deliveries, outside of a bake shops normal hours, do cost extra. Also, if the venue location
involves a complicated delivery, by all means share that with your baker ahead of time so they
can prepare the cake accordingly. This would include long gravel drives, lots of speed bumps,
hilly approach, several flights of steps, etc.
Saving your top layer cake or even a wedge of your wedding cake is a fun way to celebrate
later. While a year may fly by having fun as newlyweds, it is a long time for a cake in the the
freezer. It is recommended to wrap cake in two layers of plastic wrap, then two layers of foil,
then put in a box, then a plastic bag, for the best shot at something edible a year later. Many
couples opt to cut into their saved cake on their one week or one month anniversary to forgo
Follow along with our How to Plan a Super-Fun, Unique Wedding here