I’m Kayla Hanson, and creating with cake is my life. My love of baking started when I was very young. I would watch my grandmother bake and saw how she filled the process with some much joy and love. I went on to get my degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Department at Madison College. I find that working at Carl’s Cakes has allowed me to connect with so many people. I get to create something beautiful for them that they will remember for years to come.
For me, there are few things at a wedding that are more iconic than the wedding cake. Okay, maybe the dress, but you can’t eat the dress! Your wedding cake is one of the things that your guests get to enjoy themselves. I believe your cake should represent your personal style, but it also needs to be so good that people are sneaking pieces into their purses to enjoy later in their hotel rooms.
Cakes are synonymous with celebrations. We serve them up for birthdays, graduations, holidays, really for just about any event can be an excuse for a cake. But none seem to have the grandeur of the wedding cake. It is the King of cakes. A towering sugar structure boasting layers of sponge and artfully-crafted frosting details. After working with different couples in the past, I learned that the whole “wedding cake” experience can be a bit daunting. So I’ve put together some notes to take out a bit of the guesswork for you.
How to make your dream cake a reality
You’ve scoured the internet. Pinned a million photos. Torn pictures out of magazines. You know just what you want. So, you just call a bakery, show them your ideas, and that’s that, right? Actually, no. If you have a specific style of cake you know you want, I would recommend visiting cake decorators websites and social media channels to find one whose cakes look similar to the dream cake in your mind.
Yep, you’ll want to do a little match-making when you are looking for a cake decorator. Not every cake decorator can make every cake design. If you know you want a simple, buttercream design, look for a decorator who features that type of design. Looking for a fondant cake, find a decorator who specializes in that style. The skills are different, and while they probably could make you that cake, wouldn’t you rather go with someone who has done it before?
Timing is everything when it comes to cake
Why do we need to order our cake so far in advance? It’s just a cake. The truth of the matter is that even the most skilled cake decorator can only make so many cakes at a time. So, if you want to guarantee that you get the cake you want, made by the decorator you like, delivered on the day you’re getting married, you should really look to securing your order about 6-8 months in advance. Don’t panic, you don’t have to finalize your design that far ahead, just book your cake decorator.
It’s okay to cut cakes but not corners
Like many things in life, when it comes to wedding cakes, you get what you pay for. For example, unless your Aunt Suzy actually runs a wedding cake business, chances are she is not going to be able to create your dream cake. That being said, everyone’s ideal wedding is different. If you have no desire for a tiered cake, then maybe that works for you. Or if you are looking for something simple but still professional, you can get a small, tiered cake without any decoration and add pretty cut flowers yourself.
Now, if you’re all in and you want a showstopper cake, then you can call me. Kidding! Well, kind of. But seriously. Budget is a concern for almost everyone. Most people will never spend as much on any cake as they do their wedding cake. But remember, it’s not every day you are looking to feed a few hundred people cake either. An easy way to get your mind around the price tag is to think about your per serving cost. Basic wedding cakes cost about $5.50 a serving and then go up from there depending on the level of decoration.
To cake… or not to cake
Are you wondering if you even have to serve a cake? The answer is no. You absolutely do not have to have a cake. There is a huge trend right now where couples choose from all manner of sweet treats; pies, cupcakes, dessert buffets, chocolate fountains, the list goes on. You don’t have to have a cake. Or you can have a small cake and other desserts. This is the one day where you can go a little crazy, and no one will blink an eye, so take advantage.
Over the years, I have seen all kinds of debacles happen with cakes. Here are a few things that I would recommend to help avoid any wedding day issues.
Pay for delivery (If it’s available)
Yes, it’s an additional cost, but it’s worth it. I have seen people put tiered cakes into backseats of a tiny car with no air-conditioning in the middle of July and drive off with the windows down. It’s just not a great plan. Cake is not the most durable material in the world and is susceptible to heat, humidity, and motion. Buttercream cakes can get easily smudged, and fondant can crack in transit. I travel with an “Oh Sh#t Kit” that has back-up frosting to match the cake along all of my tools. If, heaven forbid, something were to happen to one of my cakes in transit, you would never know. It’s repaired before anyone sees it. The same probably can’t be said for your brother-in-law and his Prius.
There actually IS accounting for taste
It doesn’t happen too often, but you can actually put together with frosting and cake flavors that just don’t work. Yes, you should get the cake that you want but you probably still want your guests to enjoy the cake too. Which is why it can be helpful for you to bring along someone to your tasting.
That being said. There should only be one (technically two) chefs-in-the-kitchen who are in charge of making the final call. I see this a lot at tastings. You like chocolate, but your mother-in-law insists on having vanilla. For a tasting, keep your party small. You, your partner (if they care about the cake), and 1 to 2 other people at most. These should be people whose taste you trust.
Have your cake and eat it too
If I could impart one piece of advice to everyone about your wedding cake, it would be to remember to eat it. I can’t tell you how often I hear from couples after the wedding and they never got to eat the cake! Most people don’t realize that they will be swamped the day of their wedding. So many people want to talk to you; friends from college, out-of-town relatives, that one weird cousin, it can be hard to find time for anything else. Take a few minutes to yourself, grab your partner, and sit and eat the cake or your dreams.
Let them eat cake, all of it
A harsh truth is that you may have leftover cake. What do you do with it? You don’t want it to go to waste. I would suggest providing to-go containers for your guests so that they can take some cake with them. Make sure you get a few pieces packed-up for yourself. I believe there are few joys in life greater than enjoying a cup of coffee and a nice slice of cake for breakfast.
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