Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wedding Cake Options

It will probably come as no surprise to you that I'm pretty keen on wedding cakes. Perhaps it will come as a surprise that I am not going near making my own (a feat which is achievable but sounds positively horrific to me).

I thought I'd go over the options for wedding cakes as a starter cake post - you know I have more to say on the subject but first things first. ;-)

Buy a wedding cake
The first is the option the wedding industry wants us to think is the only way - and yes, it can be pretty pricey. Whether you opt for a cake by a specialist decorator or your caterer I tend to think of this as the most stress-free option, as by paying for the cake the decorator should be the one worrying about the cake (I've certainly taken on enough stress for me and the bride whenever I've done wedding cakes!).

Buying your cake should mean you can look at a gallery of the decorator's work and choose, or even provide a photo of one you like, and they should hopefully be able to replicate it (you still want to see photos of work the decorator has done themselves, though, lest you end up with one of these).

Cost can be offputting, but most of the time I think it's well worth what you pay - if you want the perfectly iced wedding cake that does mean many hours on the part of the decorator, as well as a mountain of ingredients, so based on inputs the prices I've seen in my research have actually been pretty reasonable.

Buy a non-wedding cake
If you still want low stress but do want to keep the price down, this is a valid option. I don't mean not telling the vendor it's for a wedding (which, by the way, probably won't sound very convincing if you want three tiers with white icing and a little bride and groom on top ;-) ), but rather taking a cake with a more laid back kind of decor - if you leave off the white icing and just have rustic buttercream, for example, or have a large cake that's not a multi-tier feat of engineering. 

Ask a friend or family member
This is an interesting one. It's really wonderful to be able to incorporate things made with love into your day, and if you have a friend who is a decorator they may be happy to make your cake as your wedding gift - but note the "may." Remember that wedding cakes involve a huge time commitment (I've spent up to 12 hours on them, with baking, icing and decorating) and the person you have in mind may not be able to commit to that around your wedding. If you are going to do this I'd recommend providing money for ingredients (because for a large cake the cost of making can reach three figures) - and being understanding if the person isn't able to.

Also, if you're going for a less intensive kind of cake let them know at the outset - it might change whether or not they can do it. I've seen great weddings where instead of having a single cake they had a table of them, each one made by a friend or family member - believe me, a table full of cakes still looks pretty impressive, and just making a regular-sized cake is a much more achievable task for your nearest and dearest. Cupcakes on a tower are another option - though they can still take a while to decorate there's a lot less pressure, since if the odd cupcake doesn't work out it doesn't matter.

Make it yourself
I'm going to go ahead and say I don't recommend this - but it can be done. If you have your heart set on making your own make sure you ease up on other DIY just before the wedding, do as much as you can in advance (you can even pre-bake and freeze the cakes if you prefer), and definitely have a practice run. 

There are plenty of tutorials online but the simpler you keep it the better - I quite like this sugar rosebud topper, which can be made weeks in advance and stored in a cool, dry place, before being plonked atop a very simple cake.

Skip the cake altogether
The last option, though perhaps unorthodox is to not have cake. Your guests probably won't notice, and if you have dessert served (or a non-dinner reception) it doesn't even make that much sense to have cake as well. I've heard of people having cheese cakes (three wheels of cheese stacked together) and a cheese course instead of dessert (although delicious don't expect this to save money!), but honestly, if you're not into the idea of a big, costly, jaw-dropping cake there's absolutely no reason you have to have one.

We're going with paying a pro decorator (my obsession with sweets meant I knew exactly who I wanted to make it!), and I think it's worth every cent. What's your preferred option? Do you think you'd miss the cake if you went to a wedding where there was none?


  1. We went with a few Prantl's Baked Almond Tortes, enough to serve 150.;jsessionid=8D11338AB6570408635B5F37ED91A7F5.qscstrfrnt02?productId=1&categoryId=1

    Alas, I doubt they ship to NZ at any reasonable cost.

  2. I made my own cake, it was simple and smallish. I had a dessert table so thought it'd be overkill to have a big cake as well as all the other desserts. It wasn't too much of a hassle and it felt cool to have done it (luckily it was only a simple cake). I wouldn't do anything elaborate though, I wouldn't have wanted extra stress. I don't think it's weird if people even choose to not have one though. I wouldn't miss it at someone else's wedding.

  3. Eric, I love the idea but agree the shipping might make it prohibitive!

    Linno, you're brave but it sounds like it worked perfectly (and made sense) for your wedding. :-)