Wedding Planning Tip: Design Your Wedding Cake Last
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito. Image below by Brian Leahy.
I am all...about...the cake! Wedding cake obsessed! Over the years I have hung cakes from the ceiling, swung them from chandeliers, set them on pedestals, and I placed one dead center in the middle of the ballroom...like the crown jewel it was! Once upon a time I floated a wedding cake in a pool, which was epic. I've gone to the dark side with ebony fondant, and I've dedicated entire juliet balconies as home to my couple's towering confection. I even have asked chefs to make 50 individual cakes so that each guest could receive and enjoy their own individual wedding cake.
When guests come to a wedding they are always looking at fashion and flowers, but then they look for the wedding cake. This is one of those traditional elements that most people love to hate. I cannot tell you how often I hear, "Ugh, I hate wedding cake. Nobody eats it." Lies! Lies! Lies! It could be my inner foodies or my love of cake and all things baked, but I fully believe that a cake done right will give your guests something beautiful to look at, and something delicious to eat or take home.
As the cherry on top of the design, I always save the cake for last. There are times when I want to tie the cake into the overall design of the room. For example, when we created a cherry blossom wedding with whimsical touches of silk butterflies, I wanted the cake to appear as another structure to reenforce the theme of the evening. I worked with the culinary team to create a blush cake accented with butterflies and flowers. On the back side I hid a tiny fondant Bee in honor of the bride's late Grandma B. The cake needed to be tall to stand up against the rest of the room and I went with 9 tiers because it is half of 18, which represents life in Hebrew. 36, therefore, is the coming together of the bride and groom as the live together. Nine came to represent the first half of each of their lives before the wedding. Who knew a cake could mean so much!
Sometimes for the cake to stand out it has to be wildly different from the rest of the room. When working in a room saturated in deep purple and fuchsia tones, I knew that we would lose the cake in the color if we didn't do something to contract the rest of the space. For that wedding, we went stark white. The fondant base, the lace accents, and the roses were all a true white set against white walls we fabricated just for this wedding. The essence and shape of an urn was painted on, and live flowers were attached to pull in the colors of the same and tie the cake display together.
Even in the case of my floating wedding cake, I held back the final design until the wedding itself was finished. We new that we would be setting the cake on water and that we would have mermaids, but we still needed to find a way to light it. Chef JP at The Four Seasons brought in these tiny little lights that we set in the fondant which allowed the geode to glow in the dark. We added gold tipped feathers, a mystical and romantic nod to the feathers that the invitations were wrapped in.
Other inspiring elements that can inspire the wedding cake design can include the lace embellishments from the bride's gown, the color of the groom's alma matter, a watercolor design used on the stationery suite, even the venue that the wedding is being held in.
All of these cakes looked so damn good. Good enough to eat, in fact! Which is why I make sure that these pieces taste as good as they look. Yes, lemon cake with strawberry filling is a delicious choice, and chocolate is always a crowd pleaser. But what about a Butter Cake, which is the groom's favorite item at Del Frisco's steakhouse? Or marscapone filling in a nod to the bride's Italian heritage? There are liquor soaked cakes, and fruit fillings can be fresh, dried, or candied. We can pull from the couple's ethnicity, their travels, or make a statement with interior cake color. There are even cheese wheel towers for couples who prefer savory to sweet.
In the end, your wedding cake gives you an opportunity to enforce your theme, enhance your design, elevate your menu, and create conversation. Your cake is an Instagram opportunity, and a little bit of jewelry accenting the rest of the room. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of it!
- Design your cake to either enhance the decor in the rest of the room, or to sharply contract with the rest of the space.
- Don't be afraid to go big, especially in rooms that have a lot of floral, decor, and lighting. Your cake is a small canvas, but it can support heavier accents and a lot of detail.
- Go for the unexpected set up! Guests expect the cake to be in the corner of then room. Work with your wedding planner to set it in the middle of the space, on a stage, or in front of a lush backdrop of flowers.
- White Light! It doesn't matter where you put the cake, you have to light it! White light is your best friend because it does not distort the color and shape of your cake.
- Flavor matters. Your cake needs to be beautiful and delicious.
What do you love about wedding cake? Which of these are your favorite? Leave your comments below, and let me know if you have any other tips for showcasing your gorgeous wedding cakes!