Wedding Cake Tips

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What is the protocol with regard to the wedding cake?

Wedding Cake Etiquette

There is a protocol to the handling, cutting and serving of wedding cakes. This is hardly surprising because just about everything in a traditional wedding is governed by etiquette and protocol. Many couples, no matter how formal or informal the wedding is, most wedding couples try to observe wedding cake protocol. Protocol for wedding cakes includes the following:

  • The cake should always be displayed at the reception on a beautifully decorated table. It should be in front of the bride's table and set so that while it's is on display it does not block a view of the head table. An ornamental knife should be placed on the table.
  • Protocol demands that the cake must be cut at the right time in the reception. For informal ceremonies and receptions this means serving it after the guests have been received and toasts have been given. For formal ceremonies it should be served after the main dinner.
  • An announcement that the cake is to be cut should always precede the actual cutting of the cake, this allows mingling guests to view the ceremony.
  • The bride should hold the knife in her right hand and the groom should stand slightly behind her with his right hand covering hers to make the cut, the first slice should be fed by the groom to the bride and the second bite should be offered by the bride to the groom.
  • After the cutting of the cake and the first bites, a family member or member of the catering staff should cut the serving slices.
  • The cake should be served with coffee or the beverage of the guest's choice, guests should also be offered the opportunity to box up their piece in a gift box to take home

What questions should I ask the baker?

Questions for your Baker

If you hire a wedding planner to take care of the details, don't skimp on asking them about wedding cake details. Before you begin ordering wedding cakes, take the time to do the research and get the answers to your questions. These questions can also help you decide on a baker.

  • Ask for a Tasting – you want to try both the various types of cake and frosting. You are looking for flavor combinations and more. Some bakers will provide you with small sample cakes of your chosen cake flavors
  • Ask about Customizing – Does the baker make custom designed cakes from either a photo or you own hand drawn pictures? This is only important if you want a customized cake design.
  • Ask to see their Portfolio – Most professional bakers will have a portfolio featuring every cake they have ever designed or made, ask to see them to get a feel for the types of cakes they've made
  • Ask about their Cake Preparation times – Many bakers will bake and decorate your cake days ahead of your wedding, but you don't want it done more than 10 days and no less than 2 days before
  • Ask about delivery and set up – Does the baker deliver and set up the cake for you on the big day. If they don't, you need to discuss the pick up and set up with the catering service

How can I save money on the wedding cake?

Cut Costs with Your Wedding Cake

You can expect that your cost for a wedding cake will start around $3.00 per slice on traditional cakes. Depending on how many guests you are expecting (the average wedding is usually 200 guests), cost for the wedding cake will be about $600 to $1,000.

There are ways that you can cut your wedding cake costs. While many wedding cakes are works of art in their own right, the cake itself is part of the ritual feeding that the bride and groom do during the wedding reception. The cake is then cut and served to the guests as a ritual sharing of the couple's future bounty. But to save costs on wedding cakes can provide couples with more options in their wedding planning especially if they are not in love with the idea of the awe inspiring work of art. Here are some suggestions:

  • Order a smaller cake for the art and have a similar cake made sheet style for serving to the guests
  • Create mini wedding cakes cupcake style, you can even create a unique tower of wedding cupcakes that can be quite exquisite
  • Order a smaller cake for the wedding party and offer a dessert bar with pastries and more so guests have other options than the wedding cake

What is a groom’s cake?

The Groom's Cake

Wedding cakes in the Southern part of the United States actually refers to two cakes – the traditional wedding cake that is cut by the bride and groom and served to the guests and the Groom's Cake. The most famous groom's cake in popular culture is likely the red Armadillo groom's cake served at Shelby's wedding in the film Steel Magnolias.

The groom's cake is based on the legend that pieces of the cake are placed in boxes for unmarried female guests to take home and place under their pillow. The hope is that when they sleep they will dream of the man who will eventually be their husband. Of the wedding cakes served, it was the groom's cake that is traditionally served to the bridesmaids by the groom himself along with a glass of wine. Other traditions have the groom's cake as being saved and served to friends during the first dinner party after the couple returns from their honeymoon.
If you elect to add a Groom's Cake to your order for wedding cakes, here are a few suggestions:

  • The groom's cake design should be based on the interests of the groom, so if he's a computer programmer it might be in the shape of a computer; if he's a sport's enthusiast, it might resemble a baseball or football
  • The groom's cake is usually a surprise that the bride presents the groom with on their wedding day
  • The cake flavor and style is completely up to the bride or planner who is ordering it. Some couples use the Groom's cake as the dessert served at the wedding rehearsal and it is still supposed to be a surprise for the groom

Can I make my own wedding cake?

Do-It-Yourself Wedding Cakes

If you or someone you know is considering making your wedding cake, there are a few things you need to know about making wedding cakes. Here is a guide to help you plan making your own wedding cake:

  • Use a recipe specifically for wedding cake in order to make the cake sturdy enough
  • Be sure you have the tools you need including the decorating bag for frosting and cake stands
  • Have an image in mind of what you are trying to create
  • Pick up parchment paper to line the cake pans
  • Pick up different sized cake pans to handle the cake tiers
  • Fresh flowers for decorating and frosting
You will need plenty of space in your kitchen to set up the wedding cake as you put it together; you also need a tall and wide space in your fridge to store it. If you've never ever made a large elaborate cake before, spend some time experimenting and practicing before hand. Your friends and family will enjoy eating the wedding cake experiments.


Planning Ahead

Spend time talking to your baker and looking through their albums of wedding cakes. The type of cake you choose will also play a large role in your wedding cake designs. Ultimately, whatever design you choose – the tradition of sharing love, life, fertility and prosperity continues when you share your wedding cake with your guests.

how do you choose your wedding cake design?

Choosing Your Wedding Cake Design

Your wedding cake design should mesh with your own personal taste and style. It should also fit in to the theme and menu of your wedding reception. Since you need to order your wedding cake and choose your wedding cake design about 3 months before the wedding, hold off on making your decision until after you have picked out the place for the reception, the décor, the colors and the style of dress you are going to be wearing.

What should I know about my wedding cake?

Planning Ahead

When deciding on a cake keep the following in mind:

* How many guests?
* What's your budget for a cake?
* How many tiers or what design?
* What colors and decorations should be included?
* What will you be using as a cake topper?
* Will the cake be the main dessert or part of a sweets table?
Bring the answers to these questions when you interview pastry chefs. Take along sketches, ideas, and pictures from magazines. Also take color samples to leave with the pastry chef.

Keep in mind: Your cake should be ordered 6-8 weeks in advance. Your pastry chef should take care of all details, including getting the cake to the reception hall and setting it up.

What can you put on the top of your cake?

The Top of the Heap

Chances are when you are picking out your wedding cake design; you're also going to be looking at the wedding cake toppers. Do you go for the traditional wedding cake topper of bride and groom or do you go for something more unique and reflective of whom you and the groom are? Picking out unique wedding cake toppers you might even choose your wedding cake toppers based on what flavors are hidden under the layers of frosting. Remember, wedding cakes are delicacies that offer an explosion of flavor like mousse-filled chocolate cake and raspberry cream cakes.

When choosing your wedding cake toppers you can also reflect the theme and décor of your wedding and wedding reception. Some fun ideas for wedding cake toppers include:

  • Disney Characters
  • Pocket Dragons
  • Motorcycles
  • Decorative flowers
Wedding cake toppers in Bermuda are actually small green trees. The tree is then planted after the wedding in the backyard of the newlyweds. The idea is that as the tree grows, so does the marriage. You can make just about anything into your wedding cake toppers; it just takes a little thought and foresight. Take notes on your ideas and talk to your baker about them, but be prepared to listen to their advice.

How important are the wedding cake designs?

Wedding Guests Love the Wedding Cake

Wedding cake designs are fascinating to the guests and whether the cake's flavor is exquisite or not, the wedding cake itself is a work of art and very much a part of the décor of the reception.

The modern look of the wedding cake is ever evolving and some couples skip the idea of traditional cake altogether and can actually design their cakes around ice cream cakes, cheese cake and even cupcake trees.

How do I save the top of my cake?

Saving the Cake

If you want to save the top layer of your cake for your first wedding anniversary, be sure to package it thoroughly. Wrap it in plastic wrap, then place it in a baggie, put the baggie in a small box (so it won't get crushed in the freezer), wrap the box in foil and put it inside yet another freezer bag.

What do I consider when choosing a cake?

Caterers and Cake

Your cake doesn't have to be made by your caterer. Often caterers have just a few basic designs---going to an outside bakery means you'll probably get more creative cake designs as well as a better-tasting product.

What type of wedding cake should I get?

Pick a Cake, Any Cake

Wait to choose your cake until after you've selected your dress, reception decor, venue, etc. You'll be better able to select a cake design that will fit in with the overall theme or mood of your wedding.

What type of wedding cake should I get?

Have Your Cake

Buttercream cakes usually costs between $1.50 and $2.25 a slice. The frosting is naturally buttercream, but the layers can be any flavor except filled flavors and can be constructed to a max. of 4 layers. This type looks great decorated with spun roses and sugar flowers.

Torte Styles usually cost between $2.25 and $3.50 a slice and are typically filled cakes (black forest, lemon, etc.) and usually have a fresh cream frosting that makes stacking impossible. The layers themselves are usually the decoration and they are best displayed in a "fan" arrangement.

The most expensive and most popular wedding cakes are the fondant varieties that usually cost between $3.50 and $5.00 a slice. Fruit cake is most often used but the layers can be of any flavor. This cake is best used in layers and can stack up to about 11 layers. The weight of the fondant frosting keeps it all together. Fresh flowers or silk ribbon are the decorations of choice.

What´s a groom´s cake?

One for the Groom

A groom's cake is an 'auxiliary' cake that sits beside the main wedding cake. It's usually richer than the regular cake and is often chocolate. If you're torn between getting a little funky with your main cake and keeping it more simple, use the groom's cake as your opportunity to be more creative.

What do I put on top of my cake?

Creative Cake Toppers

Don't get stuck in that plastic figurine rut---use something unique on the top of your wedding cake. How about the porcelain or ceramic figurine from the top of your parents' or grandparents' cake? Fresh flowers, spun sugar designs, and marzipan figures also look great.

How can I save money on my wedding cake?

Cheaper Cake Ideas

Instead of using handmade sugar flowers or molded shapes on your cake, try substituting fresh fruit or flowers----it's inexpensive and often just as beautiful.

How can I save money on my wedding cake?

Keep It Simple

If you're trying to keep down cake costs, don't go for more than one flavor----bakeries charge more for every different flavor that you add.

How do I choose a cake frosting?

Fabulous Frostings

Fondant icing is more expensive than buttercream icing----and while it may look very smooth and pretty, buttercream icing tastes much better than fondant.

How get I can more variety dessert-wise for less money?

viva la difference!

If you are having a buffet style dessert table, consider having each layer of your wedding cake made in a different flavor: three times the choices on the buffet for the same dollars.

What should I consider when choosing a baker?

Cake Assembly 101

Be sure that the plan for delivery, storage and assembly of the cake is organized. Your baker may need to assemble the cake on location, the cake may need to be refrigerated, and don't forget to give them the topper!

How should I have our cake decorated?

Carrying the Them thru to the Cake

To make your wedding 'look' even more cohesive, try to work some aspect of your wedding decor into your cake design. Bakers can use pearl beads, frosting and other decorations to create the lacy look of your dress, the drape of your pew bows or some other part of your wedding theme.

How can we dress up our wedding cake?

Cool Cake Extras

Want to add an extra special touch to your wedding cake? Try serving it with one or more of these accompaniments:

-sauce such as raspberry, strawberry or chocolate
-sorbet, sherbet or ice cream
-bananas or chocolate covered strawberries
-vanilla custard sauce or chantilly cream

How can I save money on my wedding cake?

Do Yourself a Flavor

If your heart says "Viennese table" but your budget says "forget it", consider having all the layers of your wedding cake made in different flavors. It can then be cut and plated buffet style, giving a choice of three or more varieties. Do remember that there can be an additional cost for each flavor.

Can I afford a cake fountain for my wedding?

Cake Fountains

A very popular addition to many cakes is the fountain. Know the costs in advance so you've factored it in prior to your trip to the bakery.

Usually fountains are rented from the baker or caterer and the average prices run from $20.00 to $50.00 depending on the style you select. Also keep in mind that a deposit is often required for the fountain at an average rate of $100.00 to be refunded after it's return.

You can however, find options to help lower your budget. Party Rental stores and large wedding wholesalers usually have a much wider selection and typically charge up to 25% less. So shop around, a little leg work could really pay off!

How can we save money on our cake?

Be a Baker

Did you know that some bakers will actually let YOU bake the cake??!! Ask if they offer a "decorating only" service and take advantage of the savings. This can be an excellent way of "up-grading" your cake selection. Most merchants will insist however, that they provide the decorating medium (artists can be temperamental) so don't plan on supplying a few cans of Betty Crocker "Ready to Spread!"

How do I choose a cake?

Bad Blooms

If you're using fresh flowers on your cake, be sure to ask your florist if pesticides have been used on the blooms (you don't want to make anyone sick!).

What type of wedding cake should I get?

Cake Quiz

Before deciding on what kind of cake to get, ask yourself the following questions:

How many guests will be at your reception?

Where will the reception be held? Is the reception inside or outside?

What time of year is the wedding?

What do your flower arrangements look like?

What is the look and feel of the wedding (informal or formal? frilly or more streamlined?)?

What is your budget?

How can I save money on my wedding cake?

Fake Cakes?!

More common in Canada than the U.S. is the "Fake Cake" option. It's usually a three tiered number that looks exactly like the real thing at a much lower price than the real McCoy. The top layer is often real cake but the bottom ones are made of iced cardboard or foam.

Your guests will be placated with a small boxed and wrapped piece of fruit cake provided by the baker or caterer at a very reasonable price.

But heck, if your really going to fake it, go whole hog...get some appropriately shaped styrofoam blocks from your local craft store and see if you have what it takes to master "Cake Decorating 101!"

What type of wedding cake should I get?

On line Wedding Cake Catalogs

To make choosing your cake an easy experience, download a catalog direct from the internet. Use it as a guide to know the type and structure you like prior to your trip to the bakery. A good catalog can be found at

What type of wedding cake should I get?

Having Your Cake

When deciding what size cake to get, consider the following:

1) How many people will be at the reception
2) How big the cake pieces will be
3) What (if any) other desserts you'll have

How can I save money on my wedding cake?

Inexpensive Cakes

To keep cake costs down, order a smaller version of your dream wedding cake and also have several sheet cakes in the same flavor.

How do I choose a cake frosting?

Cake Calamity

Getting married outside in warm weather? Be sure that your cake frosting won't melt. Buttercream, meringue and whipped toppings will melt and slide right off the cake in warm weather. Check with your baker and ask for 'summer' icing that won't melt.

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Guru Spotlight
Shirley Tan