How to Shop for a Wedding Cake
Read this before you head to the bakery—our annotated guide will help you select the right wedding cake for your celebration.
The top of the cake should relate to the design as a whole. You don't need to have a cake topper if you can't find something that appeals to you. Using an heirloom topper can be lovely, or you and your baker may decide that bare looks best.
The second and fourth tiers are covered with green fondant—an icing that allows for more artistic freedom because of the pristine finish it creates.
Obviously, the more elaborate (read: labor-intensive) the decorations, the higher the cost. All of the flowers on this cake are crafted of sugar dough (what some bakers call gumpaste); each of the roses alone, formed by individual petals clustered into lifelike rose shapes, took three days to create.
Multiple black-fondant castings (removed from custom-designed silicone molds) were individually affixed to the first and fifth tiers to create this pattern effect. Note that many bakers decorate exclusively with buttercream, which doesn't lend itself to sophisticated molding and embossing techniques.
This white fondant overlay, embossed with a lace pattern, is wrapped around the second and fourth tiers. Leaf-shaped cutouts, executed with a special tool, reveal the green fondant beneath.
Ordering a Cake
Time frame: Order your wedding cake three to six months before the event—earlier if your baker is in demand.
Size: In general, three to four tiers will feed 150; this cake yields 200 slices.
Flavors & Fillings: Schedule a tasting and let your baker guide you. Combining flavors is tricky: Pick only a few and have your choices sanctioned by a pro.
Design: The baker needs to get a sense of the wedding style, so bring visual aids and ideas. This cake, for example, was inspired by the costumes in My Fair Lady.
Cost: Bakers charge by the slice, based on the number of guests; prices range from $2 to $20 per slice.