If you ask us, one of the best parts of planning your wedding is selecting (and tasting) the cake. Opting to serve a sugary confection at your reception is a popular tradition that seems to transcend time. From the design to the flavor, this sweet treat plays an important role in the festivities. “It not only creates a visual interest, a focal point, and artistry that captures the wedding mood guests will admire throughout the evening, but it’s also the last thing guests will enjoy at the wedding,” chef Marie of Hands on Sweets says.
Like any other task, choosing your cake can quickly become stressful if you don’t plan accordingly. There are certain mistakes couples tend to make with their post-dinner treat, whether it’s ignoring your own personal preferences or overloading guests with an abundance of flavors. To maximize your big dessert of the night, we tapped the experts to hear the repeat offenders they witness at weddings. Ahead, our experts share the most common wedding cake mistakes to avoid, plus potential solutions to help you avoid the same pitfalls.
Meet the Expert
- Chef Marie is a pastry chef and the owner of Hands on Sweets in Tampa, Florida. She has been working in the wedding dessert industry for more than 10 years.
- Nicole-Natassha Goulding is the creative director and founder of Chic by Nicole, a luxury destination wedding planning and design firm based in Montreal and Toronto. She’s been planning weddings for six years.
- Drew Fauser is a wedding cake consultant at Empire Cake located in Chelsea, New York City.
Relying Solely on Social Media for Inspiration
While social media is a great place to get inspired, problems arise when you forget to consider your own wedding aesthetic. Just because you might like a colorful confection that you spotted on a baker’s Instagram page doesn’t mean it will coordinate with your modern and minimalist event. Instead of recreating a cake you came across online, Chef Marie suggests choosing a look that matches your invitations, tablescapes, dress, or other décor elements.
Overlooking the Season
Another factor that will help you determine the design of your dessert is the time of year you’re planning on tying the knot. If you’re saying “I do” in the winter, a cascade of bright flowers down multiple tiers probably won’t suit your celebration. Plus, not all blooms you desire will be in season.
Keeping the time of year in mind is also beneficial from a logistical standpoint. Planner Nicole-Natassha Goulding notes that the weather can have a large impact on your cake. For instance, without proper preparation, a buttercream cake will melt at an outdoor summer wedding. “If you want to display your cake during the reception—which you totally should—necessary refrigeration, as well as where the cake will be stored and displayed, should be well thought out,” she advises.
Playing It Safe With the Design
Your wedding cake is an opportunity to enhance your overall vision and really wow your guests. Of course, a classic cake is fitting for a traditional wedding, but you don’t want to skimp on the design component otherwise. Think of unique ways to set your dessert apart from the rest.
“Some of my favorite cakes and designs have been non-traditional,” Drew Fauser of Empire Cake explains. “We’ve created sprinkle spill cakes where sprinkles pour out of the tier when sliced, cakes where the layers are tinted to reveal rainbow layers when cut into, and cakes entirely covered in sprinkles.” Some other jaw-dropping ideas are incorporating floating tiers, painting your cake with a watercolor design, and constructing your confection in the shape of your pet.
Similarly, color is a huge part of the wedding cake design that couples often neglect. Most pairs settle on a white hue, but playing with different shades can elevate your post-ceremony party when done right. “A colored cake that fits with the overall aesthetic can take the cake to the next level and create a statement piece,” Fauser says. If you don’t want to coat every tier in bright hues, incorporate a pop of color with floral accents, piping, or a cake topper.
Serving the Wrong Size
Before you select the number of tiers, take note of your wedding guest count. A five-tier cake for a small gathering of 75 people not only seems excessive, but you’ll also end up with a lot of wasted dessert. “Choosing a smaller cake can help showcase smaller detailed decorations, like intricate popping or sugar flowers, and can help decrease the overall cost,” Fauser states.
Similarly, a single-tier cake just won’t cut it for a large affair of 200-plus loved ones because not everyone will be able to grab a piece. “Keep in mind that the less you order, the smaller and thinner pieces of cake the catering will serve,” Chef Marie shares. For macro weddings, invest in a multi-tiered cake or serve several smaller cakes to make sure everyone gets fed.
Selecting Too Many Flavors
With so many unique flavors to choose from, you might be tempted to include all of them. But a concoction of salted caramel, key lime, chocolate, and peanut butter will only slow down service. “The more flavors [there are], the more time it will take to cut and distribute among the servers. And, you would have very little amounts of one cake versus the other cakes,” Chef Marie explains. For maximum efficiency and to offer a bit of variety, she suggests selecting two flavors at most.
Trying to Please Everyone
Although it’s important to keep your guests in mind, you don’t need to satisfy everyone’s opinions and preferences. Remember, this is your day, so decide on a look and taste that you want. “Ultimately, people will be excited to try an out-of-the-box flavor because it’s the couple’s favorite or get a kick out of a nontraditional design, especially if it ties into the overall aesthetic or shows personality,” Fauser points out. If any of your family or friends have dietary restrictions, supplement with an allergy-friendly cake rather than replacing the main dessert option, according to the expert.
Concealing the Cake Display
Your cake is a show-stopping moment, so why place it in the corner of your reception space? Since you spent a lot of time conceptualizing the design, don’t be afraid to show off the masterpiece. Not to mention, setting up your cake table in an obstructed spot will ruin photos of the confection. “Some ideas that we love are placing the cake near or behind the head table, or putting an arch of flowers over the cake, [or creating a] backdrop or specialty tables that will complement the cake design,” Chef Marie suggests.
Forgetting to Eat a Slice
Yes, you’ll probably spend most of the evening breaking it down on the dance floor with your loved ones, but remember to take a moment to savor a slice. You spent a lot of time and money on your confection, so it would be a shame not to know how good it tastes. To get more bang for your buck, freeze the top tier of your cake after the wedding, so you can enjoy another piece on your first wedding anniversary.