How to Keep Your Cake Looking Great at an Outdoor Summer Wedding

Cakes and hot weather can be a tricky combo, but our expert tips will ensure it stays fresh all night.

summer wedding cake with pressed flowers


Choosing your wedding cake is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. Not only do you and your partner get to select the perfect cake flavor to share with your guests, but you also get to choose the ideal design to match the overall aesthetic or theme of your wedding. The wedding cake truly becomes the star of the show at many receptions!

The only problem? Wedding cakes are fragile, and because one of the main ingredients for many wedding cakes is butter, they can easily be affected by heat. If you’re planning a summer wedding and hosting your party outside, there are a few key details that should be considered to keep your wedding cake in tip-top shape. “Summer heat can't be controlled, but you can control how you manage it,” says Lindsey Johnson, cake artist and owner of Lady in the Wild West.

Meet the Expert

Lindsey Johnson is a cake artist and the owner of Lady in the Wild West based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Below, find expert tips and tricks to keep your wedding cake looking great at an outdoor summer wedding.

Communicate With Your Vendors

As you’re selecting the perfect wedding cake flavor and design, be sure your wedding planner and other key vendors are included in the discussion. The timing of summer weddings is often dependent on temperature and location, and you’ll want to work the delivery of your cake into the ideal time slot. “My most valued advice for couples is to communicate with the event planner, venue, photographer, and the cake artist to ensure the best possible situation for the wedding cake,” says Johnson.

The best course of action may be to have your cake delivered after your ceremony. “While romantic, the idea of the cake being displayed on a cake table for hours in the summer sun isn't realistic,” says Johnson. “Note the warmest part of the day and plan your delivery around it. Discuss this with your event planner and the venue.”

Check with your venue to see if there is a refrigeration option on site. If there’s room, you may be able to have your cake delivered earlier in the day and store it until it’s time to put it on display at your reception. “Cakes take up a lot of space and need height,” adds Johnson. “Ask your cake artist how much space is needed for storage.”

Discuss Your Display

Letting your cake sit out in the summer sun is not the best option, so location matters when it comes to where you’ll display your big day sweet.

If you can find it, shade will assist with keeping a cake cool. A light breeze will also help to circulate cool air. If you’re having a tented wedding, be sure to keep the type of tent in mind. A white tent may assist in keeping your cake cool, but a clear top tent will not. “They tend to create a greenhouse effect and will melt your cake even faster,” adds Johnson.

Pick the Perfect Frosting

Once the cake flavor has been decided, you’ll choose the ideal filling and frosting too. But there are a few options that will fare better in the heat than others. Traditional American Buttercream is made with butter as the base, but butter melts at 90 F to 95 F. Johnson says she adds vegetable shortening to the final outer coating, which has a higher melting point at 115 F. This can help to maintain stability without sacrificing flavor.

If you want an all-chocolate cake, chocolate ganache is a great option for an outer coating because cocoa solids are better at withstanding heat. Johnson also suggests Italian Buttercream, which starts by cooking egg whites at a high temperature, for another delicious and sturdy option.

Fondant is lower in fat and has stabilizing ingredients, therefore it can withstand summer heat, but I do not recommend fondant for humid locations,” adds Johnson. “In hot humid weather, fondant will melt. Discuss these options with your cake artist before you select your design.”

Consider Design

The sky’s the limit when it comes to wedding cake designs, but that’s not always the case if you’re hosting an outdoor wedding in the summer sun. Johnson’s advice for designs and décor is that less is more.

Cakes become fragile in the summer heat, and heavy decorations can make them even more fragile. “For example, large buttercream flowers or sugar flowers can melt, fall off, or weigh a cake down,” she says. “Instead, opt for natural décor like fresh wildflowers and greens, berries, or dried pressed flowers and herbs. Focus more on textures, marbling, or abstract painted scenes.

Plan With Your Photographer

Even with putting plans in place to keep your cake looking fresh and beautiful at a summertime wedding, you’ll want photos of it to be captured as soon as it’s delivered. “Capture the cake in its full glory, the sooner the better,” says Johnson. Be sure to let your photographer know when the cake will arrive so they’re ready to photograph it with the ideal backdrop.

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