If you are craving a wedding cake that is just as trendy as it is tasty, you might want to look to the past for inspiration. Right now, the 1980s are having a moment. At first thought, the ‘80s might seem at direct odds with today’s modern couple. (After all, this was the decade of colorful cumberbunds, poofy wedding sleeves, and—if it’s possible—poofier hair.) But while most of the era’s wedding trends might feel out of place now, its cakes feel different. Make no mistake, they’re not exactly subtle: 1980s wedding cakes can be covered in buttercream piping, perched on miniature Greecian columns, or covered in silk flowers. However, the edible opulence provides a fun way to make a statement without turning your wedding into a power ballad.
For Tiffany Mann, baker and owner of MiGoodies BakeSale in San Francisco, the 1980s-inspired wedding cake is a great way to honor the past. “Young millennials are getting married and are taking inspiration from their parents or maybe even grandparents,” she explains. “Nostalgia has proven time and time again to be a driver of trends and culture.”
However, Mann shares that today’s couples are giving the decadent dessert their own spin by picking and choosing elements to include from yesteryear. “Piped shells and swag coupled with metallic cake separators, or [using] acrylic so it appears like the tiers are floating [are big right now],” she explains. “Perhaps you want to add color to your buttercream. All of these things make reference to a trend without freezing your cake in time.”
So, how do you bring the best of the '80s into your wedding cake design? Read on for 15 gorgeous 1980s wedding cake ideas that hit that sweet spot between retro and ridiculously cool.
More Is Merrier
Why settle for one cake when you can indulge in a few? Since the 1980s were all about opulence, many couples opted for a lavish display of multiple, single-tier cakes and connected them with a series of bridal bridges. For the ideal inspiration, look to this over-the-top arrangement.
The Heart of the Matter
You might wear your heart on your sleeve come the big day, so why not display it out on your dessert table? In the 1980s, many couples opted for a heart-shaped cake. If you want to bring this idea to 2023, consider adding a cheeky message to the design in frosting. This is a great idea to try at a Valentine's Day wedding.
If you want to pay homage to the ‘80s, but don’t necessarily want to go with full-on fondant, why not honor the decade’s fashion? We can thank Madonna for making lace and pearls cool—and Lele Patisserie for immortalizing these key trends on a cake.
Not only were fruits mixed into the batter of ‘80s cakes, but they also acted as some excellent decor. While this couple might’ve gotten married in a 12th-century abbey, they brought a little bit of ‘80s to the mix by sprinkling some berries on their textured cake.
From lime green to can’t-look-away fuschia, the ‘80s were arguably known for its bright highlighter palette. What might surprise you, however, is that the decade’s wedding cakes treated color very differently. Instead of neons, most couples added pops of color with soft pastels.
The Sky’s the Limit
Back in the ‘80s, ultra-tall wedding cakes were all the rage. (Is anyone surprised? After all, this was the time of teased hair and shoulder pads.) Nowadays, most couples stick with one or two tiers. However, adding a few more levels can quite literally take your dessert to new heights. The wildflower decor in this gravity-defying display offers a dose of wedding day whimsy.
Pack on the Pillars
If you want to make your cake even taller, consider adding some columns or pillars to the mix. Historically, each cake tier used to be separated and supported by a perimeter of columns. However, you can always shake things up with an asymmetrical arrangement. For example, this cake Forged in the North snapped has columns in between just a few tiers.
Use Flowers as Filler
While separating your cake tiers with columns feels decidedly ‘80s, it does create some negative space that may feel a tad sterile. The solution? Fill your space in between your columns with fresh flowers. To coordinate with the rest of your celebration, try to use blooms that are also featured in your bouquet.
Have Fun With Florals
While you don't need them to serve as tiers, it's still a great idea to add flowers to your cake. (After all, pearls, piping, and fresh fruit weren’t the only ways to wow your dessert in the ‘80s.) While many couples from the more-is-more decade adorned their cake in silk flowers, fresh blooms can bring your sweet treat to modern times.
The Royal Treatment
Cakes from the ‘80s and royal icing go together like teased hair and aerosol hairspray. Unlike regular icing—which has a silky smooth finish—this royal option hardens just like your favorite candy. Back in the day, royal icing was reimagined into a bunch of colorful hues, but Tracy Rogers of Sugar Blossom Bake Shop gave the look an updated attitude with an all-white palette.
As Rose Vanilla’s piped-to-perfection cake proves, big things can come in small packages. Perfect for smaller weddings—or anyone who wants to lean into the dessert bar–opulent piping adds a jolt of drama to the festivities.
In Love With Lambeth
Of course, there’s no way we could talk about ‘80s-inspired wedding cakes without giving some extra love to the Lambeth style. Born in the 1930s, this type of cake was known for piling on lots of royal icing layers to create a lush, lavish look. Reimagined in bright pinks and reds, this cake Iain Irwin captured is equal parts cheery and classic.
Top It Off
For a subtle throwback to yesteryear, focus on your cake’s accessories. While cake toppers of the couple aren’t as common today, they can perfectly offset an otherwise modern design. Photographer Elvira Kalviste captured the perfect of old and new with this floral-filled confection.
Level Up Your Lambeth
If you want to make your Lambeth-style wedding cake feel extra decadent, try adding a rim of fresh fruit. While you’ll often see this idea paired with maraschino cherries, baker Lily Vanilli thought outside of the batter with raspberries.
Birds of a Feather
Not a fan of the traditional couple cake topper? Dress up your dessert with a nature-inspired sculpture. During the ‘80s, flowers were traded in for flora and fauna—making this bold bird topper from Signature Sweets by Amanda a timely alternative.