Photo by Anna Williams/BRIDES
As BRIDES' wedding style director, I have a thing for cakes. And since 2003, I've been part of an incredible biannual competition that reaches out to up-and-coming pastry artists from across the nation, then recognizes the best in a feature called "America's Most Beautiful Cakes." (Look for it in our September issue.)
Photos Courtesy of [Sacred Sweets](http://www.sacredsweets.com) (Sketch & Tile) & Anna Williams/BRIDES (Cake)
Here's a behind-the-scenes breakdown: First, hundreds of bakers send in sketches of an original, themed wedding-cake idea with an explanation of their technique. I go through each design with our team, and then ask a group of semifinalists to submit a sugar sample of their proposed creation. (These "tiles"—similar to what you see on a kitchen wall—allow us to judge technique and artistry that would be replicated on the real cake. (Since they're made entirely of sugar, you can only imagine what our office smells like—it's intense!) Finally, we narrow down the selection to a group of finalists, who are asked to create a three-tiered cake, completely decorated, and package and deliver it to our photo shoot in New York City. To be honest, delivery can be the hardest part of the challenge, since we have cakes that come from as far away as California, Florida, and Oklahoma. We have a cake doctor—also known as a sugar stylist—on hand so any damage incurred in transit can be tended to.
After a week of shooting, we're proud to bring you the best wedding cakes in the nation. With categories from edgy and dramatic to retro to floral and romantic, there's certainly a cake here for you!
—Maria McBride, wedding style director, BRIDES magazine