Wedding planning can be stressful, but there are some sweet moments in the process. One of the most fun activities for couples can take part in is a wedding cake tasting. Before you select which confection to serve at your reception, you can sample options with your baker to determine the design and flavor of the treat. As Fallon Carter of Fallon Carter Events says, “Taste is up for interpretation.” That means that reviewing online reviews and TikTok commentary can only get you so far. You need to know if you like how a cake tastes before purchasing one for your big day.
While nibbling on different wedding cakes isn’t the trickiest task in your wedding-planning process, there is more to it than just deciding on chocolate or vanilla. We spoke to wedding planners and baking experts to find out what exactly you need to know before booking a wedding cake tasting.
What Is a Wedding Cake Tasting?
As the name implies, a wedding cake tasting is when you and your partner (and maybe a few other key players, such as your wedding planner and parents) meet with your cake baker or caterer to discuss and try different cake, frosting, and filling combinations. The tasting is also a good time to talk about the general design and size of your cake, says Carter. The scale and number of tiers will affect the price, which is another thing you should discuss at this point. She adds that you should also give the baker all the information about your venue, the time of year you’re getting married, and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor event in order to ensure the cake will make it through the night (whether in a refrigerator or sitting out).
While you don’t have to leave your tasting with a final design chosen, it's best to at least start the conversation now. “It's always helpful when couples bring along any imagery that helps inspire a beautiful cake design,” says Thorleifson. “Floral design, invitation design, wedding attire, and décor [give] an overall sense of what type of wedding a couple is planning.” Carter adds that a rough sketch of the cake you envision is helpful, too.
When Should You Have Your Wedding Cake Tasting?
You’ll want to look into booking a cake tasting as far as six to 12 months in advance of your wedding date. If you're using a baker that’s not affiliated with your caterer or venue, you might want to schedule this on the earlier side. Betsy Thorleifson of Brooklyn- and Hudson-based Nine Cakes suggests that her clients book the tasting three to four months before the wedding.
Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that some bakers don’t offer tastings all the time. For example, Nicole Redd-McIntosh of Nicole Bakes Cakes only holds tastings once a month and only takes on a certain amount of bookings.
Questions to Ask During Your Wedding Cake Tasting
While the ultimate goal of this meeting is to choose your wedding cake flavor or flavors, you can also use the time spent with your baker to ask some important related questions.
- Do you have order minimums for wedding cakes?
- How many tiers do we need in order to feed our total guest list?
- Do you work in all different mediums, or do you have a preference towards a specific one, like buttercream, fondant, or ganache?
- Do you generally decorate cakes with fresh or sugar flowers?
- When do we have to finalize the design?
- Are you able to provide a smaller display cake for our cake cutting ceremony and sheet cakes for slices? If so, how does this impact price?
- Can you provide additional desserts along with the cake?
- Do you provide a cake stand?
- How will the cake be delivered on the wedding day?
- Are there applicable delivery fees?
- When are final payments due?
How to Pick a Wedding Cake Baker
Carter likes to rely on word of mouth and personal experience when determining who will craft your wedding cake. She suggests asking friends for recommendations and taking note of the cakes at weddings you attend. If you love your local baker, don’t be shy to ask if they create wedding cakes. Another option? Ask your wedding vendors for recommendations—wedding venues, planners, and caterers are generally more than happy to share a shortlist of some of their local favorites.
If you're planning a destination wedding or can’t make it to a tasting in person, see if the bakery will ship a tasting box. You can try all the cake options at home and communicate your preferences with them virtually.
Things to Consider Before the Wedding Cake Tasting
Before you confirm the meeting, be sure to inquire about the price of the tasting; every baker does it differently. For example, Nicole Bakes Cakes charges $50 to taste four mini cakes and Nine Cakes has a flat fee for four cake flavors that gets credited towards the price of the final wedding cake. The cost may also affect how many people you invite to taste.
Unless you want to pay to taste every flavor in the bakery, you will need to narrow down your choices before you arrive. It’s helpful to arrive with a general idea of the flavor profile you want to showcase in your wedding cake. You can let your baker know if you want to try options that are fruity and light or rich and chocolatey.