Today, considering the number of hurdles we encounter whilst planning a wedding, it is perhaps just as well that you no longer need to worry about jumping over cake! Fortunately, tradition has given way to taste. In recent years, fruit cakes encased in royal (white) icing have given way to a rainbow of colours and a myriad of flavours and fillings.
And whilst there are no longer any hard and fast rules associated with choosing a cake there are definitely a few important points to consider;
1: Give some thought to what you would really like and set a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend and how your cake fits in with your overall vision for the day. For instance, will you cut it and offer pieces to every guest to take away with them, incorporate it into the meal as dessert, or cut costs with a polystyrene tier or two and serve slices from a discrete tray, baked separately so as not to disturb the masterpiece? It might sound a bit over the top but considering all the options may save you money and time in the long run
2: Be prepared to order your cake at least three months before the wedding. As the size of the cake is usually determined by the number of guests, you will need to have your numbers at the ready, and bear in mind that if the cake is to fit in with your overall theme, you will need to have a colour pallet in mind. Your choice of dress, flowers and other finishing touches may also have a bearing on the design of your cake
3: Look for visual inspiration on the web and social media such as Pinterest and Instagram to gather ideas and identify what you do and do not like
4: By all means, seek recommendations but most importantly.....eat cake! Ask every cake designer you meet for samples
5: Consider all the alternatives to a tiered cake, such as a dessert table incorporating cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, brownies and a good old pic-nic...yes, an entire cake made of pork pie and cheese!
6: When you think you have found the right supplier, arrange a consultation. Take pictures of any designs you like and be prepared to describe as many elements of your day as possible. As well as understanding your colour pallet, they may also ask to see pictures of your dress and flowers, particularly if the cake is to be decorated with co-ordinating ribbons, swirls, flowers, lace or icing patterns to echo the embroidery on your dress
7: Consider to what extent the cake could reflect your image. Since we’re no longer bound by tradition, the only limit is your imagination. Whether it is to be fruit or sponge, flavoured, iced or naked is entirely up to you. Do not be afraid to opt for a quirky, bespoke design incorporating spots, stripes and personalised toppers reflecting your individual personalities and hobbies
8: Will it be vanilla, lemon, coffee, chocolate fudge, orange, fruit, coconut, banana or carrot? Filled with buttercream or jam or both? Don’t rule out the possibility that each tier could be a different flavour
9: If it is a fruit cake, it should be made as far ahead of the wedding as possible to give the recipe chance to develop and mature, whereas a sponge cake must be freshly baked no more than a couple of days before the wedding
10: Establish whether any guests have any allergies or special dietary requirements, e.g. gluten-free. Can the cake designer cater for this
11: Establish how the cake will be transported, when it will be delivered and assembled, and by whom
12: Is there an additional cost for a cake stand and knife to be supplied? Some venues do have their own and can supply them for you
13: Ask for everything to be confirmed in writing in a contract and establish what deposit is payable and when
Get it right and your cake will be a focal point, a centrepiece and quite possibly, the best-dressed guest at your wedding. Get it wrong and you will wish you hadn’t!
Each of the images within this article are being used with kind permission by Juniper Cakery, whose beautiful cakes I wholeheartedly recommend.