October 29, 2012

Choosing Your Wedding Cake

So, I've been on a quest to find the perfect cupcake, cake, filling, and frosting recipes for a while. I've found a few frostings, and created a few fillings I like, but I've also thrown a lot of cake recipes away. I'm pretty picky, and I'm on the hunt for excellent cake recipes.  I'm sorry, but the majority of those cupcake places serve dry cupcakes, I don't care what anyone says, they are not good. 

Recently I had a cake conversation with one of my friends who makes wedding cakes. A bride had requested her to make a wedding cake that she wasn't excited about making, and that she knew wouldn't taste very good, so we talked about some issues brides have while choosing their cakes. I thought the party/wedding planner in me would share some do's and don't's about choosing your wedding cakes. 

When it comes to cakes during the wedding planning process, a bride is either all over the details of the cake, or she just says, "whatever, just make sure a cake is there!"  I was actually a mixture of both, I had wanted it a certain way, but in a way I didn't care because when I was planning my wedding, I was a thousand miles away from where my wedding would be, and the person making my cake.

A common hazard of choosing wedding cakes is people go for looks (of course!). But, the hazard is, people often go for looks over taste. Yikes!! Those fondant cakes sure look pretty, but chances are, you're going to have a lot leftover because the majority of fondant tastes like garbage. (Another thing with fondant is that it will usually increase the cost of your wedding cake, so you can even cut costs by not using it.)  There are actually two types of fondant which I didn't know until I started making fondant - I think marshmallow fondant tastes yummy, but the other kind is the disgusting kind... 

Being the planner that I am, I love looking around at the tables at weddings after the cake has been served to see if it is any good. If plates are licked clean, chances are the cake is good. But, I know when most of the plates are pushed towards the center of the table, fork on the side, with only a few bites taken out of it, that it was a 'no go' on the cake.

Honestly, for the majority of weddings, the later is true of wedding cake that is served. (Except at my wedding; the cake was so good, we barely got any except from the initial cake cutting! Props to my sister-in-law.) When I worked for a caterer (he didn't do wedding cakes) and at all the weddings he catered, we'd serve the cake (from whatever vendor they'd ordered it from), and we'd pick up all the plates at the end of the night with cake still on them. My thing is, if you're going to pay that much for a cake, make sure it tastes good!  The role a cake plays in the decor of things is important, but you can have a fantastic tasting cake, AND it go with your decor. Which leads me to my first and main DON'T.


* Sacrifice taste for looks!

* Let your friend of a friend's cousin, Mary Jo, who you've never met, who's cakes you've never seen, make your wedding cake without giving her and her cakes a thorough investigation.

* Serve cream cheese/fluffy whipped cream type frostings outdoors in the middle of summer.  You'd think the person who is making your cake would know that, but if you don't know your cousin's friend, Mary Jo, then you don't know if she knows that....

* Have a cake with fondant - sorry - unless it really, really good. We're talking yummy marshmallow fondant that has melded with the frosting underneath good.... Overall, if you were to take a poll, the majority of people do not like fondant. (Though, if you LOVE a certain kind of fondant, by all means serve it! It is your wedding cake, not your guests.)  Especially don't use fondant that has food coloring in it.  Yuck!  I don't know anyone that thinks that tastes delicious... 

* Have an immediate family member make your cake if it will cause unwanted stress - and let's face it, any extra stress on your wedding day is unwanted. (My sister-in-law made our delicious cake, but in hind sight, it added more stress to the day for John's family than we would have liked.)


* Custom tailor it to you. (John and I chose one of our cake fillings to be a Snickers filling, because that's our favorite candy bar)

* Your research on your cake vendor, ask for referrals, the cake is a big part of the reception, you do want to make sure it gets there.   I have witnessed myself, companies that list referrals/reviews written by THEMSELVES.  My favorite is that they thought no one would be able to figure it out... Really, people?

*  Be specific with the person making your cake and the person decorating your cake.

*  By specific, I mean spe.ci.fic.  It has happened where pictures have been shown to florists and those decorating your cake beforehand, and for some reason the cake was still not decorated accordingly.  For example, my sister's wedding cake is the picture in the post, and we did not ask to have ivy around the cake...  and I didn't see it in time to change it, and then didn't care.  Hopefully your florist or person doing your cake will have a picture of what you want in front of them when they are decorating your cake.  Make sure they have one.  From now on, at weddings I do I will have a picture of what is desired at the location (most people finish decorating cakes on location.)

*  Shop around!

*  Ask for a cake tasting.  If you actually care what your cake will taste like...  Or, if you are too busy
to to do a cake tasting, then send someone who you trust that has the same tastes as you. 


* Have you always dreamed of one of those huge cakes, with a lot of tiers? You can save some money by only having a few of the tiers actual cake. For the other tiers, simply frost Styrofoam rounds that match your cake tiers. No one will ever know. Don't forget to tell whomever is assisting you in cutting your cake which tiers are which, if you don't, that might be a little embarrassing. If you are doing this, you want to make sure the other cake rounds will serve all of your guests. You don't want people to come back for more, but only have the Styrofoam layers left!

* If you do the Styrofoam layer cake, you could always take your cake back to the kitchen to cut, where you have sheet cakes waiting (that match your wedding cake, of course) to serve onto plates. You could also do this even if you don't use the Styrofoam, but would like to cut costs, and not have such a large wedding cake made. Just take your cake to another location to cut and serve on plates, and mix in your sheet cake slices. Guests will be amazed that a little cake could feed so many guests!  They won't notice, I promise (unless there's someone like me there...)  :)


* I'm hoping that someday for a wedding I get to do, that the bride will go for this idea, because I totally love it, and wanted to do it for my own wedding. I wanted to have a wedding cake as the centerpiece on each table. Just a simple cake, different flavors on different tables.  The cakes served on different pedestals, and different flowers on different cakes. Then have a small tiered cake that we cut into.  I just think that would be so fun! 

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