Lucky you! This is one of the more fun aspects of planning a wedding. (Does the dress or DJ come with tastings? Definitely not!) Visit a few bakeries before you make any decisions, and remember to have fun with the process. Below are a few tips on how to have your perfect cake, and eat it too.
At the Bakery
As with hiring any vendor, make sure you’re working with someone you trust. Get referrals from friends and family members, or ask the bakery for recommendations from previous customers. You can also ask to see their portfolio of wedding cakes; most professionals will have photos to give you an idea of their range, skill, and specialty. Even if the bakery is very highly rated, it’s more important to hire someone with a portfolio of cakes similar to the one you want.
After you’ve scouted around and decided on your top bakery choices, it’s time to make tasting appointments. Consultations and tastings are usually free, but check with the bakery ahead of time. You’ll also want to make an appointment, which ensures you’ll have the baker’s full attention. Be sure to bring your fiancé and anyone else who will be integral to planning the wedding.
Are your wedding cake’s ingredients important to you? If your cake needs to be vegan, organic, gluten-free, or otherwise specific, the time to discuss it is before any money has changed hands. You don’t want a baker, even a good one, experimenting outside of familiar territory.
Keep in mind that your ideal cake might not be possible. It’s good to discuss all the details with your baker so they can tell you what to realistically expect. For example, if you want a cake that will take several days to decorate, you might have to skip the fresh fruit and compromise on a less perishable filling.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your baker what factors contribute to the cost of a wedding cake. Sometimes the more expensive details aren’t the ones that are most important to you. It may be worth it to pick a different type of icing if you want to splurge on the cake’s shape or flavor. Custom cakes are generally the most expensive, but are also the easiest way to get exactly what you want.
If you’re planning to get a custom cake made, good communication is crucial. You don’t want to send back a cake once it’s been made. Requiring multiple versions of a cake can add expense very quickly, as well as frustrate your baker. It helps to agree upon a sketch of the cake first, to avoid surprises or disappointment. If a specific cake color is important, bring a swatch (or a bridesmaid’s dress) to help the bakery match it exactly.
As soon as you decide on a bakery, reserve your wedding date to make sure you’re locked in and guaranteed. Six months before the date is not too early. Securing your date will require a deposit.
Planning Your Cake
Do you want an extravagant, multi-tiered wedding cake? Will you be serving cupcakes instead? Will you be forging your own tradition with ice cream cake, cheesecake, or even pie? Formal weddings usually pair with classic wedding cakes, but more non-traditional weddings can call for more playful cakes. Ask your baker about which non-traditional options, like cake pops, might be a great match for your event. You can also incorporate more whimsical touches with a second cake or a groom’s cake.
Which is more important to you: the taste or the look? While all good bakeries create cakes that are beautiful and delicious, some bakeries are especially renowned for one particular aspect. Some decisions require compromise: If you absolutely require a cake shaped like a pink poodle, for example, you limit yourself to firmer, more easily-sculpted ingredients.
Your choice of location will also affect what kind of cake you order. Thoroughly describe your venue and wedding day timeline with your baker. If the cake will have to hold up to warm or humid weather, or be on display for a few hours, it will affect your choice of ingredients.
Do you already have a cake topper in mind? Or do you want non-edible ingredients like crystals or figurines? It’s important to let your bakery know. If the topper is heavy, the cake will need to be made of sturdier ingredients. The overall design of the cake can be tailored to complement the topper, incorporating matching touches from the bottom up. Your bakery will be happy to have this information ahead of time.
How many people are you serving? Do you want a single wedding cake to serve everyone, or will you have a layer cake in the kitchen to supplement? You can discuss logistics with your baker to figure out what options best serve you and the guests at your reception.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.