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Wedding Cakes: Top Tips

Written by    Last updated: January 12, 2012

Cutting the cake is one of the highlights of your reception, so how do you go about choosing or preparing the perfect wedding cake for you? Here’s your easy guide to choosing perfect wedding cake! JK Photography Blue Rimmed White Wedding Cake with Silver Platform and Cream Bouquet Photograph courtesy of JK Photography

Wedding cake ideas

Your first decision is what type of wedding cake to have: a traditional tiered and iced fruit cake; a tall and oh-so-modern display of individual cupcakes – one for each guest; a chocolate fudge extravaganza, or a fabulous French fancy: the ‘croquembouche’ which you’ll need a tiny hammer to smash into! The traditional British wedding cake, a rich fruit cake, is either square or round and comes in two or three tiers; these tiers can be separated by pillars or ‘stacked’ on top of each other, which is more the American style. The traditional cake is generally decorated with icing, and perhaps sugar or fresh flowers or a cute cake topper depicting the bride and groom. These days personalised or bespoke cake toppers are available so you could even have a tiny you and your fiancé with your child or pet atop your cake!

If you like the style of a traditional cake but are not keen on fruit cake, then consider going for a sponge cake in chocolate, lemon, carrot or vanilla, or even a combination of these flavours to give your guests a choice.

You can commission a creative cake designer to make you a wonderful novelty cake – a great idea if you’re having a themed wedding. You might choose to have a cake with your own photo in icing or images of the sea, or in the shape of a stack of suitcases; a talented cake-maker will be able to show you a selection of designs and work with your ideas.

Cake-buying options

When buying your cake, you have a number of options:

  • buy an iced cake and decorate it yourself
  • have the cake made by a specialist
  • have the cake entirely made and iced by a relative or friend
  • order your cake from the local bakery

If you decide to have your cake made professionally, make sure you shop around. Some cake designers, for example, will specialise in sugarcraft and make wonderful tiered cakes with incredible designs in sugar, while others might specialise in chocolate and patisserie, such as the croquembouche. It’s important to make the most of someone’s talents. When you visit a cake designer, ask to see examples of other cakes they have created. You might also ask to taste a tiny sample. Take along any ideas you have and see what they suggest. A good cake designer will work with your ideas while also offering a few suggestions of their own.

Order early

Whatever you choose, do order your cake in good time. A multi-tiered cake can take months as it will need to be made and iced in different stages. Ideally you should order your cake at least four to five months before the wedding.

Cake timing

Usually a cake should be delivered to the reception venue unassembled and then the tiers put together on site. This, however, will not work with a stacked cake which the cake designer will have to put together beforehand. Ask your cake designer how your cake should be transported – they will have done it plenty of times before! If your cake is arriving the day before the wedding, make sure your venue has somewhere safe to store it. Also, make sure they have a suitable cake stand and knife. Alternatively, your cake designer may be able to provide these items or hire them out to you.

Cutting cake prices

Ready-made cakes are an increasingly popular option and are ideal for couples on a tight budget, giving them the opportunity to decorate it themselves. Marks & Spencer produce ready-made cakes in sponge or fruit cake, available in different sizes so you can present them in tiers. Cake toppers or fresh flowers can be added to the cake as you wish. To save on wedding breakfast costs, serve your wedding cake as dessert with ice cream, a fruit coulis or a hot chocolate sauce.

Making the cut

You don’t have to have a wedding cake at all, but it is traditional for the couple to formally ‘cut the cake’ while everyone looks on and cheers. The wedding cake is in fact meant to be good luck as it’s an age-old symbol of fertility. Tradition also says you should keep the top layer for your first child’s christening cake, but only if it’s a fruit cake tier. The cake is traditionally cut after the speeches, or you might even like to wait a little longer into the evening. If you are planning to serve your cake as dessert, the cake will need to be cut before the wedding breakfast is served, to enable it to be divided into portions in time for pudding. Ask your caterer about providing cream, ice cream or a sauce to accompany it.

Find more great ideas on our Inspiration wedding cake pages!

Find the cake, catering, food and drink for your wedding on Confetti with our recommended supplier directory!

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