Wedding cake has always been a favorite of mine – in part because I love almost anything dessert-oriented and in part because it’s something you so rarely get to enjoy. The true classic wedding cakes I’ve had over the years are limited to, well, weddings! Until recently, I’d been to very few weddings over the years, making tasting a slice even that more enjoyable. I always knew that when it came the time for me, the cake selection was going to be one of my favorite “stressful” details of the wedding planning process. It was every bit as sugary delicious as I’d thought it would be.
Joking aside, there was a great deal of research that went into picking the right bakery. While I’m very into cupcakes, I also knew that wasn’t what I was thinking for our big day. That meant taking a look at additional options to select the final winner. I wasn’t aware of this going in, but many bakeries will charge you to taste. It’s good idea to first whittle down your list to the true contenders before you schedule with any – and the below considerations will help you start thinking through which ones best suit your needs/wants.
Designs and Styles
I spent several weeks looking through websites and reaching out to bakeries for info. I wanted to get as best of a sense for the aesthetic of the cakes, before we even got down to the all-important taste-testing. As much as I love the cakes at Momofuku Milk Bar, for example, their un-iced signature style wasn’t what we wanted in a wedding cake. With T’s background in art, the aesthetic was the most important part, so we needed to agree on a look. As much as you see on each bakery’s website, know going in that most can do so much more than reflected on their website. They’re going to ask you what you want, so having an idea of what that is is half the battle. We ended up going with a wrap of flowers around the side of the cake and some simple birds on the top – a nod to T’s desire to incorporate some nature elements in addition to referencing our having met in large part due to social media connections (tweet tweet!).
We learned that tiered cakes are significantly more than a sheet cake that would feed a similar number of people. Some bakeries were willing to do a supplemental sheet cake so we could just have a smaller tiered cake for photos. This made a big difference in the overall price of the cake.
Flavors and Durability
Flavor is a pretty big component of the cake. Whether you want a traditional wedding vanilla/vanilla or love a specific flavor combo, you likely have a sense of what you want. Or, maybe you don’t – which is what the tasting thing is all about. The bakeries we tasted at served you icings and cake separately, making it easy for you to test out the various pairings and choose what works for you.
Don’t be afraid too to go with something outside of standard – especially if you’re doing a bride’s cake and a separate groom’s cake. At Baked, they had a special summer flavor, Aunt Sassy’s Pistachio. It’s a pistachio white cake base, frosted and filled with vanilla honey buttercream. They were out of if the day we went and did our tasting, so we went back to pick up a couple of cupcakes, just to make sure we’d considered all options. In the end, we went with their raspberry lemonade (which is absolutely amazing) for both the tiered cake and the supplemental sheet cake.
I wouldn’t have thought about it going in, but the durability of your cake can be a factor as well. If your venue isn’t going to be refrigerating your cake or if you’re serving at an outdoors wedding in the summertime, it’s a very important thing to consider. We had leftover portions of our tasting samples, which allowed us to see how they held up over time. One bakery’s cake didn’t do so well when out of the fridge and the one we went with (Baked) managed to hold up just fine, without having to go so far as using fondant (we both felt this is too stiff and decorative, and we wanted to avoid this if at all possible).
Minimums and Fees
I also learned that like most other wedding components, some smaller bakeries will put a minimum to the amount they expect to do a cake for a wedding – regardless of your headcount. There was one really unique baker we had to pull out of our “to try” list based on this factor.
Most bakeries will charge you a delivery fee. It’s worth paying it to make sure such a large, expensive purchase makes it there as ordered. It’s worth the peace of mind to not be running that over to your venue day of. So so worth it. It’s worth asking how that all works – some have specifics around times they will deliver, which you’ll need to sync up with your venue. It’s helpful to know your venue’s rules on deliveries going in, just to make sure there’s no issue with your selection of baker.
Professional photos by Smitten Chickens.