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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wedding Cakes 101: Getting Started

I’ve written this article to help brides to start thinking about their wedding cakes. It’s more than just dessert…it’s an integral part of a wedding!

Why Wedding Cakes Are Important
The wedding cake or bridal cake should be the centerpiece of your reception! It should be displayed where everyone can see it, but out of the way of foot traffic. The cake table is an excellent location for photo ops (and not just for the cake cutting part of the reception), so where the cake is displayed becomes important. It also serves as dessert for your guests, so you want it to be delicious and memorable (there’s nothing worse than guests being served a mediocre dessert after having enjoyed a fabulous meal)!

How To Decide on a Wedding Cake
You should start shopping for your cake about 4 months before your wedding, keeping in mind that very reputable bakers and designers may be booked a year in advance. You should plan your cake around the décor and set up of your wedding reception venue. If your venue has high ceilings, you should consider a taller cake. You should also consider the colors of the venue, so that your cake colors can coordinate.

The cost of the cake is based on several factors, including: number of guests; number of tiers and layers; level of detail in the decoration; and types of flavors, filling and icing you desire. An intricately designed cake will be more expensive than a simpler one, and specialized cake flavors will also increase the overall price.

Standard vs. Specialty Flavors and Fillings
Bakeries offer a range of flavors for the cake and filling. Some standard cake flavors may include vanilla, lemon, chocolate, almond and coconut, while some specialty flavors may include red velvet, banana nut, and carrot cake. Fillings can range from lemon mousse and chocolate cream to white chocolate mousse and cream cheese. Bakeries specializing in wedding cakes should be able to customize flavors to suit your tastes!

Buttercream vs Fondant Icing
Buttercream icing is very rich in flavor. It is a smooth, creamy icing that is typically used for decorating. Fondant is a smooth, malleable icing that dries hard. It gives the cake a very smooth and professional finish and helps keep the cake moist longer. Fondant is also used to make detailed cake decoration, such as flowers and bows.

When considering the type of icing, consider where your reception will be held. If you are having an outdoor reception and it’s the middle of summer, a cake with buttercream icing will not hold up as nicely as one with fondant.

Educate Yourself
There are several excellent websites that can help you learn more about wedding cakes. One of my favorites is http://www.weddingchannel.com, where articles focus on glossaries of terms, hiring a cake designer, using flowers to decorate your cake, and many other topics. This site was extremely helpful to me when I planned my own wedding!

Happy Cake Shopping!

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