There are a million moving parts in the wedding planning process. From figuring out a guest list and choosing a venue to picking out the forks your guests will eat off - the process can be overwhelming and stressful. Luckily for you, choosing a cake is one part that is undoubtedly a blast!
First things first: get the basics done.
Before jumping into the wedding cake tasting, ordering, and eating, make sure to have these three aspects figured out:
Guestlist (# of guests)
Why are these three things so vital to your cake? Let's explore!
If you've rented out a huge, rustic barn in central New Hampshire in the mountains for your wedding, then don't buy a multi-tiered, pearl-studded, columned cake (unless that's how you want it). You've put countless hours into how your decorations, themes, and venue will play together - meaning that choosing a random cake that you think looks "beautiful" may end up being an extremely distracting sideshow instead of a perfect contribution.
Rustic theme? Rustic cake. Elegant, fancy venue: elegant, fancy cake. Not to say you shouldn't choose whatever cake floats your boat, because you absolutely should! Just be mindful of how all the different aspects weave together.
Oftentimes cakes are priced per slice. Those slices can range anywhere from $3 to $15. That's how your cake can get a pretty hefty price tag fast! Besides the sheer price of your cake, it's important to go to your baker with a plan of how big you need your cake to be (in reflection of your guest count) so they can do some planning of their own. Wedding season gets hectic fast for all wedding professionals, so making sure you give each one of your vendors ample time to prepare for your big day so that they will best be able to serve you.
Your wedding date will dictate the type of cake you have.
Like most pictures in magazines today, cakes are often subject to heavy photoshopping. Beyond online editing, professional cakes for a shoot are prepped and tended to, so to prevent sagging and sweat from forming before pictures are snapped of the glorious cake. These photos are unrealistic. Your cake will be beautiful no doubt, but will probably not look as perfect as the styrofoam-cut out cake on the front page of New Hampshire Wedding magazine (yes, styrofoam cake is a real thing).
So with that in mind, be mindful of what season you're having your wedding. If your wedding date is October 16th then it'll likely be a perfect temperature out during the day and a little chilly at night. Your cake will probably stand up well against the midday sun. However, if your wedding day is July 15th then it's likely your cake is going to start sweating and maybe even begin tilting if it's under the same midday sun. Just be mindful and expect this to happen once it leaves the safety of the refrigerator. Also, buttercream does not do well in hot weather. Instead, opt for buttercream underneath a layer of fondant to hold your cake together.
If you're having a seasonal wedding, some flavors are a must-have to include with your cake! Consider including blueberries and raspberries in the summer or pumpkin in the fall.
How to cut costs?
Once you figure out the three above aspects you can start to figure out what flavors pair well together. Perhaps you want to do one layer of vanilla, one layer of chocolate, and one layer of pumpkin. Hey, sounds yummy to me! If the cheapest option is the way to go for you and your significant other, then consider buying a smaller, fully decorated, cake of just vanilla or chocolate and buying large, simple, sheet pans of cake so you can save money on decorating while still preserving the scrumptious taste of the cake.
All add-ons cost money!! So before you add the marzipan fruits, chocolate flowers, and lace details make sure you know how it's going to impact your price tag. With that in mind, know that the average cost of a wedding cake is $540 so if you're close to that number, you're close to the average!
The most inexpensive option is fresh fruits or flowers which can be added on for a minimal fee.
Stick with natural cakes, ombre cakes, and more simple frosted cakes to keep decorating costs lower.
Good things to know:
There's a difference between "layers" and "tiers." The number of tiers in a wedding cake is how many levels the cake itself has. The "layers" refer to the cake and filling within each tier.
Most cakes are priced by the slice, not by the tier.
When it comes to design, Instagram and Pinterest are a go-to for inspiration.
That's it! Now go eat your cake!