It’s no secret wedding cake traditions have changed over time. In the 1950s, wedding cakes typically had three to four stacked tiers connected by columns or pillars for extra height. During that era, cakes were often displayed under a floral decorative arch. Forget the thought of using the smooth, polished appearance of fondant. Instead, mountainous piles of intricate piping along each tier inspired the finishing touches. Unlike the past, wedding cakes today are even more creative, delicious and downright artistic. A wedding cake is the ultimate vehicle of a couple’s self-expression. For guests, it is one of their favorite parts of the reception.
Choosing a wedding cake should be simple. But with so many choices out there, should you go with a multi-tiered cake, a textured cake or perhaps a naked cake? When trying to keep up with the latest wedding cake trends, bakeries determine how to incorporate the couple’s interests and lifestyle into the form of one cake. Manito, Illinois cake designer and owner of Corrs Custom Cakes, Kevin Corr, says the trends are quite different compared to previous decades. According to Corr, cakes today are less detailed with simple, smooth-textured frosting with a few flowers on top. Most tiered cakes are stacked directly on top of each other. Another trend making a comeback is placing ribbons around the base of each layer. Common styles purchased at this small-town bakery include rustic or country inspired cake designs.
Of course, you will always have a bride that wants the traditional vintage cake. Or a baker may receive a request for an elaborate cake design. In 2010, Corr made his most elaborate cake design, which started with an all-white cake. The bottom two tiers were covered with hundreds of tiny gum paste lilies, while the top tier was decorated with a smooth finish with lilies cascading down the side of the top tier. Topping it off was a ceramic dancing bride and groom. Six small, pure white cakes surrounded the bottom tier with two white lilies on top of each.
When a couple chooses an unusual style verses a traditional one for their big day, it shows their true interest or passion for the theme. For example, Corr received a request for a three-tiered hunting inspired cake design. The cake featured a rifle-wielding bride displayed on top dragging the groom next to a deer stand. Between each layer forestry motif was displayed with fondant animals. This type of wedding cake request reflects humor, personality and customization tailored to the interests of the couple. When ordered, groom’s cakes are still displayed next to the wedding cake as a tribute to the groom’s interests. Hunting, sports, trucks and tractors are popular design options.
If the couple likes cake, but the standard tiered cake with lots of frosting isn’t their preference, they have options. Corr explains that some brides order a two-tiered wedding cake and sheet cakes to serve their guests. Or, they may forgo a main cake and serve several smaller cakes in various flavors at the reception tables. Whatever their personal preference, bakers today can create a wide range of cakes customized specifically for the bride and groom. As a baker for over 30 years, Corr has created all styles of wedding cakes. “Brides no long flip through books to determine the type of cake they want,” he says. “Now, they go online and bring in photos from Pinterest, or on their smartphone, to describe the type of cake they want for their reception.” The actual design of the cake will be taken from the photos to reflect their personal and unique tastes.
Decades ago, large-tiered cakes reflected social status. Today, tiers can be of the same or different heights with the same or alternating designs. Some couples may request the design to incorporate flowers – fresh, silk, or made of fondant or frosting, while others may choose dots or scrollwork. Gone is the idea of all-white cakes. According to Corr, today’s couples will bring in color swatches or flowers to coordinate with bridesmaid’s dresses. Although once popular, over-embellished frosted cakes appear to be on their way out, as is the use of fondant. Couples like the visual appeal of fondant because of the smooth clean and porcelain finish, but they seem to favor the taste of buttercream more. But beware of selecting buttercream frosting during summer weddings. It may not hold up during extreme heat. Although the traditional chocolate and white flavors are still selected, it seems brides and grooms are opting for creative wedding cake flavors that break from tradition. A popular flavor is red velvet with cream cheese frosting and by using a wedding cake specialty baker; the flavor options are almost unlimited.
As for the top of the cake, couples no longer stick to the traditional bride-and-groom cake toppers, nor do they incorporate ceramic decorations like bells and rings. Popular cake topper trends include fresh flowers, sculptures and monograms. Monogrammed initials in silver or tin make for stylish cake toppers. For those that prefer traditional bride-and-groom toppers, they’ll be happy to know that traditional toppers have made a comeback and can be customized to resemble the appearance of the bride and groom. Many online companies offer customized toppers that match the couple’s features, interest and style.
And, even though couples understand serving cake is a tradition, they may not be fond of the idea. But before eliminating cake altogether, it’s important to remember the guests. Some will expect a wedding cake and will be sorely disappointed when a couple doesn’t serve it. But if cake isn’t a couple’s choice, tiered platters of cupcakes in varied flavors have become a big trend in recent years. The choice is yours, and if cake is not for you, other alternatives exist. Dessert and candy buffets with a small-tiered cake provide another alternative to the traditional large-tiered option. But, whatever you choose, make sure it is flavorful and presented well. It should serve as a focal point at your reception because after all, the cake is the only menu item that has its own ceremony dedicated to a bride and groom.