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Wedding Cakes - Sweet Decisions

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

In years past, wedding cakes often accounted for more symbolic value than dining enjoyment at a reception. Fortunately, the days of tasteless white cake and nondescript frosting are long gone.

Weddings cakes can be both visual and culinary extravaganzas - everything from classy personal statements, to just plain fun. Cake designs have become more like edible art and no longer need be round, stacked tiers. Innovative cakes can look like flower baskets, ships, musical instruments, city landmarks, square shapes, heart shapes, and the list is practically endless.

Here's some advice from the experts who turn wedding cake ideas into reality.

Have the cake coordinate with the rest of your event. Deal with this aspect of planning after all decisions about dress style and reception decor have been made. These elements can serve as a blueprint for the design and structure of your wedding cake.

Choose a cake that's compatible with the venue's style, the season, your dress, the flower arrangements, or the menu. Or, if you want colored accents (such as sugar flowers or icing ribbons), give your baker sample fabric swatches. The cake should be part of the wedding, not a glaring sideshow. Order your wedding cake at least two to four months before your wedding.

Selecting a flavor can be a tough decision. How about a multi-flavored cake? This is a great option if you want to give your guests a variety. If you'll be having three layers of cake, you could have a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of carrot cake and a layer of yellow cake, something for everyone! For extra flavor, have a cake with filling. Ask your baker about having a filling made of white or dark chocolate, strawberry, mocha or fruit preserves.

Should you serve dessert in addition to the wedding cake? Experts say there's no absolute rule. Many couples do serve dessert in addition to their cake, especially if budget is not an issue. But extra dessert is in no way mandatory. These days, wedding cakes are meant to be eaten -- they're not just for show anymore. Most cake designers and couples fully expect them to be the primary dessert.

Some couples opt to order a smaller cake for display and for photos, while feeding the guests with a supplemental sheet cake in the same flavor. Wedding guests need not even see the supplemental cake. A sheet cake, for example, will usually yield about 40 servings. On the other hand you could splurge and order individual cakes for each guest, or slightly larger table cakes which double as centerpieces.

Here's some general wedding cake points to ponder:

1) You may want to inquire whether the baker bakes fresh or works from frozen cakes. Some will bake early in the week, then freeze the cakes, decorating them on Friday. Generally this involves handling the finishing touches on the day of the wedding. Fresh will probably taste better.

2) Wedding cakes are usually priced per person. But your locale determines what the per-person charge will be. A typical cake may cost from $3 to $4 per person. More elaborate cakes will cost more. Be sure to sample whatever cake you commission.

3) Find out if the baker will deliver on the day of the event and if there's an extra charge for delivery.

4) Don't assume you're required to purchase your cake from your banquet hall or caterer, as most will allow you to supply your own. But you should double check their house rules regarding wedding cakes.

5) Keep the weather in mind if your reception will be outdoors. Direct rays from the sun could melt the frosting.

6) If you decide to use fresh flowers to decorate the cake or cake table, make sure they're pesticide-free. Coordinate between your florist and baker to decide who will do that aspect of the decorating.

Traditionally, the groom's cake was brandied fruit, chocolate or another favorite of the groom's. It might be baked in a creative shape, like a tux or top hat, or perhaps whimsical to represent his favorite sport or hobby.

Customs for eating the groom's cake vary around the country. In some regions the groom's cake is served at the rehearsal dinner. The groom’s cake can also be served at the reception as an alternative or second dessert choice. In other areas it's typical for guests to be given a slice of groom's cake in a small decorative box to take home from the reception.

According to most wedding experts, groom's cakes are not as popular are they were in the past. Like many things, trends in wedding cakes come and go.


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