Wedding Cakes

Q. We want a custom wedding cake, but we don’t know what type of design. Any tips for helping us decide?

It is fine if you don't know exactly what kind of design you should have for your wedding. Just come to the consultation with a ballpark of the number of guests you are expecting, and a few images of the decorating style you are hoping to emulate at your reception. Most cake artists can help you create a unique cake design for your special day.

Q. What are some ways to maximize our wedding cake budget?

The best way to maximize your wedding cake budget is to choose a smaller sized custom-designed tiered cake for your centerpiece and then order sheet cakes. The sheet cakes will taste the same and almost look the same after the cake is cut and guests don't know the difference. Most sheet cake orders are significantly less expensive per serving than the tiered cake.

— Anita Algiene, owner of Midnight Sun Cakery,

Q. What are some trends you've been seeing that you like?

This summer seems to be all about rustic, relaxed outdoor weddings. The most requested are what I call an organized chaos of buttercream or the rustic look. Pedestals instead of the cake plateau are popular. I am really excited about rose gold! I can’t wait until someone tells me their wedding colors are rose gold, blush and mint or robin’s egg blue. Wafer paper, hand-painted or watercolor, and chalkboard cakes are some other trends I see a lot of.

Q. Do you have any tips for selecting flavors and fillings?

When it comes to picking out the flavors of your wedding cake you want to think about the time of year and the age groups that will be attending. Pumpkin in June might not be as popular and a better choice might be a light sponge cake with fresh berries. The cake is the dessert course of the event so I think there should be options for all guests. I recommend something chocolate, something vanilla or fruity and then something like carrot cake, hummingbird (with layers of banana, pineapple and coconut) or red velvet. I like to give the bride and groom samples of cake, filling and covering option, then let them decide what they like together.

— Liz Madsen, owner of Celestial Sweets Boutique,

Q. How do I determine the size of cake and how many servings I will need?

To determine size, I usually ask for an estimate of how many people and children you might expect. I like to know if you are doing a candy table, other desserts or a heavy dinner buffet; if so, you might want to serve less cake. A smaller cake on a glass cake stand or a stand designed to match your decor will make a great centerpiece. Your cake designer should be able to ask the right questions and make a cake that will fit your dreams, not to mention your budget!

To determine the number of servings, I figure it this way: A two tier cake (4"x12" and 4"x 8") will serve 50-60 people, a three tier cake (6", 10" and 14") will serve 75-100 people, and a four tier cake (6", 9", 12" and 16") will serve up to 165 people, etc. However some designs require taller tiers, thinner tiers or oddly shaped tiers which can affect the number of servings.

— Karen Otter, owner of Cakelady in Sterling,

Q: I love the idea of freezing the top part of my wedding cake to eat on our one year anniversary. What’s the best way to do that so it doesn’t get freezer burned or lose any flavor?

Saving wedding cake for your first anniversary is a lovely tradition. I would recommend placing your cake in an airtight container. This will prevent the cake from dehydrating and taking on other flavors during storage. Store it in a deep freezer rather than a frost-free one to keep your cake freshest. Frost-free freezers transition through freeze and thaw cycles and will freezer-burn food over time.

— Kimberly Durst, owner of Kimberly Durst Cakes,

Q. Fondant vs. buttercream: Which one should I choose for my wedding cake?

It depends on your personal preference. However, I will share my opinion. I always recommend buttercream, whether it is cream color, white, a color of the bride’s choice or flavored. Why? Because buttercream has a better flavor and is easier to serve. Buttercream can be very smooth or have a textured finish. On the other hand, fondant does cost more and still requires a coat of buttercream to be applied to the cake before covering with fondant. And while fondant can be very smooth, can be colored and have designs imprinted in it, it will become tough and hard. Your guests will remove and dispose of it. Therefore you are paying extra money for a product no one will enjoy. I always recommend a taste test of both and you should ask to examine a piece of fondant that has been exposed to the air for about an hour so you can see how hard it becomes.

— Verda Lewis, owner of Verda's Cakes & Things,