Choosing your wedding cake can be one of the most fun parts of your wedding preparations. We’ve already given our top tips for choosing a wedding cake, and here we’re delving into the pretty side of things, with a handy guide that will help you decide on the style of cake you’d like for your wedding. Our top tip for choosing a wedding cake is to allow it to reflect you and your partner, the flavours you love, your aesthetic styles, and your personalities (a unique cake topper is a great way to do this!). But it’s also important not to overthink it – the process of choosing your wedding cake should be fun! The first decision you have to make is whether to go for something traditional or modern… Read on to decide what’s for you.
Classic Wedding Cakes
- While most cakes are now a twist on the traditional, the classic and traditional wedding cake comprises of classic round or square cake shapes with multiple tiers and cream or white fondant icing.
- Traditionally, fruitcake is used, especially if the bride and groom want to keep a part of the cake for their first anniversary.
- Traditional-style cakes are iced in white, with white detailing piped onto the cake, or decorated with flowers and ribbon.
Modern/Contemporary Wedding Cakes
- Modern or contemporary wedding cakes are those with a modern twist on the classic wedding cake. If you like to stand out and want your cake to be remembered by your guests, then this is the way to go!
- As well as contemporary wedding cake shapes, sizes and styles, today’s couples are opting to use more unusual flavours in their wedding cakes.
- From daring to darling, when it comes to modern wedding cakes, the options are endless. Just check out our wedding cake trend posts here to see what we mean!
Types of Wedding Cake Finishes
It’s easy to get confused between the various different wedding cake finishes, so allow us to break it down for you!
- Royal icing is a thick paste made from egg whites and sifted icing sugar. It’s soft when piped onto the cake and then it dries to a hard finish. This is the icing that is used to create beading, latticework, flowers and other creations that need to stay firm. This icing is mostly used for decoration and not to ice the whole cake.
- Fondant icing is the most popular icing for wedding cakes because it’s so versatile. The icing is a combination of sugar, corn syrup, gelatine and glycerine. It’s rolled out in sheets and then wrapped around each tier of the cake, leaving a smooth and clean finish to the cake.
- American buttercream is also one of the most popular types of icings as it’s soft and easy to cut, therefore perfect for decorations such as a basket weave, swirls, fleur-de-lis, rosettes and swags. The texture is smooth and creamy and not overly sweet. Genuine buttercream is made with real butter, so cakes iced with buttercream will need to be kept in a cool place.
- Italian and Swiss buttercream are another two popular buttercream options for cakes, both made with meringue.
- Cream cheese buttercream is when you add cream cheese to your buttercream to get a cream cheese buttercream blend. This type of finish complements carrot cakes, red velvet cakes, or lemon cakes perfectly.
- Naked cake finish is also known as bare cake, exposed, pound or tomboy cake. This is when the humble sponge cake is left bare, without exterior icing.
- Crumb coat finish, also known as dirty iced, is similar to the popular naked cake style. A crumb coat wedding cake is a cake layered with a very thin layer of icing, so thin that you can see the sponge underneath.
- Ganache is typically a mixture of equal parts chocolate and cream, perfect for frosting a chocolate wedding cake. Chocolate lovers, this one’s for you!
- Drip style cakes are cakes which have been covered in fondant, dirty iced or left naked and then finished with a layer of dripping chocolate, caramel or a sweet, coloured ganache trickling down the sides.
- Marzipan is created from a paste made of ground almonds, sugar and egg whites. It can also be rolled into sheets and moulded into shapes and then painted with food colouring.
- Whipped cream finish is exactly what it sounds like and can add a beautiful texture to a simple cake. Bakers often use special stabilisers or powdered sugar in the whipped cream, so the cake can be left on display during the reception.
- Hand-finished cakes comprise elaborate finishes like hand-painted cakes, gold leaf finishes and metallic cakes.
- Fault-line finishes that look like an outer chunk of cake is missing so you can see into the cake’s interior which features piles of sprinkles, flowers, fruit, hidden layers and more.
Wedding Cake Shapes
- There are lots of possibilities when it comes to the shape of your cake. We’ve seen all shapes and sizes including round, square, mini, oval, sphere, hexagon, octagon, petal and more!
- Can’t decide on a one shape? You can also opt to have different shapes as different tiers.
Wedding Cake Tiers
- While the classic wedding cake has three tiers, there are no rules to how many tiers you can have! From single tier all the way up to staggering heights, the only limit is your budget!
- Traditionally, the large bottom tier is to be shared out at the wedding, the smaller middle tier is to share with those who couldn’t make it after the wedding, and the top tier is saved for the couple’s 1st wedding anniversary.
- Tiers can be stacked, freestanding or on pillars between each layer to add extra height.
- Typically, three tiers will serve 50 to 100 guests, so you’ll likely need five layers for 200 guests or more. You can give the illusion of a larger cake by increasing the cake’s height with columns between the tiers. Wilton cakes have a great guide for determining the serving size.
- Double-height (also known as double barrel) tiers have become very popular recently where two identical cakes are stacked on top of each other before being iced to look like a single layer.
- Don’t want a number of tiers? Go for one simple tier. Beautifully decorated, it can be just as stunning as a 10-tier cake!
- Mini Cakes are individual-sized, small, detailed cakes that are served to each one of your guests. The beauty of mini-cakes is that they can be made in a variety of flavours.
- Mini cakes can be a quite costly option as they are all individually made and decorated. A more cost-effective alternative are cupcakes.
- Mini cakes are a great option for a smaller guest list as it’s a more achievable option, budget-wise.
Wedding Cake Decoration
The decor you choose to add to your cake will add that extra personal touch. Whether it’s a simple ribbon trim, sugar flowers, or a hand-painted pattern, there are literally thousands of decor accents to choose from. Here are just a few of our favourites:
DIY & Shop-Bought Wedding Cake
- If your heart is set on a beautiful regal-style cake with six tiers, delicate sugar flowers, and perfect icing, a DIY wedding cake may not be the best option for you. However, DIY is a good option if you plan on having a dessert table with a selection of smaller cakes. We have a whole post on how to do a DIY dessert table.
- Many food stores now stock pre-iced cakes which are ideal for couples on a tight budget. M&S, Avoca, Asda and Tesco all have a selection of plain white iced fruit cakes and even some fancier designs. You can choose to decorate with fresh flowers, ribbon, hand-painted exteriors… the list is endless. You could also consider bringing the cake to an experienced cake artist for them to work their magic on the cake, this means the cake will be more unique to you without the added cost of designing a cake from scratch.
Wedding Cakes for Guests with Allergies & Dietary Requirements
- Gluten, nut or dairy-free cakes or other options for guests with dietary requirements are important to consider, this can easily be worked around by asking your wedding cake supplier to make one tier for guests with dietary requirements. Or, create a separate cake altogether.
- There are also lots of gorgeous options now for vegan and raw wedding cakes.
Wedding Cake Flavours & Fillings
- This is the fun part! Don’t feel you have to settle for the traditional fruit cake if you don’t want to, there are literally thousands of flavours to choose from these days. Coffee, white chocolate and nut flavours have recently become popular, as have citrus, fruit and floral flavours.
- Many couple opt to match the season of the wedding – light, dainty flavours for a spring or summer wedding and rich, heavy cakes for an autumn or winter wedding.
- Having lots of tiers? Or, you and your other half have two favourite flavours? Why not choose a different flavour for each tier. Make sure there is at least one tier that you think will go down well with your guests!
The next step? Get in touch with one of our wonderful recommended wedding cake suppliers!