The Wonderful Realm of the Wedding Cake

In today’s world there are just so many different options and choices available to us. We can get a hold of people by traditional phone, smart phone, regular cell phone, email, or regular mail. If we want to get somewhere we can drive a car, ride a bike, take a bus, or stroll along. Given all the various options available to us today, it’s only natural that this variety should work its way into one of our most cherished and honored traditions…that of the wedding cake. Selecting the flavor of the cake and the color of the icing is just getting started with the process. You will also need to take some time to choose the best wedding cake topper for your special cake. In this article we will be exploring the realm of the wedding cake. We will be providing some background details on the tradition, and eventually working on up to the selection process of the perfect topper for that very special wedding cake.

The wedding cake is often proudly and strategically placed during the wedding reception. Often towering way up into the heavens, it can compete with the bride as the “center of attention” on her big day. This delicious work of art establishes a focal point that the other aspects of the reception can revolve around. For those who prefer a flare for the dramatic, the wedding cake can be wheeled into the room at the end of the reception, providing a “grand entrance” for everyone to see. To many people this grand entrance will perhaps trigger memories of the bride who walked down the aisle earlier in the day.

For Starters

The wedding cake has evolved over the years. Starting off as a simple symbol of fertility, it has transformed itself into an artistic tradition that can have many different artistic interpretations. For many ancient peoples wheat was a symbol of fertility and a bountiful harvest. The Ancient Romans used to throw grains of wheat at the bride and groom to “wish fertility” to the new couple during their wedding. This custom eventually evolved into bringing little cakes made from wheat to the wedding banquet itself. People would then crumble this cake over the head of the bride to wish the happy couple “many children”. The guests would then eat the fallen crumbs as a symbol of sharing in the couple’s good fortune.

Many think that this “crumbling of the cake” over the bride’s head may have evolved into another wedding day tradition? Do you know what it is? In order to protect the hapless bride from the wheat shower that is to come, bridesmaids draped a cloth over her head before the “crumbling tradition” took place. Many believe that this simple cloth evolved into the wedding veil of today.

Welcome The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages buns or sweet rolls had replaced the original wheat cakes, but it was still very customary for guests to bring these tasty treats to the wedding. Placed in a huge pile between the bride and groom, if the happy couple was able to kiss over this huge stack of wheat, it was believed that they would be blessed with many children.

It is commonly believed that the next step in the evolution of the traditional cake was performed by a French pastry chef during the 17th century. During a trip to London he happened to observe this “cake piling” ceremony. Upon his return to France he dusted the stack of buns with sugar, and thereby “cemented” them together into one tasty art form. This was to become the first rendition of the tiered and frosted wedding cake, and a forerunner as to what was to come in the years ahead.

The Classic Style

Are you familiar with the classic style of the modern day wedding cake? You know, the one with the distinctive design of smaller tiers as the cake builds vertically? It is believed that this model was inspired by the spire of the 14th century Saint Bride’s church in London. How’s that for a bit of trivia for you?

Victorian England has brought us many of today’s valued wedding traditions. For example, Queen Victoria herself is said to have had a cake that weighed in at 300 lbs. As confectioners and bakers became more daring and skillful, their creations became even more daring and elaborate. When England’s Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were married back in 1947, their wedding cake weighed in at a whopping 500 lbs, and was 9 feet tall.

The Version of Today

In today’s world the elaborate wedding cake is no longer reserved for the rich and famous. Every couple can share in the tradition of having a wedding cake added to their big day. The wedding cake specialists of today’s world have taken their art to towering heights (pardon the pun). Long gone are those bland days when you were limited to a white cake with white frosting. Although a white cake will probably always be the most popular due to its traditional meaning, today’s couple is limited only by the limits of their imagination (and budget) when it comes to their wedding cake.

Why White?

White is definitely the color of a wedding, but did you know that there is another reason why the white is the customary color of a wedding cake? Back in Victorian times the finer ingredients of a wedding cake were scarce and hard to come by. If the cake had a white icing, this revealed the fact that only the best and most expensive white sugar was being used. Brown sugar was much more common, and therefore much less expensive. So, the more white the cake, the richer the people.

Be Sure To Plan Ahead

Don’t leave your special wedding cake until the last minute. This is one of the most important things that you can remember. Whether you choose the baker down the road, a talented family member, or a pastry chef who specializes in these tasty masterpieces, if you plan well in advance you will be able to handle whatever obstacles might come your way. Some bakers require only a minimum notice, while many bakers are booked far in advance. It’s a shame to have that perfect cake of your dreams be “cancelled” due to the fact you cannot allocate a baker’s time.

What’s that you say? You have no idea who will be baking your wedding cake? If you don’t have a particular baker in mind, you have a bit of homework ahead of you. Shop around and get some good recommendations from family and friends. Browse the yellow pages and the internet as they are both valuable informational resources. If you happen to be surfing the web you will see that many bakers today are posting photos of some of their masterpieces. As a sort of masterpiece cake gallery, they showcase what they are capable of producing. This will jog your imagination as to what you would like your own wedding cake to look like.

Don’t Forget Your Budget

Be sure to consider your budget before you let your imagination get the better of you. You want your wedding day to be one of celebration, not the day that you started your journey into financial disaster. Many people are surprised at the cost of a wedding cake. Keep in mind that you are asking an artisan to create a masterpiece for you, and this can often be reflected in the price that he/she will be charging. The cost of labor is often the largest expense in the creation of a wedding cake but keep in mind the simple fact that fondant is more expensive than buttercream.

Have you thought about staging your masterpiece? This comes next. Be sure to take the wedding cake stand into consideration during your planning phase. While some cakes can be simply placed on flat boards that will not be seen by the general public, others are elaborately displayed on beautiful stands for everyone to see. Keep in mind the simple fact that actual size of the cake table must be in proportion to the actual size of your cake. A table that is too small will make the cake look way too big, while a table that is too large will make it look like a tiny cupcake. And before we forget, your cake table will need a beautiful covering to compliment its strategic location at the wedding reception. Oh, don’t forget the cake knife and cake server. There needs to be a place on the table for these two items as well.

The Topper

The topper “tops off” your special wedding cake. The “wedding cake topper” is the name for the elegant decoration or figure that sits atop a wedding cake. While it is true that some couples prefer to have the simple style of an unadorned cake, many prefer to have that final “crowning touch”, the wedding cake topper, sitting on top of the upper layer of the cake. In today’s world the simple plastic “bride and groom” of yesteryear has more likely been replaced by the classic porcelain figurine of today.

So what types of wedding cake toppers are available to us today? We’re glad you asked. Many different types of figures are available. They range from the classic poses to figurines depicting some of the potentially “humorous” aspects of the wedding. For example, a bride dragging the hapless groom back to the altar. Personalized wedding cake toppers are also popular these days, while niche toppers such as a “marine marriage” have their place as well.

Beach Wedding Cake Toppers & Beach Wedding Cakes

If you’re destined for a beach wedding, you may be interested in beach wedding cakes.

Beach weddings are often destination weddings, a popular choice by many couples who are looking to wrap their honeymoon and wedding into one, or to have a smaller, intimate and inexpensive event. To boot, getting married near the shore is extraordinarily romantic, and can make your wedding experience and memories, that much more special.

If you’re a bride-to-be, looking for a beach wedding cakes, what design should you be looking for? What design makes a cake so “by the shore”? Well, that depends on a lot of things. It depends on the couples’ style, interests and hobbies. It depends on theme of the event, the time of year, the characteristics and layout of the location…just to name a few. To get ideas on which cake may be right for your beach wedding, we’ve rounded up lots of ideas that we’ve included below:

Sea Shell Cakes – You just can’t go wrong with sea shells on a beach wedding cake. So what shells? Beaded periwinkle, Florida cone, and maculated ear moon, are some of the most beautiful sea shells for decoration. Small pieces of coral, is also another great choice. The sea shells can be real (wash them well!), or can be made from a variety of icing, molding paste or chocolate. Sea shells can be used subtly or as the main design of the cake. A cluster of shells, as the seashell cake topper is a must for this cake design.

Marine Wild Life Cakes – Incorporate enchanting sea creatures, such as anemones, turtles, tropical fish, sea lions, jellyfish, sea stars, dolphins, whales, or sea horses. We did a wedding in Monterey a few years ago, and the reception was at the Monterey Plaza Hotel – which is right next door to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The entire wedding party visited the aquarium the day before the wedding, experienced a private tour and had a wonderful time. The aquarium was the perfect inspiration for the theme of the cake. The cake designer subtly incorporated some of the sea creatures from the aquarium into the dessert. The topper was a large pearly clam with jewels and pearls pouring out of it, cascading down the side of the cake. (not real pearls, but fondant balls covered with pearl dust!)

Surf Cakes – Crashing waves encircling the cake is the perfect trim for a cake with a surf theme. This style cake is most appropriate for couples who surf, or just love the waves. The surf can be puffy foaming waves, or just subtle hints of wave shaped frosting. Incorporating some blue into the cake can help it look more like the ocean. Airbrushing blue onto cake’s frosting, gives a real nice blended, and realistic effect. Add in a surf boards or figurines surfing as your cake topper, and you’re set.

Tropical Flower Cakes – Hibiscus, cymbidiums, tuberose, or any of your tropical favorites. They can be used as a flower cake topper, they can cascade down the side of the cake or tiers, or used sparingly throughout. Tropical flowers can also completely cover the cake, or be used just on the base. Wherever placed, they will dress up the most plain and dull cake – and make it instantly gorgeous looking, and smelling.

Sandcastle Cakes – Sandcastles on wedding cakes, are usually used as a toppers. But, we have seen entire cakes shaped like castles, or at least the top half of the cake shaped like a castle, with a few traditional wedding cake tiers below it. To get the sandy effect, the cake can be sprinkled with fine graham cracker crumbs or brown sugar.

Palms and Coconut Cakes – To remind you of your beautiful location, how about a subtle design of palm leaves circling the outside cake? A few coconuts as garnish? A cake topper oasis? How about a cracked open half of a coconut as a cake topper, with bride and groom figurines lounging in it, as if it were a hammock?

Buried Treasure Cake – You don’t have to be in the Caribbean to pull this off. The topper could be a treasure chest with gold coins and jewels pouring out of it, cascading down the side of the cake. If you’re in love with Pirates, make have figurine cake toppers of a bride and groom…one as Captain Jack Sparrow, and a fair maiden in her wedding dress, of course.

Bamboo and Tiki Cake – Coat the outside layers of the cake with confections made to look like bamboo. You can also incorporate Tiki masks. We once attended a luau wedding and the cake had miniature tiki torches sticking out of the top, and around the cake on the table. When the bride and groom cut the cake, tribal drums were playing in the background.

Ocean Activity Cake – Love to go snorkeling, fishing, diving, boogie boarding, or kayaking? How about bride and groom figurines fishing for wedding rings off of a pier? This would be easiest to incorporate into a cake topper, but don’t forget figurines can be anywhere on the cake! Get creative! Any of your favorite ocean activities can be incorporated into your cake.

Sea Bird Cake – Sea birds in flight, in love, with their long necks forming a heart. Best as a cake topper, but can be incorporated throughout the cake tastefully if sea birds are your thing.

Lighthouse Cakes – Is your wedding near a really cool lighthouse? We’ve seen a lot of lighthouse cake toppers, but we also had a client who had her baker create an entire cake as a lighthouse. Another client had the two bottom layers of the cake as tiered rounds, and the top half of the cake was a lighthouse and its surrounding area, right down to the boating docks below it.

Sand Cakes – Not real sand! Many bakers use crushed crumbs, like graham crackers, or brown sugar. The base of the cake can be covered with “sand”, or the top of each exposed layer…or the entire cake! Our favorite, is when a pile of “sand” is formed at the base of the cake and spread out on the table a couple inches around it. Something can then be written in the sand, i.e. “Charlie and Beth Forever”, or “CV + BE, 9/12/08”. You get the picture.

Nautical Cakes – Go Nautical! Anchors, ropes, buoys, wooden docks, life preserver rings, etc. These can be made from marzipan, subtly sprinkled around the cake, placed as the base, or used as a cake topper.

Beach Relaxation Cakes – Our absolute favorite beach wedding cake is 2 Adirondack chairs as the cake topper, with 2 pairs of flip flops beneath them. Figurines of the bride and groom sitting in the chairs is optional. A regular beach or lounge chair can also be used instead of the Adirondacks. One of our other favorites was a figurine bride and groom snoozing in a large hammock as the cake topper, with sand and miniature beer bottles beneath them.

Swimming Pool Cakes – Not with real water, we promise! Picture this: the top cake layer made to look like an endless swimming pool. This can be done by cutting the top square edge off of the cake (like a router would carve out the edge of a wooden table), to simulate an endless pool. Figurines of the bride and groom’s heads could be sticking out of the top of the pool, with shades and sunhats on, holding cocktails of course!

Hawaiian Cakes – How about leis as a cake topper? Or a hula bride figurine enticing the groom on the top of the cake? The cake could be wrapped with a sarong, or beach umbrella, Hawaiian cocktails, pineapples, or anything else Hawaiian could be incorporated.

Beach Colored Cakes – Just want to use beach themed colors? Stick with white, tan, off-white, teal, and of course, blue. The use of blue can be subtle as the color of the frosting, or air brushed onto the outside of the cake for a blended or accented look.