These fabulous finishing touches, which you, a friend, or a baker can create following these how-tos, will help you make even the most basic confection wedding-worthy.
Faux Floral Cake
There's a secret to this blossom-draped dessert: The big-impact blooms are made of tissue paper (by Livia Cetti). And while this cake is high on style, it's low on effort. Just insert the wire stem of each lifelike bud into the cake. Underneath this tropical exterior, anything goes. Our food editor's suggestion: "Something exotic, like coconut with passion fruit filling."
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Order mini buttercream cakes—one for every two guests. Then, create the geometric patterns by sifting colored sugar (try Wilton bright shimmer dust) mixed with confectioners' sugar over each. Delight guests with a different flavor for every design.
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Thanks to a trailing Grecian-style vine, this cake has "goddess" written all over it. The white chocolate foliage, molded from fresh mint, looks delicate and tastes delicious. For the cake inside, rich chocolate layered with mint buttercream would be complementary yet unexpected. Serve with vanilla ice cream—because everything is better à la mode.
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Cheery poppies don't have to be in season for you to make this pretty, fondant-covered cake. Instead, fashion crepe-paper ones yourself, or look for similar ones at a crafts stores. Either way you slice it, you've got a cake with flower power that lasts all day.
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Rose-Piped Wedding Cake
This happy rose confection may look couture, but just about anyone is capable of re-creating it. Start with a plain fondant cake from a bakery. Next, print out our template of abstract roses, place parchment paper over it, and trace with a piping bag of royal icing. Once dry, peel the paper from the piped roses, and adhere the designs to the cake using gum paste that's been mixed with hot water.
Architectural yet intimate, our white-chocolate panel cake requires neither culinary talents nor design skills (other than the ones you learned in preschool). Just order a buttercream cake from a local bakery and a pack of chocolate panels from chocolatier Christopher Norman. The rest is a cakewalk: Adhere panels of varying heights onto the tiers, and fill the ledges with golden raspberries or another fruit.
The Details: Cake panels, $400 for 100 panels, ChristopherNormanChocolates.com.
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Not to be overly dramatic, but stop the presses! We've discovered the one cake-decorating tool that will change your life (or at least your sweets table). The aptly named CakeVase is a clear plastic disk with divots for holding flower stems. The disk keeps the flowers crisp and vibrant for hours—and the cake pristine because the décor and the dessert never touch each other.
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As fun to make as it is to eat, our sparkling marmalade-candy cake takes a little muscle—and that's about it. Buy your favorite hard candies (we used La Vie de La Vosgienne), place them in a large resealable plastic bag, get a rolling pin, and have a blast pounding away your prewedding jitters. Then press the glittering crushed pieces to the sides of a buttercream cake.
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Give your cake a splash of whimsy. Order up a fondant cake, plus a bucket of fondant, from a bakery. Add food coloring to the fondant to get the right hues, and roll out into a thin sheet. Cut with various teardrop-shaped cookie cutters, let dry, and attach to the front of the cake with gum paste mixed with hot water.
The Details: Ateco Teardrop Cookie Cutters, $16, SurlaTable.com.
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Download our PDF files for this ranunculus cake swag, and print clip art onto 8 1/2-by-11-inch cover-weight paper (send the monogram wreath to a calligrapher to monogram, or initial it yourself).
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Digitally Printed Floral Cake
Instead of having flowers piped on your cake, have them printed! In fact, any pattern or image can be reproduced on edible paper with food-safe dye. Then, have your baker press the sheets around the sides or top of a buttercream frosted pastry just before serving, for a dessert that's as pretty as, well, a picture!
The Details: 9-by-7 inch sheet, $6, EdiblePrinting.com.