It's easy to go DIY-crazy when it comes to your wedding day. From crafting your sweetheart table garland to making your favors, there are tons of easy and fun ways to personalize your celebration. But there is one aspect that's better left to the pros: your wedding cake.
"Attempting a large, tiered wedding cake is a big feat for an amateur baker," says Betsy Thorleifson of Nine Cakes who created the sugar-flower wedding cake featured here. "There are many things to consider logistically and too many potential ways any of the process could go wrong or take longer than expected."
And she would know. She made three different cakes for her own wedding. "I honestly didn't think it was going to be a big deal. I wish I wouldn't have though, it was so stressful," Thorleifson says. "I didn't have time to decorate them like I imagined, and was sad to miss out on spending every possible minute with my friends and family who were in town for our wedding. Instead I was stuck at the bakery working (at that time I didn't have any staff and worked alone). That being said, the cakes were truly delicious, and it was fun for my out of town guests who normally don't get to try my cakes to sample different flavors."
So, before you start planning the five-tiered coconut cake of your dreams, read on. These eight factors may convince you to put the spatula away and leave the cake baking to the professionals on your big day.
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It's not like a baking a birthday cake.
Even if you make a killer sponge cake and filling that people go wild for, baking a wedding cake isn't like making a one-tier cake at home. Consider this: if the cakes you usually make have 10-12 servings, can you imagine the amount of work you'd have to do to scale that recipe to serve even 50 people at a small wedding?
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It takes a lot of time.
"Making wedding cakes is a time-consuming endeavor to say the least," says Allison Kelleher, owner of AK Cake Design in Portland, Oregon. "Depending on the design, it can take a long day and night of decorating (and into the wee hours of the morning) to finish the job. I would much rather get a good night's sleep before my wedding!"
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"Weddings are stressful to begin with," says Matt Lewis, co-owner of New York's Baked. "Making your own wedding cake on top of planning your own wedding is just more stress." Even if you regularly find baking a relaxing activity, "being tethered to the kitchen the morning of the wedding may be more stressful than you think!" says Maggie Austin of Maggie Austin Cake.
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Wedding cakes require a lot of support (literally!)
If you've never made a tiered cake, now may not be the time to start. "From knowing which recipes work well on a large scale to how best to build a stable, internal support system, there is a great deal of foundation work that needs to be done before the decorating can even begin," says Kelleher. Imagine the horror you'd feel if the top tier started sliding off its base at your reception?
"Most of the work on a wedding cake happens the day before, which is when you will most likely be attending your rehearsal, and tying up all the loose ends before the big day," says Paloma Efron of Coco Paloma Desserts in Texas.
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Storing a wedding cake takes up a lot of space.
Wedding cakes require climate-controlled storage—certain ingredients can be disastrous on a warm day, for instance. Buttercream does not hold up well in a hot environment and will melt if left out in the sun. If your refrigerator isn't large enough to hold your cake, you could be in a lot of trouble.
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Getting a wedding cake from point A to point B is complicated.
"Any professional baker will tell you that delivering a cake is the most stressful part of the process," says Kimberly Bailey, owner of The Butter End. And if you've ever had to drive a birthday cake to a friend's house for a party—or gasp!—carry it on a crowded subway, you know exactly what she's talking about. Now consider what it'd be like to carry a three-tiered wedding cake for 100...
Other factors many amateur bakers often forget is the coordination with the florist, event planner, and venue that has to happen when delivering a wedding cake. "Timing is crucial to creating a wedding cake. Just as you shouldn't bake it too far in advance, you also need to deliver and set it up not more than an hour or so before the wedding," says Efron.