Advice for Designing the Wedding Cake of Your Dreams

It's one of wedding planning's sweetest tasks.

Contributing Writer
izzy tom wedding cake
Photography by: Rebecca Yale

Deciding on what the wedding cake will look and taste like is something you and the groom have been eager to do. (So much more fun than the seating chart!) You get to be creative and make a cake that's as custom as the rest of the wedding. Read through our tips then make an appointment with your baker to talk tiers and tastings.


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Study your baker's website.

Your baker's online portfolio is what first attracted you to him or her—photo after photo of the most stunning and creative cakes you've ever seen. Go back there and see which themes, designs, and details most appeal to you and how you might like to tweak them for your own cake.


Make it complement the rest of the wedding.

Overall, your cake should look like it belongs to your wedding. Think about the season you're marrying in (a seashell design for a December wedding in Cincinnati wouldn't work but sparkly snowflakes would), your dress's texture (is it lacy? does it have ruffles?), the venue (you'd do vastly different designs for a reception held in a barn than one held in a ballroom), or your theme (art deco, lime-blue-white)


Consider the architecture.

Do you want a cake that's built with columns between each tier or do you prefer one that's stacked, where each layer sits on top of each other?


Pick the shape.

A round-tiered cake is classic; if you want something less expected, go with square or hexagonal layers, or asymmetrical, where square layers are swiveled rather than stacked neatly.


Choose buttercream or fondant.

This often is determined by the design rather than the bride’s preference. While buttercream is considered much tastier, fondant—a smooth, firm sugar icing that can be stenciled, molded, and appliquéd—is more suitable to elaborate designs. But cakes covered in fondant often have a layer of buttercream underneath, which means win-win!


Decorate it.

Sugar can be molded into countless things—flowers, fruits, figurines, jewelry that matches the pearls or gemstones you're wearing. If you were planning on decorating your cake with fresh flowers, discuss alternatives with your baker, who may refuse to use the real thing to avoid any pesticide contamination.


Pick an icing color.

You could match your cake to the color of your dress or the bridesmaids' dresses. Or you could pick bold colors—hot pink, orange—that echo your centerpieces. Pick a color that makes sense and you'll make a delicious statement.


Decide on flavors and fillings that work together.

Your cake isn't just what's on the outside—the inside counts too. It's cake, after all, and it's meant to be eaten and savored. An experienced baker will have many flavors to choose from, starting with classics like lemon and chocolate and venturing into the land of creative combos. Some we like (make that love): lemon-thyme pound cake with alternates layers of lemon curd and vanilla buttercream; passion-fruit and lime cake made with vanilla cake layers, brushed with lime simple syrup and filled with passion fruit curd, and covered with Swiss meringue buttercream, or Mexican hot-chocolate cake made with cinnamon-vanilla cake and dark chocolate buttercream spiked with chili powder.


Pay attention during the tasting.

Bakers often have tastings for their clients where they offer several varieties of cakes, fillings, and frostings to try out and come up with your own combos. Take small tastes or you'll be in sugar shock halfway through!



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About the Author

Nancy Mattia

Though Nancy has been writing about weddings for years, she admits that watching a bride walk down the aisle—even on TV—still makes her tear up. The New York-area writer's other favorite wedding moments are when the groom sees the bride for the first time, hearing the toasts, and when she sees a waiter with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres walking towards her. 


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