Let your imagination grow wild.
Photography: Aiala Hernando1 of 6
Fresh blooms are an undeniably chic and romantic way to take a basic cake from simple to stunning—without costing a fortune. Adding blossoms can be as easy as topping your confection with one showstopping flower or adorning it with a stop-and-stare arrangement. Let your imagination grow wild.
Make a Statement
Crowning a Swiss-meringue-buttercream-frosted confection with a 'Big Fun' rose is just that: BIG fun! (And it makes a major impact with a small number of stems.) Starting with a fully open bloom, we hot-glued individual petals from another rose and a brighter 'Pink Floyd' varietal until the flower reached an awe-inspiring size. Then, we attached dark-chocolate "leaves" underneath and placed it on the cake. A wash of food coloring on the bottom tier creates an ombré effect and signals that the topper isn't the only thing coming up roses: Inside, layers of honey cake alternate with rose-flavored filling.
The Details: Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton "Olio" sugar bowl and creamer set, $86, and "Olio" large pitcher, $86, royaldoulton.com. "Oslo" cake server, $35, canvashomestore.com. Cake stand, $15, cb2.com.
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On this four-tiered beauty, pea shoots, fennel and cilantro blossoms, bachelor's buttons, sweet alyssums, oregano, and micro marigolds were pressed into Swiss meringue buttercream to mimic the look of planted window boxes. "The frosting has a tacky texture, which means stems stay put," says contributing editor Jason Schreiber, who made these desserts. But there's no need to limit yourself to the plants shown here; most herbs with hardy stalks (think lavender and rosemary) would be up for the job and would pair well with citrus flavors, like the lemon-thyme pound cake here.
Insider Insights: Organic, edible flowers are your best bet for decorating your cake. You can order many options from Gourmet Sweet Botanicals. If you have your heart set on a nonedible variety, like a hydrangea or peony, your florist or baker will create a barrier between the flower and the icing.
The Details: Edible flowers, from $9.50, gourmetsweetbotanicals.com.
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You heard it through the grapevine: Twining this wild climber around three tiers of fondant makes for a cake that's rustic, refined, and right on target for a vineyard or garden wedding. After wrapping the grapevine and pressing it into the frosting, we anchored it in place with toothpicks and added in a few sweet peas and blueberries. This same technique would work well with any flexible fruit vine, like berries or passionfruit—which could inspire the cake's flavor, too. Just keep in mind that whatever variety you choose, this decoration truly is too pretty to eat; the swag should be removed before serving.
Insider Insights: Since fresh decorations need to be applied on the day of, we don't recommend DIY-ing. Your florist can add blooms up to eight hours before go time, as long as the cake is refrigerated until it's displayed.
The Details: "Dauville" cake stand, $98, canvashomestore.com.
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We're not leading you up the garden path. You really can have a cake with island flair, even in a steamy setting, if it's covered in fondant and flowers that can take high temps without wilting. Here, we attached 'Angel Wing' begonia leaves, popcorn shoots, miniature orchids, and sage blossoms with piped royal icing and toothpicks. On the side: scoops of sorbet, each garnished with a mini orchid. The tropical touch you can't see? Lychee buttercream layered beneath the exotic exterior packs a tasty punch.
Insider Insights: Buttercream, ganache, and meringue melt fast, making them a better fit for indoor weddings. Outdoors or in hot climates, go with fondant for the exterior and top with hardy blooms, like roses, chrysanthemums, and orchids.
The Details: Edible flowers, from $8.50, gourmetsweetbotanicals.com.
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Give petite treats a little something extra, and you'll prove the saying about good things coming in small packages. Have your caterer pour dark-chocolate ganache over individual desserts, then drop a single stemless pansy on top of each when the coating cools (but before it hardens) to set it. The glossy surface makes a dramatic backdrop and tastes like heaven, with or without blooms—pansies aren't just gorgeous, they're also edible. (And so are nasturtiums, which would work nicely, too.)
The Details: Pansies, $12.50 for 50, gourmetsweetbotanicals.com.
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Sprinkle cheerful blooms (spider mums, pea shoots, and snapdragons) on a group of small, basic confections, like this Swiss meringue buttercream-topped cake by Jeffrey Selden of Marcia Selden Catering. Not only is it an easy way to punch up a multicake display, which can be more budget-friendly than one towering version, but it also lets you showcase a variety of flavors.