Is there anything better than taking that first bite of wedding cake? No matter what flavor or design, there's something downright irresistible about these tiered confections—and about watching the newlywed couple share their first slice. When it's your turn to taste-test flavors and choose a design, you might find yourself overwhelmed with the plethora of options. From icing and filling to cake batter and design, there's no one right way to make a wedding cake, but that doesn't mean there aren't styles many couples are loving. We asked bakers from across the country to tell us which types of cakes they're seeing brides and grooms order over and over again, and the seven prevailing trends are seriously sweet.
Vintage Cakes with Sophistication
Lauren Loiacono, the pastry supervisor at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, says many couples are choosing desserts with a vintage vibe. "A beautiful way to incorporate this trend into a cake design would be using rose gold metallic and dusty colors," she says. "A dusty blue fondant could be rolled out to enrobe each cake tier. Then glam it up with elegant rose gold accents such as piping detail. Or the couple could alternate the tiers covering each cake with rose gold and dusty blue. Dusty blues that are understated provide mystery and contrast to the elegant rose gold."
Hand-Painted Watercolor Designs
Instead of piping or fondant, many couples are asking their bakers to decorate their wedding cakes with custom paintings. "Elegant, hand-painted watercolor designs are another emerging trend for wedding cakes. These cakes are a 'wow' because they are all about the artistry," Loiacono says. "Designs can range from incredibly detailed with delicately painted flowers or scenes to bold and abstract. Painting cakes with a sponge or stippling with a brush is also an excellent way to create depth and texture."
We'll always love a wedding cake that's decorated with fresh or sugar flowers, but bakers are seeing more and more couples turn away from blooms and choosing another accent instead. For a truly mouthwatering cake, Loiacono says brides and grooms are opting for fruit. "Fresh fruits are a perfect and delicious cake accent. For a touch of sophistication, create a stunning frosted effect by dipping the fruit in granulated or sanding sugar. Couples can use a variety of seasonal fruits or keep everything within one fruit family," she notes.
Calligraphy Cake Toppers
Instead of just hiring your calligrapher to pen your invites and escort cards, see if he or she can also make a cake topper in the same "font." As Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, the CEO and owner of BIRD Bakery, explains, "One of the most popular wedding trends I see today is the calligraphy cake topper. Created by calligraphers and often made from wood, they add a personal and elegant, yet organic touch."
Less Fondant, More Buttercream
Hammer says fewer couples are choosing hard, tasteless fondant and asking their bakers to finish their cakes with classic frosting in a flavor they love instead. "Customers today want textured buttercream. Whether it's vertical spatula texture, rosettes, or horizontal bands, it's all about texture and flavor," she says.
Ah, the naked cake. You've seen this frosting-free or lightly-frosted dessert time and time again, and Hammer says couples are still choosing these relaxed confections for their wedding desserts. "Naked cakes are very popular at the moment because they possess the understated beauty that so many people appreciate. With enough buttercream between each layer, you don't miss the frosting on the outside," she says. "What I love about this style is that it gives the cake itself a moment to shine."
One Stand-Out Tier
There's nothing wrong with a classic white wedding cake, but Francesca Monahan, the pastry chef at Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, says couples are upgrading this traditional look by adding just one decorative tier. "Bakers can use loud textures with ruffles, gold, beads, and glitter on just one tier, and then this acts as the center focal point," she says. "Dark or vibrant colors are also great to use as the 'pop' and really call attention to the cake which is too often left plain with a simple monogram decoration. These cakes are a great ways to pull out an accent color from the wedding, and since it only uses one tier that's heavily decorated, loud colors will not be blinding or overwhelming."