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Fall-Inspired Wedding Cakes from One of New York City's Top Bakers

Betsy Thorleifson, owner of Nine Cakes, embraced the season and created seven beautiful confections that are perfect for an autumn wedding date.

Summer generally gets credited as the best season for weddings. While it's definitely a favorite time of year for brides and grooms to tie the knot, there's just something about a fall wedding date that gets us so excited. As it turns out, we're not the only ones. More and more couples are beginning to wed in September, October, and November than ever before, and wedding planners, photographers, florists, caterers, and bakers say this season is their favorite to work on.


That's why we caught up with Betsy Thorleifson, owner of Nine Cakes in Brooklyn, New York, to talk all things fall wedding cakes. "I'm loving the subtler fall color palettes," she says of wedding cake designs. "Blushes, tangerines, golden creamy colors with hints of plum and rest. Overall, a moodier look." With that, Thorleifson says more couples are asking for black, navy, and deep plum colored cakes. "They're so dramatic!" As for flavors, Thorleifson is partial to unexpected pairings. "My favorite fall flavors are our almond cake with poached pears and a hint of cardamom, and our chocolate cake with pomegranate buttercream and crystallized ginger."


Here, Thorleifson talks about even more trends and she loves for autumnal desserts. Even better, the pro baker whipped up seven fall-inspired designs and asked Judy Pak to photograph each. Get inspired by her creative confections and start dreaming up your own fall wedding cake. 

Autumn Gold

For this cake, Thorleifson set out to create an updated version of a classic wedding dessert. "I was aiming for a classic black and white cake, but with a few accent colors for some subtle interest and depth," she says. "The gold adds a modern touch." If you and your spouse-to-be love a traditional look but want to include a subtle nod to the season, Thorleifson says to do so with floral accents. Here, she chose sugar ranunculus and anemones that would likely pop up in fall wedding decorations.


As for metallic accents, Thorleifson feels strongly that they work year-round, but adds that the warm glow of gold and copper are particularly evocative of fall. 

Changing Leaves

This cake was created in various shades of yellow, playing off the idea of changing leaves in the fall. "I think the more muted, deeper hues of yellow feel a bit more fall like rather than the soft, clear yellows evocative of spring," Thorleifson says. As for that gorgeous peony on top, the baker tells us that it's okay to use non-in-season flowers, too. "While we try and coordinate with the floral design of the wedding, if there's a flower that works well on the cake, or is somebody's favorite but out season, they should use it!" she adds. "That's one of the added benefits of using sugar flowers." 

A Twist on a Classic

If you consider yourself a traditional bride with a modern aesthetic, Thorleifson says this is the cake for you. "I love the interest of a flower arrangement that changes through different colors, so I wanted to take that idea and spread it across a tall cake," she says. While this classic confection could work for any season, Thorleifson suggests upping the fall ante with autumnal flavors, like a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and roasted walnuts, or a chocolate cake with pomegranate buttercream and ginger.

Moody Watercolors

Inspired by hand-dipped escort cards that layered various colors for a rich, saturated look, Thorleifson set out to create a watercolor wedding cake. Striking and simple, the idea works for any season, but these colors in particular speak to a fall wedding date. "I would draw from other colors being used throughout the wedding, perhaps from the floral design, linens, and invitations," she advises couples who'd like to mimic the look. "From there, you can just lighten or darken the main color to get a larger range and more dimension with the design." 

Rich Fall Hues

Fall weddings are the perfect time to use a rich, saturated color palette, which is exactly what Thorleifson brought to the table with this cake. Inspired by Dutch flower paintings (you know, the ones with low-contrast color palettes and flowers that seem to be just past their prime), Thorleifson chose a teal surface color and accented the confection with yellow and rust-inspired hues. "We added a linen finish to the fondant and the deckled edge lined with copper for a little something extra," she says. 

Fall Sunset

"My inspiration for this cake was a glowing early fall sunset," Thorleifson says. "All of the rich, saturated colors of late summer, but with the overall golden glow of fall."  When it comes to adding accents, she adds that it's okay to be playful, especially on "a colorful cake with an exuberant vibe." "I'm not as concerned that the flowers are hyper-realistic or even actually exist in nature," she says. "Just have fun with it and make something luscious and memorable."

Sunny Splash

Don't be afraid of using color just because you're having a fall wedding. "So many colors work well with fall," she says. "We've been doing more cakes lately incorporating muted blues and navy, which looks gorgeous as a dramatic backdrop to other dusty fall colors." Gold, copper, rust, moody yellow, and deep red all look create in the autumn, but Thorleifson also loves plum, slate gray, dark rose, or persimmon for an unexpected accent.