Anything goes. That's the unofficial motto for wedding cakes in 2017, according to celebrity baker Kimmee Masi, who has made desserts for celebs like Snooki and the cast of the Real Housewives. While last year was dominated by the naked cake ("People want them with fresh fruit and custards inside," she says) and anything gilded this season, "there's no specific tradition anymore," says the owner of Confections of a Rock$tar. "Now people want things that match their personalities." Here, she and Betsy Thorleifson, owner of Nine Cakes, dish up a few of their favorite cake trends right now.
According to Thorleifson, beautiful painterly cake surfaces are hugely popular with brides and grooms. "Watercolor, marbled fondant, or buttercream to 'paint' or drip are all big," she says. "And still seeing lots of textures done in an elegant way: geometric lines, deckled edges, an all over tonal geometric pattern, bas relief, and unique textures within the sugar flowers."
While brides are still partial to fresh flowers, their greener cousins are also having a moment. Notes Masi, who says the requests have started pouring in over the last few months, "They either want them made of out of sugar or they get real succulents from their florists. And it's not just on wedding cakes—it's first birthdays, baby showers, everything."
As couples shift away from formal sit-down dinners, Masi is seeing them do away with towering cakes as well. "They're looking to keep it simplified with one- or two-tiers," she says, "and then doing a lot of smaller desserts. They have their guests walking around and they don't want to have to be stuck to a chair with a large piece of cake." The trend also affords couples a chance to offer more flavors. Masi says her shop has whipped up everything from mint chocolate chip to almond to red velvet infused with raspberry filling.
Along with brightly colored cakes—"We do a lot of bright pinks and purples!"—Masi gets asked to produce a good number of darker-hued confections. Explains the pro, who crafted a five-tier, rose-covered treat for Jenni "JWoww" Farley's 2015 vows, "When we get closer to Halloween, people aren't just looking for fall colors, they want spooky wedding cakes, which is kind of cool." Thorleifson agrees, adding, "We're seeing couples being more bold in their color choices, and using the cake as a wedding element they can have a bit more fun and be more daring with."
Metallics still rate with today's brides, but Thorleifson says couples are asking for just a hint of color. "We're getting a lot of requests for our metallic lined deckled edge!" she explains, noting that brides and grooms love a simple gold, silver, or copper line as a finishing touch. Masi says that she's not being asked to do lots of gold-painted cakes, or entirely metallic confections, either. "Some people want to do an all-gold cake," although she'll often break up the over-the-top gilded look with a sprinkling of white or pink fresh flowers.
Instead of a standard bride-and-groom figurine (or a bundle of fresh blooms), Masi is seeing duos seek out custom cake toppers. Some request objects that reflect their favorite hobbies (see: bicycles, boats) others turn to the Internet for a more personalized trinket. "There are sites where people can actually make themselves into cartoon characters," she notes, "they're adorable." Plus, it gives the couple a token to take home from their wedding day. Thorleifson, however, finds that most couples are not using actual cake toppers at all. "Instead, we just find a cohesive way to 'top' the cake based on their design elements," she explains. "Whether that's through sugar flowers, some amazing geometric something, and there's always something striking about a cake left perfectly clean.
On the hunt for a unique dessert, some pairs ask for edible images. Masi and her team transform photos of the couples into parts of the cake, "We've done a lot where it looks like old film reels," she says, "where it starts with the beginning of their relationship and ends with their wedding."