Mythbusting: Wedding Cake Edition
Common Myths Couples Fall Into When Choosing Their Wedding Cake
You’ve done it! You booked your venue, hired your photographer, chosen your dress, and picked out the perfect flowers! Now it’s time to select your cake. You’ve read the blogs, and you’ve heard about ways to “save money” on your wedding cake. I’m Natalie with Cake Envy in Georgia, and I’m here to help you make the absolute BEST choices and put to rest a few redundant, tired, old suggestions and “tips” that have been circulating for years. Ready? LET’S DO THIS!
Sheet cake = giant, previously frozen grocery store cake frosted with bucket frosting.
Kitchen cake = custom baked, luxe cake which is the same height and custom flavor, filling & frosting of your wedding cake, but kept in the kitchen, so that when it’s cut & plated, the slices are no different than the ones that came from the wedding cake. This is primarily done when extra servings of cake are needed, but you do not want a larger wedding cake.
Myth #1: “I will just get a fake cake and feed my guests sheet cakes.”
We cake designers hear this all the time, and on the surface, it may sound genius, but let me explain why it’s not. First, the majority of what you’re paying for in a wedding cake is design. And whether we do that on styrofoam/dummy tiers or a real cake, the design elements stay the same. The cost of styrofoam itself is basically equivalent to eggs & flour, so you’re still paying the same price for the cost of goods. The decorating is exactly the same whether it’s faux or real. Now, please tell me you’re not thinking of a grocery store sheet cake? Please tell me you’re not! Let’s assume you’re not talking about a sheet cake, but referring to a kitchen cake. When you add on a kitchen cake to serve your 150 guests, this means that I am still baking enough cake to serve 150 people (so you’re paying for all those eggs & flour anyways), I’m still making filling for the cake to serve 150, I’m still hand making frosting for a cake to serve 150, and still doing the same delivery to your venue. Literally EVERYTHING is the same, and you’ve added an element (styrofoam) that actually ends up adding to the expense of it!
There are times where a faux cake is a really practical or even preferred way to go (outdoor wedding/weather considerations/exceedingly difficult structured designs, cake is traveling a long distance, etc.) but this does not make it cost less.
Myth #2a: “We just want a small little cutting cake for ourselves and sheet cakes for the guests.”
Can I be honest? This is a terrible idea. This is you recognizing that a custom cake is superior to a sheet cake, so you want the novelty of having a custom cake, but you want all the goodness just for yourself. It’s akin to ordering prime rib for yourselves and getting hot dogs for the guests. It’s just not proper etiquette nor polite, and quite honestly, could be seen as an insult to your guests who came to share this day with you. Seen it done. Do Not Recommend!.
Myth #2b: “We just want a small little cutting cake for ourselves and we are going to do (insert cute idea here for our guests.)”
Again, this says that you recognize the tradition of having a wedding cake, but don’t want to share in that same tradition with the guests who attend your wedding to celebrate WITH you. For all the same reasons as above, please don’t exclude your guests from having wedding cake!
It will be hard to even find a custom cake designer who will agree to make a small cutting cake while you’re serving a grocery store sheet cake to your guests. When the guests are eating that sheet cake and asking, “who made the cake?”, when it’s posted on instagram where vendors get credited, you’ll be crediting your custom cake designer, NOT the grocery store. This could be bad press for the custom cake designer. Lastly, no little girl dreams of a grocery store sheet cake when she’s looking forward to being a bride! Aside from small details, your cake is honestly the least expensive part of your wedding, so don’t go cheap here! Give them something to talk about!
Myth #3 – “We are having 150 but only need a cake for about 100 because not everybody eats cake”.
Everyone may not eat the sheet cake that is brought to the break room at the office for Bob’s retirement, but trust me… your guests are extremely food savvy! They watch the cake shows, food network, and the cooking channels. They know what is possible. When surveyed, over and over, when asked what people love most about weddings, the answer is always the same, (aside from you saying “I do”), “The food and the dancing/DJ!” Weddings are one of very few elevated events where people get to try food that they cannot get on a regular basis. (think of your last company holiday party at a luxury hotel!) The cake is no exception! So while people may not normally be excited to eat the cake that is provided at every day events, this is going to be an AMAZING cake! Custom, luxury flavors made with the highest quality ingredients that they can’t get just anywhere with bespoke fillings and frosting which elevate it and make it worthy of this brand new life together! Bonus: It’s designed beautifully! Trust me! They want to taste it! Get enough cake for everyone to have a piece, and if you have a little extra, that’s a bonus, because when did leftover cake become a bad thing?
Do the cake cutting right after dinner! Dessert is a natural progression in the meal, so waiting until after the dance floor is hopping, when people have been drinking, basically guarantees that many will miss your cake cutting and won’t get to eat the cake.
Myth #4 – “We are just going to do a dessert display”.
Okay. So this isn’t so much a myth as it is a ‘stop & think about it’ a little bit. I always fear sounding like a used car salesman when I say this, but I promise, just hear me out & you’ll see what I mean. Refer back to #3. Guests are food savvy. People want to try what you’re providing them, so it’s almost a guarantee that they will want to try a little bit of everything. The more you serve, the more they try! Here’s a distinction to make: they may not want to actually EAT multiple desserts, but they do want to TRY them. So, when you provide, say, 5 options, MANY people are going to want to try them (think Golden Corral). I have seen this. Lots of waste and half eaten desserts left on the tables from people just wanting a bite or two before moving onto the next dessert. So while this is not necessarily a bad idea, it can be a costly one. You cannot just plan on a 1-1 guest-dessert ratio. And consider this: If your little desserts cost $5/dessert, but now you’re planning on serving 5 dessert options, you should probably plan for people to take 2-3 each and now you’re spending $10-15 per person. It’s my opinion that you don’t need to provide options if the one thing you serve (your cake), is AMAZING! So my advice is to save some money and get one stunning dessert for everyone to get one piece & enjoy!
If you DO decide to do a dessert display, get samples of what you’re thinking of serving and bring them home, set them on the counter for 5-6 hours and see if they still taste good. Because that’s how weddings work. Setup is almost always done prior to guest arrival and can sit out for up to 6 hours before they’re served, (they are not usually packaged, they are sitting out) so make sure what you’re getting is still delicious! Donut towers make great pinterest pictures, but there’s a reason that donuts are half price after 12:00 noon. If you want to see me rage, just try to feed me a day old cinnamon roll!
Myth #5 – “We hate fondant so we really don’t want fondant (then sends pinterest board with all designs in fondant).
So you actually DO want fondant, you just don’t want to eat it. Rarely does anyone get fondant because they want to eat it. They get fondant because the design they want necessitates it. So talk to your cake designer about whether or not your dream cake can be made without it, but don’t be surprised if it can’t. Then, be prepared to accept fondant if that’s the design you want. Many people mistakenly think that cakes are buttercream OR fondant. That’s not true. Fondant is used on top of buttercream (or ganache). So your cake is still frosted. It’s IN ADDITION TO, not IN PLACE OF. As a rule, I always offer the option of buttercream if the design can be done that way.
One caveat with buttercream, however, is that it’s made of butter and so it’s not heat resistant. You can’t ask it to do something it is incapable of doing. If you can’t sit a stick of butter outside on your wedding day, then your cake can’t take it either. So fondant may be your only option depending on your venue, time of year, and cake placement. Also, this is a good time to consider the faux cake from #1 above. It doesn’t cost less, but it’s definitely more able to stand up outside!
I think that’s enough for now! That’s A LOT of info! But now that we’ve gotten the myth’s out of the way, stay tuned! Our next blog post about the cake will be MUCH more fun! We’re coming to you with tips and encouragement and suggestions to make your wedding cake the centerpiece of the entire room!
With over 100 published wedding cakes, Natalie of Cake Envy is one of the top wedding cake designers in Atlanta. Natalie is best known for her organic and clean design and her bubbly personality! You can find her work in multiple publications such as Style Me Pretty, Ruffled, Hey Wedding Lady, and more!