Wedding Cake Trends

February 23, 12:23 PMWedding Planning ExaminerLorraine DarConte
Trends in wedding cakes include black-and-white, fresh flowers and ribbons, and multiple tiers.
Trends in wedding cakes include black-and-white, fresh flowers and ribbons, and multiple tiers.
Lorraine A. DarConte www.ldarconte.com

Like flowers and bridal gowns, wedding cakes also go through cycles of popularity when it comes to taste and looks. Choosing the flavors of the cake, icing and filling (chocolate, cream cheese, carrot, or mango?) may be easier than choosing the "style" of the cake. So what's everybody eating now? According to Charleen Huebner, Baking and Pastry Arts Program Coordinator, Culinary Instructor at Stratford University in Falls Church, Va. www.stratford.edu, popular wedding cakes for 2010 include tall cakes with five to seven tiers decorated with fondant ruffles/laces (a fondant is rolled out like a dough and laid over the cake for a matte finish, and is often used to make decorative elements that can't be done with buttercream icing). Charleen sees the old adage—“something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue”—reflected in cakes that are dramatically colored with green, blue, violet and orange—or colored to match the bridesmaid's dresses. Sophisticated monogrammed wedding cakes, edible painted cakes, and cakes in the shape of pretty baubles are also hot right now.
  
Award-winning wedding planner, Crista Tharp is owner and executive director of Tharp Events in Kokomo, Indiana http://www.tharpevents.com/. Crista has planned more than 150 weddings, spoken at numerous conferences and workshops, and is the author of 6 books on weddings. Crista predicts couples will be saying good-bye to cute cupcake towers and simple wedding cakes. "More couples will opt for stylish cakes that make a statement. This means taller cakes with more layers and intricate details in bold colors," says Crista. "Bakers are outdoing themselves with unbelievable cake designs that look so real you don’t even want to eat them." Also, she notes, the Groom’s Cake is making a popular comeback. "This is a great way for the groom to inject his own personality, specifically, into the wedding reception. I just saw a groom, who is a professional golfer, choose a cake that looks just like a golf course. The guests loved it!”

Black-and-White and Vintage
Cakes for Occasions (www.cakes4occasions.com), a gourmet bakery in Massachusetts, creates more than 700 wedding cakes each year. Owner, Kelly Delaney, who received her culinary education from the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and the Cordon Bleu in London, is recognized as one of the nation's top baking experts. Delaney's "Pearls & Shells" wedding cake was voted the viewer favorite and featured on NBC's Today show for its Destination Wedding segment in 2004. "This year," states Kelly, "we are seeing bides who are looking to mix modern designs and traditional, elegant designs into their wedding cakes.  This seems to be building upon a trend that has emerged over the past several yeas where brides are looking to personalize their cakes by tying in themes, favorite accents, and patterns that match their invitation or even their wedding dress (i.e. lace work).
 
"Black-and-white cakes are popular again this year," adds Kelly, "but it is important to keep black accents to a minimum as they will pop against the white and can easily overpower the cake.  White-on-white wedding cakes will always be classic and elegant, but using bolder accent colors for the design work, even using chocolate, is becoming more and more popular.  We are also using more buttercream and less fondant to create a smooth, satin look. The benefits of this approach are many—it looks good, tastes great, and is more cost effective." Kelly says more brides are seeking cakes with natural colors and simpler designs, with a “less is more” attitude. "This can be achieved by bringing in pops of color through fresh flowers and/or real ribbon or through simple floral and vine artwork. This 'less is more' idea ties in with the popular 'going green' theme and also helps keep costs down."
 
According to Julia Hewitt, owner and main event producer for Eventures, Inc. (www.eventuresinc.net), a full service, event production company based in Los Angeles (past clients include Bob Saget and James Caan), modern brides are looking to be more creative and out-of-the-box with their wedding cakes. “The wedding cake is a great way for the bride and groom to express themselves and tell a little more of their story to their guests,” says Julia. “Lately, there has been a resurgence of vintage pieces used or created by local artists for the bride and groom. A lot of my brides have their cakes adorned to look like vintage lace doilies painted with their vows or a favorite poem.” Another trend is the use of real flowers to adorn cakes instead of buttercream or sugarpaste flowers.  "The most important thing on these cakes is that the icing be super-smooth whether that is done with fondant or buttercream; the surface should appear clean and clear.”

The Cup Cake Bar
Cup cakes are still being served at weddings, but now, with a twist. "We’ve come up with a new take that has really been embraced by kids and grownups alike," states Ginger Matovich at Chef Paul Catering in Gurnee, Illinois (www.freshappetizers.com).  "The cupcake bar.  We set up a cupcake menu, bring cupcakes, fillings, frostings, and decorations to the event. A pastry chef takes orders and creates the cupcakes right on the spot in front of the guests. This station works great as an addition to a sweet table," states Ginger. "It also finishes off a wedding with a fun activity." The cupcake station costs about $3.25 to $5.00 per person depending on guest count, event timing, and flavor and decoration choices.  The pricing, she concludes, falls in the same range as a decorated wedding cake (depending on the bakery).