So how did our wedding cake turn out, were we happy with the results, and what would we have done differently? To the right you can see our final wedding cake for yourself! My newlywed husband and I first saw the cake after the ceremony, when we went into the reception room to take photographs while our guests were at the cocktail hour. Our jaws dropped when we saw it. It looked absolutely stunning! It was definitely very grand and elegant, and so surprisingly tall! It certainly made an amazing first impression. Let’s break down how it faired on the other criteria.
Firstly, our cake maker did a first-rate job with matching the sugar flowers on the cake to those in our wedding bouquets – a selection of roses, gardenias and orchids. We definitely benefited from being able to send her pictures of the finished bouquets far ahead of the day, since we made use of artificial blooms, though I can imagine she would have been able to make a fairly educated guess if we’d simply told her our plans for fresh flowers. With the pillars between the top two tiers of the cake being so tall (seven inches high), it was definitely a good choice to also include sugar flowers on top of the second tier, or the middle section would have looked rather bare. The blue orchids in the middle also added some much needed color to what otherwise would have been a very beige cake.
I also adored our bride-and-groom cake topper. I had ordered it online in my home country and sent it direct to the cake baker, so did not see the topper until we entered the reception room during our cocktail hour. The topper was very cute and romantic, though the faces of the figurines looked a little more expressionless than I had hoped for. The topper was also taller than I expected, approximately five inches high, but was actually nicely in proportion for our rather tall cake. So some advice for other couples also using a cake topper is to consider how the topper will look (and measure) in relation to the rest of your cake. The figurines also sat nicely within the U-shape arrangement of sugar flowers on the top tier (I was concerned things would all look a little crammed), though in hindsight I wish the U-shape had been facing the opposite way. That way, it would have been visible that the bride and groom were standing “on a beach”, and that “just married” was written in a heart on that sand. We had spent a while finding a cake topper that matched our interests, and had chosen this one because of my beach hometown and beach wedding, so that effort was somewhat in vain.
Last week I mentioned that one reason I had strived for a fun wedding cake topper was so that we could keep it as a memento of the day… and indeed, our cake topper still takes pride of place on the center shelf in our living room. 😀
For the ribbons, the choice of beige from our wedding color palette definitely helped better ensure a classic, formal look for the cake (and not a baby shower style, as my groom was concerned about), though I think our powder blue or royal blue shades could have still looked quite grand, while also adding some vibrancy. Perhaps white, rather than ivory fondant, would also have brightened up the cake.
The last element in our design was the beige damask pattern around the sides of the middle tier. I am verrry happy that we added this element to the design, as I think the cake would have looked a bit dull without it. It wasn’t an exact match to our wedding website and stationery, which I had shown the cake maker in advance, but still looked amazing – and I’m sure no one other than me noticed it wasn’t a perfect match to the stationery (or even remembered anything about a pattern on our stationery, for that matter :P). The pattern was beautifully made by the cake baker.
Heights and Portions
The first thing that stood out with our wedding cake was just how tall it was. Our cake maker had originally quoted us for a three-tier cake only nine inches high, which struck us as being too small for our guests to see from the other side of the room. We stacked up DVDs on our dining table at home to figure out what height we would like to aim for with the cake, and we settled on doubling the height of each tier to six inches, plus adding one level of pillars. Our cake maker advised that her 7-inch pillars would be more in proportion to the rest of the cake than 3- of 5-inch options, and we trusted her judgement on that point.
That, in theory, brought the total height of the cake to 25 inches (a little over 60 cm) – but we forgot to consider that an extra inch is added by the plates the different cake tiers sit on, and five inches for our cake topper. This in fact made the entire construction 31 inches tall (almost 80 cm)! As well as forgetting those additions to the height, the Reflective Groom and I were considering the stack of DVDs from our own viewpoint: where we stand in relation to the cake when cutting it. What we didn’t think of was the perspective of our guests during that cake-cutting photo opp moment… and if we had, we’d have realized that the cake was so tall that it actually was higher than our shoulders and blocked the view of our faces. :S
And here’s more evidence that our cake was too tall. The day after the wedding, we returned to the reception room to collect some decorations from the festivities. Our venue manager asked if we’d also like the kitchen to box up the leftover wedding cake. “Extra wedding cake!” we exclaimed. “Cool, we can send some to relatives who weren’t able to come to the wedding!” We were quite surprised when the venue manager brought out the entire top tier of the wedding cake… and the entire middle tier.
Yes, after all the trouble we’d gone to choose different flavors for each tier, our guests only got to try the chocolate cake, and completely missed the carrot and caramel mud (luckily we’d at least gone for crowd-pleasing chocolate on the bottom). What had happened was that the kitchen had seen that the cake tier on the bottom (the one we had cut in front of everyone during the reception) was too tall to simply slice up and put on small cake plates. As each tier was made double our cake maker’s standard height, there was actually fondant filling through the middle of their tier, so the kitchen decided to actual sliced the cake horizontally through the filling first, before slicing vertically to plate a piece of cake for each guest. They continued cutting up cake until guests stopped coming back for seconds… and apparently our guests got full before the first cake tier was finished. (Ironically, people probably would have come back for additional pieces if the other flavors had been put out!)
So all in all we paid for two tiers of cake that were in fact completely useless to us on the night. We did, however, put those tiers to some good after the day. We sliced up the entire middle tier and sent pieces to guests who couldn’t come, as well as the family of guests who were able to join us. We also saved the smaller top tier for the Reflective Groom and I to enjoy together on our first wedding anniversary, which had not been the plan (read more about that here).
The height also had some impact on the design of the cake. As mentioned, our cake maker had recommended 7-inch pillars to be in proportion to the rest of the cake, but I think actually 5-inch pillars would have been far better. With each tier of the cake being six inches, the 7-inch pillars only added to that feeling of the cake being quite skinny. A suggestion I would make to others concerned about height is to mock up a scale drawing (you could simply use a Word document) of your wedding cake, pillars and all, so you can actually see how it will look in proportion to the rest. Another point on design is that the ribbon was quite narrow for the height of the cake; if you, too, are going large with your tiers, go for a ribbon width that’s more in proportion.
All in all, I would have to say that any “constructive criticisms” shared here are small potatoes. I’m nitpicking now with our wedding cake, in the interests of really giving other couples honest, practical advice on even the smallest improvements that could have made our wedding cake even better. In truth, I still completely love our wedding cake! It definitely had quite a wow factor, tied together looks from other elements of our wedding (like the flowers and stationery), tasted amazing, and mooore than fed our guests (and then some!). The wedding cake is definitely one of the big planning successes of our special day!
What are you planning for your wedding cake? How many tiers and what flavors are you planning?