(Courtesy chelseafuss.com)

When should we start looking for a cake?

Most wedding planners suggest consulting cake makers 6-9 months before the wedding. This gives you plenty of time to shop around and taste test (and shed the extra kilos from all the taste testing sessions). You can then nut out the details of the size and style of your cake as well as incorporating wedding theme details such as colours or flowers.

Many of our guests have special dietary requirements. How can we get around this when ordering our wedding cake?

If you or your guests have intolerances to certain food groups, it’s important to find a baker who is willing to work around these. One option is to include a smaller cake tier which is gluten-free or egg-free or nut-free or whatever-else-your-guests-are-allergic-to-free. Another option would be to present an allergen-free groom’s cake at the reception or to serve special individual cakes to your allergic guests.

What should we take to the initial cake consultations?

If you have found photos of cakes that you like, bring those along. If not, take as much wedding related paraphernalia as possible to inspire your baker. Colour swatches, photos of your flowers, photos of the reception venue and decoration samples will all help your baker create a cake which will blend in with your wedding theme. Make sure to let the baker know about your favourite flavours and any allergies that you or your guests might have. Don’t forget to let them know the wedding date, reception location and reception time as well.

When should we order the cake?

Once you have made a decision on which bakery best fits your requirements for your desired cake, you should place your order well in advance of the wedding day to ensure that your dream dessert delicacy will be available on your big day. Most bakers require between one and two months notice before the wedding. However the required time varies from cake to cake and bakery to bakery, so make sure that you check these details during your consultations and taste testing sessions.

How much should we budget towards the cake?

Wedding cakes can cost between $1.50 to $12.00 per serving, depending on the size and intricacy of your desired cake. You may need to factor in extra servings if you are planning on giving cake as your bonbonnieres and/or if you are going to freeze your top tier to enjoy together on your first anniversary. Some bakers have a minimum purchase amount so you may need to shop around until you find something that fits your budget and requirements.

We are on a tight budget and my friend suggested a ‘fake cake’. What is a ‘fake cake’?

You can relax – having a fake cake does not mean that you skip on the cake altogether. A fake cake is a tier or cake base which is made of Styrofoam, or a similar material, and looks just like the rest of the cake. It is added to the real cake to add size, height and awe without having to worry about distributing (or paying for) a million servings. Fake cakes aren’t only great for couples on a budget but also give the appearance of a grander cake in large venues, such as ballrooms, where a small cake might look out of place.

We can’t decide on a flavour. What should we do?

Many couples choose multiple tiered cakes with a different flavour per tier. This solves the problem of being indecisive and is sure to be a big crowd pleaser at the reception.

My florist suggested ordering ‘cake flowers’. Are these safe and do we HAVE to have cake flowers?

Cake flowers are literally normal, natural flowers placed on the cake for decorative purposes. They can add a nice decorative touch and make the cake appear bigger than it is (it can also make it appear smaller so don’t go overboard on the flowers). They can work to unite the cake with the overall wedding theme and embellish the cake for budget-savvy couples who aren’t able to go all out on edible cake jewellery. Some flowers are toxic and are not safe for consumption so make sure that your florist knows what they are talking about and that they use safe flowers for the cake, if you choose to go down that road. Keep in mind that cake flowers aren’t mandatory and you can let the cake shine on its own, if you’d prefer.

What are some cake topper options?

Gone are the days of the traditional faceless bride and groom ornament. If you would prefer something a little more unique, the possibilities are endless. Many couples are choosing to top their cakes with bows, edible jewellery, monograms (of the edible and inedible type), photo frames, and ornaments of significant meaning to them as a couple. Customised bride and groom ornaments are also very popular these days and are always a crowd pleaser.

We’re a bit of an alternative couple and we’d like an unusual cake. What are some of the non-traditional wedding cake styles available?

If the traditional round or square cake isn’t really your thing, you might consider a topsy turvy cake or a customised cake such as the ones featured on Ace of Cakes. There are an infinite number of cake shapes, styles and flavours available but they are dependent upon your baker’s skills, your budget and your imagination. Some cake options which have recently wowed wedding guests are donut towers, profiterole towers, ice-cream cakes, cupcake towers, individual cakes and even magnetic cakes where the top tier floats in mid-air!

Which tier of the cake should we cut from first?

Traditionally, the bottom tier is cut and eaten by guests at the reception, the next tier is cut and boxed as gifts for guests to take home and the top tier is frozen and eaten by the happy couple on their first anniversary. You can, by all means, stray from this tradition and cut any of the tiers that you would like, especially if you have a multiple flavour cake. Keep in mind that the tier that you cut from may cause structural instability so be careful to avoid a “Funniest Home Videos” moment as the cake slips off the table and all over the bride’s dress.

I’ve heard that we are supposed to freeze the top tier of our cake and eat it on our first anniversary. What is the importance behind this tradition?

This is a tradition which dates back around 200 years. The top tier was originally preserved as a Christening cake for a couple’s first baby (who usually arrived approximately one year after the wedding). These days, the top tier isn’t usually kept as a Christening cake but rather as an anniversary cake. If you choose to follow this tradition, keep in mind that fruit cake keeps better than most other cakes so you might want to ask your baker to make the top tier a fruit cake, even if the rest of the cake is some other flavour.

What is a ‘groom’s cake’ and do we need one?

A groom’s cake is a smaller cake which is usually made of dark chocolate or rich liqueur flavours and has a more masculine appearance. Traditionally, groom’s cakes were served to the bridal party after the wedding but these days, they are often presented alongside the main cake, as an alternative flavour option. In the past, it was believed that single women who slept with a slice of the groom’s cake under their pillows on the night of the wedding would dream of their future husband.

Do we HAVE to give away slices of cake to our guests to take home or can we give them different gifts?

There is no set rule on what couples should give their guests as gifts. In fact, you don’t HAVE to give gifts at all if you don’t want to. Nevertheless, it is always nice to show your guests how much you appreciate their attendance at your wedding. Many couples choose to give their guests slices of cake to take home with them while other couples give alternative bonbonniere gifts such as Jordan almonds or candles. If you’re feeling really generous, you could give them a slice of cake AND another small gift – then they would really be glad that you’ve gotten married.