Fantasizing about the perfect cake for your upcoming nuptials? We’ve got you covered! We asked 20-year cake-designing veteran Joanne Bruno, of Palermo’s Bakery in New Jersey, to share her best tips for choosing the wedding cake of your dreams.
Choose a reputable bakery
“Brides-to-be should absolutely begin their research online. Visit general wedding sites to obtain real customer feedback from other couples. Then visit the bakery’s website to view images of their work. If the photos aren’t up-to-date, their work isn’t either. You want to work with a bakery with positive feedback from married couples and a wide range of cake offerings.”
“Next, you should visit the bakery in person and meet with the staff. It’s important to walk out of the bakery with an image of the cake — either drawn or rendered via computer — so that there aren’t any surprises. If you don’t feel comfortable with the bakery staff, you won’t be happy with your cake. Most cake specialists have a dedicated staffer and a separate area in which to sit down and review wedding cake design. If the sales associate rushes you or fails to answer basic questions, you should consider going somewhere else.”
Give yourself adequate time to pick a wedding cake
“Three to six months is enough time to plan the cake. Once a bride knows her color scheme and the wedding venue, it’s good to get the cake designed and ordered before she enters the ‘crunch period,’ which is usually the last two months.”
Make sure you love how the cake tastes
“I can’t stress this enough: Arrange for a cake tasting before the cake is ordered. If the cake has multiple flavors, taste all of them. Basic flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla will vary depending on how the cake is made, its formulation, its frosting and more. Don’t assume — taste!”
“Also, with regard to taste, avoid the exotic. A good bakery can make vanilla taste amazing. Exotic flavors sometimes alienate guests who don’t recognize the flavor.”
Get creative with the design
“The age of the cookie-cutter tiered white wedding cake with a plastic figurine at the top is long gone and, personally, I’m happy to see it go. Many brides bring their color scheme (wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses) into the shop for color coordination. Others are coordinating the jewels they wear on their special day with cake adornments — pearls, diamonds and rubies, for example. If a bride is wearing them, we can replicate the look on a cake.”
“Also, themed weddings need a themed cake. From outdoor spring weddings to religious ceremonies, any type of wedding can be accommodated with a custom cake.”
Need inspiration? Try a cake trend
“Matching the bride’s dress to the cake is a big trend this season. We’ve matched the ruffle on a bride’s dress to the cake. We’ve also matched specific pieces of heirloom jewelry on the bride to the wedding cake.”
“We’re also seeing a return to classic buttercream frosting — the original style of frosting that looks more realistic and has a richer flavor than modern frostings. As for shapes, ovals are really this season’s hottest shift. Round is traditional, square can be a lot of fun, but an oval-shaped cake draws a lot of attention and allows us more room upon which to create.”
Don’t make these cake mistakes
“There are two cardinal sins of planning a custom wedding cake: The first is waiting until the last minute to design and order a cake. Most bakeries have their custom cakes calendared out weeks in advance. Special ingredients and decorations sometimes need to be ordered and, in some cases, created from scratch, which takes considerable experimentation.”
“The second mistake is to have too many people providing input. I’ve seen many brides driven crazy because they involved both sets of parents, friends, cousins, the entire bridesmaid party, etc. When you come to the bakery, keep your entourage down to one or two people at the most. Choosing a cake is about what feels good to you as the bride.”
For more information, check out Palermo’s Bakery’s website here.
Watch: Wedding cake disaster
A groom dumps the entire top tier of the wedding cake onto his bride’s head.