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Tiers of joy

Customization is highly important to couples tying the knot

Customization is highly important to couples tying the knot

April 26, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

The reception location is picked out, tuxes are rented, dresses are bought and the church is booked - now wedding couples get to the really fun part of planning a wedding: choosing the cake of their dreams.

Yes, of their dreams. The possibilities for wedding cakes are just about endless these days. Cakes can be stacked, separated or boosted with columns. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, dozens of flavors and custom colors. Some people choose themes for their cake and others get two wedding cakes - the bride's cake and the groom's cake.

Brides and grooms today are spending more and more time choosing their wedding cake, and customization is increasingly important, notes Cindy Long, owner of Cindy's Sweets and Supplies Inc. near Williamsport.

The wedding cake "ranks up there pretty good" as far as how important it is to a bride, Long says. "Your reception, what the food tastes like, the cake, your gown, the tuxes - it's pretty high up there on the totem pole."

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In the 25 years Long has made wedding cakes, she's crafted everything from a fancy sheet cake to a six-tiered tower of cake.

It used to be that wedding cakes were a fairly standard item, Long says. The cake was white, the layers were round, and the entire cake was arranged into three vertical tiers separated by column platforms. Of course there was a plastic bride and groom statue on top.

Today's cakes attract more attention.

Brides want their wedding cake to match the theme of their wedding. Long has decorated cakes with a Hawaiian theme and with flowers that match the bride's bouquet. She's even been requested to make a haunted house-themed cake for an October wedding.

The average cost of a wedding cake at Cindy's Sweets and Supplies is $3 per slice. If someone plans to serve cake to 150 guests, that means about $450 of the wedding budget is going to cake. The most expensive cake Long ever priced was $6 per slice, but she did not end up making that cake.

One of the most elaborate - and expensive - cakes designed at Cindy's Sweets and Supplies is the castle cake. The cake is four stacked tiers with a mock road winding around the cake to a castle resting on the top. A Cinderella-style coach rides along the road at the bottom of the cake. When all the layers are made with cake, serving about 180 people, the cake costs $810.

Long says she works with brides to help them design their dream cakes while staying within their budgets. One cost-cutting option is to include fake cake layers made of Styrofoam. The extra cake needed for guests can be prepared in sheet cakes and served from the kitchen.

Pam Berry, co-owner of Shepherdstown Sweet Shop in West Virginia, advises brides to budget $3 to $3.50 per slice for most wedding cake designs.

She's noticed that brides are moving back to more classic wedding cake styles.

"I'm seeing them go from some of the edgier styles back to the more traditional styles," Berry says. "Not so much the fondant and some of the radical things that were popular a year ago or two years ago."

Past trends had lots of decorations, bows and bright colors featured on wedding cakes. This year, Berry sees brides trending toward cakes with simple but elegant designs. For example, Swiss dots are a popular choice. Simple frosting dots are added to the cake either in a random or repeating design. With the dots, the cake looks finished but not overdone.

Long says the most popular cake today is the "stacked cake." These are the cakes that have multiple tiers without separation between the levels. That is, one tier is stacked right on top of the previous tier. This style of wedding cake is difficult to construct, Long says. The tiers must be secured with dowel rods throughout the interior. If the cake is not put together properly, it can lean and fall over.

Berry says about half of the brides she works with opt for the stacked cake, and half choose the more traditional wedding cake with pillar tier supports between levels. The pillars can be disguised with cascades of ribbon and fresh or silk flowers.

Brides also want square tiers instead of the traditional round cakes.

"Square is just the thing that the girls are going with now," Long says. Square and stacked is considered "the most hot kind of cake."

The cupcake cake, with tiers made up of iced and decorated cupcakes, is another new option that has some popularity, Long says. That cake has been popular since it was featured by Martha Stewart's bridal magazine.

Brides like the idea of the cupcake cake because it is different, a guest can select his own cupcake, and it eliminates the standard cake cutting fee, Long says.

As for external decorations, the most popular trends today include using ribbon to match wedding colors and adding real flowers.

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