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Quick Tips: Your Dream Cake

1)  Go Tasting

Most notable bakers will offer free tasting appointments, either personal or general, in which they allow you sample a variety of their prized cakes, as well as browse through their "established" portfolios which highlight their top works and artistic versatility.

2) Motif Madness

In coordination with your dress, your décor, and your wedding site, your cake should fall in step and compliment (not overshadow or obscure) your nuptial surroundings.  Use a swatch of your wedding gown to inspire particular icing embellishments.  Or, for a more affordable and bold move, integrate your wedding colors into the cake either by way or ribbons, flowers, or fruit (either fresh or sugarspun/paste). 

3)  Under-Estimate

Though bakers will try to push you to supply at least enough cake for every guest, more often than not most guests will be having so much fun they won’t even eat their portion.  To cut down on major costs try reducing your cake size by at least 10% of your expected guest list (e.g. if 100 people are coming, buy enough cake for 90).  You can always serve smaller slices to ensure everyone gets a bite. 

4)  Monetary Mayhem

Outline a comprehensive contract that provides a detailed itemization of all costs and those "hidden fees" such as cake stand fee, set up and delivery, cancellation, decorations, icing alternatives, etc.

5)  Serve Sheets

For more money saving options create a small dream cake with all the splurges and serve guests replicated slices from a sheet cake cut in the back kitchen (they'll never know).  Or if you have to have the BIG cake make your first several tiers decorated Styrofoam so that you can cut into an authentic top layer amid a grand cake without incurring the costs of a 6 tier masterpiece- again, serve sheet cake from the back.

6)  Fair-weather Frosting

Know your nuptial surroundings.  If you're getting married outside during hot summer months you may want to avoid buttercream (and meringue, whipped cream, and mousse) which needs refrigeration's or else melting disasters will ensue: fondant will be a better choice.  Talk to your baker for icing options that will compliment your indoor/outdoor surroundings.

7)  Pricey Perfection

Know from the get-go that every single added detail- from a detailed icing pattern to sugar paste flowers, to luscious fillings, is going to cost you, BIG!  Though your cake can start out at $2-4/slice, every addition you add will start to skyrocket the price: three little “extras” later and you can suddenly find yourself preparing to shell out a whopping $17/slice versus your initial starting costs.

8)  Magazine Mischief

Know that everything you see in a magazine is high-end.  Only the best will do and that means high bucks and high maintenance.  Most often the cakes displayed in magazines are those "couture" cakes that will run you around $20+/slice!  If you simply must have that dream cake you saw in last month's bridal magazine, bring in the design and be prepared to compromise with your baker.  Chances are your budget won't allow for an exact replication of your dream (magazine) cake, but your baker can more often than not offer a more affordable and equally magnificent alternative.

9)  Outstanding Organics

To save on money and create a more fresh and luscious looking cake opt for fresh fruit and flowers for cake adornments and embellishments.  Especially if you're having an outside wedding, fresh flowers are the perfect way to capture your bold wedding hues without incurring massive costs for embellishment labor.  Make sure to organize correspondence between florist and baker if the former will be doing your fresh embellishments.  If either the bride or mom are in charge, make sure to coordinate a cake drop-off time that's far enough in advance to the ceremony that you can get your cake decorating done without suffering a mild panic attack 5 minutes ‘til curtain call.

10) Crazy for Cocoa

If you love chocolate and don't care if your cake is white or not, opt for a dark, rich, luscious, sophisticated, oversized groom's cake as your main display cake.  You can always create a mini traditional cake (in your white fondant icing) and display it alongside your Grande Groom's cake with which to indulge your guests.  Though most bakers can do chocolate fillings with white icings, there's no substitute for real Cocoa, (or Cacao and other dark-liqueur flavored icings) which can’t be done in white.  All the same, it's your day and trust us, no guest will complain about your rich palette if opting for a chocolate masterpiece.

11) Miniature Mimicry

Though they can get pricey very fast, a great (and fancy) way to impress your guests is to offer them miniature versions of your dream display cake.  Again opt for Styrofoam tiers if you want that "Grande" cake look for photos-reserving only the top 1-2 tiers for edible cake: Top tier for anniversary, second tier for cake cutting ceremony.  After you cut and smash your authentic 2nd layer into each other's faces, have your serving staff tray pass mini replicas of your wedding cake to each guest.  They'll be so impressed they may not want to eat their delectable gift. 

BONUS: These mini cakes can double as wedding favors which can help curb costs.  That paired with multiple Styrofoam layers on your display cake and you can potentially save money or at least come out even while making a big impression on your guests.

12) Tacky Toppers

We have to confess, long gone are the days when plastic figurine cake toppers were once considered cute and classy.  Nowadays the modern bride knows less is more.  If you simply must have a traditional cake, and that means adding your cake topper, opt for a more minimal, modern look with a single (sugar paste or metallic) monogram initial that stands tall and proud.  Or, rather than placing the monogram topper on top of the cake, have your baker work the monogram into the middle layer of your cake as a 3-D embellishment.  (Did we mention we love the monogram idea?).  Keep in mind fresh flowers and fruit are also classy and picturesque modern cake topping alternatives.

13) Pre-Party

Instead of waiting for your one year anniversary to come around to open up that infamous "top layer" of cake-trust us, its not going to taste (as) good no matter what measures you take, treat yourselves early by opting to either eat your top layer the last night of your honeymoon, or to celebrate the first month of your marriage.  Chances are your short-term preserved cake will taste oodles better than that freezer burned mess you'll pull out of your freezer a year later if you decide to wait.

14)  Tapering Tiers

Keeping in tradition with trying to save money, the best way to avoid overfeeding your guests (and over-spending on your cake) is to know exactly what you're getting per tier.  Generally 1 tier can feed from 25-50 people pending the size.  2 tiers can feed between 50-75; 3 between 75-100 people; etc.  If you're planning a 200 person wedding you can probably get away with 4 large tiers but 5 is more likely.  Just know exactly how your cake tiers measure up to your numbers before opting to add another tier and thus adding cost to your budget.

15)  Down’n’Dirty

Sure its tradition to "smash cake"- in each other’s faces that is.  Still, if you're one of those "bridezillas" who's spent months perfecting her wedding and hours perfecting her big-day-look you may not be too psyched when your new hubby smashes cake in your face-thereby ruining your pricey makeup and hairdo (and don't forget the dress!).  Though some brides look forward to this fun, flirty tradition, others would rather shy away from it altogether.  To avoid early newlywed arguments be sure to discuss whether or not you want to wear your cake or eat it on the big day.  That way you ensure ahead of time your hubby doesn't accidentally step over the line during the wedding and find a very angry (and messy) bride on his hands.

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