Wedding cake decorated with white chocolate malachite slabs
Delicate green and copper macarons
Above: Malachite cake and macarons by Růže Cake House

What is the sweetest part of a wedding? Is it the look on the adoration on the couple’s faces as they say their vows? The cuteness of the flower girls and ring bearer? The heartfelt speeches at the reception? Or is it the cake? Yeah … I think it’s probably the cake! haha!

Wedding cakes are more than just a delicious (and traditional) after-dinner treat, they’re also one of the most fun aspects of the reception décor! Wedding cakes are dessert and artwork all in one – it’s no wonder that so many engaged couples look forward to ordering their wedding cakes! But with so many bakers and cake artists, creating such varieties of styles and flavors, choosing the wedding cake can be a challenge for many couples! To get the inside scoop on cutting-edge wedding cake trends, I went to the experts – two cutting-edge, talented cake artists!

Jessica Rose Boutwell (below far right) is one half of the incredible mother/daughter team of Růže Cake House. Together they create delicious and beautiful cakes and desserts that you have to see (and taste) to believe! Haley Cairns (below left) is the mind and talented hands behind Heartsweet Cakes. Her cakes are stunning, and her sugar flowers are impossibly delicate and realistic! I’m so grateful to both of these ladies for sharing their expertise!
Bakers & cake artists from Heartsweet Cakes and Ruze Cake House
Left: Photo of Haley of Heartsweet Cakes by Jenny Nelson | Right: Photo of Joyce & Jessica Rose of Růže Cake House by Cori Roberts Photography

Big question first! What rising trends do you see for wedding cakes?

Haley: I’ve been seeing so many cool and artistic trends! Watercolor and painted cakes; marble, stones, geodes, and agate cakes; mixed metals (edible silver and gold leaf) and shiny/lustered cakes; textured cakes – anything from wood grain to fashion inspired textures like ruffles and lace (made from sugar of course). The trend for naked and semi-naked cakes is still strong. And of course, my favorite: Sugar flowers that steal the show from fresh flowers and force wedding guests to do a double take so tell if they are real or not!

Jessica: More and more we're seeing couples come in and -- instead of requesting a four, five, or six tier wedding cake -- many are asking for a smaller cake option alongside several desserts. I'd say about 75% of the weddings we have booked over the next six months have a two tier cake and about three or four miniature desserts on the menu. One of the biggest reasons given by couples when requesting dessert tables is they like the idea of guests being able to grab-and-go ... dance! Instead of having to wait for a slice of cake to be served.
Gilded sugar flowers on an elegant cake
Realistic sugar flowers top a modern Southwestern cake
Above: Southwestern cake with sugar flowers by Heartsweet Cakes

Is there anything about planning/ordering the wedding cake that often takes couples by surprise?

Jessica: While dessert tables are becoming more and more popular, I think many couples are initially surprised by the fact that they often require a little more room in the budget. Brides and grooms are often under the impression that a smaller cake and dessert table will actually be more affordable than a cake that will serve the same number of people, when in fact we find the opposite is more often the case.

Haley: There is definitely a wide range of design possibilities when it comes to a custom wedding cake and therefore the associated costs are also wide ranging. The price of a wedding cake is always the biggest surprise to couples but a skilled designer can customize a cake to meet a budget.

Do you have any tips for couples to ensure the most successful tasting/meeting?

Jessica: We recommend couples follow their cake vendor on social media, and vet them through their other trusted vendors (e.g., photographer, planner, venue). This helps them determine whether the cake vendor has an aesthetic complimentary to theirs BEFORE to setting up a tasting/consultation. This will save them time, money, and -- most importantly -- calories!

Haley: Sometimes the smallest of details can inspire an entire cake design. I have designed many cakes off of jewelry, the lace on the bride’s wedding dress, the bridesmaid dress color, the flowers, the invitation suite, table linens etc. This is why it is helpful to bring pictures and swatch samples to your design consultation to help inspire the cake design. Also, come to the tasting together! I often find the grooms get very excited during the cake tasting and I have had many tell me it was their favorite part of the planning process. I mean, who doesn’t like tasting cake right?
Delicate lavender & white cake with handprinted macarons
Delicate lavender & white cake with flowers
Handpainted macarons
Above: Elegant cake with handpainted macarons by Růže Cake House

What is your personal favorite cake/filling/frosting combination?

Haley: It would have to be my chocolate bourbon cake with alternating layers of milk chocolate ganache and salted caramel buttercream.

Jessica: We always recommend at least one of the cake tiers be our lemon cake filled with homemade lemon curd and fresh raspberries. Many weddings have fairly heavy entrees; we feel the tanginess from the lemon curd and fresh fruit helps cut through the richness of the meal. It's a perfect way to end the evening.

Is there anything you want brides and grooms to know about their wedding cake?

Jessica: When they’re trying to determine how many servings they'll need, couples should know that their wedding cake doesn't necessarily need to feed ALL of their guests. We often recommend to our brides and grooms that assuming about 80% of their guests will want cake is a good jumping off point (since there are often guests who have dietary restrictions, guests who don't have a sweet tooth, and guests who will be too busy dancing and scorchin' the floorboards all night!). Granted, if they're offering a "passed dessert," during which all of the guests are served a slice of cake while seated, this doesn't apply.

Haley: The cake portion of planning a wedding should be fun, easy, and delicious if you hire an educated and experienced professional. There are many talented cake artists out there but they all offer very different skill sets and specialties. Do your research before scheduling your consultation. Look through their portfolio as well as their artistic design style, and be sure to ask for some general pricing information beforehand so you do not have sticker shock after you have a fallen in love with your one-of-a-kind cake design. Custom, high-end, made-from-scratch wedding cakes take days to make, require a lot of experience and culinary knowledge, and high quality results in a high price tag.

The cake industry has a standard pricing structure known as “price per slice” but there is a lot more than just the actual slice of cake included in that cost! The “price per slice” reflects the total time, effort, attention to detail, education and professional industry experience, the cost of quality ingredients, unique design ideas and the capability of executing these ideas, along with the cost of doing business.
Nearly naked cake decorated with vibrant flowers
Vivid flowers for a boho reception
Nearly naked cake decorated with vibrant flowers at a boho reception
Above: Nearly naked Boho cake by Heartsweet Cakes

Thank you SO much to Jessica and Haley's for sharing these valuable insights and tips! I hope that you find them helpful as you begin planning your wedding cake! For even more cake and reception inspiration, click here to browse my reception Pinterest board!

... And now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a slice of cake, STAT!

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