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Make-a-Cake Series: Wedding Cakes

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Wedding Cakes.
{gulp}…….scary, right?!
I have done 10 wedding cakes. Every time I am so nervous. 
If there is one cake you want perfect in your life its your wedding cake. 
I am not a perfect cake decorator. I am still learning. Wedding cakes always test me. 
After I have worried and fretted, and stayed up all night making the cake, I drop off the cake……….and fall in love with the setting.

I love weddings.

The place settings, pictures of the couple so in love……..ah, the romance of the occasion sweeps me away.

As I drop off the cake, I do the finishing touches on the cake and walk out hand in hand with my hubby feeling good about my work. The stress is gone.
Here are the 2 most recent cakes I’ve done:
Turned out to be a lot of fun.

I know many of you have had questions about wedding cakes and/or are preparing to make one in the near future.  Instead of answering individually, I thought I’d post some of the tips and tricks that work for me.  Remember, I am not a pro at this………but I hope some of these ideas can help you.

Here is what I will cover in this wedding post:
-Freezing all that cake
-Cake boards
-Arranging flowers
Freezing all that cake.
(2-5 days before delivery)
I also have a chest freezer where I freeze most of my cake.

I ran into a problem with freezing cake some months back. If I tried to freezer all of my cake at one time, the top layers would start to squish the bottom layer. So now i freeze in stages. The first layer goes in…4 hours later the middle layer……4 hours later the top layer. 

You can wait more time but waiting at least 4 hours works for me. 
Are you wondering why I am freezing the cake? Check this post.
Cake Board
(2 days before delivery)

For wedding cakes, I use real wood for my cake board. For party cakes, I use cardboard cake boards. 

But wedding cakes are heavy! Just ask my husband! ha ha 
Most of the time I use ply wood for my bases but I found this board at a thrift store and had it cut to the right size at a hardware store.
What is the right size? I make my boards 4-6 inches bigger than the biggest layer of cake.
The board not only adds stability but it makes a statement around the bottom.
You will need to adjust this (make it smaller) if you’re using a cake stand.
Then I cover my board with 2 layers of Fancy Foil, just in case we have a rip. 
(Day and night before delivery)

Have you ever seen Buddy on Cake Boss steam a cake?

After I saw him do that I did some reasurch about it and decided to give it a try. 
After I stack, ice, cover and stack the tiers, I steam all my fondant cakes. 
It gives the fondant a nice sheen and can take out any unevenness your fondant might have.
I have a shark streamer. It’s intended for cleaning so it powerful. A garment steamer would be more gentle.
I lightly steam the cake BEFORE I do any piping. I don’t want to get my buttercream wet.
Let the cake dry before you start piping.
(Day and night before delivery)

Piping takes practice. I do not consider myself I good piper. Don’t ask me to do lettering…I can’t!

My tip for piping:  place small amounts of buttercream in your piping bag.
This will give you more control. 
The other thing? Practice.
And I pray a lot when I am doing it. Ha Ha
If you have mistakes, take a moist paper towel and wipe it off.

 After the piping is done, I stop for the night. Or early morning. 

(Morning of event)
I sit in the back of our jeep, next to the wedding cake, for delivery.  Most of them, I know, are not going to move…….but I am too scared something will happen.
I place the cake on a piece of no slip foam in the car. (The stuff you can line drawers with or put under rugs.)  I do this with all my cakes to make sure they don’t slide around.

Before I put the cake in the car, I take a very long dowel and sharpen it. Then I insert it all the way down through the center of the cake. All the way to the base.

 This helps hold all the layers together and it gives me something to hold onto if there is any tipping while driving. 
That may sound really bazaar but it’s a little insurance.

This is how the cake will look when I leave. 

There is a lot of media (flowers) to add to this cake before being done, but I do all of that on site.
Then you don’t have to worry about anything falling off on the ride.

 Before I leave, I also make myself a little kit.
-The extra media I will use for the cake
(for this picture it was edible leaves and acorns……… are usually there for you, left by the bride).
-Piping bag and extra buttercream
-Wet paper towels in a ziplock bag
-Cake cutting guide
-Directions and contact phone number if you get lost. 

For this cake, I arrived 2 hours before the ceremony with a 1/2 hour to set up. The sweetest bride was waiting for me and would not get ready until she saw her cake.
It was the most romantic, rustic outdoor setting.

 I finished this cake with flowers, pine cones, acorns, leaves, and blackberries. 
It was a beautiful country fall wedding.
 Arranging Flowers
When I arrived with this buttercream cake it only had the ribbon, piped border, and dots on the cake.
Tips?  Start with placement.

I look at the cake and all the flowers I have. Then I place little marks on the cake where I want all the bundles of flowers to go. 

How I do it is, first, I take two large flowers and arrange them side by side.  Then, I stick them into the cake or secure them with buttercream where it won’t be seen.

Then I add 2 medium sized flowers.

 And a few more med-small size flowers.
To finish it off, add in some greenery.
It’s just moving and adding until it looks good to you.
 Here are a few more I did for this cake.

And the sweet little top.

The topper is done in a similar manner.
I started with the roses and phonies (big pink) in the middle and added outward with the alstroemeria (small pink) and the greens.

The back of the topper.

This cake was for a breathtaking country club wedding. It was really magical.
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I felt so lucky that the couple asked my to make their cake. 
 I hope I have not scared you off from wedding cakes. They are wonderful to accomplish.  I walk away after all the work is done feeling like I just climbed Everest.
Even if they are not flawless. 

So begin small, and give it a try.  And if you’d really like to enter the wedding cake world, begin making mock wedding cakes for birthday gifts…….just to get in some good practice.

 And if wedding cakes are not in your future….trust me I understand. But many of the techniques used here can be applied into smaller cakes too. I hope you enjoyed this nod to the romantic side of cake decorating. 
Happy Decorating!

Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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