The dress, the cake – are there two more important things in any wedding? The cake is often the centerpiece of the food for the entire night. Your cake is meant to be a showstopping piece, but it's also got to taste good. When it comes to cake baking wedding cakes should “wow” but how often have you been forced to eat the same white cake with vanilla icing? I'm not going to joke, but as an Austin wedding photographer, I've had my fill of vanilla cake.
Best Wedding Cake Flavors
Combining wedding cake and dessert means finding flavors to please everyone. A wedding cake trend that I've seen recently (though haven't had the opportunity to photograph) is to have different layers of the cake different flavors. This means that no matter how picky your guests are you don't have to worry about them disliking the cake. This is also a great idea if you're doing cupcakes as it's pretty easy to have multiple flavors at once.
The best wedding cake flavors are ones that are classics, simply because most people love them and they tend to stay in fashion. Probably the most unique that I've seen was a lavender cake but since the couple had a purple/lavender color scheme with the wedding the light purple inside of the cake (really fun to photograph) worked perfectly with the décor and theme colors. Lavender is a gentle flavor that pairs well with others like lemon or honey but it's still fun and unique compared to the classic vanilla.
While I might not personally like white cake with vanilla a lot of people do, and this iconic wedding cake is popular because of this. If you want something that will make everyone happy and give you the least amount of leftovers just go with the vanilla. As an Austin wedding photographer I can't count how many vanilla cakes I've seen, but changing the outside of the cake and adding themed decorations to match the wedding has made everyone unique.
Worst Wedding Cake Flavors
All jokes aside, vanilla is pretty standard but adventurous brides sometimes go a little crazy with the cakes. I think the strangest I've ever seen was the cheesecake. Not cheesecake, cheesecake. It was a literal stack of round cheese wheels. While the idea has merit for sheer uniqueness, if your guests come expecting cake then simply having some cheese for dessert it's a bit of a letdown. Unless your family produces cheese or there's some really good reason why you're opting to ditch the actual cake there's no excuse for this. As a wedding photographer, this was a pretty unique choice to photograph, but that was about it.
Wedding cakes are expensive, and there's nothing worse than fake cheap flavoring, especially banana. Fake banana flavor reminds me of kids medicines and I just can't eat it without gagging. Why on earth would you want an artificial banana flavored cake? Avoid the banana altogether, it's a pretty common dislike. Austin is a pretty southern place, which means banana pudding is pretty common at family functions, just don't mix that with your wedding cake.
Similarly, anise or aniseed or licorice. While many people love licorice the herbal flavor can be very strong or greatly disliked, probably more commonly than banana. This is quite unusual to find in a cake, and as an Austin wedding photographer, I've never seen anyone here even offer an Anise cake, probably with good reason. While you might want a unique flavor aniseed is probably not a good choice unless you want a lot of leftovers.
The 2018 Wedding Cake Trends
Metallics are big in the wedding industry this year and painting your cake to look like it's made of metal is pretty impressive. Fortunately, most metallic food paint doesn't have any strong flavor to it so no matter what fondant you choose the paint will not affect the taste.
Ruffles are also pretty “in” this summer and buttercream is such an iconic part of cake decorating. If you're going to have a vanilla cake, make it vanilla buttercream as this reminds many people of cupcakes and the whimsy of childhood. If you want to make it a little more grown-up pair the cream with berries. I think one of the most beautiful cakes ever is the “naked” cake with vanilla buttercream and berries for a rustic wedding. It's fun visually, and it tastes like summer.
Woodland themes and a boho feel are always popular in summer and if there's a flavor that goes with forest berries it has to be chocolate. A rich chocolate flavor serves two purposes – the richer the cake the less your guests will want to eat which means you don't need to worry so much about cake quantity.
Wedding photography is an art, but as an artist, I can really admire the trend for sugar flowers. The delicate, intricate, skill needed to create these elaborate or tiny blossoms out of sugar and nothing else is frankly amazing, and they make for a beautiful cake too. Personally, I love that little sugar crunch when you eat them, but as a wedding photographer, they are one of the most beautiful styles of cake out there and very romantic.
Multiple cakes are also in this year, and if you're struggling to decide on a flavor then having more than one cake is a great way of giving people choices without having to choose for yourself. Instead of opting for a multi-tier cake several double tiered and smaller cakes will likely cost about the same and make dessert/cake all that more fun.
Wedding Cake History and Symbolism
A wedding cake is pretty traditional. They're meant to share the good luck of the couple with all their guests however they've become more of a centerpiece than anything these days. In ancient Rome, the cake was actually bread because the cake was a luxury most people couldn't afford. If you had a cake you were very important and the bread was broken over the couple's head for good fortune. By the middle ages wedding cakes were meant to be so tall the couple struggled to kiss over the top and if they managed to successfully kiss they would have a successful marriage. The tradition came from France where it is still popular to do this with the original Croquembouche type of cake using cake and profiteroles with spun sugar.
Traditionally, wedding cakes are made of fruit cake and in England especially this is still the norm. It wasn't until the 17th century that a “grooms cake” even existed. By the 19th century, sugar was more common and Queen Victoria's use of pure white icing made white wedding cakes (just like white dresses) all the rage. During this time what we understand as a wedding cake, with multiple tiers and decorations evolved. Because these cakes were meant to be elaborate they were really a status symbol to show how well off the bride was rather than any remaining symbolism. There are some traditions with wedding cakes which I've never seen as an Austin wedding photographer, though I think they would be great to try. For example, earlier American weddings had ribbons baked into the bottom tier of the cake, one had a ring on it, and whoever got the piece with the ring in was the next to get married. The ribbons would ensure that you didn't accidentally swallow it. Another tradition is that the bridesmaids should take an extra piece home and put it under their pillow at night if they want to dream of their future husband, but that's one I think we can all skip!