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Whether you adore your pets or have a special place in your heart for a specific type of animal, it can be super-cute to incorporate this into your wedding décor. Here are a few ideas we’ve seen in real weddings.
Animal topiaries are projected to be one of the hot décor items for 2015, and it’s a cute and subtle way to express your love for animals, whether you focus on a specific species or mix it up.
Photo by James Moro Photography
From figurines to paper cut outs, your escort cards can provide a fun nod to your animal of choice. Aside from the pig and bird options shown here, we’ve also seen escort cards dedicated to cats, elephants, horses, and more!
Photos by (left to right) Joshua Zuckerman Photography, Gene Higa Photography
We love how this invitation style doesn’t go too over-the-top with the animal motif – it’s still totally appropriate and sweet.
Photo courtesy of April Twenty Five
What a fun idea for a guest sign-in board! Each guest signs a silhouette of a different sea creature – perfect for a wedding at an aquarium or near the water.
Photo by Jack Looney Photography
We’ve seen a lot of animal cake toppers lately, but these are two of our favorites – a nod to the couple’s pet pooches and fun deer-themed style.
Photos by (left to right) Rachel Pearlman Photography, Crystal Satriano Photography
Check out more creative décor ideas from our Décor Editor »
Find out what's hot in wedding cakes this year; we've asked a few of our favorite cake designers to weigh in! Geometric Patterns Cake by Erica OBrien "Feminine geometrics, such as chevron, are still very popular," says Connecticut-based Erica OBrien. "I'm expecting to see a lot of arrows and hexagons this season." Photo by Brooke Allison Photography Metallics Cake by City Sweets & Confections The gilded look is a favorite for both Deborah Lauren of City Sweets & Confections and Erica OBrien this year. "Gold is back, and stronger then ever," says OBrien. Photo by CLY Creation Hand-Painted Cake by Sweet & Saucy Shop "Hand-painting is definitely a new trend right now," says Sweet & Saucy Shop's head pastry chef Melody Brandon. "It's a personal and a one-of-a-kind style that brides are falling in love with." Photo by Melody Brandon Staying True to Your Style Cake by Maggie Austin Cakes Virginia baker Maggie Austin recently created this lovely confection for a friend's casual backyard wedding, and she loves that it perfectly reflects the couple's "understated and sophisticated style." Matching a cake to the personalities and priorities of her clients will be a big focus this year. Photo by Maggie Austin Multiple Cakes Cake by Layered Bake Shop Brides booking cakes with Layered Bake Shop's Shannon Star have been moving away from the traditional single large wedding cake. Instead, they're opting for multiple smaller confections in a similar decor suite. "It allows for more creativity and personality," says Star. Photo by N. Barrett Photography Showpiece Cakes Cake by The Pastry Studio According to owner Sherri Meyers, cakes have become a core component of reception decor. They are increasingly created to be equal parts delicious dessert and visual show-stopper. Designs are getting bigger and grander, and sometimes even include a fake tier or two to accommodate for ceiling height! Photo by Sherri Meyers Going Natural Cake by Enjoy Cupcakes Honor a cake that's free of artificial dyes by allowing the natural state of its flavor to become the main decorative element. This year, Amber of Enjoy Cupcakes is all about making fluffy chocolate cakes look fluffy, drenching caramel desserts in drips of caramel, and providing texture to peanut butter cakes with chopped up peanuts. Photo by Alex Creswell Ombré Cake by Erica OBrien Almost every baker we asked agreed— ombré is still at the forefront for 2013. "The shading lends itself so naturally to romantic designs," says OBrien of the style. Photo by Devon Jarvis Embossed Cake by City Sweets & Confections City Sweets & Confections owner Deborah Lauren recently etched an intricate floral pattern on a wedding cake for a friend. "It was modern, and different from any cake I've ever done or seen." Photo by Turnquist Photography Classic White Elegance Cake by Mark Joseph Cakes A white wedding cake never goes out of style, says Mark of Mark Joseph cakes. Couples turn to him for a modern, sophisticated take on the timeless aesthetic. Photo by Mark Joseph Textured Icing Cake by Betty Bakery Cheryl Kleinman agrees with Mark Joseph—white will always be popular, especially for formal weddings. At her Betty Bakery, she and partner Ellen of Bijoux Deux Specialty Cakes keep the look from becoming boring by texturizing the outer layer of icing. Pleats (seen here) and confetti are two favorite styles.
Photo: Troy Grover Photographers
Of course, you want your wedding cake to not only taste delicious but also look delicious without breaking the bank. Am I right? Before you order, consider these myths to make your experience just as sweet:
1. Buttercream is less expensive than fondant. This statement may be true, but most cake bakers prefer to decorate with fondant instead of buttercream. Therefore, there might be an extra fee for that rich, buttery flavor.
2. Order fake tiers in order to serve sheet cakes. A fake tier would be a decorated piece of styrofoam or rice krispies treats. Sheet cakes would then supplement the fake tiers. In reality, the cake baker is actually doing the same (or more) amount of work it would take to make a real tier.
3. Decorate with fresh florals not sugar flowers. Fresh florals can make your guests sick. Why? Because, unless organically grown, florals are often times sprayed with pesticides and not properly sanitized.
4. Make your own wedding cake. They're expensive to buy and make. Consider all the ingredients, tools, equipment, and time! It's too labor-extensive.
5. Choose a flavor that your guests will like. Choose a flavor that YOU want for one tier (like lemon) and then choose a mainstream flavor (like vanilla, chocolate, or red velvet) for the remaining two tiers.
6. Save the top of your wedding cake for your first anniversary. Tradition is out, so you think. You can still save the cake, but often times cake bakers also give a free mini cake.
Can't decide on your cake style? Then mini cakes may be the perfect solution for you.
Let's start with a true mini! We love this individual cake, one for each and every guest. This is preferable if you are having a smaller wedding, naturally!
White fondant and yellow frosting complete this simple yet sophisticated look.
For the love of polka dots! Why not place a cake on each table as a centerpiece?!
Sticking with a simple color palette, like yellow and white used here, keeps your dessert table looking clean and fresh. Opt for simple flowers, like these yellow rosebuds, as your cake topper.
The grand master of the mini cake display!
Another wonderful thing about a variety of cakes - all of the different flavors you can choose!
Photos by: i am baker
After you've found your cake baker, it's time to get down to business with deciding on a shape. Don't know how to choose? That's okay, here's a list of the most common:
Photo: Shelly Kroeger Photography
Round - Some may think that it's too traditional for their liking, but it's actually the perfect (plain) shape for adding textured, swirled, or sculpted frosting.
Photo: Sweet & Saucy Shop
Square - This is the modern alternative to a round shape because it's different yet still not over-the-top. Tip: Add a geometric or chevron pattern.
Photo: Dewey's Bakery
Octagon - An eight-sided wonder that will draw attention to your dessert display even without decorations.
Photo: Three Little Blackbirds
Petal - Referred to as the "scalloped" option because of it's resemblence of a flower, this is a must-have for garden wedding.
Photo: Vanilla Bake Shop
Multi-Shape - A combination of round, square, and octagon. It can even be topsy turvy too!
Photo: White Loft Studio
1. Place the cake in a central location. Make sure guests have a front row. They don't want to miss the action in case your significant other decides to smush it in your face.
2. Have your DJ announce it. If you're having a buffet or plated dinner, cutting the cake follows shortly after. Don't forget to pick a song! Then, the toasting begins.
3. Cut the cake together. The groom's right hand gently holds the bride's right hand as you cut into the bottom layer.
4. Designate someone on the catering staff to serve slices to guests. This should be covered in your catering costs.
5. But your parents come first. Traditionally, the bride serves the groom's parents, and the groom serves the bride's parents.
6. Personalize cake utensils. The slice you cut together should be eaten in style with "I do" and "Me too" or "Bride" and "Groom" forks.
Your wedding cake will be the star of the reception and the centerpiece of many, many photographs – no wonder so much importance is placed on choosing the right one! There’s much more to the perfect cake than the number of tiers and the topper though – imagine the guests’ disappointment when the most gorgeous wedding cake they’ve seen is also the most horrible tasting!
Photo by Punam Bean Photography
Thankfully, most bakers that specialize in wedding cakes offer cake testing to assure you that your cake will taste as good as it looks. Before you head out to the local bakeries for an all-day cake sampling adventure, there are a few tips that will make your decision easier without wasting valuable time.
What Would You Like?
It’s good to rely on the expertise of a wedding cake creator –but if you have no idea what type of cake you want, the baker can’t be much help. Before you visit the bakery, have a general idea of your dream cake. Do you want a traditional tiered wedding cake or something contemporary? Is there a particular style you really like or don’t like? This sort of input will help the baker suggest the perfect cake.
Round One - Choosing a Baker
Save yourself some footwork by narrowing down the number of bakeries you visit. Search the internet for wedding cake designers in your area. Some will have websites where you can gather most of the information you need aside from tasting. Others may require a phone call before you decide to make an appointment. Ask your friends and family for recommendations as well – word of mouth is usually the most reliable form of advertising.
Visit cake shops that:Create the style of cake you have in mind. Allow you to browse photos of cakes they’ve designed. Offer samples of various frostings and cakes to help you choose the best flavor. Bake the cake fresh just before the wedding rather than freezing beforehand.
Round Two - Choosing a Baker
Make appointments with three or four of your favorite cake designers. Browse their portfolios and listen to their ideas for your special day. Taste different types of cakes and icings available and discuss the best flavors for your location – some frostings may begin to melt if your reception is outdoors. Finally, discuss prices, options, and payment policies before heading home to make your final decision.
Round Three – The Final Decision
You’ve met with the bakers and have a good idea of what each can offer for your wedding cake. You’ll also want to consider your budget and eliminate any designers that are not realistic. If you’re still having trouble making a decision – whether it’s the type of cake or the baker to create it – schedule one more visit to test the cakes once again.
Bringing along the groom-to-be or your maid of honor can be a big help in choosing the best flavors. Some bakeries offer a test cake, a smaller version of the cake you’re considering, to help your decision. Choose a cake that’s moist with a flavor that will appeal to most of your guests, without overlooking the style you’ve been dreaming about.
The wedding cake may be the star of your reception, but it shouldn't cost more than your honeymoon! When you're figuring cake costs into your budget, don't forget extra charges such as delivery, setup, and cutting fees. Cake cutting fees are one of the most commonly overlooked expenses in wedding planning - be prepared and don't let these hidden fees break your piggy bank!
Photo by JC Page Photography
What are Cake Cutting Costs?
Unless you're ordering your wedding cake as part of your catering or venue package, you'll probably be assessed an additional cake cutting fee based on the number of guests attending your event. Caterers and reception halls typically charge these fees to cover the costs of plates and flatware, but the costs can sometimes be a bit ridiculous - I've seen a few locations charge as much as $3 per slice.
Tips for Reducing or Avoiding Cake Cutting Fees
Even at a cost of $1 per guest, that's an extra $200 for an attendance of 200 loved ones! That can make a big difference in your wedding budget. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to negotiate a decreased rate or eliminate the cost of cutting the cake completely.Perhaps the most obvious way to avoid a cake cutting charge is to order the cake from your caterer or reception venue's baker. Carefully compare the cost, the options, and the quality of the cake before going this route. Wedding cupcakes are becoming a popular option for serving guests. Some caterers still charge an extra fee for cupcakes, but you can usually discuss it and bypass or reduce the costs. Negotiate and be persistent. You're already paying a pretty penny for your reception - don't be afraid to ask your caterer for a discount or discuss other upgrades you could make to avoid a cutting charge.
Don't let the cost of cutting your cake detract from the rest of your wedding. Be firm when you speak with your caterer and don't give up too easily. Some vendors will waive the fee if you agree to pass along their name to your bride-to-be friends; others will gladly negotiate the price to keep your business. Look into cake cutting costs at your venue early so you can make necessary adjustments if needed.
Photo by Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images
The wedding cake is certainly the star attraction when it comes to sweets at a reception, but it doesn’t mean you can't serve other desserts at the same time. From dainty cupcake pyramids to mini-dessert buffets, a wealth of sugary treats is available to accompany your dream wedding cake. A few suggestions include:
1) Common Desserts with a Twist
Taking well-known desserts and transforming them into creative delicacies is a grand way to pamper your guests. Why don’t you select a couple of your favorite desserts, and add a special twist, such as:Spicing up crème brulee with a mocha flavoring Drenching unforgettable tiramisu with chocolate gouache Serving marscapone cheese tarts with fresh whipped cream Substituting ice cream for gelato or fresh-fruit sorbet
2) Cheesecake with Flair
Since this is your wedding, you probably want desserts with a bit of flair. Cheesecake is a popular dish, often drenched in strawberries with a dab of whipped cream. However, thanks to establishments, such as the Cheesecake Factory, you no longer have to settle for the same ol' flavors. Today, a wedding can trade in this strawberry-topped confection for the likes of pineapple, key lime, cookies and cream, orange cream, and Kahlua options.
3) Cultural Delights
If you have planned a wedding theme centered on a specific culture, there's no better time than now to whip out the German apple strudel, Danish dough ring cake, flan, Italian cookies, or sweet potato pie cups. If the bride and groom come from different backgrounds, it's exciting for guests to sample desserts from other cultures. I've seen some couples create adorable 'his' and 'hers' dessert buffets – situated side-by-side.
Photo by This Modern Romance
4) Desserts as Mini-Appetizers
While a large slice of apple pie sounds nice, it can also spoil the appetites of your guests. However, if you serve mini-sizes of your favorite desserts – you can keep their palates smiling with enough room for the main course and wedding cake at the end. Bite-sized delights may include: brownie bites with white chocolate sauce; mini ice cream sandwiches; chocolate balls; lemon tarts; and praline bites.
5) Dessert Drinks
Sometimes, desserts for weddings don’t have to include an item that you can sink your teeth into, but instead a treat that you sip, slurp, and guzzle. Coffee drinks as desserts may offer a spiked treat for adults with the addition of Kahlua, Irish cream, crème de menthe, and Frangelico. For under-age guests, consider smoothies, root beer floats, and milkshakes – which often turn out a hit with all ages.
According to some, wedding pies are on the rise as cupcakes take a little break! These magical mini-pies are perfect for a shower, wedding or any lovely occasion. Read on for the recipe!
Step One: Making the Pie DoughMakes 6 to 8 3" pies Make recipe twice. One will be for the bottom crust and the other for the heart cut-outs. 2 ½ cups all purpose flour 1 tsp salt 2 tsp sugar 8 oz butter, cold and cut into cubes ½ cup ice water
Step Two: Pear and Raspberry Filling3-4 bartlett pears, medium dice 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries 3 Tbs Vanilla sugar 2 Tbs cornstarch ½ tsp ginger Juice of half a lemon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and divide among the pies.
Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate all ingredients. Add the cubed and cold butter. Pulse about 10 to 12 times until butter and flour mixture is crumbly.
Add the ice water while machine is running until dough comes together. Do not over work it.
Dump the dough onto a work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten it into a disk. Refrigerate the dough for 2 hours. Repeat with the second batch.
Roll the first disk of dough on a marble or cold surface to about 1/8" thickness. Using a mini heart cookie cutter, cut out hearts. You will need about 20 mini hearts per mini pie. Place these on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate while working on filling the pies.
Roll the second disk of dough on a marble or cold surface also to about 1/8" thickness. Cut out circles that will fit into the mini pie molds. Fill the molds and cut the excess dough with some kitchen scissors.
Fill the pies with the pear and raspberry filling. Brush the edges of the pie with egg wash and start lining the heart cut outs forming two rows so that the filling shows through the middle.
Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Bake them at 400F for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Recipes Created By: Aran Goyoaga
Photo Courtesy: Aran Goyoaga