Ask The Expert | Emily Hankins | Choosing Your Wedding Cake

You have your dress, makeup and hair all under control and are ready for the ‘I do’s’… now onto the reception, and most importantly the cake!

Expert wedding cake designer Emily Hankins talks you through her top tips for choosing your perfect wedding cake!

Get inspired – my first top tip is to decide on the style of cake you and your fiancé like, and just as importantly don’t like! If you’re not a fan of fruit cake – cross it off the list! Places like Pinterest and Instagram are a go-to starting point for this. Not only are they a great source of inspiration for you, but a Pinterest board of cakes and other styling images you really like can be a great starting point to share with a supplier to get creative juices flowing! Don’t forget to think personal – your wedding cake should reflect you and you partner and can incorporate your chosen theme and colours. You don’t need to follow trends or fashions – be individual and unique!

Who’s right for the job – Is granny’s fruit cake the stuff of legends? Is your mum or best friend a bit nifty with a whisk – getting a friend or family member to make your cake is a totally viable option and can make for wonderful wedding memories! I would advise you to factor in time and stress – does your mum or bridesmaid really want to be working super long hours finishing your cake in the days running up to your big day? It is also worth bearing in mind it will probably be the largest thing they have ever made so it would be advisable to seek a little professional advice on things like how to bake large sponges, how best to support a tiered cake to hold up throughout a long day in a warm room and how best to transport it to the venue.

Your other option is to hire a professional for the job. There are all sorts of wedding cake makers out there and one is sure to fit the bill! Do bear in mind that most have their own style so have a good look around and choose someone who’s style best fits your vision. Do have a good look at their website and social media to get a feel for what they do and to get a feel for the person themselves – testimonials are also a really good thing to read to gauge customer reactions to real life cakes!

How big – Think about how you want to serve your cake – the most popular option is to cut your cake later on in the day so your evening guests can be a part of the ceremony. The cake then gets cut up and served as part of your evening buffet. Your other option is to serve your cake as dessert after your meal, perhaps paired with some fresh fruit and cream. If you want to serve your cake as dessert you will need to provide larger slices than you would have cut up on a buffet so will essentially need a larger cake. Ask your cake designer for their advice on what size they would recommend. If you are only having a small wedding but have your heart set on a wow factor cake you can trade real cake tiers for dummies allowing you to have a cake on a grand scale without any wastage!

What’s inside – Your cake should not only look amazing but taste delicious too! Most cake designers offer a cake tasting and design consultation where you can meet them in person, chat about your cake ideas and taste their delicious creations! It is not only a great opportunity to make sure their cakes taste yummy but is a lovely wedding planning moment for you to share with your fiancé! If you can’t physically get to your cake designer for a tasting ask if they offer cake tasters by post, you can then try them at home with a lovely cup of tea!

Sponge cakes are by far the most popular option for weddings at the moment, either covered in sugarpaste, buttercream or chocolate ganache depending on the look you are going for. Of course, you don’t have to just have one cake! Dessert tables are still super popular – these are showstopping displays of yummy items all created around a theme to complement each other. You can choose from: French macarons, cake pops, iced biscuits, meringues, doughnuts, brownies… whatever crumbles your cookie! A great idea for couples who just can decide what to go for!

Where is it going – A stunning marquee on the side of a cliff in gorgeous sunshine maybe your dream wedding venue but I can pretty much guarantee it is what wedding cake makers nightmares are made of! That’s not to say you can’t have your dream cake and dream venue you just need to think very carefully about logistics! Think about keeping your cake away from windows, doorways, thoroughfares etc. If your venue is going to get hot think about the sort of cake you would like – a sugarpaste covered cake is going to hold up much better in the heat than a naked buttercreamed cake! Cakes look lovely displayed on pedestal cake stands but do bear in mind how heavy they can be and what sort of floor you are putting them on! You don’t want a super tall cake on a precarious stand positioned in the middle of a bouncy dancefloor! Ultimately your cake designer can advise you best on positioning so do discuss it with them!

Finally – Don’t forget to ask your photographer to take lots of photos of your cake so you have a memory of your special creation long after the last crumb has been devoured!