How to Plan Your Beach Wedding Cake
Today’s wedding cake is a far cry from the first ones used by the Romans, which were made of wheat and looked like loaves of bread that the guests broke over the bride’s head to bring her wealth and fertility. The crumbs eaten by the guests symbolized the groups’ sharing of the couple’s good fortune.
Entirely edible multi-tiered cakes didn’t appear until the late 1800s–in royal weddings. Even in the early 20th century, this cake was seen only in weddings of the super-rich. After World War 2, such cakes began to be almost obligatory, even if the parents had to struggle mightily to pay for it.
At about the same time, the meaning of the cake cutting changed, too. It began to represent the joint sharing of a life with friends and family and, of course, each other. As home freezers were becoming widely available, the top layer of the cake was frozen after the ceremony and eaten later on the first anniversary or at the christening of the first child.
Elaborate wedding cakes are still often an expensive component of the reception or dinner. Top bakers in major cities have recently quoted prices up to $25 for a single serving, but (you can breathe a sigh of relief here) there are many, many alternatives that are far less pricey (see “Cakes on a Budget” below).
After recently interviewing 2,500 brides wedding cake expert Ed Otto reports that 5 problems occur all too often:
- The cake looked totally different from the one selected from the baker’s portfolio.
- The cake was impossibly dry.
- The frosting tasted greasy.
- The cake showed up too late.
- The cake was way, way overpriced.
Each of these problems can be avoided with smart preparation. After first determining your budget for cake or dessert, there are several important issues to keep in mind when you look about for a baker and I mention them below.
A really big cake is expensive, in part, because it involves not only baking and decorating, but a bit of physics to ensure that the towering masterpiece is stable when viewed and can withstand the stress of cutting.
An affordable wedding cake can be in your future. You need only a little extra preparation.
Think about a having a smaller than usual cake for everyone to see. But have a simple sheet cake with the same flavorings and icing in the back that’s sliced for all of your guests. Or use the groom’s cake as a second small cake.
If you and your fiancé come from different cultures, consider having two smaller cakes, each showcasing one of your traditions.
Call upon a family member or friend who enjoys and has more than basic skills in baking and decorating.Without the overhead of a professional bakery,the costs can drop dramatically.
Don’t feel bound to a traditional wedding cake. A beach wedding is not a traditional wedding, right? So you should feel free to enhance your guests’ experience as you demonstrate your individuality. A dessert table as a substitute for a cake works very well, but it can also be used to complement a wedding cake (and would require a smaller wedding cake as well).
Mini cakes, cousins of cupcakes, but using the chosen cake batter and icing, are wonderful alternatives to a huge cake. Top each one with your initials. Or decorate them to enhance your wedding theme. Think about using edible flowers rather than flowers crafted in sugar by the baker.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING
To help you through the sometimes mind-boggling decisions that you must make,
I discovered an inexpensive and highly readable book that spells everything out for you.
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– Your host, Sarah Forrester