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In the past, wedding cakes were made from rich fruit cake with marzipan and icing as they stored better in the days before freezers. Today, couples getting married can choose any type of cake mixture from chocolate mud cake to vanilla sponge or carrot cake to blueberry spice.

Most wedding cake designers will give you a free consultation to discuss your needs and give advice. Plus as important as the design you will also get the opportunity to sample a cake before you book.
Wedding cakes are conventionally white, which dates back to the Victorian times when white signified purity. Today wedding cakes can be made in any imaginable colour and in any imaginable design. Many couples choose to have a cake which incorporates a range of colours to suit their theme and style for the day. Round wedding cakes are the most popular and the circular design is a symbol of eternity as it has no beginning and no end.  Other designs include square, rectangular, heart-shaped or lots of individual cupcakes or iced cakes for smaller weddings.

Tip :If you are ordering a small cake for a larger venue, you can make it look bigger by using pillars, sperators or stands.

The size of the cake you choose will depend on a number of factors. If your cake is being served after a full lunch or dinner then smaller pieces are needed. Some guests won't eat a slice of cake on the day but do make sure you save some slices to post to people unable to attend the wedding.

Tip : A cost saving tip for your wedding is to serve larger slices of cake either as a dessert with the main meal or later in the day as an evening snack in place of a buffet.

By way of a rough size guide, 8, 10, 12 and 14 inch diameter round sponge cakes serve, 20, 30, 45 and 55 people respectively whilst square cakes serve slightly more guests (25, 40, 60 and 80). Equally, fruit cake serves roughly double the number of guests.

Tip : Order your cake as far in advance as possible, if your wedding is over the summer May through to September this is the busiest time, otherwise the general recommendation is to book your cake at least 3 - 6 months in advance.

If you have decided to have a fruit cake then your cake maker will need at least three months to allow the fruit cake to mature so be sure to give plenty of notice. Sponge cakes can be made at shorter notice although this will depend on your cake maker's schedule. Flowers tend to be the most popular way to decorate wedding cakes and couples can choose from fresh, artificial or sugar flowers.  Sugarcraft and artificial flowers can be made to look very real and can provide a nice keepsake from the wedding day.

Tip : As most cakes are on display throughout the reception it is important to choose a filling for your cake which will not spoil if left out of the fridge.  Buttercreams, jams and fudge fillings are good choices while cream and mousse are best avoided.

Most cake makers will require a deposit to secure the booking on your date. This varies between cake makers but it's usually between one third and half the total cost of the cake with the remainder payable nearer the time.

Tip : Using fresh flowers can sometimes be a false economy as particular flowers can be expensive at certain times of the year.  Speak to your cake maker about the various options as artificial and some types of sugar flowers can relatively inexpensive to use

The cutting of the wedding cake is symbolically the first task that the bride and groom undertake together and represents the bride and groom starting their new life as a couple.  Traditionally the groom used his sword to help the bride cut through the royal icing, but today an attractive silver knife is the preference and this part of the reception should be watched by the guests.  The groom should place his right hand over the bride’s right hand and they cut and eat the first slice together.  The cake should then be taken away to be cut.  Wedding caterers should know how to cut a wedding cake, but if you are not using caterers and plan to cut the cake yourselves please contact Sussex Cake Creations and a guide can be sent.  The custom is that every guest should have a small piece of cake to bring good luck to the couple.    Most wedding venues and caterers provide a display stand and knife for the cake.  If not then your cake maker should be able to arrange the hire of these but a deposit will be payable and you will need to ensure that these are returned on the Monday following the wedding.  If this will prove difficult then some couples choose not to use a display stand and simply ask for the cake board to be decorated in an attractive way.  Most cake makers will deliver and set up your cakes for you on the day but may charge an additional fee for doing so depending on the size and detail of the cake and the distance to your venue.

Article and images courtesy of Samara Levy at Sussex Cake Creations
Sussex Cake Creations