15 Hot Wedding Cake Trends
By Lauren Kay
Just about anything can inspire your wedding cake design—the beautiful ornate molding in your ballroom venue, your joint love of modern design, or even the pattern from the china you just registered for. Here, a few trends to help inspire your custom cake. (Your baker can help with the rest.)
Metallic Cakes- Metallics are big for stationery, and for wedding cakes as well. “We’re not talking about a gold and silver vintage style, but more a stylized glam, art-deco, old-Hollywood look,” says Betsy Thorleifson of Nine Cakes in New York City. The best part about metallics? They can adapt to any style; delicate embroidery in gold feels opulent while geometric shapes give off a fresh, modern feel. If an entire tier is too much glitz for you, consider adding a little sparkle all over. Fine edible glitter (think: pixie dust) can add a decorative sheen to your cake without overpowering the whole design.
Ruffled Cakes- For a seriously elegant look, skip the bold patterns and add-ons in favor of subtle embellishments with allover sugar ruffles. The look is light and airy and needs very little added detail. Finish it off with fresh flowers in between each tier or a few sugar flowers on top. “Frills are at home in every type of reception, from avant-garde to country chic,” says Maggie Austin of Maggie Austin Cake in Alexandria, Virginia.
Naked Cakes- Yep, you read that right. With the deconstructed cake, you get to show off the inside. For a summertime wedding, berries work well; in winter and fall, ask your baker to fill the layers with seasonal fruits, like apples, pears, persimmons or even blood oranges. “The exposed cake and filling of the naked cake appeal to both the eyes and the stomach,” says John Rusk of Alice’s Tea Cup in New York City.
White on White Cakes- A white wedding cake is always in good taste. The fresh new way to do a white wedding cake is to add interesting all-white embellishments. Dress up tiers with details, like piped embroidery or jeweled embellishments (we love petals or even pearls). “Nontraditional shaped tiers, like hexagons and ovals, make the cake a little more out of the ordinary,” says Jen Roberts of Sweet Element Cakes in East Orange, New Jersey. Cascades of sugar flowers are great for adding dimension too.
Painted Wedding Cakes- Take a cue from what many invitation designers are doing and ask your cake baker to get a little artsy with your cake design. We’re talking marbleized cakes, stained-glass painted cakes and even Monet-inspired wedding cake designs. Pair those hand-painted tiers with solid-colored layers or even simple flower accents. Quick tip: For a cake design that’s so intricate, keep the tiers simple and stick to all one shape (either all classic round tiers or all square).
Lace Wedding Cakes- Experienced cake bakers are turning out tiers decorated with beautiful designs, reminiscent of the most gorgeous wedding gowns imaginable — like yours. “A lot of brides are looking for patterns copied from the lace in their dress, or their china pattern,” says Sylvia Weinstock, of Sylvia Weinstock Cakes in New York City. So decide which detail from your dress to highlight on your cake, from a few simple sugar-made buttons to ivory and white fondant lace appliques wrapped around each tier. The key to pulling it off is in the color. This trend works best with light hues and little contrast.
Woodland Wedding Cakes- Earthy, whimsical wedding themes are hot this year, so it’s no wonder this same aesthetic is big for wedding cakes too. “Millennials are much more into having the taste of the cake be as good, if not better, as the look of the cake,” says Amy Noelle of Sugar Flower Cake Shop in New York City. To get the look, choose an edible white or ivory color and accent it with fresh or lifelike sugar flowers and leaves. The display can really help you carry out the look here too. One pretty idea is to order a simple white cake and place it on top of a wooden tree ring decorated with moss and leaves.
Geometric Wedding Cakes- For a contemporary reception setting such as an urban loft, eye-catching patterns – squares, chevron, stripes – are a fun, fresh twist. “We’re seeing a lot of fondant triangles rather than dots,” says Mary Maher of Cakegirls in Chicago. A few places to find inspiration: your wedding invites, the ready-to-wear fashion runways and home design blogs and stores. One guideline: Stick to a simple color palette (think: orange and white or purple and white), so the colors don’t compete with the design.
Rosette Wedding Cakes- The rosette trend — with textural sugar-made roses all over the cake — is fun because the added dimension is different and unique but the look is still elegant and beautiful. One caveat? The color. Stick to white or ivory rosettes. (Allover light pink rosettes will look too juvenile.) Jan Kish from La Petite Fleur in Worthington, Ohio, also cautions against using rosettes on a single tier. “You have to make sure you balance that textured layer with something else so your eye doesn’t get stuck there.”
Sugar Flower Bouquet Cakes- Flowers – fresh and sugar-made – are practically synonymous with wedding cakes. The new take on wedding cake flower accents is to cluster sugar-made flowers into a mini-bouquet. “The key is to create a balance of size, shape and color,” says Paloma Efron of Coco Paloma Desserts in Austin, Texas. The flower bouquet works best on a muted cake base color, like ivory, peach or mint. Finish off the tiers with a gold or silver metallic trim, or even a beveled lace treatment, for a look that’s simple, sophisticated and classic.
Illustrated Wedding Cakes- Did you know you can actually have anything you want printed onto your cake? It’s true. Pick anything you like — from the design on your invites to the quote from your first-dance song or even your wedding motif, like a bicycle, oak tree, or anemone flowers – to have showcased onto your cake tiers. First, the cake gets covered in fondant, then the design is hand-painted on the cake. “I love the fact that it can look like a classic painting or a piece of modern art, depending on the way it’s painted,” says Olga Lee of Polkadots Cupcake Factory in Austin, Texas.
Ombre Wedding Cakes- Having your cake colors take on an ombre effect is another artful cake design idea. It can be as whimsical or glamorous as you like. Blend yellow to orange sugar hearts for a graphic, modern style; or go red to pink to light pink with cascading sugar-made flower petals. “Whether you’re drawn to a rich saturated hue that transitions to a mid-tone or a barely there tint that fades to white, the possibilities are endless,” says Maggie Austin of Maggie Austin Cake in Alexandria, Virginia. On the fence about the trend? “Consider an ivory ombré for a classic look that’s both subtle and stunning,” Austin suggests.
Buttercream Wedding Cakes- If you’re going for a homespun, relaxed vibe, ask your baker to smother your wedding cake in delicious buttercream frosting. “We get lots of requests for rustic iced buttercream layers with flecks of vanilla bean in the icing or textured piping that looks and tastes delicious, but isn’t perfect,” says Mary Maher of Cakegirls in Chicago. For the more polished version, opt for buttercream with a pleated, smooth finish.
Wedding Cake Trios- Cake trios, quartets and quintet tables come with a couple big benefits. For one, a large cake table like this gives you the opportunity to create a visually stunning display at your reception, which means you get another place to show off your wedding colors and theme. Another perk: Having more than one cake also makes it very easy to choose multiple cake flavors (so you don’t have to decide between traditional vanilla, decadent chocolate or carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting). “Guests love to have a mini-bite of lots of different desserts,” says Melody Brandon of Sweet and Saucy Shop in Newport, California. Give guests choices, but don’t overwhelm them. “I recommend between two to four mini-desserts per person,” says Brandon. “Try not to choose more than eight options of desserts—too many choices can overwhelm your guests.”
Monogrammed Wedding Cakes- We’re not talking about the typical monogrammed cake topper. The idea here is to design a cake made to highlight your new shared monogram. A few ideas: a hand-drawn monogram in a scripted style on a beveled gold sugar plaque or a rustic sugar-made plaque, or a patterned monogram on a square cake for a modern look. “When used in a repetitious design around the cake, the monogram becomes a pretty pattern, except to the discerning eye,” says Jan Kish of La Petite Fleur in Worthington, Ohio.