I have to make a confession: I am a crazy person! Yes, that’s right, I’m insane 😉 The reason I’m saying that is because when we were planning our wedding, which was last year in June, I decided to make my own wedding cake. And usually when I told people that that’s what I was planning on doing their response was somewhere on the “You’re crazy” scale. 😂 And I do have to say, it was stressful for some parts of it – especially finishing and transporting the cake – but it was definitely so worth it!
Since our wedding I’ve been hearing and reading from a few more people that they made or want to make their own wedding cake, so I thought I’d make a small wedding cake series for the blog about my experience of making my wedding cake. So if you’re planning on making your own wedding cake or if you’ve been asked by a friend to make theirs, I hope this will be helpful. In this first part I’m going to talk about how I picked the design and the flavours for my cake. In a second post I’m going to tell you all about making the decorations and the actual wedding cake. And then in the third part I will go into some tips and what I’ve learned from this.
There may be different reasons why you might want to go with a homemade wedding cake rather than ordering one from a wedding cake decorator: the sentimental value of having made it yourself, the price of wedding cakes, or to set yourself a new challenge. For me it was partly the price of wedding cakes (a price which in my eyes is completely justified, considering the amount of work that goes into wedding cakes), but mostly the fact that I wasn’t so fond of the taste of wedding cakes I’d tried at wedding fairs. The UK generally has much more of a sweet tooth than Germany in my experience, with things tasting much much sweeter over here than what I’m used to. And that was very apparent in the wedding cakes I’d tried – they were just too sweet for me! With baking and cake decorating being such a big passion of mine, I knew I would never be happy with a cake that while looking amazing, just didn’t taste right for me. I knew it was going to be stressful (mostly because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my cakes) and a whole lot of extra work, but I also knew I’d be able to do it and so the decision was made 🙂
It’s probably not something I’d suggest to someone who is completely new to cake decorating and doesn’t have much experience with making larger cakes. But if you’re passionate about baking and have made some larger cakes before as well, then there’s no reason not to give it a go if you think you can do it.
Making your own wedding cake requires quite a bit of planning, and the first things you need to consider are what kind of design you want to make it and what flavours you would like. To get inspiration for the design I looked at lots of different wedding cakes in wedding magazines and also online. Cutting out and keeping pictures or bookmarking (Hello Pinterest! 😉 ) of cakes you like is a really good way to find out what kind of style you’re going for. This is pretty much the same for ordering a wedding cake from a cake decorator.
But the thing you have to consider when making your own is whether or not you have the skills to do the things you see. If you absolutely love cakes with huge sugar flower arrangements but have never done sugar flowers or are not so good at them yet, then maybe that’s not going to be the best idea. Depending on how far in advance you’re planning will give you more or less time to practice things you’re not too sure about yet, but it’s very important to be realistic at this point. If you think you’ll be able to do something by the time you’re making the wedding cake, then go for it, but if you’re not sure then maybe try and find a different way to get the look you want. For me that thing was sugar roses – I had made them a couple of times but not with great results. I really wanted them on my cake though, and because I was planning months and months in advance I was pretty confident that I could get some practice in and be able to do them to a standard I’d be happy with. And it worked!
What really helped me decide how to make my wedding cake was drawing out some cake designs that I liked, tweaking them to fit our colour scheme, my skills and how I liked them to look. This is usually how I plan cakes I make, so it was a natural step for me. Even if drawing isn’t your strong point, just sketching out some cake designs might help you decide because you can kind of see all your options right in front of you. There were a good few months between me drawing out designs I thought were nice and actually picking one – so don’t worry if you can’t immediately decide on one! As you can see in the pictures I drew out quite a few designs that were all covered in fondant, but in the end I decided on a drip cake. Firstly because I loved the slightly more informal look, which went really well with our barn wedding, and secondly because we were getting married in June and I was worried about the temperatures. I once made a cake in summer when the temperatures were really quite high and had some trouble with the fondant getting quite sticky and hard to work with. So because there was a possibility of it being hot (though not necessarily likely, seeing as we are in the North East of England), I really didn’t want to be fighting with sticky fondant just before the wedding, when I was already going to be stressed out.
So be realistic with your skills, consider the time and feel of your wedding and don’t forget to involve your partner in the decisions 🙂
While you’re considering the cake design, you should also have a think about flavours. If you’re having a multi-tiered cake is it going to be one flavour throughout or different flavours for each tier? I had three tiers and knew I wanted a different flavour for each of them. So what I did is I sat down one afternoon and made a list of every cake flavour combination I could think of – what flavour cake together with what flavour buttercream. After that my (then) fiancé and I started narrowing it down, kicking out the flavours that we didn’t think would fit or didn’t like so much. After narrowing it down a bit we both ranked the remaining flavours by how much we liked them and then put the two rankings together to find the three flavours we both liked the most. In the end we settled on chocolate & strawberry for the bottom tier, lemon & raspberry for the middle tier and toffee apple for the top tier. We thought those flavours should mean there’s something there for everyone – and everybody loved the cake and went back for seconds! 😀
Right, that was everything for this first part – keep an eye out for parts two and three in the next few weeks! Would you or have you actually made your own wedding cake, or do you know someone who did? I’d love to hear about your experience!
Oh yes, and the photo of the wedding cake on the day right at the top of this post was taken by our incredible photographers Tux & Tales Photography! If you’re getting married and are still looking for a photographer, I cannot recommend Jaye and Matt highly enough – they are both super nice, make you feel relaxed while they take gorgeous photos and are just generally two absolutely lovely people ☺️