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Show-Stopping Sweetness

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The first step to creating your dream dessert is finding the right baker. Come to cake tastings armed with photos of styles you love, and make sure the bakery can execute your vision.

“I think couples really need to do their homework before they go visit bakers, and have a general idea of what sort of cake style they want,” says Nora Sheils, a wedding planner owner of Bridal Bliss in Portland, Oregon. “Some bakers can’t do it all. Some can’t do fondant and some only do buttercream.”

If you and your fiancé have a particular favorite kind of cake – such as red velvet or cheesecake – you can narrow your search by researching local bakers that specialize in your desired dessert.

Keep in mind your budget when meeting with bakers. According to the 2014 American Wedding Study from Brides magazine, the average couple spends $461 on a cake. Remember that customized features also can add up quickly.

Sheils recommends ordering fewer servings – about 5 to 10 percent less than the number of guests – to keep costs within your budget.

Remember that the wedding cake also is a major visual element of the reception, so the design should complement the rest of the décor.

“The cake usually sits right by the dance floor, in the middle of where all the action is and lots of eyes are on it,” says Lori Stephenson, owner of LOLA Event Productions in Chicago. “Take into account the entire room décor and really keep with a cohesive theme so that it feels like it’s the jewel in the design of the room.”

But you don’t have to sacrifice personality for a unified look. Go bold with an entire cake inspired by your favorite movie or get a romantic quote penned in icing. If you want to keep it simple, use cake toppers to add a unique and subtle touch. Flavor can also inject individuality into any cake – think about utilizing a childhood favorite like cookies and cream or fruit fillings to liven up classic tastes.

If cake doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth or you just want to give your guests more options, a dessert table is a contemporary alternative to tiered cakes. Stephenson recommends having a small bites buffet with mini versions of your favorite treats like brownies, cookies or candy.

Interactive food stations are another fun way to offer more choices. Guests can customize their own ice cream sundaes or decorate cupcakes, to name a few options. For an added bonus, Sheils suggests placing carry out boxes or baggies with the spread so everyone can take some home as favors.

Whether you choose a cake with fillings or an entire dessert spread, traditional rules for wedding cakes no longer apply.

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