Step 1. Find Your Cake Mate
Before setting up appointments, do a little research on each baker by checking out his or her website. At the meeting, discuss time and place of the wedding; degree of formality; colors; what your gown is like; and any other important details. Feel free to bring pictures of cakes or swatches of fabric you like. If you like a particular photograph from the baker's portfolio, make sure it represents work done by current staff. When you think you've met your match, book the baker to secure her services (often a deposit is required at this time). Locking in your cake maker should be done as soon as you can before your wedding — some top bakers book up to a year in advance.
Step 2. Get Personal
Now for the fun part: devising a style. Ask yourself these questions: What is your reception space like? What are your wedding colors? Do you want something extravagant? Or do you want something playful, whimsical? Are you classic types? Or is your couple motto The simpler the better? How do you want to personalize your cake? Your baker will take this information and come up with a sketch of the proposed design, and you just might find her zeroing in on a piece of lace or the beading on your wedding gown to use as a key element.
Step 3. Mind the Flavor
The biggest misconception about wedding cakesis that they are designed to look good but taste less than fabulous. We've taken the taste test from several top bakers (lucky us) and beg to differ. Far from the cake being just a showpiece, it's what's inside that counts. You'll taste lots of samples along the way (forget the diet — this is "research"), and you might be surprised to find this isn't average chocolate cake because of the…fillings! Yes, interspersed between layers of moist cake, you could find fresh fruit, custard, or ganache (a fancy word for a concoction of chocolate and heavy cream). And once cut, each piece — with horizontal layers of different-hued flavors and fillings — makes a dramatic statement on the plate.
Step 4. Showcase It
Just as you would with a fine painting, once your masterpiece is a reality, you must make certain that great care is taken transporting it in one piece to the reception site. Most cake designers prefer to deliver the precious cargo themselves, and we think paying the extra delivery fee is worth the peace of mind that the cake will arrive in top form. Make certain that the baker has a contact person at the reception site so he or she can give the catering manager or event planner any pertinent information on handling it — it might have to be refrigerated or stationed in a cool, out-of-the-way location in the reception room. Most importantly, don't forget to marvel at the culinary tour de force before taking a cut — those delicious details will surely be your reception's icing on the cake.