You might not get tons of tiers, intricate patterns or realistic-looking sugar flowers, but if you love your local bakery, ask if they'd be willing to make your wedding cake. Because they're not a wedding-specific bakery, you may have more limited design choices—but the savings can be big. Otherwise, ask your caterer if they include cakes in their packages. Sometimes if you order your cake from your caterer, the overall cost will be lower. Some caterers even require you to use them, and if you don't, they'll charge a fee for bringing in another baker. So do a little cost comparison to snag the best deal.
If you choose to make your own cake, allow yourself some extra time and manage expectations: you (or your bridesmaids) are likely not going to be able to craft a fondant-covered confection worthy of a magazine spread. Simple, rustic decorations are more achievable. You'll also want to plan your calendar accordingly. Take time to make a test cake and keep careful notes.
Depending on what kind of filling you're using, it can usually be made well in advance. But some frostings need to be made closer to when the cake will be served. Between the recipe and your practice cakes, you should have a sense of how early the filling and frosting can be made and how long they'll hold up. Once again, overestimate how much you need. Plan to bring an extra pastry bag of frosting to the wedding site to patch up any little cracks that happen while transporting the cake.
In the world of frosting, there are two big hitters: buttercream and fondant, and there are pros and cons to each—including cost. Buttercream is typically less expensive. Fondant, on the other hand, requires extra steps and materials, and can be difficult to work with, making it more expensive. But do your due diligence regardless and don't assume your cake will be less expensive with buttercream: You might want a smooth, seemingly simple appliqué finish on a buttercream cake, when in reality, this pristine style requires precision and time. Long story short, you may not save as much as you'd hoped. And some bakers may charge you extra for fondant, especially if you're requesting a lace appliqué or a detailed pattern design, so it's good to ask your baker these questions up front.
You should use a recipe specifically designed to be a wedding cake as it will ensure that it is sturdy enough and that it makes the right amount of batter and icing. For a three-tier cake, you need to make three cakes of 12", 9" and 6", as well as a massive amount of icing. Most three-tier cake recipes have a step-by-step schedule for when you will need to bake and assemble each part.
The cake in this instructable is a two tier fruit cake, decorated with gorgeous bright red poppies. This is a design specific to my friends' desires, but I have attempted to expand the instructable to cover making wedding cakes in general, from the ambitious planning stages to the nervewracking final set up. This may have led me to ramble a little more than I should, but buried amongst that are the little tips & tricks I've picked up a long the way.
What about a sheet cake? We do offer sheet cakes, and they are a great way to supplement cake servings, without paying for a huge tiered cake with 250 servings. What I mean by that is, if your guest count is 250, order a smaller tiered cake (the most common size cake we bake is a 3 tier with 80 servings & shown in the photo above) and then supplement the rest of your cake servings with sheet cake. Sheet cakes are basic frosted cakes, delivered to the kitchen, cut by catering staff, and never seen by guests, therefore they cost less per serving then a tiered cake. Keep in mind, that we will only make sheet cakes for wedding clients ordering a two tier or larger cake from us.
Don’t forget that the tiers don’t all have to be cake layers as you know them. One tier on top of a tower of cupcakes or macarons will work just as well. You can also try stacking trendy donuts up to create your wedding cake, or copy this couple and go for a Jaffa Cake sensation! Those looking to splurge on a showstopper should surround their wedding cake with a decadent dessert table.