Tips for designing your own wedding cake
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Emily Maynard and I'm a Wedding Sales Coordinator at Bredenbeck's Bakery. I meet with couples to help them design their wedding cakes, dessert displays, and custom favors. I act as the liaison between the couple, the venue and our decorating team. I've been in the hospitality industry since 2014, specializing in wedding sales for the past two years.
I've sold upwards of 500 wedding cakes in my time at Bredenbeck’s so far. Before transitioning to the sales side of the hospitality industry, I worked directly in baking and pastry. My first job out of culinary school was working as a wedding cake decorator in California. From this, I went on to the pastry department at The Union League of Philadelphia, a premier City Club in Center City Philadelphia. I used to be covered in cake all day, now I talk about it all day instead!
What are the most common questions that couples ask you?
Couples often ask about the benefits of buttercream cakes versus fondant cakes. Every couple wants to find out how to design a unique and beautiful cake that is also delicious and stays within their budget. Taste and price are typically the most important factors for couples when choosing a wedding cake.
”Every couple wants to find out how to design a unique and beautiful cake that is also delicious and stays within their budget.”
Are there things that differentiate vendors specializing in wedding cakes?
Wedding cake/dessert vendors differ in what products they offer. At Bredenbeck's, we're a full retail bakery and ice cream parlor so we offer desserts anywhere from breakfast pastries for brunch weddings to donut cakes, to ice cream bars. Wedding cake/dessert vendors may specialize in a specific dessert or offer a variety of options as we do.
Couples should ask what the best dessert options are in relation to their guest count and according to the time of year, they're getting married. For example, if a couple wants a cake decorated with French Buttercream, this type of frosting can be very temperature-sensitive, so may not be the best idea for an outdoor wedding in Philadelphia in July.
What discussions, tastings, preparation, and planning goes into a successful dessert creation?
Creating custom cakes requires a lot of attention to detail. In my experience, this starts with getting as much information about the event as possible - Wedding Date, Venue, Guest Count, Time of Event, Dietary Restrictions, etc.
To create a successful cake, collecting specific design details from each couple allows our sales team to relay their vision accurately to our bakers and decorators. Communication across all departments of our business is key to making each couple’s cake come to life as they imagine. I believe, when it comes to details, the more specific, the better!
”Couples should ask what the best dessert options are in relation to their guest count and according to the time of year they're getting married.”
What does your day at the wedding itself look like?
We generally deliver our wedding cakes at least two hours ahead of time, that way the cake is able to be set up at the venue well ahead of the event start time. This allows additional details to be added to the cake if necessary such as fresh flowers, wedding cake toppers, etc.
What are some of your most popular desserts?
Our most popular wedding cake flavors are our Chocolate Chip and Raspberry Swirl. As far as desserts we offer, some of our most popular items are our Strawberry Shortcake (Rated Best Cake in Pennsylvania by Business Insider), Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes and our Petit Fours.
”Communication across all departments of our business is key to making each couple’s cake come to life as they imagine. I believe, when it comes to details, the more specific, the better!”
What is the most unusual dessert that you ever served?
I helped design a wedding cake that involved designing a custom Philadelphia landscape in buttercream and fondant, featuring the Philly Phanatic floating above Lincoln Financial Field!
Was there ever a time you had to improvise?
We provide a "Sweet Doctor" if necessary for all types of mishaps that can happen during the course of someone’s wedding day. Sometimes when a curious passerby sticks a finger in the cake or pulls a flower out, I've acted as the "Sweet Doctor" on call to touch up the cake on site.
What additional services are usually provided?
We provide complimentary tastings and a variety of options for additional desserts including miniature desserts, ice cream bars, groom’s cakes, and custom favors to give to guests.
”Our wedding cakes are priced very competitively for our location, but we always provide options for couples on a tighter budget.”
What's the typical budget (per guest) that the couple should expect to spend?
This depends on a lot of factors—the wedding venue, the caterer, the guest count, design, flavors, etc. Our wedding cakes are priced very competitively for our location, but we always provide options for couples on a tighter budget.
Couples on a tight budget can save money by going with a smaller tiered cake with a sheet cake to serve their guests. Alternatives to your typical tiered cake can include miniature desserts, cupcakes or you can get creative with a dessert display by offering items like donuts, pies or cookies.