Choosing a wedding cake that shows off your personality
By Kimberly Lord Stewart
Photography by Annette Slade
Other than the dress, the wedding cake is perhaps one of the top decisions to make for your wedding. It should be a fun experience; after all, it’s cake. But the flavor choices and design options can be a bit daunting when jumbled in with all the other decisions on your list. Wedding cake experts say there are two things to keep in mind: find a baker you are comfortable with and choose flavors and designs that reflect your personality.
When bride-to-be Elizabeth Vancura went cake shopping for her April Denver wedding, she had one desire: pick a flavor everyone likes. Instead of choosing one flavor, she chose three, a vanilla cake with a raspberry center for the base, a chocolate with chocolate ganache filling for the second tier, and a red velvet cake for the top.
“The bottom layer is the common denominator,” says Vancura. “It’s a base cake that everyone likes.” The chocolate? “We [she and her fiancé, Alex Read] are both passionate about chocolate,” she says. And the red velvet cake, which is more unusual, has become a recurrent dessert for special occasions throughout their engagement, so it has personal meaning. “The cake was amazing, but what sold us was how comfortable, knowledgeable, and honest cake designer Michelle Brietzke at La Momo Maes [in Longmont] was during our first meeting.”
Vancura brings up an important crumb of truth when cake shopping: You want to find someone who understands both your personality and exactly what you want—or think you want. Vancura says Brietzke spent a considerable amount of time asking just the right questions to come up with a design that suited both she and Read. Vancura, an elementary school music teacher, is a fan of art nouveau and the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. His commercial art from the 1930s is known for sweeping floral bouquets and ornate details.
On the opposite side of the design spectrum, Read is more mechanically inclined. The Navy submariner loves math and geometry, so the cake will be an octagon shape with small gears interspersed in the Mucha-inspired design. The combination is a perfect reflection of the couple’s likes and personalities.
Getting to yes takes time, says Chef Rachel Teufel of Intricate Icings. “I typically spend an hour talking with the couple, which can be a rarity among bakers,” she says. “I watch the dynamic between the couple—the bride might be excited about an idea and the groom not so much. It’s about reading people as much as making a cake.”
Teufel recently changed her business model so she could focus more on the design and intricacy she loves to put into her cakes. She has developed a reputation in the wedding cake industry as one of the most skilled edible artists, especially for her bridal gown–inspired cakes; Intricate Icings cakes start at $2000. Even other competitor cake bakers take her design classes on Craftsy, “which can be tricky,” she says.
Teufel says there is an explosion of techniques, materials, and mediums that allows for very delicate modeling. Wafer paper, as an example, is so thin that you can almost see through it. Other materials such as gum paste and at least 40 brands of fondants mean that nearly anything is possible from bold colors to translucent designs that match the delicate lace and beading on the bride’s dress and the wedding flowers.
As for flavors, narrowing down your favorites can be a fun and tasty task. Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet helps make the decision a littler easier by offering a cake tasting open house every Saturday with more than 15 different cakes. “Brides and grooms can come in and try everything on their own time; no appointment is necessary,” says Dennis Meyer, the chef and owner. “Once they have tried everything, we can then narrow down their cake flavor preferences and the design,” he says.
Each couple has a unique approach to the cake; some arrive with dozens of Pinterest pins or thick binders filled with pictures. Others prefer to see what comes of the conversation. “We went to La Momo Maes just to taste,” says Vancura. “And as we talked, the design developed organically.” Vancura found the perfect combination of classic elegance inspired by the art nouveau period with some amusing add-ins from Read. Both walked away happy, and cake should be all about happy.
Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet
Consultations by appointment
Los Momo Maes Bakery
The bakers gives 10% of sales to local schools and nonprofits; ask for details
Cake images from top to bottom: Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet, Jason + Gina, Autumn Twilight Photography, Kelli Lyn Photography, Chris Mclaughlin