Before we got engaged, we knew there were a couple of vendors who we would want to hire for our hypothetical (now very real) wedding. We are lucky to have some good friends who are or have been involved in weddings before.
The first one we knew: our photographer. One of our friends is an amazing photographer. She shot our friends’ wedding and all of the pictures were gorgeous.
BM Apple Pie and her husband Waffle at their wedding / Photos by Love Song Photo
The second one we knew: our cake baker. BM Hot Buns has an amazing side business: she bakes. Her cakes are beautiful AND delicious. An important combination!
When we chose our cupcakes over a traditional cake, Cam was a little sad that we wouldn’t get to
smash each other’s faces into oblivion with red velvet gently feed each other a piece. This led to getting the small cake on top! It’s only going to be six inches across, which is perfect for feeding each other.
The whole idea of a cupcake tower is pretty grandiose in itself—it’s going to be a six-tier stand with 175 cupcakes on them. At the suggestion of Miss Palm Tree, my Pittsburgh pal, I’m going to put little flags in one of each flavor to identify and try to not cause any allergic reactions to the almond. Ahem, specifically for Cam.
*Side note: Cam is allergic to lots of foods, including tree nuts. Once on a Fourth of July celebration at his parents’ house, he and the guy relatives went out golfing while the girl relatives (and Cam’s new girlfriend—me) stayed home to make dinner. His mom made a lovely summer salad and announced “I’m putting pine nuts in here…is anyone allergic?” and I said, “Uh, Mrs. Cam’s mom? Cam’s allergic…” So I saved his life. You’re welcome, Cam.
So, back to the small six-inch cake on top. I have a hard time describing the design of this cake. My baker Michelle of Dolce Bakery says it’s starting to be quite popular and she has taken to calling it “swooshy,” so that’s what I’ll call it too. Here’s what we call swooshy, and if you have any ideas of what it’s actually called (I think it’s just the back of a spoon being lightly dragged over the frosting), please let me know.
Last time I told you that, despite my childhood fantasies of an epic wedding cake, we just couldn’t fit it into the budget. So instead, we decided to jump on the cupcake bandwagon.
Image from Martha Stewart Weddings
Honestly, I’m much less sad about having to give our cake the axe than I expected. These days, a giant display of cupcakes can look so epic.
I love macarons. Specifically Ladurée macarons, but any will do really so long as they are made with care. In another blogger bee life, I would have loved to have blogged as Miss Macarons from the Tea Party generation. Macarons were present on the day Mr. C and I got engaged. We were at Versailles and of course Ladurée has a small boutique inside the palace to satiate your sweet tooth. There is nothing more decadent than sitting on the beautifully manicured grounds of Versailles or in the whimsical gardens of the Queen’s Hamlet and munching on some dainty little macarons in all the colors you know Marie Antoinette herself would have loved. I remember my first visit to Versailles in the summer of 2011. I was there with my stepsister, and I knew I had to try the macarons I had seen photos of so often online. I sat on the lawn munching away thing, “This is the life.” My stepsister, however, was not as impressed. Well, more for me!
In case you all haven’t noticed, I love sugar. Like, when people claim to not want the frosting from their slice of birthday cake (Are they being serious? I have to assume that they’re just using that as an excuse to not eat ridiculously unhealthy icing.), I gladly volunteer to eat it. All of it. No matter how much there is. Frosting is just too amazing to not eat.
OK, now that I’m done fantasizing about icing, I think I’m ready to talk about frosting’s companion: cake! I have conjured up some pretty amazing cakes in my imagination. Many girls have that “thing” that they dream about for their wedding. It’s the thing you dream about when you’re a little girl, and that’s what you see as wedding. For me, it was the dress. And the cake!
Perfection. (From Brides.com)
To me, this cake is pretty dang close to perfection. I would probably modify some colors, but it’s just so “me.” In fact, my MOH sent it to me in an email way back in 2008 with the subject line “Your Future Wedding Cake.” She knows what’s up.
Now, I know that some of you are thinking, “Good God! That cake is hideous!” Yeah, I know it’s not for everyone. But I’m not marrying you. I’m marrying Mr. Whale. He shares my affinity for all things sugar and likes my whimsical style.
So this cake has been in the back of my mind for ages, but once we got engaged, I realized the world of cakes has so much to offer!
I think it’s official. I love the girl making our wedding cake.
Not only is Tess of Chatter Cakes just lovely, but she’s also incredibly accommodating and, despite being really busy the other week, she still managed to whip up a little “first draft” of our wedding cake so we could sample it when visiting my family.
My parents’ friends were staying with us that weekend, but I didn’t mind them tasting the cake with us. After all, it’s good to have a guest’s opinion, right? They don’t know anyone else going to the wedding, so it’s not like they’d go and tell everyone. So one evening after dinner, we decided to eat it for dessert.
Tess brought to life our idea of chocolate and raspberry sponge with white chocolate and raspberry buttercream.
Ooooh I was nervous when we cut into it! Tess couldn’t source any xanthan gum (which is used instead of gluten to hold the cake together), so she was worried it was going to crumble.
Figuring out what to do about the cake was the planning item I was most excited about. Although my favorite dessert is ice cream, I was still really excited about picking out a cake. I had a few visual ideas that I liked, but I set out with no specific flavor desires. Mr. B’s son told us we couldn’t have coconut so that was out, but we had endless possibilities aside from that.
First up, I pinned some “cake-spiration” photos—I knew I wanted something white and simple. No fondant, no elaborate designs, probably no flowers, potentially no cake topper. I love simple, white, buttercream, classic. Here are some of the cakes that caught my eye.
I don’t want the cake to look messy and I fear the option above could look a little messy if not done right. Next option…
While in Rochester spending Christmas with my future in-laws, my beau and I picked our cake flavors. Correction: we picked our CUPCAKE flavors. Yes indeed, I have jumped on the cupcake bandwagon. Neither my beau nor I are big dessert fans, and we felt like purchasing a huge five-tiered cake wouldn’t be “us.” Our favorite restaurant is Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (our favorite location is Chicago). They have amazing steaks and crab legs, and I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest their grilled tomatoes! YUMMMMMMMMY! My mouth waters when I just think about it. But without a doubt, we make sure we save room for their Havana Dream Pie! You have to try if you go!
I have digressed.
Back to the wedding cake: in making our decision to go with cupcake versus a traditional cake, we also wanted our guests to experience a variety of flavors. I can’t remember the last wedding cake that just knocked me off of my feet. Cupcakes are small, individualized, and come in a variety of flavors. The concept that pushed us all the way over the line is the idea that our caterer charges us some weird thing called a “cake cutting fee.” That is right. They would charge us $2 per person. With a potential guest list of 200 people, we are looking at $400. Not to mention it falls into the service fee (20%) and tax. That would push having a regular cake to $600. Oh yeah, then we would have to purchase the cake! That is way too much.
True confessions: I have ants in my pants. I’m antsy for time to keep marching on so I can do all of the things I cannot wait to do. I’m antsy for RSVPs to roll in and my bridal shower and other wedding season FUN.
I’ve started to delve into some of the smaller details, things that I can totally accomplish and/or decide on now that won’t affect anything else. I’ve started thinking about things like: Do my ladies need flowers, even the silk ones, especially if I myself am carrying a brooch bouquet? Can Pad and Pie, our flower girls, scatter petals if there may not be flowers involved elsewhere? Can they scatter petals at our venue, period? I feel accomplished when I address things like this, because it’s clearly ahead of time, and also because of how little stress is involved with mulling these things over because it’s so ahead of time. It’s a total win.
Lately, I’ve been on a cake topper kick. This is one of the small details that is totally back-burnered. You know, those things that you place on the potential list, the ones that you want but aren’t a priority? I refuse to stress about a cake topper, but it’s still fun to peruse pictures and read blogs for inspiration.
Image via Wedding Collectibles
So far, Cam hasn’t been too involved in the wedding planning. As with a lot of fiances, he’s leaving the bulk of the work up to me. On one hand I appreciate that he’s giving me free rein to have the wedding of my dreams, but I sure wish he was a little bit more interested.
Enter: cake tasting.
All of a sudden the wedding is all he can talk about. But he doesn’t care about flowers or dresses or cocktail napkins, his interest lies solely in the eyes of what delicious desserts will make an appearance at the reception.
Now, wedding cakes are beautiful, but they sure are overpriced. In my circle of friends, I’m known as the cupcake queen—I bake all sorts of cupcakes for every occasion.
Not to toot my own horn, but I do make a mean cupcake, so…toot toot! Examples:
(Left) Devil’s Food with peanut butter frosting and a mini Reese’s inside; (Top right) Yellow cake with chocolate buttercream; (Bottom right) Chocolate cupcake with peppermint frosting and peppermint bark! / Personal photo
Another major thing that we got checked off of our list this past weekend was finding a baker to cater our dessert table. This is a semi-nontraditional thing we are planning—no cake, no cake cutting, just loads of mini desserts. Trust me, it’s going to be fabulous.
I had two caterers in mind when I started planning the dessert table. My top choice sent me an incredible menu, with an equally incredible (read: ridiculously expensive) price tag. But, I had tasted his desserts before and I knew they would be awesome. However, after two requests to schedule a tasting went unanswered, I started to question his professionalism and whether I really wanted to deal with an unresponsive vendor.
Meanwhile, the other baker I emailed was not only responsive but seemed genuinely excited about working with us. She offered to set up a tasting immediately and we happily accepted. Instead of a full-blown caterer like the first guy, Tracey from Back Home Bakery is strictly desserts. Works for me!
We arranged to meet Tracey at her newly opened storefront, which happened to be within walking distance from our condo. How convenient! When we arrived, we took a seat at a table and Tracey brought over a large white box.
She opened the top and we were greeted with this sight:
People like to use the term “bridezilla” a lot to describe the unrealistic demands of brides, particularly in the last couple of weeks leading up to the wedding. Some brides deal with stress by bossing other people around, freaking out, and otherwise going bananas (a co-worker of mine recently talked about his cousin getting married a couple of weekends ago and how absolutely unbearable she was to be around the week before her wedding). I’ve found that when my stress levels are high, I don’t go crazy and flip my lid. Quite the contrary. I feel so lost and helpless that I essentially become useless, walking around like I have no idea what’s going on and getting maybe four hours of sleep every night due to the crap floating around in my head. I’m a bridezombie.
However, bridezombies like me aren’t COMPLETELY useless. In fact, over the weekend and past couple of days, we’ve accomplished a TON of wedding stuff!
I gave my Kitchenaid a workout and baked five dozen French vanilla cupcakes from scratch. They taste fantastic. Trust me on this one.
While I had the mixer out, we decided to go ahead and do a “trial run” of the groom’s cake. Here’s how it turned out! (For the wedding, we’ll have three Lego bricks in different colors stacked in a topsy turvy fashion.)
For some reason, and I’m not completely sure what it is, the cake is one of the last vendors that we need to book. It hasn’t been an easy decision. After all, some of my early cupcake posts were some of the first posts I ever wrote. So, it’s been on the back of our mind for a while.
We had a couple places in mind, but the first and only place we actually went and did a real tasting at was Cakeology in the Park Street area.
Personally, I was biased even before the tasting since their mascot is a panda. I mean seriously, how could I not love this place?
But enough talk, let me show you the food porn.
Ahhh yes, the cake.
Have I mentioned that my dad and I are coeliac (no gluten)? Yeah…that makes this whole “cake thing” a bit more interesting.
A lot of people who make cakes aren’t used to making gluten-free ones. It is a difficult mixture to work with, and many times out of 10, it just crumbles into a crumbly mess.
I tried to make gluten-free quiche for The Great Comic Relief Bake Off at work and…it failed. A big ol’ gluten-free mess.
Gluten free FAIL. I give up. / Personal photo
It would be nice to cut into a slice of my wedding cake that I could actually eat, but the risk in doing that would be that it could just crumble, and that would be a bit…awkward.
So when I looked at people to speak to about making my cake, it was the first thing I asked about. I saw a couple of wedding-cake vendors at a wedding fair, and most of them just said, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll just switch the flour. It’ll be fine.” Um…no. It’s not really that simple.
One of my first posts that went live here on Weddingbee was the admittance of my total obsession over Etsy seller Lollipop Workshop’s cake toppers. In case you need a refresher of what these gorgeous babies look like, here you go:
Determined to make my own cake topper inspired by the Etsy version, the peg people version of Mr. A and myself went from this…