Bride’s Guide on How to Choose a Wedding Cake Design and to Decorate her Wedding Cake

How do you describe your dream cake to your decorator when you don’t know the lingo? Read on for an overview of commonly used wedding cake decorating techniques and embellishments. Knowing what’s out there can help you to choose your ideal design when you sit down with your wedding specialty baker and decorator.

Fondant or Buttercream Icing as the Base

Do you ever wonder how professionally-done cakes get that flawlessly smooth layer of frosting on top?

Most wedding cakes are coated with fondant or buttercream icing that is rolled out with a rolling pin and draped over the cake to provide a smooth working surface. Rolled fondant or buttercream comes in a variety of colors and can be rolled out to a variety of thicknesses.

Decorating with Icing

Once you have the smooth “base” of your cake – usually fondant or buttercream – it’s ready to be decorated with piped icing. (“Piping” is the term bakers use to describe icing that is squeezed through a desert decorating bag to create shapes and patterns.)

Look through your baker’s portfolio to identify piping techniques you like to help you get started. You can choose whether you want the piping to be the same color or a different color as the base of the cake.

Piping Techniques

Piping techniques range from simple to complex. Simple patterns such as dots, lines, shells, and zigzags add depth and detail to the cake.

More complicated piping techniques include basketweave (looks like the interwoven reeds of a wicker basket,) cornelli (intricate wavy lines that look sort of like lace,) or dotted swiss (tiny dots arranged in patterns, usually clusters of three, on the cake’s surface.)

Elaborate decorations like 3-D edible icing flowers or icing “sashes” that appear to drape down the length of the cake are time-consuming for the decorator and expensive for the bride and groom, but the visual effect can be breathtaking.

Textured Wedding Cakes

Textured wedding cakes are less common than smooth wedding cakes covered in fondant, but that doesn’t mean they don’t look just as lovely. To create a texturized cake for your reception, the baker frosts the cake and then uses a spatula or the back of a spoon to create designs in it before the frosting sets.

Swirled designs are created by swiping the frosted cake with the back of a spoon in circular motions. Spiked patterns are made by tapping a spatula on it and then lifting it off, making “peaks” or spikes on the frosting that later harden and set.

Borders on Your Wedding Cake Tiers

A border going along the bottom of each tier gives a finished appearance to your cake at your reception. Almost every wedding reception cake has borders. The three most popular borders are icing pearls and ribbons.

Icing Pearl – The most classic and popular border is the “icing pearl.” It’s likely that you’ve seen icing pearls at weddings before even if you’re not familiar with the name. A line of balls (i.e: “pearls”) about the size of marbles go around the bottom of each tier.

Ribbos – Ribbon borders are an alternative to borders made from icing, and often reflect light and add shine to it. Clean-lined and versatile ribbon borders are quickly becoming almost as popular as the icing pearl border. To make one, the decorator wraps a ribbon of any color, width, or material around the bottom of each tier. The ribbons are either pinned at the backside of the cake or affixed with a display bow in the front.

Embellishing with Flowers or Fruit

Traditionally, cakes at weddings are adorned with fresh (or silk) flowers. Experiment with different sizes and types of blooms to see how each affects the cake’s finished appearance. A bunch of tiny hydrangeas, for example, looks markedly different from a few strategically placed oversized day lilies.

Stacked cakes may feature a length of flowers trailing down the tiers diagonally like a sash; some are stacked with columns may have flowers filling the gaps between tiers. Tiers on separate pedestals may be topped with matching flower arrangements. Flowers for decorating are generally provided by your florist (along with petals to scatter across the reception desert table, if desired.)

Fresh fruit is sometimes used with or instead of flowers. Most commonly, bright red strawberries are perched atop a chocolate ganache cake at the wedding reception. But blueberries, blackberries, cherries, sliced kiwis, and brunches of grapes can also be incorporated into your design, no matter what the color of your cake. These types of wedding cake toppings are some of the options for decorating wedding cake toppings.

There are a number of options a bride and groom have as to what type or style of wedding cake toppings they can select. There are humorous or fun wedding cake toppers depicting a bride reeling in the groom like a fish, or the groom with a “ball & chain” on his leg, or the bride (or groom) dragging their partner away by the ankle. These humorous wedding cake toppers may or may not fit the wedding reception concept of the bride and groom, but they are a fun option available for a wedding couple who don’t take themselves too seriously.

The Bride and Groom can totally customize the Wedding cake toppings which can bride and groom the opportunity or option to incorporate important elements of their lives. A wedding cake topping or topper can be customized to depict a bride and groom playing football or baseball, or riding a motorcycle together, or the couple hiking up their wedding cake.

A safe choice to tht bride is to use a traditional wedding cake topper is usually a pair of small figurines of a bride and groom shown either standing next to each other, holding hands, linking arms, dancing, or kissing. Some bride and groom figurines are shown under an arch or in a gazebo on top of the cake. While these traditional style wedding cake toppers are still available and popular, there are also many other options for unique wedding cake toppings.

Copyright © 2010-2011 Celestial Publishing -,, and - Rose Haller Editor-in-Chief & Chief Creative Officer.
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Author's Bio: 

Rose Haller is a Professional Wedding Planner, specializing in Weddings and Wedding Reception Planning for 30 years. She is Editor-in-Chief & Chief Creative Officer of Celestial Publishing (, and

Rose is an Expert on Wedding Planning, Wedding Table Decorations and on LDS Wedding Gowns. Rose has both a Degree & a Professional Designation in Clothing Manufacturing and Fashion Merchandising. She and her husband, Dr. Howard Edward Haller, live in the Pacific Northwest, they have six grown children and a growing number of grandchildren; they are both active members of the LDS Church. (The Complete Online Planner for LDS Weddings) (Providing Elegant LDS Wedding Reception ideas!) (The Complete Online Resource on Wedding Cake Toppings and Wedding Cake Toppers)

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