Wedding cakes may have their big moment at the end of the reception, but these sweet testaments to a couple’s unending love and big-day aesthetic have a starring role throughout the evening. It’s no wonder, then, that brides and grooms put so much thought into themes, flavors, colors, and more when it comes to their cakes. Laurie Lewis, head baker at St. Louis-based creative catering and event company, Culinary Canvas, identified a few key trends that happy couples are clamoring for right now—trends that other high-end bakers across the country are also seeing. Each of these highly customized, thoughtfully personalized trends help make the wedding day one to remember always.
- Matching florals: “Couples are looking to incorporate florals more intimately, matching their bouquets to the flowers on their cake and having bridesmaids’ florals coordinate with table settings,” Lewis says. NYC-area baker Laura D’Abate and founder of Pip n Bits, whose cakes have been featured by “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” Family Circle Magazine, and Good Morning America, agrees. “Ninety-five percent of my cakes that use fresh flowers are designed to match the florals that are being used throughout the wedding,” D’Abate says. In Little Rock, Arkansas, Kelli Marks of Sweet Love designs her cake to contribute to the “spectacle of flowers,” she says. “I always coordinate with the florist to have extra blooms available for the cake so that everything matches perfectly.”
Stowe, Vermont-based Marion Peer, owner of Vermont Sweet Tooth, puts an everlasting spin on this floral trend: “I sculpt the bride’s exact flowers in sugar paste and design the wedding cake with these,” she explains. The gorgeous lookalike blooms are removed before the cake is served, so the bride and groom can take them home. “They’ll keep forever in a vase, perched on a shelf, or displayed under a glass dome as a wonderful remembrance of their special day.”
- Native flowers: Some couples are looking hyper-local when it comes to floral inspo. “We’ve been utilizing native state flowers and wildflowers for cakes,” Lewis says. “We even had a cake made with flowers we handpicked from the groom’s grandpa’s garden to really play into that intimate connection.” D’Abate designed a cake with eucalyptus sprigs for an Australian couple, “They had them in their yard back home growing up,” she says. “They also wanted shades of green watercolor to represent the color of the sea near their home back in Australia.” Peer handcrafted sugar daisies to top a cake for a wedding held in the daisy garden field of a local home, and turned to the pumpkin patch next door for inspiration for a fall wedding cake.
- Highly personalized touches: The wedding cake is one more place for brides and grooms to bring personal meaning to their unique event. “We’ve made cakes with hyper-personal touches like a topper welded by the groom,” Lewis says. “We’ve also been finding eccentric ways to pay homage to the couples’ past. Clear acrylic tiers in cakes are a big part of this concept for us, storing items within the tiers creates a really unique look at the couple’s personalities and journey together: Something borrowed, a family heirloom or sentimental item; something old, a movie ticket from their first date together; something new, flowers native to where they plan on honeymooning.”
Peer has seen a tendency toward whimsy and laughter lately. “I get so many requests for such personality-driven cakes,” she says. “When guests see the bride and groom’s dog or other beloved pets—or even hobbies or sports loves—represented on their cakes, they break out in big smiles. They seem captivated and are even more drawn into the celebration.”
- Pressed and dried florals: While a lush, 3-D effect is always impressive, there’s also something incredibly artful about dried or pressed florals on a wedding cake. “Sometimes I mix pressed flowers with fresh or dried flowers for a little dimension,” D’Abate says. Lewis has also been experimenting with drying florals and using them for a pressed look. Peer
- Bold flavor notes: Lewis says that increasingly, today’s brides and grooms have ventured beyond more traditional flavors like vanilla and almond. “We’ve been playing with vibrant flavors like blueberry, lavender, subtle herbal flavors like chai, early gray, and black tea,” she says “as well as more acidic details with lemon, orange, and apricot.” D’Abate, too, has noticed the trend toward unusual notes. “I have had a ton of requests in the past few months for “tea” flavors, such as Earl Grey and matcha,” she says, in addition to “an uptick in requests for lavender.” D’Abate likes to layer flavors across all elements of the cake. “A natural complement to lemon and blueberry is lavender, which we love to incorporate into our Italian meringue buttercream,” she says. Peer has had much success with her “Lemony Snicket” cake. “It’s a blast of citrus flavor made with fresh-squeezed lemons and oranges,” she explains. “It’s one of my top three most popular flavors.”
- Savory notes: Lewis predicts savory cakes will have their moment in 2024, as couples look for ways to make every aspect of their wedding memorable. “Savory and cake usually don’t go in the same sentence,” she acknowledges. “But there are approachable techniques to incorporate the idea, like fresh herbs—think rosemary, sage, and thyme, and cheeses like ricotta and mascarpone, and even apple and brie pairings.”
- Vintage cakes: Amidst all the forward-thinking trends, one throwback wedding cake theme stands out to the bakers. “Vintage-style wedding cakes are becoming more popular,” Lewis says. The common elements: decadent, layered frosting in shades of white, intricate piping tip patterns and luxe accents, like pearlescent details or lace-inspired decorating work done in frosting or edible fabric sheets. D’Abate has noticed a huge uptick in couples requesting Lambeth style cakes. “I love all things vintage so this trend really speaks to me,” she says. “These beauties look like something straight out of a Marie Antoinette tablescape. I have a large Lambeth style cake coming up, so sadly no pics yet—but I did make a petite version recently.” Marks, too, has made good use of her piping tips. “A recent bride wanted a very French feeling wedding and I combined a Lambeth style piping on multiple tiers—plus the matching smaller cakes—with a more modern addition of wafer paper blooms and a bow. I really liked the joining of two different styles to create something unique for the couple.” D’Abate has also fielded many requests for Art Deco-inspired cakes. “Some are a bit more sculptural,” she notes, “and others more Great Gatsby style, such as metallic gold scalloped edge details.”