The wedding cake process: Everything you need to know from timings to tastings

Two talented wedding bakers tell Amy Shearer how to plan the cake of your dreams, and which questions to ask so it ends in the right kind of tiers

three-tier wedding cake from Pam Rennie Cake Designs and floral wedding cake from Torta By Katalin
Three-tier wedding cake from Pam Rennie Cake Designs and floral wedding cake from Torta By Katalin

Cutting your wedding cake is a classic photo op and time-honoured tradition of weddings. Whether you choose numerous tiers and white icing or something small and colourful, your cake will be a memorable part of your big day.

No matter the style, your guests can be sure that it’ll be fancier than anything they’d find in the supermarket baked goods aisle – if, that is, you get your timings right. To ensure you don’t end up with a last-minute dash to your local corner shop for eggs, flour and ready-to-roll icing, we’ve had a chat with two top bakers to find out all you need to consider in your cake planning timeline.

When do I need to arrange my wedding cake?

“Once you’ve secured your venue, you can start booking your other suppliers,” says Pam Rennie, who kicked off her business, Pam Rennie Cake Design, during lockdown. “Even if your wedding is two years away, you can still get ahead and book your baker.”

wedding cake designs from Pam Rennie
Wedding cake designs from Pam Rennie

How to choose the right wedding cake maker

Beyond word of mouth, how do you choose a cake-maker? “Have a look around at wedding fairs, open days and on social media to find suppliers who make the style of cake you’re looking for,” Pam says. “Once your date is in my diary, I’ll have you in four to six months prior to your wedding for a consultation where we discuss design, colours and servings.”

Things to consider when choosing your wedding cake

Fellow baker Katalin Urquhart, who runs Torta by Katalin (also set up during lockdown), says asking the right questions early in the process makes it easier in the long-run. “It’s not just the design you need to consider,” she tells us.

“You should be deciding whether you need to serve everyone, if your cake will work for your chosen venue, what sort of budget will suit, and if you want to incorporate elements such as real flowers.” Her approach is to work with the couple, “who 90% of the time will have an idea of what they’d like,” to create something bespoke that will suit their style.

Unique wedding cake designs from Torta by Katalin
Torta by Katalin creates unique cake designs

Wedding cake tastings

“When you book so far in advance, there can obviously be some changes when the big day is fast approaching,” says Katalin. “So after the initial chat, we put things on the back burner for a while until it comes to arranging the tasting. Then, usually about one month before, the design is firmed up and finalised.”

When can I make changes to the design?

If you’re thinking about altering the design, give your baker plenty of notice – some decorations might need a bit more time to organise. “After the consultation, I digitally sketch the cake so the couple can see what it will look like,” Pam tells us. “Designs and other elements can be changed after the initial consultation, but no later than six weeks before. Changes may incur extra costs too, which would be due with the final balance one month before the wedding date.”

When will the cake arrive?

“I always contact the couple on the week of their wedding to wish them well, advise what time I’ll deliver and set up the cake, and firm up any further details,” says Pam.

Katalin points out that external factors should be considered when deciding on certain design elements. “Edible flowers have a short lifespan, so if you’re going to display your cake for a long time, you may want to choose gumpaste or have replacement decorations on hand,” she suggests. “And if your date is the height of summer, it’s worth asking your baker to deliver as late as possible to ensure the cake is looking its best for photos.”

Now that you’ve got your cake sorted, check out these ideas for the rest of your wedding menu!

Why not add ready-to-serve cocktails to your wedding drinks menu? See Whitebox Cocktails’ range of drinks