(This article appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced desperate couples to cancel, postpone or alter their wedding cake orders. Now, over two years later, the world may not be fully back to normal, but clients are rescheduling and ready to celebrate in a big way. Anxious cake designers are getting back to work and seeing an increase in the number of orders, the sizes of cakes and their presentations. And from coast to coast, in small venues and large, one thing is clear: wedding cakes are back and on full display.
The consensus across the states is big cakes have returned. But how big and how quickly cakes made a comeback depends significantly on location and their restrictions. For Emily Lopez, owner and cake designer of Tampa Bay Cake Company in Florida, larger cake orders began around February 2021. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Rachael Teufel of Intricate Icings Cake Designs began to see the shift in the summer of 2021. According to Teufel, “After many couples opted to postpone in 2020, they wanted to go over the top with their wedding cakes for an even grander celebration.” It has taken a bit longer to see the trend hit the Pacific. But, Lara Martins, owner of LILA Cake Shop in California, has “definitely noticed significantly larger guest counts for 2022 weddings, and that has led to brides requesting larger grander cakes.”
Though large cake orders have increased, smaller celebrations remain popular. Martins notes, “I’m still getting a fair amount of inquiries for smaller cakes for intimate weddings,” and business for Lopez is “a healthy mix of large and small weddings.” But regardless of the number of servings, the trend is clear: grand displays are the way to go. While dessert bars and large, decorative displays became popular pre-pandemic, they have become even more important as couples want to show up and show off, no matter how many guests they have.
Separating multiple tiers onto individual stands of varying heights can create a more impressive presentation. It can also offer variety to a couple looking for something a bit different. “I love the idea of a cake trio or a combination of a wedding cake and groom’s cake,” explains Martins. “Last year, I made a two-tier wedding cake accompanied by two tall mini cakes that were just for the parents of the bride and groom.” Individually displaying smaller cakes is also an excellent option for couples concerned about the health and safety of their guests. Kate Palmer-Irani of BrambleSky, a luxury event décor business in the United Kingdom, notes that multiple cakes and dessert bars also “give room for the catering of all dietary requirements.” She points to the increase in veganism and nut allergies as two examples of why separating cakes might be necessary to some clients.
Large, decorative cake stands can also provide a dramatic display, even if the cake is small or simple. In recent years, Palmer-Irani has seen sales skyrocket for her products both at home and across the pond. “Hoops and other geometric shape stands are still very popular. I’m also seeing a volume of orders for other ways of framing your cake, such as archways and cake spirals.” Lopez concurs that hoops are “such a simple way to add character that it’s still very appealing to couples.”
Though Palmer-Irani does warn that environmental concerns may turn off some customers, clear acrylic stands and separators remain popular stateside. “They are incredibly versatile and give such a cool illusion that many haven’t seen before,” states Lopez. They can provide added height without distraction or make tiers appear to float mid-cake. “I offer the use of cake stands with all cake orders and have been designing several cakes with interesting separators for the 2022 wedding season,” states Teufel. Engraved initials or customized quotes etched into stands and separators are just a few unique options to consider.
Though many bakers choose to offer stands for rent or purchase, it may benefit the individual artist to point clients elsewhere to fulfill that need. “I used to offer cake stand rentals, but I had to give that up this year because I lost too many of my favorite cake stands,” explains Martins. “This year, I’m planning to help couples source good quality cake stands if they aren’t using a rental service.” Lopez suggests that because cake stands are trending, you can look to wedding planners, florists and party rental companies who may already have inventory.
Whether clients have 15 guests or 500, offering them a customized, impressive presentation can bring in a lot of business. Not only is it on-trend, but it also gives a chance for the artist to highlight their work by literally putting it on display. The more attention the cake gets, the more business opportunities it may generate. And while it may not fully make up for the lost business of 2020, it certainly makes the future of wedding cakes as enticing as the creations themselves
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