Let them eat cake: Imagination, color spice up traditional wedding dessert
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Brides may vary the style of their wedding ceremony and reception, but guests can always count on one wedding constant: there will be cake for dessert.
Today's wedding cakes are much more than three-tiered stacks of white frosting topped with a plastic bride and groom. Millie Gayle with The Cake Gallery in suburban Atlanta says cake design and frosting are limited only by the imagination of the bride and the baker.
"A bride's gown is often my inspiration," she said.
Gayle uses a rolled fondant, a soft, creamy frosting that she says has only become popular in the United States in the last 10 years. She creates frosting copies of the lace patterns around the edge of the bride's veil or the embroidery on the bodice of her dress.
"We can get inspiration from the room that the cake is going in, if the room has columns or a wonderful frieze or even a wallpaper background," said Gayle. "We can pull that into the design of the cake."
Gayle says the soft look is in -- with brides going for less contemporary cake designs. "I do a lot of flounces and bows and swags, but still with a very sophisticated edge," she said.
As for flavor, Gayle says the cake should stand alone and be delicious all by itself. "You shouldn't get a cake that needs the caterer to put a sauce on or a sorbet to make it palatable," she said.
Gayle recommends brides stay away from trendy flavors and leave the "zaniness" to the rest of the meal. "I let the caterer be creative and do wonderful foods. But then I like to end with something homey, something real."
White cakes pale by comparison to pastels
Many brides are familiar with the traditional white wedding cake with color added by confectionery flowers, hearts or other ornaments. But Gayle recommends cakes frosted with a hint of color.
"I would say here that very, very, very pastel colors are more the norm ... like the Victorian blush ... or a champagne, an ice yellow, even a pale minty green because it shows off the detail."
She cautions that pure white cakes don't photograph that well. "When you get your photographs back you'll have this big white blob, ... a soft pale color really enhances the look."
But Gayle also says brides should keep their cake color light to avoid a "baby shower" look. She says pink cake literally has to be Victorian blush with a lot of champagne in it and a minty green cake needs to have just the barest hint of mint.
One big new trend is the tiny, single-serving wedding cake, sort of a fancy cupcake for brides. The cakes look just like a wedding cake, except they are much smaller. But Gayle says most brides still choose to have a regular cake, too. Gayle warns brides that the miniature cakes can run as high as $100 per serving because they are elaborate and time consuming to make.
Gayle says many brides still serve a special groom's cake in honor of their new husband, but these cakes tend to be much more casual. "A groom's cake can be as traditional as a three-tiered chocolate cake with some fruit on it or it can be as untraditional as something relating to the groom's life, his hobbies his interest," Gayle says.
She says she has baked cake models of a baby grand piano, a large mouth bass and computers. "I do personalize these. I ask the brides to send me a picture ... to really make it match," Gayle says. "The sky's the limit. It's really just a conversation piece, something fun for the groom."