Wedding Cakes and Menus

Delicious Wedding Dishes for a Traditional Taste

Whether you're led by cultural heritage or textbook sophistication, give a good deal of thought and consideration to your wedding cake and menu. Wedding receptions revolve around food, and unless there's a hiccup in your program or an unplanned event during the reception, the fare you choose will make the strongest statement and leave a lasting impression (for better or worse).

Since tradition varies so widely where food is involved, you'll need to narrow in on a specific custom or a general culinary tradition before you move forward. There are dozens of great options for traditional dishes, so look a little deeper into which ones might best suit the mood or theme of your celebration.

The Virtues of a Classic Cake

Wedding Cakes and Menus

A tiered wedding cake with a flawless finish is the masterpiece of a classic wedding reception and a grand finale to the ceremonial union. From neutral white fondant to picture-perfect piped flowers, elaborate detail is the name of the game when it comes to traditional wedding cakes, but the right cake for you should satisfy more than just your sweet tooth.

For centuries, fruitcake has been the choice for English nuptials, while French wedding receptions celebrate with a mountain of candied profiteroles. Regardless of the type of cake or pudding used, the surface gets the most attention. From ribbons and flowers to frosting and fondant, a traditional cake should echo the sentiment of your traditional wedding décor with streamlined elegance.

A Balanced Cake is a Better Cake

A good deal of effort goes into a professional wedding cake, and the final product should be sophisticated rather than flashy. Wedding cake traditions vary widely from nation to nation, but height is a standard feature among wedding desserts, and the higher the cake, the greater the artistic endeavor.

The key to an elegant cake is a good balance of texture, color and shape. A tiered cake must be literally balanced to make it through the reception, but it must also be aesthetically balanced to create a beautiful impression. Pure white icing is customary for English weddings, a tradition that began with Queen Victoria, and particularly tall cakes have included supporting pillars for many years. If you opt for a tall cake with pillars and platforms, you might want to stick with delicate decoration like white fondant flowers and small scrolls in order to preserve the simple majesty of the craftsmanship.

Tips for a Traditional Wedding Menu

Tradition states that a formal sit-down dinner is served at the reception, which brings an air of importance and ritual that can't be found in a more casual dining arrangement. However, there are many other aspects of wedding menu planning, from budget considerations to the particular style of service. There are a few facts to keep in mind if you're after a traditional menu with modern appeal:

  • Traditional menus can conflict with modern diets. If you're willing to branch out, you can serve a variety of small plates instead of three sizeable courses, which will offer something for everyone. Alternatively, large plates of each dish can be brought to each table for the guests to help themselves, so you can confidently serve your favorite meat dish or pasta without leaving your vegetarian, gluten-free or lactose-intolerant friends waiting for their special plate.
  • Timing is everything. When you're putting your menu together, consider your reception timeline and plan to have a break or open up the dance floor after the main course. A traditional sit-down dinner can be long, especially if it's punctuated with speeches, so your guests will appreciate a break once they've finished the majority of the meal. You might like to offer dessert at a separate self-serve table rather than have the guests wait patiently at their seats, since some guests are bound to pass on the sweets, anyway.
  • Choose a menu for your guests, not for you. It may sound harsh, but your wedding menu is not for you. In fact, many couples get at most a few bites here and there during the reception, since their attention is in high demand. Although it can be tempting to go with the traditional dishes you enjoy most, do keep in mind that the best choices will be the dishes with universal appeal.

It's easy to feed a roomful of guests, but it will take some thought and organization for true culinary success. Take the time to consider different approaches, and don't be swayed by the first caterer you meet: all sorts of vendors and chefs will be battling for your money, but if you start your research early, you can afford to take your time and find the baker and caterer that share your vision for a perfectly tasteful wedding.