Wedding Cakes and Menus
Cutting Edge Cakes and Wedding Dinner Ideas
Weddings have come a long way from royal icing and carving stations. Although there's something to be said for a traditional wedding feast, palates are more discerning now and it can take a big effort to impress your guests at the reception. On the other hand, with this pressure comes freedom to experiment: you can use the best parts of tradition along with your modern style for a deliciously creative menu and a reception to remember.
Fresh Ideas for an Outstanding Cake
After your gown, your wedding cake will be the biggest statement of the day. It will stand front and center while your guests dine, and it will bring the whole wedding style together with the right colors and design. A predictable white tower of fondant and flowers is pretty, but perhaps not the bright statement you're after. Take some direction from the best cake trends right now:
- Ruffles and ridges. From gowns to cakes, big texture is the name of the game this wedding season. Layers of icing, fondant or chocolate shell can be used in interesting ways to achieve a frilly effect or a rustic edge. Curls and waves can create a voluminous cake, or a baker can layer thinner, straighter pieces for a structured effect.
- Ornate designs. Damask, lace and other complex patterns are popular choices for a sophisticated affair where attention to detail is everything. Traditionally reserved for Victorian parlors, these cake designs breathe new life into old style, and can be the perfect match for vintage-inspired wedding attire.
- Fresh flowers, fresh taste. Instead of the typical white sponge cake under a blanket of fondant, put more thought into the flavor. Choose the cake and filling you like best, and top with a velvety buttercream icing that's more pleasing to the palate than chewy fondant. Since buttercream is less stable, consider a simple cascade of fresh flowers that will stay put and look vibrant until you're ready to cut the first slice. Use nasturtiums, violets or other edible flowers for a complete treat.
- Break it down. A selection of smaller cakes with complimentary designs is a nice departure from the single structure, as long as you have the space for them. Cupcakes are also still popular choices, whether you go for the traditional dimensions or opt for bite size versions. Or, if you really want to break with tradition, do a different dessert: profiteroles, individual coffee cakes or even donuts are fair game in a modern reception.
Modernize your Menu
A drawn-out dinner can be a bit much for a lively reception, especially if you stick to predictable food choices. Instead of a radical menu overhaul, think of a new dinner approach to jazz up the traditional menu:
- Informal and inventive. Keep it casual and serve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres instead of a sit-down meal. But rather than having a team of servers swoop through the crowd, you can set up tasting stations with wine and beer pairings for guests to visit on their own time. A stir fry station with crisp lager, a wood oven pizza with red wine, and champagne with oysters or seafood canapés are good places to start, but there's plenty of room for personal tastes here.
- Get back to your roots. Even if your cultural traditions don't play a role in your daily diet, you might like to celebrate with dishes your parents or grandparents enjoyed at their weddings. Also, if your spouse-to-be has a different cultural background, this is the perfect opportunity to serve an ultra-trendy fusion feast.
- Fresh and versatile. Have a selection of dishes starring a handful of ripe, fresh ingredients. This could highlight your favorite seasonal flavor, but it's also a great way to cut down on cost: you can get a great price from some local producers if you buy in bulk, and seasonal, local produce will always be the most delicious option.
Don't let custom hold you back when you're creating your menu, but do pay attention to price as you move through your options. Little things can add up quickly, especially when you multiply them by a few dozen, and a lot of cutting-edge creations will come with lofty prices. Be willing to compromise on brands and special ingredients, and you'll have the taste and style you like without blowing your budget.