High End Wedding Cakes and Fresh Floral Design CAN go Hand in Hand!

Last summer, Celebration Generation teamed up with local floral designer Jean Cowles, of Violet’s Flowers to create a series of high end fondant wedding cakes that incorporated fresh florals in the design. The following article and photos were developed into an 8 page article for a floral industry magazine, Flowers &. The article, while written for the benefit of floral designers specifically, could easily be of benefit to brides, floral designers, and cake designers alike.

I realized that I haven’t blogged about wedding stuff in awhile, seemed like a good time to dig this out of the ol’ archives to post 🙂

High End Wedding Cakes and Fresh Floral Design CAN go Hand in Hand!

Pale cocoa fondant is hand painted with orange-tinted cocoa Cymbidium Orchids design. The cake was then encased in a “cage” of curly willow and lily grass, accented with corsages of chocolate cymbidiums, as well as loose cymbidiums.

In the grand scheme of floral wedding cakes, a clear divide in styles is obvious. Traditionally, you have simply frosted cakes that make some use of fresh flowers, usually with little to no coordination between baker and florist.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the “cakes as art” trend. With many TV shows, high end boutique cake designers, and celebrity cake artists, there has been a trend away from the “white cake with fresh flowers between the layers” wedding cake of yesteryear. With the new trends for high design, experimentation, and even new technology available, many brides are ordering cakes that are stand-alone works of sugary art, not requiring any sort of additional ornamentation or fresh florals.

Of course, this cake evolution has annoyed its share of floral designers!

The current cake trends don’t need to shut you, the floral designer out – with a little creative collaboration, high end fondant cake design can be successfully combined with fresh floral design to yield spectacular results.

As a former floral designer, I have a unique perspective. Not only am I aware of the floral techniques, trends, and cool products available to florists, I know the cake end of things, too! As a result, I can think of many ways to marry the two. Here are a few tips to do so:

1. Start as early as possible. Discuss cake with your bride. If she hasn’t booked a cake designer yet, and is interested in the idea of a high design, fresh floral cake, encourage her to make a decision early on. Have the contact information of a few bakers you like to work with / would like to work with on hand!

2. Keep in mind that many of the options you have available to you are things that many cake designers have never heard of, and as such, don’t enter their mind when it comes to design. Offer up your floral designer mojo! Things like LED lights, fibre optics, colored Oasis, colored wire, rhinestone pics, etc – all things that are out of the ordinary to us cakers, but can be utilized to make a cake extraordinary! Educate your cake partner- you’ll find that many designers would LOVE to work with this stuff, as the design possibilities are endless!

Knowledge is key to bridging the florist – cake designer divide. I love walking through our local floral wholesaler, where I maintain an account. I marvel at all of the cool accessories available for floral design.

Offset tiers of hot pink cake feature a base of split-lead philadendron, and kumquats. Small lengths of floral wire are bent into “U” shaped picks, and used to secure fresh tulips to the cake, both under the flower head and near the base of the stem.

Conversely, I love seeing the look on a floral designer’s face when we talk possibilities. “You can DO that!?” is a common sentiment. Between use of structural elements – my husband custom builds mine – and creative use of fondant, cake design can go far beyond the basics that immediately come to mind at the mention of “wedding cake”.

3. Discuss ground rules, and/or limitations. In working with Jean, “No silk flowers, no how, no way!” was her sole ground rule. This, of course, impacted my options, and was a crucial piece of information to have. It’s impossible to design a functional & coherent cake without knowing what you’ll need to work with. Other crucial information could include seasonality , durability, and toxicity of flowers. Some cakes need to be refrigerated, some CANNOT be refrigerated after decorating. Will this have an impact on the flowers chosen, or any of the design elements?

Closeup of Fresh Vanda Orchids wedding cake – See below for details!
4. Discuss construction logistics. Discuss the height you’ll require between layers – if applicable – the size and height of each tier, what you’ll require for your set up (Oasis holder? Power supply?), how and when the cake will be assembled, and who is responsible for doing what. Offer up any help you can provide, especially as it relates to foam & fresh florals.

5. Know that many of today’s cake designers hate cake toppers, and would prefer a “topper” that blends in with the entire cake design, coherently.

6. Lastly, for the love of all things holy, please do not stick stems directly into our cakes! Not only do we put a lot of effort into making our cakes look great on display, but we also insure that the insides are pretty when cut. Stems ruin that effect, and can make for very messy slices. Also, would you lick the inside of floral buckets containing even organic flowers? Neither would I! Please – always remember that this is food!

Working together as a cake designer and a florist can not only be artistically rewarding, it can be fun – You should see the out-takes from the collaboration between Jean and I! – as well as a great networking experience. Enjoy yourself!

Marie Porter is the owner of Celebration Generation Cakes in Plymouth, Minnesota.

The combination of real flowers with stems and leaves made of fondant provides an imaginative example of how cake design and florals can be coordinated for striking effect. Here purple Vanda orchids make a vivid color complement to the emerald green tinted royal icing. Marie has used a drop of icing to “glue” each fresh flower to the cake, holding them on securely. Using royal icing to affix flowers to a fondanted cake has the advantage of allowing the designer to avoid inserting stems into the cake itself. The Vanda stems are clipped quite short; then, when the orchids are removed, the body of the cake is still intact.

On this lavish and lovely wedding cake, Marie has created pockets with the fondant icing. Larger, heart-shaped pockets hold LED lights for a dramatic effect when the ambient lighting is low. Smaller pockets hold tiny fresh floral blooms. Overall, the pockets create a more 3-dimensional cake, adding to the drama of lush blooms exploding forth from between the oval tiers.

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