Wedding Cake Terms and Information

When planning your wedding, one of the things you will want to think about is what kind of wedding cake you want. This is no easy task when you don’t know what the descriptions mean.

This is my attempt to help you get familiar with those wedding cake terms.

Fondant with Ribbons and Pearls

Wedding Cake Parts and What the Shapes Mean:

Tier: When you talk about how “tall” the cake is, you are talking about tiers. One level is a tier.

Layer: Cakes are usually baked in layers and baked in different size pans. Then, one or more of these layers are joined to make a tier.

Round: I think you know what “round” means. Most wedding cakes, traditionally are round.

Square Fondant


Square: A square shaped pan makes for a more modern wedding cake. The layers may even be placed at opposing angles to give it an even more modern look.

Hexagon: This is a six sided wedding cake and is considered very “trendy” and fashionable.

Scalloped: This type wedding cake has tiers that are shaped more like flower petal. This gives a more casual look to the wedding cake.

Molded (shaped): When you shape the wedding cake to be more like an object; say like a heart or a football, then it is

Molded (shaped) Wedding Cake

considered a molded wedding cake. More often than not, this type wedding cake is used as the groom’s cake.

Frosting and Filling:

Fondant and Royal Icing

Fondant: This type frosting is used mainly for outdoor wedding cakes because it will not melt. It has a very smooth texture and can be used in three forms: rolled out into sheets, poured over the top, or sculped into shapes. It is a sheet like sugar “doug” that hardens with time. Fondant is used most often on elaborate couture style cakes. Fondant is rolled into a sheet and then laid over the cake for a very smooth finish. It makes an excellent base for decorations. Fondant is chosen more for looks than flavor; you might want another layer of more delicious frosting underneath it

Buttercream: Traditional wedding cakes are usually iced with buttercream frosting. This is mainly butter, cream and eggs. The texture is very light and rich while being soft, and also very easy to color or flavor. Buttercream wedding cakes are recommended to be used only indoors as it requires refrideration.

Ganache: Some wedding cakes have a fillling in them. This particular filling is made of chocolate, butter and cream sauce and will melt in heat.

Chocopan: This is a better tasting, chocolate form of fondant.

Marzipan: Should you want to have colored shapes on your wedding cake, this almond based mixture will work for that or for a filling.

Royal Icing and Gum Paste: Wedding cakes that have a lace-like trim uses royal icing. It is very hard. These are used to create the decorations on the cake. Royal icing is good for delicate decorations, like a monogram, and pliable gum paste is ideal for making exquisite frosting flowers.


Basket Weave and Fresh Flowers


Basket Weave: Wedding cakes that look like a basket have this type decoration on them.

Swiss Dotted: There is a material called “Dotted Swiss” and the wedding cake has randomly placed dots to replicate this material.

Piping: Using a pastry bag, the wedding cake has a design drawn on it that looks like lines.

Now that we know the terms used in wedding cakes, let’s talk about the cake itself. Although the wedding cake is an important part of the reception, some brides are using the design of the wedding cake to plan their entire wedding. Below is a description of some wedding cakes and frostings most likely to be found at weddings:

White Cake: Traditionally, a white wedding cake is used. Should you want more pazazz, you should consider using something like a raspberry buttercream frosting or even apricot preserves between the layers.

Chocolate Dotted Swiss Wedding Cake


Chocolate Cake: Most any guest at your reception will love chocolate cake! It is easily hidden under white frosting so you have the traditional appearance, or some brides really show thier personality and use chocolate icing. This is also very popular to use as a groom’s cake.

Marble Cake: If making a decision as to have a white wedding cake or a chocolate wedding cake, this is the simplest solution!

Lemon Cake: A lemon wedding cake is a wonderful choice for a summer wedding.

Carrot Cake: An autumn wedding is a good time to consider a carrot cake. You should be prepared for the icing, usually cream cheese icing, to be more off white than white.

Cup Cake Tower

Ribbon Wedding Cake


Cupcake Wedding Tower: You can still have your cake cutting pictures as the top is a tier of cake decorated as the top of a wedding cake.  Below are cupcakes for each of the guests.  This is an excellent way to stretch your wedding budget and is a hot new trend in weddings today.

Deciding on the wedding cake for your wedding will be just the first step in the planning. Now you need to decide on what decorations you want on your wedding cake. Fresh flowers may be used if you are on a budget as they are beautiful and very affordable. Don’t forget to have the baker and the florist plan together so you wedding cake comes together at the right time. Satin ribbons around the bottom tier works very well also.

Personalized Wedding Cake


A very hot trend in wedding cakes today is to coordinate the decorations of your wedding cake to the design in your wedding gown or wedding jewelry. Lace or embroidery piped onto the wedding cake to mimic the design in the wedding gown or even faux pearls or crystals on the cake to tie into the wedding jewelry. The nice thing about doing one of these ideas on your wedding cake is this type of design makes your wedding cake unique and very personal. No one else will have a wedding cake like yours.

Wedding cakes can eat up your wedding budget very quickly. Some run into the hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you want a “fancy” cake and you are on a limited budget, you might consider having a smaller, more elaborate cake for decoration and use a sheet cake with your colors to be served to your guests. This can be sliced in the kitchen and no one will ever know.

Now that you know the language of wedding cakes, it should be easier for you to choose the cake and design that fits the personality of your wedding.

Wedding Centerpiece

What wedding centerpiece to use may be a couples most difficult thing to decide on as it sets the tone for the reception.

As a couple, I’m sure you want everyone to go “WOW!” when the enter the reception room.

Using a floral arrangement as a wedding centerpiece is what most choose to use as they can make a table pop when guests enter the room.  Flowers also are very easy to match your color theme.

Be creative when you are thinking about your wedding centerpiece.  It should be a reflection of your personality and may even be humorous or very serious.

Some couples will use flowers in a non-traditional way.  Traditionally, your wedding centerpiece would be a formal floral arrangement.  You may also choose to use floating candles with flower petals scattered on the table around the candle.  A simple hourglass vase with stones or sand and a single flower works well also as a wedding centerpiece.  Remember, it makes no difference if you use real flowers or artificial flowers for any of your arrangements.  Some beautiful keepsake arrangements may be made of artificial flowers and names placed on them for special people involved in your wedding as gifts to them on your special day.  Even using fruit in a container makes a great wedding centerpiece.

The wedding centerpiece should reflect the personality of the couple and set the tone of the room as guests arrive.  An inexpensive way to do this is with small candle lamps and petals scattered over the table.

Candles add that feeling of romance to your reception and have an unlimited number of ways to be creative using them as a wedding centerpiece.  One way is to use candles of varying sizes or floating candles in different size glass bowls with glass stones, small jewels or even small stones in the bottom.  Pearls work very well too and can be found at most any craft store and give a more traditional look to your wedding centerpiece.

Going green is very popular with many couples today for making a natural wedding centerpiece .  You may use potted plants in inexpensive baskets with ribbons matching your bridal colors.  Couples put a number on the bottom of the baskets and put numbers on the place cards at each table.  After all the toasts have been made, one of the speakers will have someone at each table pick up the plant and match the number to the number on the place cards.  The lucky guest will get to take the plant, your wedding centerpiece, home with them as a reminder of your special day.

Beach Themed Weddings

A good wedding centerpiece idea for this type wedding would be little buckets filled with sand and seashells and maybe a pinwheel or small sailboat.  Using vases with seashells in the bottom or simply filling a small bowl with seashells makes for  a great tie in to your beach theme.

Placing a small goldfish in a little fish bowl with colored rocks in it matching your wedding color theme is very pretty also. Placing numbers on the bottom as with the potted plants to send them home with one of your guests or you may have a fish tank of your own to take them home to.

Balloons as a Wedding Centerpiece

Balloons are relatively easy to find in your color theme and work well as a wedding centerpiece.  Just remember to use an odd number for each table and ensure the balloons do not interfere with people trying to talk to each other during the reception.  If children are at the reception, you have to be prepared for them to “play” with your centerpiece.

A wedding centerpiece guaranteed to have a huge “wow factor” is ice sculptures.  Ice sculptures are considered very elegant and when done correctly will have your guests talking about your wedding centerpiece the entire evening.  One way I’ve seen them done was a single rose frozen inside a cube and place on every table.  The flower color will tie into the wedding color theme easily and it certainly adds a touch of romance when placed between two floating candles.

Once you start to use your creativity, there is no limit to the items you could use as your wedding centerpiece.  Having said that, it is easy to blow your wedding budget on a wedding centerpiece.  My hope here is to show you that there are ways to cut those costs and save your wedding budget for the things you really want and not on the wedding centerpiece.

Here are a few do-it-yourself ideas for a wedding centerpiece you could use with most any wedding theme.

1. Tie three helium filled balloons to a small box filled with sand or stone, covered with metallic paper or paper to match your color theme to act as the weight to hold them in place.  Use ribbon matching your color theme to tie them to your weight.

2. Use potted plants and add artificial flowers in you color theme in inexpensive baskets or clay pots you have painted to match your colors.

3. Use floating candles in larger bowls and add floating flowers matching your color theme.

4. Build balloon topiary trees by inflating up to six balloons and tying them together making a round ball of balloons.  Tie them to a long wooden dowel  and then place the wooden dowel in clay pots filled with sand, stones or even plaster to make them stand upright.  Decorate the pots to match your wedding color theme and tie ribbons of different lengths to hand from the balloons.

5. Place one large candle and place it on a plate or piece of wood.  Tie ribbon onto candle and add a small artificial flower in your wedding theme color and then scatter flower petals around the base.

The point here is for you to use your imagination and design your wedding centerpiece to show your personality and your love for each other.

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