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.

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