Bakers Journal

The rules of engagement

September 24, 2010
By Michelle Brisebois

Wedding shows are the ideal way for local businesses to showcase their
products and services to blushing brides- and grooms-to-be.

Wedding shows are the ideal way for local businesses to showcase their products and services to blushing brides- and grooms-to-be. These shows are usually held in January and February to capitalize on those couples who got engaged over the Christmas holidays, or those who are starting to choose vendors for their summer nuptials. This is when you need to bring out your A-game and make sure your products and services for the 2011 wedding season truly target the hottest wedding trends. Late fall is the perfect time to fine-tune that lineup. Here are some trends worth noting to help you plan a successful campaign for the wedding market.

Tailored and elegant has taken centre stage with wedding cakes.


Themes and dreams
According to Catherine Lash of The Wedding Co. in Toronto, weddings no longer fit into the “one size fits all” framework. “It’s more about what the couple wants than what anyone else wants,” says Lash. Themed weddings are popular, which is a trend bigger in the United States, but gaining steam here. This may stem from the fact that couples are older and more independent when they marry, meaning they’re looking for vendors who can listen well and bring their vision to life. One couple from Smithville, Ont., wanted to weave their love of Scrabble into their reception theme. Beautiful wrappers on Caramilk® chocolate bars spelled out their names with Scrabble tiles. When you think of your promotional strategy for 2011, make sure you showcase your ability to customize.

The cake takes centre stage
As reception décor becomes more important, the cake takes its rightful place as the focal point and statement piece. Cakes are getting bigger and more refined. The topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland cakes are yielding to a Breakfast at Tiffany’s sensibility. As we saw at the wedding cake competition at Bakery Showcase, designs are tailored and pretty with restrained but elegant finishing touches, like cameos or brocade. Jennifer Harrison of Layers Wedding Cake Design in Nova Scotia is taking her cue from the china. 

“We recently created a cake for Grace Ormonde Wedding Style that resembled a china pattern: classic navy blue and white with a sugar teacup on top,” she says. The taste of the cake must be equally stunning. The day of the “stunt cake” simply serving a decorative function has ended. 

“Food at a wedding is incredibly important to the ceremony,” says Lash. “It’s where we gather and what we gather over to share the moment.

Harrison points out that groom’s cakes are becoming more popular too. “Grooms are big followers of the new cake shows on TV right now. They are more interested than ever, which makes it fun for everyone.”

cakes over cupcakes
Cupcake trees as a replacement for the traditional wedding cake are a slowing trend.

“I had cupcakes at my wedding 12 years ago!” exclaims Lash with a laugh. “It’s time for a change.” It will likely take a few years for cupcake requests to dwindle, but they can play an important role in your promotional strategy. 

“It’s probably better to serve cupcakes at a wedding show to showcase the cake’s taste,” says Lash. “A cupcake will stay fresher than a slab cake that’s been cut and sitting out for hours.”

Giving back
For brides and grooms who have already established households, receiving yet another casserole dish isn’t necessary. Many couples are registering with a favourite charity instead of a department store. Guests make a donation in their honour and get a tax receipt. Alternatively, some couples are making a donation themselves instead as a way of remembering a lost family member or supporting an important cause. A wrapper on a baked good or chocolate can be an effective way of communicating this gesture. The Wedding Co. is sponsoring a project which encourages couples to create origami cranes and send them to the company. The goal is to collect 10,000 cranes from couples all over the world. In return, The Wedding Co. will donate 50 cents for each crane to the Princess Margaret Hospital. At press time, they had collected over 8,500 cranes with a few months to go.

Fashion trends
According to Michelle Mospens at, grey is giving way to chocolate brown and mocha. This is good news for bakers with great chocolate as it fits the colour scheme perfectly. Oranges, all shades of purple and violet are shown as either bright tropical shades or earthy vintage (think velvet) manifestations. Celebrity weddings always influence trends, and Chelsea Clinton’s crystal belt worn on her Vera Wang wedding dress has generated an interest in sparkly things. Layers Wedding Cake Design taps into this trend nicely by offering crystal cake toppers for their clientele. When we ask Harrison if shows such as Grey’s Anatomy have been driving an increased demand for red velvet wedding cakes, she confirms that she is seeing this trend. 

“Absolutely, red velvet has been a big request for us this year and I imagine it will be even more next year.”

The wedding sector is a cornerstone of the bakery industry but dragging out the same tired designs and pictures year after year would be a kiss of death. For most brides, it’s their red carpet moment, and they want to strike that balance between making a personal statement and being trendy. Remember, too, that more and more grooms enjoy being closely involved in the wedding experience. Show couples how you can add a truly unique and customized touch to their special day and you’ll find yourself part of the marrying magic.

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