Bakers Journal

Vintage charm

February 18, 2014
By Julie Fitz-Gerald

Some Canadian cake designers are seeing a dramatic shift in wedding cake
trends this year, with clients toning down their matrimonial

Some Canadian cake designers are seeing a dramatic shift in wedding cake trends this year, with clients toning down their matrimonial indulgence. The elaborate designs and bold colours that embodied last year’s cake trends are being replaced with a simplified, vintage feel. Two-tiered cakes with soft, muted colours and vintage lace designs will be particularly hot this season. Add a dessert table into the mix, and this year’s wedding season is shaping up to be a simple, yet sweet, affair.

Soft colours mixed with lots of texture and ruffling, like these creations from CakeWorks and The Cake Box, are popular trends for the upcoming wedding season. Photography by janis nicolay


In Calgary, Cakeworks is a bustling cake shop that specializes in buttercream icing and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Brenda Walker, who co-owns Cakeworks with business partner Brian Klassen, says their clients are asking for a more simplified look.


“This year’s trend has a vintage feel, where the cakes are back to being simple. The ornate cakes with bright colours aren’t in style as much now. Instead, we’re seeing a lot of texture: a ruffled look, a homemade look like grandma used to make,” she explains. “Because we work with buttercream, we’re finding clients want a lot of texture like ruffles, lace and string work. We’re going back to basics.”

Yvonne Zensner, owner and operator of The Cake Box in Kitchener, Ont., is seeing the same trend with her clients in Southern Ontario.

Understated elegance  
Understated elegance, like that featured in the full page cake from The Cake Box, is seeing more requests than the over-top, whimsical cakes of yesteryear. 


“In previous years the trend was very glitzy, with a lot of metallics, golds and coppers, but this year we’re seeing the opposite with a lot of vintage laces,” she says. “Last year I found there were laces, but they were more of the expensive French laces. This year we’re going for more of a handmade, crocheted, doily-type of lace that is still classy but simplified.”

With the glitz and glam of last year’s wedding season being pared down into a more simplified, romantic style, the number of tiers and colours are following suit. Instead of towering cakes with bold colours, Walker says many couples are opting for two-tiered versions in hushed tones. “I’m noticing that we’re doing a lot of muted colours, like blushes, off-white and white. I advise my clients to incorporate colours with the flowers so that it’s not too much. But definitely we’re seeing more of the subtle champagne colours, off-white and white,” she says.

Zensner agrees, although it’s not quite the colour scheme she was hoping for.

“This year everything is still ivory, but it’s earthy. It’s really soft tones, which surprises me. I thought it would be more vibrant – the trendy new blues, the bright greens – but brides aren’t going in that direction at all. I really wanted that turquoise, the emerald greens and teals, but I think those colours may come later on in the year,” she predicts.

Adding to the scaled-back romantic theme is an earthy, natural look.

“We’re going back down to a very nature-like feel: very woodland, very easy,” explains Zensner. “There’s going to be a lot of wood being used in the cakes, in the sense of wood-like cake stands and platters. We’re seeing a lot of the birch bark-type cakes with buttercreams. A lot of people are having an outdoor-feel to their venues, so we’re doing cakes that fit with that style by using mosses, branches and barks. It also ties in with an old vintage feel. Some of the venues are old churches and barns.”

In the same vein of vintage, but with a little more pizzazz, is The Great Gatsby-themed wedding cake. While this style rose in popularity last year with the release of the movie by the same name, cake designers are seeing it carry over into 2014. The art deco style may be bolder than the muted colour trend of the year, but Zensner says quite a few of her clients are still opting for the Roaring Twenties-inspired style, with its golds, creams, blacks and coppers.

Accompanying the smaller wedding cakes this year is a growing number of sweet tables and dessert bars. The cupcake and cake pop craze that has been building for several years now has only added to the sweet table’s popularity.

off-white Cakeworks  
This cake, from Brenda Walker at Cakeworks, is an example of the trend of two-tiered cakes being used for photographs and complemented by dessert bars. Photo: Cakeworks 


“Almost every other wedding that we do we provide a sweet table,” explains Zensner. “They usually contain an assortment of customized cupcakes, French macarons, little pastries, mini tarts and mini pies, as well as jars of meringue kisses and sugar cookies that are either very simple like grandma makes or super elaborate with chocolate cameos on them. Everything can be very matchy-matchy or classic looking.”

Walker has noticed this trend in Alberta as well, with two-tiered cakes being used for the bride and groom’s photographs, while cake pops and cupcakes, along with other goodies, make up tantalizing dessert bars.

When it comes to flavours, traditional vanilla or chocolate bases with cream fillings remain popular choices; however, Zensner is seeing a new trend emerge in her shop.

“A lot of clients are asking for European-style cake flavours, like hazelnut ganache and almond buttercake. And of course tiramisu is another popular European flavour. Our clients usually want at least one or two tiers to be one of those flavours,” she says.

This year is shaping up to be a romantically blissful wedding season, with cakes revealing soft hues, vintage lace patterns and scaled-back tiers. Enchanting, nature-inspired themes will add to the understated yet beautiful feel of this year’s nuptials.

Julie Fitz-Gerald is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Bakers Journal.

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