Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
Wedding trends


Spring’s been ushered in, and with it the sound of summer wedding bells. And there’s no client quite like a bride (or groom), is there? The cake (or cupcake) provider shoulders a heavy burden in delivering the wedding day vision to the happy couple.

Spring’s been ushered in, and with it the sound of summer wedding bells. And there’s no client quite like a bride (or groom), is there? The cake (or cupcake) provider shoulders a heavy burden in delivering the wedding day vision to the happy couple.

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Catherine D’Agostino (left) and Adrienne D’Amico with one of their popular cakes at We Bake in Heels.


Bakers Journal spoke with three buzz worthy cake designers in search of this year’s trends and tips for helping the bride be more blushing than ’zilla.

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Geraldine Randlesome, Creative Cutters
Geraldine Randlesome, owner of Creative Cutters, is a cake designer who’s been teaching for over 20 years from her studio in Richmond Hill, Ont. Here, she also produces decorating tools to amaze the eater, yet save the baker time. The author of five books, she has been invited all over the world to teach, has won many awards and, notably, did the 25th anniversary cake for Walt Disney Florida, which was a nine-tier creation featuring a castle done all in pastillage. She has seen the wedding business change dramatically in her two-plus decades in the industry.

“They have much higher expectations because of the television programs,” she notes. “And they’re all looking for something different.”

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Geraldine Randlesome created the tools to make the quilting on this wedding cake a snap.


 

In her February e-newsletter, Randlesome identifies what she thinks are the top wedding cake trends for 2011. She cites “vintage ’20s” as the fastest rising development. This means drawing inspiration from art deco and romance coupled with “bold and flirty accents.” Shades of teal, purple, brown, blue, green and pink fit this motif.

Despite the lean towards the swinging ’20s, modern is still at the fore. Randlesome writes that this includes non-traditional colours and bold statements, with black and white still being very popular. Think mixing and matching shapes and heights. Cupcakes are still in and she advises bakers to be on the lookout for cake pops.

Randlesome sees the DIY movement carrying steam, where couples want to save money and personalize their wedding by doing things themselves.

“[This is] when people take a class and are interested in trying to make the cake themselves. You provide them with an ‘idiot proof’ project, for lack of a better word, and they get a great deal of pride in doing it themselves – something very simple and two-tier.”

Randlesome also identified pleats as a fashion trend that could crop up in cakes.

Like fashion, trends come and go while the tried and tested traditions have a steady following. Classic colours and themes, as well as cake toppers, “will never die,” she writes. So keep your basic cake decorating skills finely tuned. Also, “there’s not so much bling this year,” she says. “That seems to be going away a little bit.”

Catherine D’Agostino and Adrienne D’Amico, We Bake in Heels
This duo opened their doors in Woodbridge, Ont., about a year and a half ago. The inviting boutique bakery strikes a charming balance of modern elegance. A flat screen out front runs a slide show of their cakes. Reupholstered antique chairs and a white couch form a feminine mock living room. D’Amico handles the business and customer service side of the business and D’Agostino is the designer. There are overlaps, but “no one’s asked me to decorate a cake yet,” laughs D’Amico, to which D’Agostino replies: “And I don’t file our taxes.” Roughly 40 per cent of their business is cakes. 

“Initially we thought we’d be doing more corporate but we were featured in Toronto Life’s wedding guide for 2011,” says D’Amico. The press helped bring in the brides.

“They always want something different,” says D’Agostino. ”This year it’s about clean lines, modern, traditional, but no flowers and old piping look.”

While nobody’s asking about the royal wedding yet (hadn’t happened at the time of our interview but the royal cake is probably a factor in requests now) they say they do hear a lot about the cake boss.

“People are willing to pay more for cakes,” says D’Amico. “They understand the work involved thanks to TV shows.”

The shop is seeing a lot of requests for monochromatic schemes (like white on white). D’Amico says their biggest request for sure is red velvet, with their dulce de leche being the second most popular flavour.

D’Agostino says she draws a lot of her cake design inspirations from fashion, particularly from the accessories in Italian or British editions of Vogue. When it comes to working with brides, she says to do whatever they want, no matter how crazy it seems, because it is, after all, their wedding. It helps to give them lots of options.

Of the cupcake trend, D’Agostino says that they’ve never seen it slow down. Fifty per cent of their business is cupcakes, with towers being particularly popular for showers.

Adding rhinestone ribbons to the tiers is one way to add some glam for a low cost to the bride as it’s not handmade and carrying the labour cost, D’Agostino says.

Genevieve Griffin, For the Love of Cake
Genevieve Griffin opened her shop in January 2010, and she offers a slightly different perspective. Known for her artistry and 4-D cupcakes, Griffin primarily creates funky birthday cakes, which has led to a niche wedding clientele seeking novelty designs, such as a corpse bride for an October wedding, New York city skyline or basket of apples for an orchard theme. She too, is still seeing a lot of cupcake towers. Griffin has also noticed how different working with wedding versus birthday clients can be.

“The biggest thing that I’ve found is that you really have to pay attention to details and keep in touch with your bride and groom from the point of order to the wedding date. A lot of the brides don’t know the date of the wedding, or they tend to change it. I’ve been reconfirming with the bride a week or two weeks prior and wedding dates and times in the contract are wrong. With brides, there is so much going on that you have to really be on top of communicating with them.”

If brides come to you not knowing what they want, it helps to go through photos to see what they do or don’t like. Knowing the scheme, flowers, location and theme of the wedding is also fundamental to delivering on the special day.

Surfing the Internet in search of the concerns of brides, there seemed to be much debate about whether to have a buttercream or a fondant cake in the summer: what will withstand the heat more successfully?

Griffin’s take: “Absolutely fondant. It will hold the cake together.” She recounts a story of a wedding she attended on a very hot, humid day with poor air conditioning in the building. The cake was out from mid-afternoon until late evening and she says that, although it looked perfect, the buttercream cake just fell apart when it was cut.

“Contrary to common belief, not all fondant tastes bad,” she says. “I use fondant that’s easy to work with and tastes good. It’s the product cake designer works with.”

Being aware of trends is important to stay ahead of the curve, but core skills, imagination and an ability to communicate with the bride (or couple) will play the central role in developing your own style and pleasing your clients. Use these tips and ideas to juice up your creative gears and give couples their wow factor on the wedding day.


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