PHOTO opportunity, fertility symbol or gastronomic delight, a wedding cake is a major focal point on the big day. As people personalise their weddings more cakes have moved away from the traditional iced fruit cake to creations that are as varied as the ceremonies themselves. To find your perfect cake, checkout local bakeries, cake specialists and wedding caterers, or enlist the help of a friend or relative.
You could even impress your new husband and guests by making your own cake! Major supermarkets now produce a variety of basic, white iced celebration fruitcakes in various sizes, which can be decorated with piped icing, ribbons or fresh flowers. You won't save money by having a homemade cake iced by a professional cake maker, though, as this is where most of the skill and expense lies. Ask to see a portfolio of the cake maker's work. This will demonstrate the styles of cake they specialise in and will give you an idea of the possibilities.
Most professionals will be able to incorporate even the most original requirements into their designs. Traditional tier designs are ideal for larger weddings and are best made with fruit, although the upper tiers could be made of sponge to accommodate different tastes. Decorate your cake with traditional royal icing, fondant icing or chocolate to match the colour scheme of the wedding party or flowers. If you want more adventurous flavours, try chocolate, spice, Grande Marnier or even cheesecake!
At some stage during the wedding day everyone's attention will be focussed on your cake. Make sure it is given a safe but prominent position either on the top table or close by, where it cannot be knocked over by guests or waiters. Wedding fruitcake is traditionally served in one-inch square pieces. Square cakes are better value than other shapes and are easier to cut. Sponge cakes need to be served in larger slices, so won't go as far. Bride and groom make the first cut of the cake with the groom's hand covering the bride's.
Try not to rush this part of the proceedings as it is one of the last traditional photo opportunities of your celebrations and one of the first tasks you will perform together as husband and wife. It is traditional to save some slices of cake to give to neighbours and colleagues or friends and relatives who could not attend the wedding. Remember to ask your caterers to save some cake for this purpose. Another old custom that you might want to have some fun with is that bridesmaids who sleep with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow are supposed to dream of their future husband!