Those Who Have Been At This For Years A Poll Re: Trends

Decorating By Hollandy Updated 6 Aug 2010 , 4:41am by HamSquad

Hollandy Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:21pm
post #1 of 50

The Chelsea Clinton wedding cake post made me think about some of the weddings and cakes I've seen over the years and how the trends change with the times. I remember every bride having a pillared cake with champagne glass tower in the 80's.

I was married in 2004 and had a very non-traditional suitcase cake and, in small town IL, it was one of the first many of my guests had seen that wasn't your "traditional" wedding cake. (it was by Patty Cakes in Highland, who has won the Ultimate Cake off two or three times! This was before then though but she's such a great person!)

So, what trends have you seen in all of your years?
What trend are you glad faded out?
What trend seems to be everlasting?
what kind of cakes do you wish you could do more of?

(I thought this post could just be something fun to read, not for market research or anything LOL icon_biggrin.gif )

49 replies
DeeDelightful Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:35pm
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Sounds very interesting! I have not been at this for very long, but when i started the ribbon around the base of the cake was so popular. It's still popular, but i think it will be one of the first trends to fade out soon.

Chasey Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:40pm
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I am a hobby baker who is a professional cake gawker. icon_biggrin.gif

I was married in 2002 and had a combo of round stacked and pillared with fresh lavendar roses, a gumpaste loopy bow/ribbons and edible pearls. I drew it out and the baker copied it perfectly.

I am glad the satellite staircase and fountains went out of style. I just couldn't get into the plastic matchy wedding party figures marching down plastic stairs!

The trend I see now is a lot more square cakes, more fondant and gum paste cut outs and tons of real ribbon as border. I'm ready to see something more original now! The cricut cake is kind of the cookie cutter cake. Not knocking the's the bride wanting these, right?? I would prefer to see sugar flowers instead of geometric designs for weddings, but that is just personal taste. icon_smile.gif I think I am more romantic than modern!

I really, really, really wish intricate piping would come back into style. I love to see the decorators get to use their artistic talent and practice hours on display!

thatslifeca Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:42pm
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I'm retired now but have been doing it for some 20yrs or so. I've seen the overflow of buttercream on the cakes, of course the towers with the stairs and the champane classes and the liquid fountains. I'm kinda glad those are out I hated assembling a cake with stairs and towers and fountains like it was a jigsaw puzzle. I love the new stuff like the cupcakes and cookie favors. I hope that the the intriquite style of extentsions and scrolls and lambeth design don't ever fade, even thou people don't ask for them as much anymore. I also luv the draping, but find that not too many people asking for them in north america that much anymore. icon_sad.gif Well that's my opion icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 9:29pm
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The one thing I've noticed in the past 30 years (started cakes in the late 70's) is the inverse relationship between the economy and cake height.

In the 70's, during the Carter administration inflation hit 18%, unemployment was over 20% and for the first time interest on home loans hit double digit. No one had any money. Rice and beans, beans and rice were the standard. The economy was down but wedding cakes were up .. they were tall and regal creations. Pillars between tiers and then sitting on top of a fountain to make the cake tower over the celebration.

During the 80's, people went back to work, got caught up on their bills and mortgages, interest rates dropped. The economy was up and the height of wedding cakes was down. The squatty little stacked cake of the 50's and 60's was back in vogue.

Recently when gas went to $4/gallon, the economy was again down and I was suddenly getting requests for cakes on top of fountains and pillars again. The economy was down and cake heights were up.

Since I consider the wedding cake the Grand Centerpiece of the Reception, I think the taller the better! Since I was weaned on pillars and fountains, those are my nostalgia cakes and I luv 'em! Towering pieces of buttercream piped art (not fondant shoved in a mold and glued to the side). People don't line up to take photos of the flower centerpieces ... but I sure saw them line up to take pictures of my cakes.

LIttle short squatty stacked cakes with no decor other than some dots and ribbon? eh! big whoop. people see 'em all the time.

But it was during the fountains and stairs era that I heard WAY more exclamations of "OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT CAKE!" People were in awe of the grandeur of the Grand Centerpiece!

And it was a great feeling to stand there knowing that *I* made it! thumbs_up.gif

Dayti Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 12:36am
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Maybe the stairs and fountains will make a comeback sooner than we think...Buddy Valastro made one on a recent show for 14 brides. Everyone was cooing over that thing!! Of course it was suggested by the older baker that he try it. Personally, I think it was a bit too much plastic for my liking but hey, it was a striking cake.

kansaslaura Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 12:46am
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You hit it right on, Debi. I 'cut my teeth' on those pillared, fountained cakes. They're BIG and fill a table. I started using the white pillars/seperator plates and when the clear ones came out I went totally with them and still use them today. The clear gives them a more elegant look, IMHO--and the clear matches the fountains too.

HamSquad Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 1:23am
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Boy Indydebi, you are so right! I came up doing cakes from the 70's to present. Just did a cake recently with stairs and a fountain this past July, and I haven't had so many comments or compliments on my cake in some time like that from the guests of the bride and the manager of the venue where the reception was held. I hope that the styles of cakes will vary always, not holding to any set trend or patten. Just my opinion. I love to do all types of cakes. Again, thanks to everyone who share the "how to's" or "did you know?",or "try this new thing I found", I have learned so much.

kansaslaura Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 3:08am
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HamSquad.. they just oooze wedding and elegance! I got the same reaction to one I did in my pictures with the groom's cake where the fountain would be. People walked across the room to look and take pictures.

FlourChick Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 4:33am
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When I first started decorating it was at an "old school" neighborhood Italian bakery & we did TONS of cakes with pillars & fountains. I hated those stupid fountains! Not so much because of how they looked but because we had to test them before using them in the cake & they would sometimes spark & short out & it would scare the pants off me! I can remember filling them with water & then squeezing my eyes shut as I plugged them in. Ugh-I hated it!

Hollandy Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 6:50pm
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thanks for sharing everybody!

tesso Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 7:00pm
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I have noticed, just by obeservation, not experience..

but it seems everyone wanted champagne waterfalls inthe 80's.

Was just too busy to pay attention in the 90's

but the early 2000's seems to be game themed.. and traditional if they had a cake...but many weddings I attended had dessert bars instead of cake. And by dessert bar, I mean Grandma, Aunt Mae and cousing Billy Joe, made pies, cakes, and jello rings.

the late 2000's .. black and white themed, more experimental in shapes and flavors.

2010. is producing short, economical cakes, and basic white flavor.

tokazodo Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 7:27pm
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Speaking of trends...this is a photo of my wedding cake, June of 1981. I love the fact that it is covered with buttercream, with daisy's on it. And the cake topper just floors me. I think If I had to think of different trends in the past 26 years since I've been cake decorating, I'd have to agree with IndiDebi. Buttercream vs. Fondant. I'd also add there has been a change in cake toppers also. (I'll post my son's wedding cake next)

tokazodo Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 7:28pm
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Wedding cake from 2010

anasazi17 Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 8:33pm
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I like paying attention to trends! I recently did a cake with pillars and got a million compliments from friends etc. (It was my first pillared cake--I didn't even know how to use them--but I love em now!).

One trend that I would like to see GO AWAY is the cupcake weddings. Personally I dislike doing them. They do pay the bills...but are totally boring and suck icon_smile.gif. (I am currently working on 3 cc weddings for this weekend...barf).

myslady Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 9:08pm
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Although I am not the biggest fan of the 80's cakes, I can see and appreciate the work and skill that went into making them.

Compared to whats out there now, decorators back then were working with only the basics and still they got their buttercream smooth.

HamSquad Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 9:40pm
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Here are photos of cakes I made for:

1988 - Older sister's friend: photo_1402433.html

1991 - Baby sister Lisa's Wedding Cake: photo_1247881.html

2010 - My play sister Helen's daughter's friend's cake:
For each one I made the topper or added decorations to them.

indydebi Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 9:58pm
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Hamsquad, your links aren't working ... try 'em again. I want to see those cakes that are 10 years apart and span 20 years! please please please! thumbs_up.gif

kansaslaura Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:50am
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Originally Posted by myslady

Although I am not the biggest fan of the 80's cakes, I can see and appreciate the work and skill that went into making them.

Compared to whats out there now, decorators back then were working with only the basics and still they got their buttercream smooth.

Yep! We didn't have Cake Central to log onto to get tips and recipes. We figured out what we could ourselves. I learned early on that crusting could be your best friend or worst enemy. You just learned. Learned to smooth and then learned to pat points, etc down. Without being told I figured out the paper towel smoothing. Wish I had figured out the Melvira method tho.. those wedding cakes would have been much less stressful.

I really wish that Food Network would do a buttercream challenge. No fondant, no gumpaste. Just good old buttercream. I remember one a while back where there was a tie breaker and Bronwen pulled it out with buttercream-you could tell she was an old pro at it. whipped on the icing, borders, flowers and writing-it was awesome!

chrisviz Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 1:08am
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LOL anasazi17.

cheatize Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 4:37am
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I'm thinking of laying low until the "simple cakes" go out of favor. Way too much perfection pressure. Give me something I can slap some decor over the problem areas any day.

I had an 80's tiered cake. White pillars, off-white icing, a few roses, all buttercream. The bottom of the cake cracked. That's all I remember. My sister and cousin-in-law made it without my input. It was free cake and that was enough for me to know. LOL

I'd like to see the style of the stairs, figures, and fountains updated. They all still scream the 80's. If they were updated, they might be more popular.

dguerrant Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 4:45am
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i remember inheriting a bunch of wilton wedding cake books about 10 years ago and when flipping through it i ran across a cake i thought was ooooh sooooo tacky, even then, well it came back to haunt me!!!!! i had to make that cake THIS summer, yes 2010.

some of you may remember this jewel!!!

picture it.......
2 2-layer 12x18 sheet cakes end to end (12x36) then in the center front of the long cake there is an 18" half round butted up to the long cake. got it???? now add on eachend of the long cake an 8" 2-layer cake sitting on 9" pillars. still following me?? now add a gorgeous blue tinted water fountain sitting in the very center of the 12x36r. the two 8" cakes are connected with a lovely staircase andlavishly decorated with silk flowers.

now for the fun part.... yards and yards of those damned string pearls, who in the hell ever thought those should be on cakes? well they wrapped around each of the cakes in four different places on each cake.

now for the grande finale!!!! the bride and grooms names written in beautiful script using those damn pearls on the half round sticking out of the front!

man is it hard to pretend that the cake the bride picked out is the most beautiful thing ever. i don't even think i got a picture of that one. i would love to know if anyone else remembers this cake icon_lol.gif

bcake1960 Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 5:07am
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I KNow the cake you are talking about... YIKES>>> that was a big one... reminded me of a coffin topper..... hehehehh I am sure yours was beautiful seriously.... every now and then I get an order for a cake with pillars and swoops and swirls... had one this summer... Love your description of that cake... it was great.

Unlimited Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 7:42am
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From what I remember (going back to the seventies), looking through some old albums, I can say that not too much had changed for nearly thirty years.

Wedding cakes were always separated with pillars, or had a stacked and separated combination. I dont believe I ever made an all stacked wedding cake any larger than two tiers, and Im fairly certain that Id never even seen one three tiers or larger until this millennium! Before 2000, traditional wedding cakes were pretty much the norm.

The earlymid 70s (and sometimes beyond), lots of cakes were combed, had plastic doves/bells/wedding rings/swans/bride & groom ornaments/gazebo and/or kid-type toppers, sometimes had gold or silver leaves, babys breath, and once in a while a bottom tier would be square instead of round.

In the late 70s, very few cakes were occasionally iced in a colored buttercream rather than all white, but the decorations were still done in white icing.

The 70s and 80s (and sometimes even now), popular colors were mauve, dusty rose, lavender, burgundy, purple, peach, pastel rainbow colors, as well as two-tone and variegated colors. Lots of plastic was used for bridesmaids and groomsmen on stairways, fountains, angels, cupids, pillars, and new arched pillars, too! Dont forget all of the Tuk N Ruffle lace and Lady Mary Dainty Boards. More colored icing was being used not only for the icing on the cake, but also for darker-colored stringwork along with other ugly colors in some gaudy bold designs like thick lattice.

During the earlymid 80s, I started seeing rolled fondant cakes at shows and competitions along with lots of silk flowers, or gumpaste flowers (orchids, calla lilies, stephanotis, carnations, asters, petunias). Sometimes royal icing flowers were used more than before (mums, spider mums, tiger lilies, bluebells, drop flowers, sweet peas, or rose buds), so the daisies or roses only cakes no longer ruled, they were mixed with a variety of companions! Satellite cakes were growing very popular too.

In the midlate 80s, the new plastic staircase design with bridge was being used along with smaller bridesmaids and groomsmen as the larger ones were no longer available due to a fire at the manufacturing facility. Blown glass ornaments were being custom made, and blown glass stairways were available for rental. More porcelain bisque bride and groom toppers were available, as well as more modern-designed toppers, and Precious Moments toppers were a big hit! The clear crystal-look plates and pillars came out as well as the new cascade for the fountain. I noticed that iridescent plastic was a big thing, and wedding mints were still popular too.

The late 80s satellite cakes off from the main wedding cake decreasing in height were typically set up in a C shape more so than balanced off to the sides. Also, lots of stringwork and overpiped string lattice designs were used.

Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, wine glasses, champagne glasses, or brandy snifters were used in place of pillars.

During the 80s and early 90s, it became more popular to have a wedding cake covered with Corneli lace, sotas, basketweave, or lattice. Texture was back... anything goes from combed, sprinkles, coconut, pearls, etc. The hottest color must have been teal, followed by coral, rust, peach, amethyst, red, black & white, or simply all white. Fountain cakes are still a must have for most along with the new clear stairway (especially since the new fashion bridesmaids and groomsmen appeared in 92?). Push-in pillars became available (93 or 94), and brides prefer the clean iced look between the pillars rather than seeing another piece of plastic like the double-plate separator system. Satellite cakes are still popular, heart-shaped cakes are more than ever before popular, as well as teddy bear toppers, and an increase in silver/gold leaves being used. For some reason, its now common to put round cakes on square boards!

The mid-90s bring fresh flowers, ferns, and greenery more than ever before, as well as more uniquely-stacked (staggered) satellites, more square tiers, and more Cinderella castle-themed wedding cakes. As usual, pillars are still being used to separate more than two-tiered cakes even if some of the tiers are stacked. (The combo... still havent seen an all stacked three tier at all.)

In the midlate 90s (especially 96), wedding cakes are huge! Lots of tiered satellite cakes off to both sides and even in all directions! Many cakes are tall, and some have base tiers that are so large that the fountains are between tiers.

In 2000, black & white, and all white cakes are still popular. All square-shaped tiers are becoming more requested rather than the square base tier only from earlier years.

I think everyone has a pretty good idea of what trends have happened during the rest of this millennium by visiting a bakery, viewing on-line or here on CC, so Ill stop now! (BTW, I'm really not that oldI just started when I was very young!)

indydebi Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 10:06am
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dianaguerrant, I know that cake! I believe there are a couple of photos in CC of that style because I have them marked as a favorite in the hopes that I'd get to make a grand centerpiece cake like that someday! icon_biggrin.gif

neelycharmed Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 10:32am
post #26 of 50

The last few summers I've done more and more theme cakes for wedding cakes. Plus lots of colors- which is really nice, its great to have a change every once and awhile.
And for every 10 wedding cakes, 2 are buttercream BUT the buttercream is usually for an "older" couple. And for older I mean icon_eek.gif

dguerrant Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 10:55am
post #27 of 50

well indydebi, it was quite a centerpiece for sure, just not my taste, but i do love the old school piping that the cake required, but absolutly hated putting all those pearls on (was going to express artistic license and pipe them all, but was afraid it wasn't what the bride wanted). especially for the name, with a snip snip here, and a snip snip ther, here a snip there a snip, everywhere a snip snip. Man the names alone took nearly 45 minutes, not to mention the custom cut board (plywood) that had to support all that weight. to make it more moderen, i used the crystal wilton push ins, plates, and staircase. (about $60 in wilton hardware alone).

forgot to add about my 1994 wedding cake, large 4-tier with a set of pillars between tier 2 and 3 (6, 8. 12, 14 tiers) for fresh flowers. i remember the cake lady telling me that she was going to have to get carpel tunnel surgery after that cake. it was all covered in the most delicate corenelli (tip #2) lace with a beautiful fluffy swirl border. she even suprized us with a delicious strawberry filling between the layers. i would cringe if i had to do all that lace work. i'm 37 and had carpel tunnel surgery 4 years ago. man she had wrists of steal for sure!!!!

for the second time around, i did my own. i had 4 days to plan my wedding and luckilky had another wedding cake for 275 people the same day.

Hollandy Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 10:59am
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I would really like to see a picture of the cake everybody seems to know about (Dianaguerrant) as I'm so new to this I can't even imagine!

dguerrant Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 11:09am
post #29 of 50

i think my hubby took a pic with his phone i'll check and see

indydebi Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 11:20am
post #30 of 50
Originally Posted by Hollandy

I would really like to see a picture of the cake everybody seems to know about (Dianaguerrant) as I'm so new to this I can't even imagine!

here's one that I saved in my fave's that sounds very very similar:

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