I am going to make a cake almost identical to this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donna_makes_cakes/5068499180#/photos/donna_makes_cakes/5068499180/lightbox/
Would it be best to use fondant or gumpaste for the stripes & hearts?
Also, would you just pipe royal icing for the beads? Or something else? I want them to be pure white like the fondant, but would prefer to not have to roll them by hand lol.
I wouldn't use gumpaste for the stripes or hearts, they will harden and I would think that would make the cake hard to cut. You could use royal icing or buttercream to make the pearl border but it won't be quite the same. You could get a pearl mold so you don't have to roll them.
Rolling by hand doesn't take all that long. Just roll out your fondant with your rolling pin to an even thickness (about 1/4") then cut out pieces using a small circle cutter, you will then have even pieces to roll into balls. Make sure you cover the precut pieces until you are ready to use each one, or they will dry out and the ball won't be smooth.