First Time Making A Wedding Cake - Need Help!

Decorating By newcaker1314 Updated 8 Sep 2011 , 12:23pm by Panel7124

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newcaker1314 Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 10:01pm
post #1 of 16

So I'm pretty new to making cakes: I've only been doing it for 10 months and I've only made 2 "big cakes" and one tiered cake. A couple times I've made cakes for friend's birthdays or events and brought them to school (I'm 15 and starting 10th grade) and in that case I've left them with the secretary in my school office.

She called recently requesting that I make her wedding cake! I am very excited and I'm going to talk to her tomorrow for the details about the cake but I have a bunch of questions regarding the difference between making professional cakes and just cakes for my friends and family.


1. Unless she really wants a fondant cake, I am planning on doing it in buttercream as I am one girl with a rolling pin and have only tried fondant twice before with only about 75% success. (I always get a few tears/cracks around the bottom) What is the best way to smooth my buttercream for a near-perfect finish or how could I decorate the sides of the cake so smoothing is not an issue?

2. I am planning on decorating the cake in gumpaste flowers as I purchased the supplies fairly recently and they give wedding cakes that professional look in my opinion. I haven't worked with gumpaste before, so how difficult is it to work with (tips?) and what supplies are necessary for sculpting gumpaste flowers?

3. I have done a two-tier cake and the structure was fine with doweling and cake boards between the layers but is it more difficult for a 3-tier cake?(what I will likely be doing) Any tips for the best wedding cake structure?

4. Since my cakes have always been casual for family events, I've always just placed them on a platter or a plate we have at home. Clearly that would look unprofessional for a wedding so what kind of base do you guys use for wedding cakes?

5. I want the decorations to look neat and classy/fun (depending on the taste of the bride) so what borders, piping techniques, etc. would you recommend? I usually just do shells but I want something a little nicer for a wedding cake. Also to attach the gumpaste flowers should I glue them with royal icing, attach using wires, what?

Thank-you so much if you've read down this far and even if you can't help with all the points, any help at all would be greatly appreciated.


** I may also be leaning a bit on you more experienced folk if she requests a flavour I am less familiar with such as red velvet as chocolate and vanilla are about as far as my experience stretches. icon_biggrin.gif

15 replies
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Sweet_Delaney_cakes Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 10:20pm
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Sorry, but it sounds like you are in WAY over your head with this one! I think it sounds like you need a lot more practice before you can take on a wedding cake.

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newcaker1314 Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 10:35pm
post #3 of 16

sorry if you think I am incapable, but your post was quite rude and I am looking for advice not a completely negative response. I know that it will not be as perfect as a professional bakery cake, but she wouldn't have requested I make it if she wasn't pleased with the cakes I have brought to school.

I am asking all these questions so I can make it as perfect as possible, not because I am an amateur and don't have a clue what I'm doing.

Anyway I had one other point aside from decorating that I do need a little help on:

How much cake is necessary for various wedding sizes and how much does a wedding cake typically cost? For example how much cake would I need for a 100 person wedding and how much to charge?

Also should I assemble the entire cake and try to transport in one piece or would it make more sense to decorate each tier individually and assemble/cover with flowers on site?


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Jens88 Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 10:42pm
post #4 of 16

I'm fairly new myself but there is a thread somewhere in the forums called something like 'Lots of tutorials in here,' you should be able to search for it. There are absolutely loads of guides in there to making gumpaste flowers.
As for transporting the cakes I would personally stack two tiers and assemble the third one on site but others may advise differently!
Good luck with the cake!

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fedra Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:08pm
post #5 of 16

When is the wedding? How many people? Any fillings involved? Stacked/tiered? Type of design bride is aiming for? Do you have a crusting buttercream recipe to make the icing smooth? What type of flowers were you planning to make?
In my experience, gumpaste flowers take practice to get them to look nice and you would have to start them a couple of days or weeks in advance to get them to dry out completely.
To smooth out buttercream, I personally use Sharon Zambitos method of using hot water and a bench scraper to smooth out. You can also use Thr papertowel method.
3 tiers involves more support and probably one long thick dowel down the middle. You can also use an SPS system or Wilton cake plates and seperators (although not as stable with those).
Have you ever considered using foamcore boards. They are thicker and mire stable, however, you would have to precut the holes down the middle of each foamcoreboard.
Servings: if planning stacked cake, usually a 14/10/8/6 in trotted rounds would give you around 100 servings but you can look at the wilton cake serving for this.
Decorative borders: maybe rolled fondant pearls (or buttercream), a trail, or a ruffle border. You can also consider a ribbon (attach with acetate lining and double sided tape) or fondant ribbon.
Do you have a nice silver pedestal stand to place the cake on? You can Aldo use a large (atleast 2 in larger than your bottom tier) cake drum wrapped with decorative foil or fondant.
Pricing: depends. I would check if you can legally sell cakes in your state and also child labor laws. Otherwise SOME servings start at $5 per serving and
can go up to $10 a serving. So 5 x 100 + $500.
Making a wedding cake takes ALOT of work, atleast 8 hrs of manual labor. I really would not take my chances on practicing making a wedding cake on someones actual wedding cake. Do a couple of test runs first and then decide if you ate ready to take this on. It's VERY different from making cakes for family and friends. HTH

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rosey422 Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:10pm
post #7 of 16

Hello newbie, and welcome to the cake world. As far as your cake size i use the wilton book on serving sizes they have a chart for party and wedding cakes. For 100 people a 12,10 and 8 inch round cake feeds 118. I transport tiered cakes put together its less work when you get there unless you have some piping to do that won't hold up in traveling(like string piping). Transporting is the worst any cake person will tell you that, but after each cake it gets easier. I prefer fondant over buttercream they just look so much cleaner to me. there are so many different kinds of fondant now from buttercream to white chocolate to marshmellow. As for flowers there are alot of tutorials on youtube.ingrid is very good,go to her website for recipes too! It is Design Me A I think just google it.If you feel you are overwelmed with the flowers just order them from global sugat art just one less thing to worry about until you have more practice. As far as pricing buttercream is less than fondant but most wedding cakes go for $ 8-10 a serving. but you need to start lower until you get better $3 on up depending on how much work is involved .more on next post....

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Moovaughan Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:12pm
post #8 of 16

Okay....even though you sound young you are asking the right questions so you have some you go....I use the cake recipie on this website called WASC (White Almond Sour Cream Cake) this is a wonderful tasting cake and great for this type of event. The Butter Cream Dream frosting from this website is my new favorite! A 3 tier (14, 10, 6 inch rounds) would be more than enough for 100 people. Make each tier seperate, covered cardboard and dowels under each tier, torte and fill each tier and finish off with buttercream, let it sit for about 30 minutes to crust (meaning you can touch it and it has a kinda hard crusty feel that won't come off on your hand). If you take a paper towel or piece of wax paper lay it on your cake tier and lightly go over that with a flat scrape, that will smooth out any imperfections... go to YOUTUBE and you can find examples. For your gumpaste flowers, you can either buy it already mixed and all you have to do is need it to soften or you can buy the mix and follow the directions. It's not exactly hard to make the flowers but it does take time, if you use wires make sure they are coated or if not make sure you use coffee straws to slip the wires into in the cake. Use either buttercream or chocolate to adhere flowers to cake, sometimes royal icing will bleed. For the boards you can use gumpaste or fondant pearls, that's always very pretty. For the stand, it all depends on what she is paying you for the cake, stands can be quite expensive, she may even have something herself, otherwise go to the hardware store and purchase a wood round, you can cover that with fondant or decorative foil etc. Normally I would charge $3.5 per serving for a buttercream cake, mabe a little more if it has a lot of extra details, but the pricing depends on how the finished product looks. Good luck, take your time. (NOTE: the gumpaste flowers can be done weeks before the even as long as you store them properly, this helps a lot for time management.)

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fedra Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:12pm
post #9 of 16

Sorry, stupid phone does autocorrect too much! 5 x 100 = $500. I think you can spot the other errors.

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cakes_by_brandy Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:13pm
post #10 of 16

you are only in over your head if YOU feel your over your head. She obviously likes your cakes, or she wouldn't ask you to make a cake for such an important event. I agree with Jenns88, stack two and transport, add the 3rd tier at the venue. You may be better off to purchase your flowers, i.e. Sugarbakers premade flowers, always beautiful and a little less time consuming. Also, helps to take the pressure off.
You can also buy a boards at Sugarbakers that will support the weight of your cake, run you 7 to 10 bucks each if you get a sturdy one, also, they have fanci-foil in different colors to match the cake.
If you are real determined to make your flowers, youtube it!! You will be amazed at how many tutorials are on there about flowers, both fondant/gumpaste and buttercream! Good luck and make sure you post pics of your amazing cake when it's done!!!

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rosey422 Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:24pm
post #11 of 16

Hi, again as far as your boards I use wood for the heavier cakes(probabley my construction background). for square cakes you can get plywood at home depot and they will cut it for you. for round cakes orchard supply has wood rounds you can buy or you can cut the plywood into a round or have your dad do it! Use cake central to get some ideas for piping that you are comfortable with. Michaels craft store offer cake decorating classes if you want practice me i don't have the time so i just teach myself. It sounds like you are alot like me and learn from doing... Just plan ahead so you don't get overwelmed. I start 3 days ahead to make a cake (not including flowers but like i said you can order them) I bake level wrap and freeze one day,stack and fill and dirty ice seciond day, fondant and decorate third day. then you don't get so frustrated and panic! It is more fun this way because if something goes wrong you have time to fix it. For buttercream I use the extra special buttercream recipe on cake central good luck and let me know how it goes!!

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YummyCreations Posted 28 Jun 2011 , 11:33pm
post #12 of 16

Not sure how much time you might have before the wedding but may I suggest looking into Wilton cake courses at your local craft store? I took all the courses last year. Some of them, like the Tall Cakes Class where they teach you how to stack wedding cakes, are only 2 hrs long. Wilton also makes piping practice boards with ideas for different borders. Wilton also has a Fondant/Gumpaste class where you learn to make flowers. Also look into cake decorating "how to" books at your books store. Some of them have beautiful pictures and step-by-step guides. I purchased The Art of the Cake by Mich Turner and have already succesfully used a few techniques from her book. I hope this helps! Good luck!

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gourmetsharon Posted 29 Jun 2011 , 12:01am
post #13 of 16

Transport is one of my nightmares. Perhaps you can take the tiers separately and stack onsite. I just don't feel that confident yet.

Take it a step at a time. Flowers can be made ahead. I love Youtube for tutorials. There's so much out there.

Good luck and have fun with this challenge!

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newcaker1314 Posted 8 Sep 2011 , 2:07am
post #14 of 16

sorry everyone for the late reply but the bride ending up bailing on the cake (it was the mother of the groom who had requested it) and after sampling a half dozen bakeries and having them "not up to standard" she finally chose one.

I will say I was a little disappointed, but I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that picky of a customer my first wedding cake icon_razz.gif

I now have an order for a small (20 person) cake for the rehearsal dinner of a wedding - much more manageable for a first bigger/paid cake

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Btrfly578 Posted 8 Sep 2011 , 2:35am
post #15 of 16

Young or not, we all have to start somewhere. Sorry to hear about the Wedding Cake, but glad you have a smaller cake to do. At least you got some information on what to do, so when the time comes you will know. Keep doing what your doing. : )

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Panel7124 Posted 8 Sep 2011 , 12:23pm
post #16 of 16
Originally Posted by fedra

Pricing: depends. I would check if you can legally sell cakes in your state and also child labor laws.

Sorry, but can you (age 15) sell legally cakes in your state - without having your own business?? Anyhow, it's surely better to start with smaller cakes. Good luck!

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