Any Tips For My First Wedding Cake

Decorating By Sarahoza Updated 5 May 2012 , 4:43am by EvMarie

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Sarahoza Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 1:06am
post #1 of 26

Hello everyone,

I'm going to have to deliver my very first wedding cake at the end of May and I'm already stressed out because of it. It is a simple 3-tier vanilla cake filled & crumb coated with chocolate Swiss Meringue Butter Cream. The future bride wants it covered with white fondant and to place red roses on top and around the corners of the square cake. It sounds easy, yet as it is my very first I'm worried about so many things.

1. How long in advance should I start baking the 6 layers (2 layers each tier).? I'd have to use each pan twice as I have one pan for each size.
2. I'm thinking of using 14, 10, and 8 inches pans. Do you think it's a good combination?
3. Do I need to bake a (spare) layer of cake? In case any disaster might happen.
4. Do I have to place a cake board under each tier?
5. Do you think it's better if I assemble the first 2 tiers at home then place the last at the wedding hall? Just to avoid any disasters. I find the idea of placing a wooden dowel throughout the whole cake with the presence of cake boards difficult, I think I will tear the whole cake up.
6. When Assembling the tiers do I have to place SMBC between tiers for support?
7. Would placing straws inside each tier suffice for support, or do I need to use wooden dowels?
8. I'm not going to use wires for the roses, do I have to use royal icing to stabilize them or would the SMBC be fine?

I apologise for the long post but I'm really terrified that this would turn into a disaster and I fear that I would have a phobia from wedding cakes.

Any tips would be VERY appreciated.


25 replies
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craigas Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 2:37am
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I would start baking a week or two ahead and freeze them as you make them. They will be nice and fresh when you take them out about 2 days before the wedding.
If I were you I would do tiers that are even like 14, 10 and 6. Or 12, 10 and 8. Depends how many people you need to feed.
I never bake an extra because you would need at least one of each size and it takes a lot of time and money to do extra. If it makes you more comfortable to do so then do it icon_smile.gif
Each tier need a cake board and each tier must be supported with dowels underneath so it doesn't collapse on itself.
You can assemble at the hall if you like but I have done a dowel through the whole thing and it works fine.
I would put smbc between each tier if you put it together at home but it really isn't needed if you assemble at the hall and the cake won't be moved.
I use straws for support but you need quite a few.
Are you using gumpaste roses? I make mine on a large piece of dry spaghetti noodle so that they are safe to put right into the cake and they hold well.

Good luck!

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arlenej Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 3:41am
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Calm down Sarah, everybody's (or at least, most people's) first wedding cake is a bit daunting. I'm guessing you can't get the SPS system across there? If you can that'd be the way to go. If not, yes I'd use dowels for support. Yes, please put a cake board under each tier. Poke or drill holes through the middle of your cake plates so the very long dowel can pass through everything unimpeded. The cakes aren't the only things to make that far ahead. PLEASE make your flowers ahead also. That way it's just a matter of assembling on the day. Make sure they're completely dry then store them in between tissue paper in an air tight container. If you can get silica gel packs, toss some in. What I do, especially for wedding cakes, is plan to have it finished the day before it's needed. that way WAY less stress.

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Sarahoza Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 3:42am
post #4 of 26


You're an angel for getting back to me so fast, may God bless you for this.

I don't have a 6 inch square pan but I guess I can bake an additional 14 inch and adjust it to be 6 inch in size. I guess a 14, 10, 6 would look much better than 12, 10, 8, don't you think so?

Regarding baking the extra cake I was thinking one 14 in extra and if one tore then I can also trim & cut it according to the size of the icon_cry.gif disastrous cake (God forbid). icon_lol.gif

Just the idea of placing the long dowel throughout the whole cake scares me to death. So I guess I'll skip this step with this cake, maybe I'll do it when I have done more tiered cakes. A picture of the cake torn in two keeps on playing in my head whenever I try to imagine how to pierce the dowel through the cake icon_cry.gif loool I'm not usually a chicken but since it's my first wedding cake I'm always thinking of worse cake scenario to be prepared for everything.

Yes I'm thinking to use gumpaste or a mix of fondant & gumpaste flowers. Whenever I use spaghetti straws they break on me so I stopped using them. I guess it's because I make my flowers by hand. Do you think I could use wooden skewers, and tell the bride about them??

Thank you sooooooooooooo much for your wonderful input icon_smile.gif


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sweettreat101 Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 3:46am
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I bake my cakes one week before the event and freeze them. If you have extra batter it wouldn't hurt to make an extra layer to throw in the freezer just encase. When I was making my cousins wedding cake one of the layers crumbled. I had never had that happen before so lucky me I had baked an extra layer so it saved me. I don't feel comfortable using straws. I tried it once before on a smaller cake but I would never trust it on a three tiered wedding cake. I use wooden dowels and pruning sheers. I plan on purchasing the cardboard dowels that tonedna uses in her video on youtube on how to stack a cake. You might want to check it out. The dowels are inexpensive but you do have to purchase 20.00 worth. Each tier needs to be on card boards. I hot glue two card boards together for more durability. When placing your center dowel down the middle of the entire cake just make sure you sharpen the dowel to a nice point like a spear. Place your dowel a little to the right of the center of the cake because you don't want to hit the center dowel already placed in your cake. Using a hammer pound your dowel until it plants firmly into the bottom cake board. Trim with pruning sheers and repair the frosting. If you sharpen a nice tip you won't have trouble with the dowel going through all the boards. To transport a cake without a center dowel is a huge risk I tried it and it wasn't pretty. Make sure you try to pick a stable filling as gel fillings tend to slide. I apply a light layer of frosting to my boards before adding the cakes to act as a glue. As for the flowers place a small circle of frosting around the base of your flower it helps create a suction. For flowers that cascade down the side of my cakes I use royal icing and attach a toothpick at an angle to the back of the flower. This gives extra support and piece of mind that your flowers will stay in place.

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sweettreat101 Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 3:48am
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12,9,6 is another good option. I forgot to add try to chill your cake before delivery. A firm cake is more stable to transport.

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chasingmytail Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 10:45am
post #7 of 26

I would bake now and freeze, I can see any problem with long freezing as long as it wrapped up well to prevent freezer burn. I would do a tester just to confirm the taste & texture. I see no harm in baking additional ones as you can use them again or use as additional layers.

Personally I would travel with one tier and position on-site.

Most def dowel - I use straws and these are fine especially for sponge - 1 central and 4 + on outside. You must use boards on each base.

In the uk we dont generally use buttercream for celebration cakes so cant help you there.

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Sarahoza Posted 2 May 2012 , 12:54am
post #8 of 26
Originally Posted by arlenej

Calm down Sarah, everybody's (or at least, most people's) first wedding cake is a bit daunting.

Arlene, that's scary icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif.........the cake is very simple so it shouldn't be a problem unless I mess it up icon_sad.gif..... Yes, I can't get a hold of SPS, but since craigas was kind enough to say (and all of you agreed the same) that if I'm going to assemble the cake in the wedding hall, (which is 5 minutes or less away from my house, I live around a number of the popular wedding halls in my city ^_^) then I don't need to place the long dowel (lucky me icon_lol.gif ) and to finish the cake one day in advance is a great idea but won't it affect the freshness of the cake??

As always you've been a great help, millions of thanks ^_^

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Sarahoza Posted 2 May 2012 , 1:11am
post #9 of 26


So many wonderful tips, can't thank you enough. I'll check tonedna's video and see if I can get a hold of such dowels. I'll take chasingmytail advice regarding going to the wedding hall with one tier placed on the cake board and assemble the other 2 at the hall (the hall & I are practically neighbors icon_smile.gif) I'm doing it on purpose to have one thing less to worry about. All of you wonderfully explained how I can insert the long dowel inside the cake and I will do it but not with my first wedding cake icon_redface.gif (I'm following the principal better be safe than sorry with everything regarding my first W cake).

That's a great tip regarding how to stabilize the flowers, many thanks icon_smile.gif.

When you said to chill my cake before delivery, even with fondant cakes?? Cause what I understood is that once a cake is covered with fondant you can't place it inside the fridge..... please correct me if I'm wrong. Cause if I can chill my cake that would be AMAZING icon_smile.gif

Thanks a million for your full of advice post. It is very helpful icon_smile.gif

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Sarahoza Posted 2 May 2012 , 1:24am
post #10 of 26


Yes, I believe you are right. I'll most definitely do so. I'll bake and freeze a test cake, then if it works I'll bake all the rest to give me more peace of mind icon_biggrin.gif.

Great idea to go to the wedding hall with one instead of two tiers assembled to be more careful and precise.

So you don't advice me to use straws for a 3-tier cake?? I simply believe that straws are more hygienic and unlike wooden dowels they won't have any wood fragments coming out when contacted with cream.

Great tips and very helpful......... Tons of thanks for your wonderful post thumbs_up.gif

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lupini Posted 2 May 2012 , 1:47am
post #11 of 26

I just joined and I am intriqued that everyone uses the dowel rod to stabilize their tiered cakes.
I am doing a cake at the end of June...not my 1st wedding cake...but I 'may' try that tip.
Have none of you ever used the Wilton cake separator plates that have the legs that are tapered and go all the way through the cake layers? Each cake has legs balanced on the layer below it but no true weight is on each cake. If my layers are thick enough I never really have a gap and aIways trim out around the base of that plate and it looks like the layers are stacked. I am not certain how to add a picture on here icon_rolleyes.gif hmmmm...but if I can find it, I will send you a pic of my son's wedding cake.

Another thing...I always use water for my icing (Wilton recipe) and never worry about the icing going bad and people love it...but today I read the recipe made with whipping cream...I know sugar is a preservative...but I am leary of the cream turning funky and having an off taste. Any thoughts to that?

Going to see how to post a pic! Oh I see it!! Check out the picture.
Thanx for letting me play in the icing bowl with you!

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Wildgirl Posted 2 May 2012 , 5:28am
post #12 of 26

You can't get the sps?? That was such a life saver for me!!

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Sarahoza Posted 3 May 2012 , 9:47am
post #13 of 26


That's a beautiful cake.

Thank you for your suggestion the Wilton cake separator plates seem like a good idea as well. I'll try to get it further into the future when my business blooms more (hopefully icon_smile.gif).

Regarding Wilton's buttercream, it's what I first learnt when I took the cake decorating courses, but to be honest none of my family liked its taste nor how sweet it is, so I decided that I won't serve it to my customers cause some can really be picky tapedshut.gif. That's why I normally use SMBC or IMBC though they're really soft and can melt easily specially that I live in a very hot & humid city but it tastes sooooo much better and a lot less sweeter.

Talking about whipping cream, I read somewhere that you can stabilize it if you add gelatin to it, didn't try it before but I think it's worth a shot icon_smile.gif

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful method with me. I really appreciate your input icon_biggrin.gif

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Sarahoza Posted 3 May 2012 , 9:49am
post #14 of 26


From all your posts I decided to get the SPS even if my life depends on it icon_lol.gif

Thank you icon_smile.gif

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Wildgirl Posted 3 May 2012 , 1:11pm
post #15 of 26

thumbs_up.gificon_biggrin.gif Seriously, it will lessen your stress level! icon_lol.gif

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denetteb Posted 3 May 2012 , 2:07pm
post #16 of 26


And just one comment regarding dowels since you had mentioned concerned regarding hygiene and splinters. The few occasions I used dowels I washed them well. And don't worry about splinters as dowels are really smooth, a splinter isn't going to just pop off out of no where.

And RELAX!!!

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sammyj Posted 4 May 2012 , 4:30am
post #17 of 26

I'm another one attempting my first wedding cake (my sister in-laws no less!!!) and ive been worried about the delivery too, among other things. I'm going to go with the dowel option simply because i cant get the sps system. I have used dowels before and never had a splinter or any such nightmare situation. I always source them from my local cake deco place because they come pre-sharpened there which saves a world of hassles and they are generally only about 20cents for the super long ones icon_biggrin.gif but even still, i cant say im not worried!

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EvMarie Posted 4 May 2012 , 5:18am
post #18 of 26

I don't have any NEW info to add. But, I'm just now feeling comfortable stacking cakes. So, I know your stress level.

Try not to tighten up about it. It'll make even the smallest things difficult. Here are some "calming thoughts" I use for myself.

(1) It's helpful to me to think of each tier as it's own cake. The bottom tier will be on some sort of base, right? So, picture it as you designed it...just the bottom tier on the base. Stack, ice, complete as normal. Set it aside. Repeat with all tiers. THEN, go to doweling.

For me, "hunking" out tasks makes it easier for my brain & nerves to handle.

(2) I apologize for not double checking where you are located. I had an "issue" with sweating. I had a very cool cake & a very humid day. Not sure how fondant works. And, I'm not trying to panic you. Just trying to help you cover your bases. I'm sure there are topics here on CC about it. (our weather here in Ohio has been nothing short of bipolar....this is why I mention it)

(3) TIME....TIME....TIME!!! Work ahead like everyone is saying. If you have your buttercream process down & you have time on your'll be just fine!

(4) Enjoy! This goes with #3. Gotta have enough time to actually enjoy the process. Try to take pride & put some love in it.

You'll do great. My last adventure was a SpongeBob cake. I have come a LONG way. I did notice I had more fun with that one. icon_smile.gif AND, more time.

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Wildgirl Posted 4 May 2012 , 5:24am
post #19 of 26

And remember that your eye is the most critical! The bride thought my cake was perfect and loved it - even though I saw all the flaws!

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Sarahoza Posted 4 May 2012 , 9:53pm
post #20 of 26


Anything to achieve this goal icon_lol.gif

You're right, "your eye is the most critical" as long as it is only me that notices such faults icon_lol.gif. It is soooo true though, I always can tell what exactly did I do wrong and how I could have a void it while others would like the cake. But still I'm always aiming for that flawless cake <3 icon_lol.gif

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Sarahoza Posted 4 May 2012 , 11:17pm
post #21 of 26


I'm relaxed now...... but on the due date I know I'll freak out, I know myself icon_lol.gif, but I'm really more comfortable and confident after reading all of these beautiful ladies' posts cause now I have more knowledge than I had before. I feel like I know a lot more about preparing wedding cakes and so I feel more confident.

The thing with dowels is that I don't have enough for 3 tiers and so I would have to have it custom made, that's why I'm not so confident about splinters coming out of them. The question is do you believe that straws won't hold the 3 tiers?? even if I place many of them??

Thanks so much for your post icon_smile.gif

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Sarahoza Posted 4 May 2012 , 11:23pm
post #22 of 26


Best of luck, I know how you'r feeling icon_biggrin.gif. I'll keep you in my prayers that both our cakes come out perfect and extremely beautiful icon_biggrin.gif.

In my country we don't have cake decorating shops so I basically have to either ship from another country or have what I need to be custom made and I don't have enough dowels . That's why I was think of alternatives........ straws.

Thank you for your post icon_smile.gif

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Sarahoza Posted 5 May 2012 , 12:19am
post #23 of 26
Originally Posted by EvMarie

(1) It's helpful to me to think of each tier as it's own cake. The bottom tier will be on some sort of base, right? So, picture it as you designed it...just the bottom tier on the base. Stack, ice, complete as normal. Set it aside. Repeat with all tiers. THEN, go to doweling.

I guess you're right..... cause this way I'd give each tier the attention it deserves instead of thinking about the cake as a whole and miss a bit here and there. Brilliant idea <3

You'll do great. My last adventure was a SpongeBob cake. I have come a LONG way. I did notice I had more fun with that one. icon_smile.gif AND, more time.

Aaaah wonder when will the day when I say the same thing come ^_^

I live in a very hot and humid city (Aden, Yemen), therefore, AC is always on whenever I work on a cake. So do you recommend that I let the cake come to a cool rather than cold temperature before icing it? Also after icing it and before covering with fondant?? I was thinking of what Arlene suggested (to finish the cake a day in advance) but I'm worrying about 2 points please help me if you have any thoughts. 1. The cake's freshness. 2. I'll cover the cake with smbc and as you know it is basically all butter and egg whites, so I'm scared that it will start to melt and my cake would bulge. I will be using Toba Garrett's Spackle method for the cake but still I'm not 100% sure if it will work if I crumb coat the cake with it then apply fondant..... And if I do it this way then I won't have to worry as much about icing melting underneath fondant?? My lack of experience makes me worry about a million thing icon_sad.gif

Can't thank you enough for your wonderful technics and spectacular post> I've put down a schedule of when to start what so that I reduce my panicking and stress levels icon_lol.gif

Thanks soooooooooo very much again icon_smile.gif

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denetteb Posted 5 May 2012 , 3:15am
post #24 of 26

I am glad you are relaxed, at least for now! A lot of people swear by bubble tea straws (these are extra thick, extra large straws), and I have purchased some but not tried them yet. Not sure what your dowels are like in Yemen, but in the US you can buy Wilton ones or buy from the hardware store. In the hardware store they come in 3 foot lengths and are smooth. You can cut them to the length you desire with a saw or a pruning shears, can sand them a little more to get the lengths exactly the same. So they are pretty easy to work with here. When is the wedding you are making the cake for? I don't work with fondant so can't address that but there are a lot of fondant people who do refrigerate their cakes. If you search on CC you can find a lot of threads on the topic. I think Americans are used to a sweeter icing so not surprised that your family finds it too sweet for their tastes. The best way to find out how your icing will work with your fondant and not melt, etc is to make a cake just like you talked about in your last post, using the spackle, your icing etc. Make an 8 inch cake and test it all, your techniques and timeline, everything. The only way to get over your lack of experience is to make cakes to get the experience. The more the better, especially if you have agreed to make someones wedding cake.

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Magda_MI Posted 5 May 2012 , 3:40am
post #25 of 26

When I do a center dowel, I use a pencil sized one (the ones Wilton sells are fine), and sharpen it with an electric pencil sharpener, then tap it into the cake and carefully through each layer of cake board with a hammer.

I also try to get my tiers filled and crumb coated, and then let them sit for several hours (or ideally overnight) before icing them, so they have time to settle.

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EvMarie Posted 5 May 2012 , 4:43am
post #26 of 26

I'd have to say first - trust your instincts. I'm assuming you've made cakes before in the same way you plan to make THIS particular wedding cake. So, I'm thinking you already have the info about sweating.... In my instance, I took an iced cake already done from a VERY cold fridge directly into super humid conditions. The venue had no AC. So...the problem just got worse. I'm thinking I wouldn't have had as big of a problem had I let the cake set to room temp & then introduced it to the humidity. I hadn't done many cakes & just didn't know that there could be an issue. It never dawned on me. Just think about how you've done cakes in the past. I'm sure if you've never had a problem before & follow the same procedures, you'll be fine in your climate.

As far as cake freshness, I've learned from numerous posts here on CC that once you've frosted a cake, the sugar preserves it to a certain degree. I've tried SMBC once & my family wasn't a fan. Again, we're used to the sugary stuff. I did love how it smoothed & set up though. My pink cake with butterflies is SMBC. (If I iced it thinner, it would have been super delicious - I'm better now at frosting a cake...maybe I'll try again)

A BIG FAT GUESS would be to finish the cake, refridgerate.....but pull it out of the cold a few hours before you go to set up at the venue. This way, you don't have any worries about the icing going bad & you won't have a moisture problem? I hope somebody else can chime in on this I'm not a consistant user of SMBC or fondant. If the venue is only a hop around the corner I shouldn't think melting would be an issue.

I'd love to hear somebody's thoughts on the SMBC & fondant/temperature question. There's always room to learn more tricks of the trade!

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