Arghh My First Proper Wedding Cake! Advice Very Much Appreciated!

Decorating By maria_stoff Updated 12 Jan 2019 , 8:56am by maria_stoff

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maria_stoff Posted 10 Jan 2019 , 10:56am
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Hi everyone!

I was hoping for some of your valuable opinions if possible please :-) 

I have my first proper wedding cake next month. I have been on an intensive three day wedding course in June last year but this is my first actual customer. Firstly the really good news :-

Basic three tiers required with literally just ribbon as the decoration on my part (florist is doing an arrangement for the rest).

Venue is 5 miles away from my house (result!!)

The bride and groom are friends of mine and have told me that there's no pressure and not to worry.

Easy cake flavours - fruit, lemon and victoria sponge.

So no sweat, right? However I can't seem to get a grip on my nerves ! Which is so crazy because I know that for my first ever wedding cake it's pretty good going with all the positive points. I really don't want my nerves to get in the way of delivering a great cake for my friends. It just seems to be constantly on my mind.

If I'm honest the thing I'm worried about the most is having the fruit cake as the top tier. I know that the dowelling is super important, just wondering if I run through what I'm planning on doing then you guys can either confirm or give me other tips to make sure I pull this off?

So the victoria sponge will be the bottom tier (12 inches) and have 5 plastic dowels - around the clock face of 12, 3, 6,9 and one in the centre.

The middle lemon tier (9inches) on a cake card (any ideas how thick this needs to be) with 3 plastic dowels in a triangle shape - is this right?

Top tier Fruit cake (6 inches) on a cake card (marzipan and sugar paste) . Again any idea how thick the card needs to be? Some people say that thin is fine and then others say it won't support all the weight ?

I watch so many you tube videos and research so much and read so many books but I just get a bit overwhelmed by all of the different information, so would like to know any thoughts you guys may have and what works best for you :-)

I've watched yt videos of having holes drilled in the cake cards and then stacking the tiers as well as the other dowels and have one long one that will go through the entire length of the cake for extra support. Is this worth doing for peace of mind?

Some of you may be thinking that I should know about all this from my wedding course. We worked with the dummies rather than actual cake. I know they wouldn't have taught us this if it wasn't going to work but reassurance from you guys would put my mind at ease. I guess I'm just being super paranoid. But I'd rather be paranoid and get everything right then make a mistake I think! I'm a meticulous planner and list writer so knowing I've asked you guys for advice will be something that will make me feel much better. I've made quite a few two tiers with no problems but not three as of yet, especially not with a heavier cake on two softer sponges! 

I was planning on making all three cakes in advance and freezing the sponges for moistness before defrosting, filling and covering in sugarpaste two days before the wedding. Is this okay? Also the sizes are 12, 9 and 6 inches on a 15 inch base board.

I have a meeting with my friends and the florist on Tuesday to run through final details and to view the venue so would just like to go completely armed with all the information I need. Just a bit of extra info - no cutting cake or dummies wanted/required.  I've also found out all the other details such as the stand, the caterers will be cutting the cake (as I'll be an actual guest) and that the florist will be pinning the flowers on the top and on the shelf of the cake. So I feel like I've got all my other details ironed out and the pressure is taken off by the help of the caterers and florist. I'm just having nightmares of me being at this wedding reception all evening and something awful happening. How embarrassing that would be! Perhaps I'm being slightly irrational!

Would you suggest stacking at home and driving with it or assembling at the venue? I can see the pros and cons of both. If I do it at home I know exactly if it looks straight and even and can adjust if necessary but then if I box separately and assemble at the venue the driving risks are minimal?  

One last thought, do you think I should cut my losses and make a three tier practice cake and then donate to a local charity for peace of mind?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts! And sorry for the long post!

Maria x 


12 replies
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melbakescakes Posted 10 Jan 2019 , 12:58pm
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I’m not sure what you plan on using for towels but I use thick smoothie or bubble tea straws. For the 12 in cake I would place 6 straws under the 9 in cake and then 4 straws in a square shape under the 6 in cake. I have never had any problems using straws. I also use a centre dowel for 3 tiers and you be so yes, the wooden centre dowel is glued into the board and then all the cakes slide down the middle of them so that there is a centre support. Using fondant, royal icing to glue everything together it should be very steady. I use cardboard rounds underneath every tier. Good luck!

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maria_stoff Posted 10 Jan 2019 , 1:37pm
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Hi Melbakescakes,

Thank you for your reply! It's really handy to get other people's opinions :-)

These are the dowels that I use for my two tiered cakes. They are solid white plastic that require a small hacksaw to cut to length so was thinking they should be plenty strong enough? I've never actually used anything else.Arghh My First Proper Wedding Cake! Advice Very Much Appreciated!

Thank you for your advice! I think I will definitely use the central support system like you said and the cardboard rounds. Are these the super thin ones you get or the slightly thicker ones?

Maria x 

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Debbieshobby Posted 10 Jan 2019 , 7:30pm
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Hi I am not massively experienced in wedding cakes but when I do them I use the SPS system. Then you would not need to worry at all about the fruit cake being the top tier.

For 2 tiers I use the same kind of dowels you use.

My last wedding cake was  12,9 and 6. I used a 16 inch board but I matched that to the venue cake stand. 

Decorating 2 days before the wedding will be just fine. 

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maria_stoff Posted 10 Jan 2019 , 8:04pm
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Hi debbieshobby,

Thanks so much for your advice. I don’t think the SPS system in available in the uk :( 

ah ok maybe I will use a 16inch board then ! My friends are telling me on Tuesday what size the venues cake stand is so I will make it to match :) 

Maria x 

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kakeladi Posted 11 Jan 2019 , 12:33am
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I very quickly glanced at the other posters & didn't notice some major things I want to point out.     you said:....... victoria sponge will be the bottom tier (12 inches) and have 5 plastic dowels - around the clock face of 12, 3, 6,9 and one in the centre.   Do NOT put one in the center!  You need the support dowels as far around the edge as you can. Since it will be holding up a 9" round (right?) mark a circle 8" placikng the 5 dowels just inside that mark.   I have used regu8lar plastic drink straws w/o a problem for years.  No need to get special 'bubble straws' but no harm if you do :)     You said: ... middle lemon tier (9inches) on a cake card (any ideas how thick this needs to be) with 3 plastic dowels in a triangle shape - is this right?   Yes, that is right.   The commercial cake circle is 1/4: thick.  You can put your cake on that or make something.   I suggest it be an 8" cake circle.   You ask:  .....Top tier Fruit cake (6 inches) on a cake card (marzipan and sugar paste) . Again any idea how thick the card needs to be? Some people say that thin is fine and then others say it won't support all the weight ?  I'm thinking a standard 1/4" thick cake circle will be fine.  But then I've never done a 6" fruit cake w/marzipan & sugarpaste.   I would not hurt to use something a bit thicker.  And that triangle arrangement of supports is perfect but then using 4 in a sq pattern wouldn't hurt either.   There probably is no need for a center dowel for such a short ride to the venue.   It is only there to help hold the tiers together for the ride and can give false hope that all is o.k.   The best hope for that is to drive carefully and on the slow side - no fast turn, sudden stops etc.   Know your road and traffic to advoid potholes and heavy traffic times.   Give yourself extra time delivering in case you do have to make any repairs but most likely you won't :)   

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kakeladi Posted 11 Jan 2019 , 12:40am
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......... You ask:  Do you suggest  stacking at home and driving with it or assembling at the venue? I can see the pros and cons of both.     ....... make a three tier practice cake and then donate to a local charity for peace of mind?

I would stack at home.  Doing it at the venue m,eans needing to lug all kinds of equipment with you and you can easily forget something :)   It never ever hurts to do a practice run and with your fears & ?s it would definately set your mind at ease!

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maria_stoff Posted 11 Jan 2019 , 8:49am
post #8 of 13

Hiya kakeladi,

Wonderful! Thanks for your advice :) Just out of curiosity what would putting a dowel in the centre do to the structure? I'm just wondering why some videos suggest putting one in the centre as well as around the edges to distribute the weight evenly across the dowels?

I think I'll stack at home and transport very carefully like you suggested and definitely considering a practice run for peace of mind. At least then I get to make a pretty cake of my own design and use it for my portfolio too :)

Maria x  

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Debbieshobby Posted 11 Jan 2019 , 10:33am
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Hi - I am in the UK too - you may be able to get SPS on Amazon

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kakeladi Posted 11 Jan 2019 , 9:29pm
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Using a center dowel through ALL the stacked tiers helps hold the tiers together - keeps them from slipping apart.   Using a center dowel through ALL the tiers all the way down through the base board is different than placing a support dowel in the center of each tier.   I have delivered 100s of stacked or praticially stacked wedding cakes w/o ever using a center dowel :)  But then, I also have used one many times also.    I don't remember how to explain the reason for not putting a support dowel in the center of one tier along w/others out to the edges.   I was explained to me yrs ago by an engineer and he said how it would cause more cake plates to crack.  ( Back then we used plastic separators plates w/pillars).   You actually get more support when the dowels are close to the edge of the tier it is holding up.  Example:bottom tier is 12" holding up a 9" which is holding up a 6" - each stacked one of top of the other.   For dowel placement mark an 8" circle on top of the 12" and place the dowels just inside that mark.  Then mark a 5" circle on top of the 9" and place a triangel of 3 dowels to hold up the 6"er.  I hope that helps everyone's understanding a bit better :)   BTW: I made my example circles/round tiers but the same can/should be done if the cake is any other shape

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maria_stoff Posted 11 Jan 2019 , 9:52pm
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Thank you so much for your explanation :) I’ll be sure to go by your example, thanks a million ! X 

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SandraSmiley Posted 12 Jan 2019 , 2:53am
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I have used central dowels for delivery when the cake was tall and slender.  You have enough difference in the size of your tiers to make a very stable cake.  For such a short drive, with this cake, I would not use a central dowel and would stack at home.  I always use a sturdy, cardboard box which is the width of my cake board so the cake cannot slide around inside.  If the box  is larger than the cake board, I cut pieces of cardboard to fit around the board to make it fit tightly.  Be sure to put a skid proof pad underneath the box when you place it in the car....on a flat surface, like the back of an SUV or the trunk of the car.

Oh, and the number one thing I have found to be most helpful, be sure the cake is well chilled.  I have been using Sedar Yenner's homemade cold box for deliveries, even in the winter.  It just makes me feel better.



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maria_stoff Posted 12 Jan 2019 , 8:56am
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Great tips, thank you Sandrasmiley! :-)

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