While planning a wedding can be stressful, there are some sweet spots in the process, including tasting the cake! From extravagant ballroom affairs to intimate farmhouse settings, each happy couple envisions how their special day should look (and taste). With such an important role, wedding cake creators do not take their duties lightly; each cake must be a dream come true.
So how do brides and grooms choose the right bakery, flavor, and frosting? Go behind the scenes as these owners share their experiences in the industry, offer advice, and let everyone in on the current trends regarding their decadent tiered towers.
Sugar Bee Sweets | Arlington
Heidi J. Allison is the CEO and Owner of Sugar Bee Sweets in Arlington. Heidi started in the wedding cake business in 2008 and opened a brick-and-mortar storefront in 2010. She credits the growth to happy customers sharing their experiences. “Our business has mainly grown from word-of-mouth referrals!”
When it comes to current trends, Heidi sees marbled cakes and non-traditional silhouettes, playing with tier sizes and symmetry. “We are obsessed with quality, attention to detail, and personalized service,” she says. Creativity abounds at Sugar Bee Sweets, as Heidi and her team create cake flavors like Island Spice and Cinnamon Roll. “Over the past few years we’ve also designed a variety of dessert bars for our clients to enjoy; these are a fun new addition to weddings that guests are swooning over!”
Heidi explains the process of a typical cake tasting at Sugar Bee Sweets: The couple and two of their friends or trusted family members schedule an appointment with us to come in and sample eight different flavors of our cake. We always include four of our most popular flavors and then a various assortment from our menu for the other four.” Heidi’s “crowd pleasers” include combinations such as vanilla cake with a blackberry and cream cheese filling, chocolate cake with a caramel buttercream and toffee filling, and lemon cake with blueberry filling. Following the samples, Heidi goes “straight into their inspiration for design,” sketching out all the details. Next, they provide the couple with a full quote, so they can decide.
In terms of choosing a cake, Heidi advises selecting a vendor who makes you feel comfortable. “If you’re comfortable with them, it means they aren’t outside of your project and that they understand what you’d like.” Heidi explains that a vendor should understand the vision and produce a superior product, but budget is still important. “You don’t want to have regrets, either way, wishing you had splurged and gone with someone better or wishing that you hadn’t spent quite so much on another vendor.” She emphasizes that planning the wedding cake should be fun!
Wedding Cakes by Tammy Allen | Houston
Known for her creations across the Houston metroplex, Tammy Allen is a veteran in the wedding cake business. She has rendered her sweet services to brides and grooms for over two decades. Couples usually order each of their cakes from the same place, according to Allen. “You come in and taste some amazing cake flavors,” Tammy says. “Then we discuss your vision, we sketch it out for you, we agree to the design, and then we discuss pricing.” If someone in the decision-making party is unavailable, “we send them a to-go package.”
Tammy encourages her clients to “experience something different; think outside your comfort zone.” In line with that philosophy, one of her most popular flavors is incredibly unique: Texas Melon Cake, featuring a cream cheese filling and buttercream frosting. “We love it when someone says ‘Melon cake?’ and then [admits] it is the best cake flavor ever!” Other favorites include a twist on a traditional white cake, with a strawberry lemonade filling and buttercream frosting, or the Chocolate Hennessy. Thinking outside the (cake) box can also impact the design. Tammy says that she is seeing a trend in couples requesting semi-naked cakes, matte black cakes, and cakes brushed with gold dust. These cakes truly make a statement to both the eyes and taste buds!
“Another thing that sets us apart is that we limit the number of wedding cakes we produce each week,” she says. Tammy explains that as a specialty wedding cake boutique, they are not a bakery with a variety of items; they focus on gorgeous, delicious cakes for special occasions. Tammy advises, “Set a realistic budget for your wedding cakes and understand that [they] take a great deal of time to produce.”
Marquette’s Cake Studio | Odessa
Susan Harvell has evolved from sculpting small, two-tiered cakes to extravagant, eight-tier designs. She sees a new trend of thinking beyond cake and creating a table full of sweet, decadent offerings. “I now offer custom catered dessert tables, with a variety of decorative sweet treats,” Susan says. “This serves as a beautiful display and is conveniently designed for individual portions.” Another unique offering on Susan’s menu is Tipsy Cakes, infused with various spirits and offered in fun flavors!
For those who still want to cut a traditional cake, never fear. Some of Susan’s most popular flavors are standards such as red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, Italian cream cake with cream cheese frosting, and chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. “I also custom create my own specialty flavors,” Susan shared. I have options ranging from rich dark chocolate to cotton candy, and I am always looking for new ideas. If a bride or groom has a vision or particular desire for the taste of their cakes, I love to explore those ideas and create a special flavor specially designed for them.” Susan said she sees a trend of couples creatively using colors such as navy blue, rose gold, and emerald green.
When narrowing it down to “the one,” Susan suggests that if the couple wants to get creative, they keep part of the cake traditional. For instance, a traditional vanilla cake could have an unusual filling. Some of her unique flavors include Neapolitan, Cheesecake, Cookies N Cream, Rocky Road, and Root Beer Float.
One of Susan’s primary tips to couples is to enjoy the experience together. “Come and enjoy the tasting and share your visions with me as a couple, and simply enjoy the planning of your special day,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes. The more insight you have, the more pleased you will be with your choices.”
For those looking to celebrate any special occasion, think outside the typical cake pan and try something new and exciting. Schedule a tasting to select the perfect dessert for the big day. Just make sure to keep an open mind and an open mouth!