Wedding season is approaching and with it, our email box is full of inquiries for wedding cakes. Yay! We love making wedding cakes and take our responsibility to create something beautiful and memorable for each client very seriously. This year, I’m noticing a trend. Its not new, but its definitely feeling like its picking up some steam lately. Several brides are asking for plain cakes that they say their florists will decorate with real flowers.
As a professional cake artist with 14 years of experience, I’ve learned many things over the years. I know that brides see photos all over Pinterest or other sites, read magazine articles featuring money saving tips that include the use of real flowers. Just because its printed by a magazine, doesn’t mean that they consulted experts to find out if these are good ideas or not. But I’m hear for you, and I know that sugar flowers are premium priced. I’d like to tell you why…
Wedding cakes are works of art. They are a unification of many of the details of the wedding day. They are a symbolic sweet bite shared by the couple, and they are a memory highlight of an amazing day. But they are also food. Unless organic flowers have been ordered, flowers are grown with pesticides. They are not intended for consumption, and so no one really worries about anything but keeping them beautiful, perfect, and insect bite free. And like with strawberries, the pesticides get absorbed into the flower. No amount of cold water washing is going to rinse it away. Its inside and out. And those pesticides should not ever be touching your cake, never mind having the stems that soak up all the nasty stuff, stabbed inside your beautiful cake and served to your friends and family.
Some flowers, like roses and pansies and lavender and marigolds are edible in themselves. This is good, so long as they are grown to be used as food. But there is a whole other category of flowers that just by themselves are toxic or even poisonous. Some of these include Ranunculus, Sweetpea, Calla Lily, Hyacinth, Oleander, Hydrangea and Lily of the Valley. And more… Some florists may go to lengths to wrap the stems, but this is also labor intensive and costly. And no amount of wrapping will make me feel comfortable that no toxic liquids are not seeping out and making guests ill. As the baker, that is my responsibility no matter who places the flowers on the cake.
Next are mites… little tiny bugs that can embed themselves in between the petals. Don’t want them on the cake or the plate either.
And finally, to look beautiful for the 4-5 hours your wedding cake sits out as centerpiece to your wedding, flowers need water. Water is the nemesis of cake. It can ruin a beautiful fondant application, drip down hand painting, and generally speaking just ruin a wedding cake. So you have limp flowers after 5 hours when it comes time to cut the cake and take pictures, or you have bulky water receptacles that create ugly holes in the cake and can ruin it.
This is exactly why the art of sugar flowers was developed. To have gorgeous life-like floral arrangements to beautify any wedding cake. And yes, sugar flowers can be costly. They are made by hand, petal by petal and pulled together with time and tape. They are fragile and delicate. And a showstopper. Sugar flowers are some of the highest level of skills a designer can have, and each adds their own signature to them.
I want each client to have a unique cake that represents them, and the creative use of sugar florals is one of the ways I can do this. And if you’re going to consider paying a florist for organic flowers, or to individually protect the cake from each stem, why not consider availing yourself of the talents of your designer of choice to create a truly unique wedding cake, inspired by you and created by the cake artist? If cost is the main consideration there are ways of featuring less flowers but in a dynamic way where the cake still has a lot of presence, even if its not drenched in flowers. Or we can work with other mediums to create unique florals that are not as time consuming and therefore more budget friendly. Promise, we can figure out a unique visual that will make your cake even more special because it was created with you in mind. And, if by chance you’re the kind of couple that likes to have keepsakes, if properly handled, your sugar flowers can last a lifetime. Can’t say that for real flowers.