To Cake, or Not to Cake, or to Cupcake — THAT Is the Question

Hi there everybody!

It’s a busy day so I’m going to pop this blog up bright and early.  I have to bug out of here in just a minute to meet Corinne and PJ at the demographic office so we can get their marriage license.  Then I have to run over to Punta Martineau, the villa where Alexis and Matt are getting married on Saturday, to do a quickie wedding rehearsal with them before their pig roast on Sun Bay this afternoon.  Like I said in the beginning, it’s a busy day.  Anyway, I’m writing about wedding cake today because lately, at least with my clients, it’s been a bit of a “done” thing.  It seems like my 2010 and 2011 weddings are featuring more and more cupcakes and dessert bars and fewer of the traditional wedding cakes.  That’s no reflection on the pastry chefs here on Vieques — we have some FABULOUS cake ladies — but brides follow the trends being shown in Martha Stewart Weddings and Modern Bride.  And for the past year or so, the magazines have been featuring lots of different ways to do fantastic desserts at your wedding reception.

The history of the wedding cake is varied and interesting.  In Roman times, the groom smashed the bride over the head with a barley cake to seal the deal.  No, I’m not kidding.  In medieval England, the wedding couple would share a kiss over some truly disgusting buns or pie (think sweetbreads) to ensure wealth and success.  Once refined sugar became readily available, wedding cakes became something that actually tasted good — and the white frosting was meant to symbolize the bride’s virginity.   There’s a lot more very interesting history to wedding cakes, but I’ll leave you to read up on that yourselves.  What I think is funny is that there are so many superstitious traditions tied up in the wedding cake.

For example, it’s bad luck for a bride to bake her own wedding cake.  Tasting the cake before the big day is also big trouble and could result in the loss of love from your spouse.  Every guest must eat at least a bit of cake to ensure good fertility for the couple.  Single ladies must take a slice home to put under their pillow to bring them luck in love.  Ridiculous stuff.  But then again, is it?  You know me.  I’m superstitious.

The modern wedding cake has become something that has everything to do with the wedding decor and nothing whatsoever to do with the success or general happiness of the couple.  Some brides are worried about how the cake looks, some brides are more worried about how the cake tastes.  Some brides and grooms don’t like wedding cake at all.  And that’s how we move into discussing cupcakes and dessert stations.

Cupcakes got popular a few years ago and they’re hanging strong, buoyed by the lavish displays of the little treats in so many glossy magazines.  Mini cupcakes are the new rage — easier to pop more than one in your mouth and not feel guilty about it, I think.  I’ve been taking fewer cupcake orders for 2011, but I’m doing far more dessert stations than ever before.  Anyway, cupcakes have gotten more popular as a dessert in general, so it really does make sense that they’re experiencing popularity at weddings too.  Lots of brides who want to serve cupcakes still want to have a cake to cut, so we usually top the cake stand with a small round cutting cake.  Or for the more adventurous, we have a giant cupcake cutting cake.  Basically, it looks like the biggest cupcake in the entire world and makes for some really cute pictures.

Some couple want to have a dessert station in lieu of (or in addition to) their wedding cake.  We’ve done huge buffet tables brimming with champagne flutes of chocolate mousse, little ramekins of creme brulee, mini cheesecake cupcakes, butter cookies filled with passion fruit, and shot glasses of mango sorbet.  OMG I get cravings just thinking about those dessert stations — absolutely to die for.  But not traditional.  Unless you’re also doing a small cutting cake, the dessert station eradicates that portion of the ceremonial reception and instead, dessert is simply served an hour after dinner with no surrounding fanfare.  I suppose if you were desperate for the photo op you cold exchange bites of chocolate mousse or something like that, but I’ve learned that for the most part, the clients who don’t want a wedding cake don’t want to make a fuss about dessert in general.

Finally, an old British tradition that has made a comeback in recent years is the groom’s cake.  In olden days, it was served in a “to go” box and sent home with the guests.  Some folks still do that, but nowadays more people actually eat some of the groom’s cake at the actual reception.  It’s a flavor alternative to whatever the regular wedding cake is — a lot of the time the groom’s cake is chocolate.  Bill and I had a Krispy Kreme donut groom’s cake, made out of 150 Krispy Kreme donuts, at our wedding reception back in DC.  It was made by a little lady named Liz in the Richmond, Virginia, Krispy Kreme store and my girlfriend Liz Miles and her husband Jason brought it up from Richmond for us the day of the reception.  It made sense becauase Bill was a police captain.  We got a hilarious picture of the police chief absconding with an entire plate of donuts from the cake.

Anyway, the point of this blog is to tell you that it is absolutely okay to do whatever floats your boat for dessert at your wedding reception.  You can serve cake or dessert.  You can serve cake AND dessert.  You can make a big spectacle of the whole scene, or you can simply have the dessert station open whenever it’s ready to go.  It’s YOUR party.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques!  I get to eat wedding cake twice this weekend — how jealous are you?


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