Wedding Cake 101: Answers to our most frequently asked questions
23 Feb 2016

Wedding Cake 101: Answers to our most frequently asked questions


This week I’m going to cover some of the more frequently asked questions we get about booking wedding cakes. We often have brides and grooms coming in with very specific ideas, some of which are not always possible, so I figured it would make sense to clarify some of the stickier issues that crop up during ordering. Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, as I will advise of alternatives along the way to help you get as close to your dream cake as possible.


I really love the bright white buttercream cakes I’ve seen on Pinterest. Can you make one for me?

Ah, buttercream cakes, so elegant, yet rustic, all at the same time. I too love the bright white, almost meringue-esque coating that adorns so many of my favourite Pinterest and Instagram pics. The problem with this however, is most of these pictures come from the USA, where frosting is often bought in from a manufacturer, or is made using sugar, vegetable fat, and butter flavouring. I have never been keen on offering the latter, as we have never used artificial flavouring in any of our products. As for buying it in, I will admit, I have had samples from numerous manufacturers, all of which have been more of a cream colour (albeit, not as creamy as regular buttercream, but not white either). There is a whitener available that can be added to buttercream, but this does start to split after so much is added, and the buttercream starts to take on more of a grainy texture (not at all attractive). So what are the alternatives? Well there is always the old faithful, royal icing. Before you get images of spikey, royal iced wedding cakes from the 1980’s please do not worry, royal icing is highly versatile and can be spread on a cake in the exact same manner as buttercream. Also, it is brilliant white without adding any artificial nonsense. If royal icing isn’t your thing and you do have your heart set on frosting, then check out the lighting at your venue: if it isn’t in direct sunlight, then it’s highly likely it will look fairly white anyway.


I’m after cupcakes with navy frosting to match my colour scheme. Is this do-able?

This is a very similar issue to that of above: many of the images we find online of these vibrant, deep coloured cupcakes come from America, where there is a far wider range of colours available. The EU placed a ban on many colours here in the UK a few years ago due to e-number fears, which meant that many of the stronger colourings we used to use are no longer available. I can only found one manufacturer who imports the stronger colours into the UK, and even then, they are labeled as “competition use only” (which means we cannot sell them as part of a product deemed for consumption). There are a few colours we can still achieve such as deep purple, but this requires adding a lot of colouring and, as with the whitener, can often cause the buttercream to split. If you want to add colour to your wedding cupcakes, we can do so with coloured cupcake cases, ribbon and decorations, all of which will look stunning and will eradicate the risk of your favourite niece coming in for a cuddle with blue buttercream coated hands whilst you’re wearing the most expensive dress you’ve ever owned! The range of cupcake decorations is endless, and as everything we make here is bespoke, you can still have a bright, vibrant cupcake display without using coloured cream.

I want a fruit cake as part of my wedding cake but don’t need too much- can I have it as my top tier?

I love a good fruit cake, but I understand that most people only have them nowadays because Grandma will clout them on the head with her handbag if they don’t have one as part of their wedding cake. The thing is, technically, a fruit cake can be used as the top tier, but it is risky. We use dowels in every cake to stop them collapsing in to each other, so a well dowelled cake will hold a fruit cake on top. However, there is a slight possibility (only very slight), that the fruit cake will cause compression that won’t break the cake or cause it to collapse, but could cause the tiers underneath to bulge slightly. Ok, admittedly, if this happened then your guests most likely will not notice, but I’m a perfectionist, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to any of my customers. I appreciate that having fruit as a bottom tier will probably be too for many customers, so the best alternative is to have a separate fruit cake instead: we can make fruit cakes in any sizes, which can be left in the kitchen of your venue and brought out in slices when the rest of the cake is cut up. No one will ever have to know….

I need my entire cake to be gluten free/sugar free. Can you do this for me?

Absolutely! We make plenty of gluten free and diabetic cakes every year. However, we don’t recommend you have them for your entire cake, and here’s why: not everyone is going to like it. Yes, I know, this is your day, and I totally agree that it should be about you as a couple and you should have whatever you choose. But please keep in mind that, sadly, gluten/sugar free cakes do not taste the same as our regular recipe and, whilst they are still delicious, they will not taste like the cakes most of your guests are already accustomed to. Don’t get me wrong, our cakes taste fabulous, so it may all get gobbled up anyway, but I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it would be to spend so much money on a cake only to find a fair bit uneaten at the end of the night. So what are the alternatives? Well, firstly, you could limit just one or two tiers to gluten/sugar free. All of our cakes are iced individually and have a board underneath which separates them from the other cakes and avoids cross contamination. If you don’t want/need that much,  we can make some beautiful, individually iced mini gluten/sugar free cakes that will match your wedding cake and will be boxed up with a big bow on top so anyone with special dietary needs will not be left out. This is the most popular option with our customers at present and means there is absolutely no risk of cross contamination at all.

I only want a simple wedding cake, why are they so expensive?

The reason wedding/celebration cakes are so pricey is because you are buying both a product and a service: We not only bake the cakes from scratch, but we also then have to fill, coat, and dowel them, before spending many hours/days decorating them to your specification. If we were simply buying a product in for resale, then our costs would be a lot lower as we would only be adding a small profit margin on top. However, we have to account for material, ingredients, time for decorating and time for consultations, delivery and set up. Here at Vanilla Nova, and pretty much every cake decorator I know, we do this job because we genuinely love making people happy and being creative. As a result, I can’t remember the last time we actually billed a customer for the full amount of time/costs it took us to make their cake! As such, I can guarantee you that when we provide you with a quote for your wedding cake, it really will be a genuine, fair amount. Also, we never add on a premium for weddings (what a ridiculous thing to do!) so you can be rest assured that you will get great value and that we genuinely do care about you having the best wedding day possible.

If you have any other cake queries you want answering then don’t be shy, drop us an email at and we’ll get back to you with all the information you need. I’m sorry if this post has been a bit of a killjoy, but I really do want every brides cake to be perfect, and grainy white icing or blue/green buttercream that is meant to be navy just doesn’t cut it. Trust me, if the EU has a change of heart and allows us to start using industrial strength whiteners and the fabulous neon colours available in the US then I’ll be all over it like a seagull on chips (this is a seaside town, we get a lot of that), but until that day comes, we will work with you to come up with alternatives that are equally fabulous and perfect for your wedding.

Have a great week!








Vanilla Nova

From Southport.