The bride may be at the center of her ceremony, but the undeniable star of the reception table is the wedding cake.
Today's cakes are anything but traditional. Couples want their cakes to reflect their unique personalities and relationship, says Rhonda Shinn of A Slice of Heaven, who has inscribed song lyrics and poetry on cakes for her brides. Tiers are circular or shaped like gift boxes, but unless they have heirloom pieces, today's brides opt for flowers and ribbons rather than the bride and groom figurines of yesteryear. Often, brides want more than one cake-at one local wedding, every table had its own cake, no cheap proposition at costs that can run to $10-$15 per slice.
Flavors have trends too: Stephane Cheramy, the Ritz-Carlton's award-winning pastry chef, says he's often asked for grand marnier and fresh strawberry toppings and fillings. Other chefs have baked island coconut, butter rum, pineapple nut, and amaretto cakes.
"Today's cakes taste as good as they look," Cheramy says.
Ron Zammit of Beautiful Cakes by Ron says he's in his bakery 12 hours a day during wedding season, baking, designing and creating exquisite edible flowers and trimmings. On the day of the ceremony, he's at the reception site bright and early to assemble the cake-one took four hours to assemble and fed 800 guests. But there's one thing he can't bear to do: take a knife to his creations.
"I never cut my cakes," Zammit says. "I always leave before that. I put a week of my life into this cake; I'm not slicing that!"