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Wedding Food Series: Cake and Dessert Options, Part 2

PC Pink Cake Box

PC Pink Cake Box

Continuing the previous post on cakes and dessert options for your wedding, let's get right into icings to be considered.

Icings

There are many different types of icings to choose from, depending on what texture and look you want for your cake. Different icings vary in how they taste, pair with cakes, and dry on cake. Here are descriptions of the most common icings you will find on cakes. 

Buttercream

Made of real butter, eggs, and sugar, this icing is smooth and dries soft and shiny. Keep in mind that buttercream needs to be refrigerated, and easily melts, as its base is butter. It is not the ideal icing for an outdoor wedding where it will sit in the sun, but is instead a good choice for an indoor event where it will more likely be in an air-conditioned place where the integrity of its shape will be maintained. It is an incredibly versatile frosting choice, as its flavor is easily paired with nearly any cake, and can itself be flavored with choices like almond or mint. 

Fondant

Fondant icing is poured over a cake as a liquid to coat and dry on small cakes, or is rolled into a sheet, and molded around larger cakes like a dough. It tastes similar to marshmallows, and holds up well in heat, as it is very thick, and dries hard and smooth. Because it is thick, it can be shaped into decorative items like flowers, leaves, and other fun cake toppers.

PC Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

PC Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

Marzipan

Marzipan is very sweet-tasting paste made from ground almonds and vanilla, which can be used similarly to fondant. 

Modelling Chocolate

Modelling chocolate be can white,milk or dark chocolate. It can also be applied like fondant, but is prone to melting in sensitive environments just as buttercream is. 

Royal Icing

This icing is made of eggs, icing sugar, and lemon juice. It's very sweet and hardens very quickly, but is a great choice for decorating with because it keeps it shape, and has a pretty, glossy look, like glass or porcelain. 

Meringue

Meringue is light and airy, with a mildly sweet taste. It dries hard, and holds up well in heat as long as it has time to set. It has a very mild taste that complements most cake flavors. It is also a good choice for decorating with.

PC Tiny Prints Blog

PC Tiny Prints Blog

Decorative Icing

Icing  is not just frosted. It can be piped in hundreds of different shapes to create beautifully elaborate or elegantly simple patterns on your cake, similarly to the cake in the picture above!

Other Decorative Options

Flowers

If using flowers on your cake, go for flowers that match the ones in the bridal bouquet, and--if possible--in colors that match the wedding colors. Ask your confectioner about edible flower options. Inedible flowers can also be used so long as they have not been sprayed with pesticides and are removed before serving. Obviously, silk flowers are also an option. 

Ribbons

Ribbons are often used to call attention to the layers on a tiered cake. They can be made from silk or created from icing options such as fondant. 

PC Lia Griffith

PC Lia Griffith

Toppers

Wedding cake toppers are best known as being a tiny replica of a bride and groom, but can also be 3D words sitting atop the cake, flowers, crystals, or nearly anything else!  Get creative! 

Other Cake Details To Be Aware Of

Signing the Contract

When you've decided on a confectioner and a cake option you like, it's time to sign the contract. Remember to read everything first before you sign it. Make sure what you're signing is what you agreed to when you talked to your confectioner! In the contract should be the following details... 

Pricing

The deposit and date the cake is to be paid for (often 50%), and when the remainder will be due should be laid out. Make sure this includes delivery fees and all rental costs (such as toppers, cake cutters, cake displays, etc).

PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

The Date the Cake will be Prepared

Sometimes cakes take multiple days to prepare! The start and end date of the cake's preparation should be included. 

Cake Transportation

It is usually the confectioner's job to transport the cake to the venue. Make sure the date of the reception, it's location address, and arrival time are listed. 

Ingredients

Make sure a list of cake ingredients is included, as well as a list of acceptable ingredient substitutions for ingredients that may become unavailable when the cake must be baked (I.E. seasonal fruits).

Description

A complete description of the cake, including the number of tiers and layers, flavors and fillings and icing, as well as its decor should be listed. Sometimes pictures can be included to ensure design accuracy. 

Saving The Top Cake

It is traditional for the bride and groom to freeze the top tier of their cake and eat it on their 1st wedding anniversary. If you are serving cupcakes but have a small cake for this purpose, it is customary to cut from that cake to feed each other a bite during the reception, but to then wrap the rest up for freezing. Ask your confectioner to help wrap it up to avoid freezer burn.

Other Dessert Options

PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Cupcakes

If you would prefer not to serve a wedding cake, you can choose cupcakes instead! A cupcake tree is a popular option, similar-looking to the picture above. 

Dessert Tables

If your not a cake fanatic, don't worry! Serving cake at your wedding isn't the only option at all. Pies are also good choices, as are chocolate fountains or s'mores. You can serve a candy bar or a build-your-own-sundae bar. Or, if you don't want to focus on anything specific, you can serve a dessert table filled with a variety of cookies, chocolates, cakes, pies, mouses, squares, the list goes on. Get creative!

PC Luxury Wedding

PC Luxury Wedding

As you can see, while the variety of cake options is huge, the dessert sky is the limit! Forget about tradition, if that's your only reason for choosing cake. Choose the dessert you like the best! What is most important for your wedding dessert is that you're happy with it. Choose the dessert that best suits who you and your fiance are! Your guests will be sure to love it.

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Wedding Food Series: Catering Details

This is not going to be the standard, "So you need to find a caterer within your price-range, taste the food, and viola! You've booked a caterer!" blog post. It is my desire to go deeper, and discuss the details that are often forgotten, overlooked, or mere afterthoughts in the realm of booking caterers. I'm not going to discuss the basics here, as there are plenty of other posts out there that go over those many details. 

Let's get right down to it!

PC Stonefire Grill

PC Stonefire Grill

Types of Catering

There are more than just Buffet and Plated food services to consider.

- Family Style Service is a great option for those concerned about guests waiting in long lines. It's a kind of happy medium between buffet and plated service. Rather than stand in line or wait for pre-plated meals to be served from the kitchen, platters of food are brought to and placed at the tables by servers and guests are able to dish their own plates. 

- French Style Service is another option, although much less common, because it requires a lot of staff. French Style has two servers per table plating food. One server holds the tray of food options, and the other dishes it onto each guest's plate before placing it on the table.

- Russian Style Service, also called White Glove Service, is the most formal service style. Servers in white gloves serve food items on plates already placed at the table, allowing guests to decline items they don't want. So fancy!

PC Free Hotel Management Training Blog

PC Free Hotel Management Training Blog

Pricing and Quality Considerations

Obviously, there's the general rule that "you get what you pay for" to keep in mind...especially with food! Beyond this, here are some more in-depth ideas to think about.

- Any kind of sit-down food service requires additional staffing, which can increase the bill exponentially! For every two tables of guests, one server should be there to accommodate them. Think about it as a restaurant set-up! Is it efficient for a restaurant accommodating your guest count to run on the same amount of staff as at your wedding? If you feel it’s not, then you should seriously consider adding more service staff to your catering contract.

- Unlike the myth, buffet is generally cheaper not because less food is served (based on the idea that guests decline the food they don't wish to eat) but because less service staff is needed. Buffets actually have to prepare MORE food than a plated meal might, because people serving themselves may choose more or less than a standard serving, and the caterer needs to ensure that every guest, served first or last, has every food option available. 

- Don't forget about tipping your caterer's service staff at the end of the event! Sometimes contracts include this already, but not 100% of the time. Service staff deserve to be tipped 10-15% of the total catering cost, just as waitstaff at restaurants expect tips. This tip will be split evenly between each staff member.

- Is your caterer licensed? Just because they have a website doesn't mean they're licensed to serve food. Most generally, are, but it's always smart to check. Ask to see a copy of of it. You want the food you're paying so much money for to be top-notch, so it's worth the effort to check.

- This is a more common money-saving tip, but it bears repeating. Choose seasonable produce to help control the ingredient costs. If you're having a wedding in the winter, don't choose summer fruits and veggies for the sides! This will be so much more expensive on the caterer's end, and he'd be foolish not to charge extra for it. Ask your caterer what seasonal sides he recommends serving.

PC Sweet Alexis Vegan and Allergy Friendly Bakery

PC Sweet Alexis Vegan and Allergy Friendly Bakery

Picky Eaters and Extra Meals

- As allergies and specific diets become more common, caterers are getting better about offering these specific accommodations. Take advantage of this to accommodate any friends with food allergies or preferences. Consider ordering some options for vegans and vegetarians, and serving some common allergy-friendly goodies, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or nut-free sides and desserts. Making a small sign out of card stock to indicate these allergy-friendly foods will be greatly appreciated, as those with allergies often will just skip over foods that commonly contain allergens. In addition, signs indicating foods that DO have these common allergens in them will also help prevent any guests with strong allergies from having reactions!

- Vendors working the wedding have to eat too! It is courtesy to feed your photographers, DJ's, coordinators, etc. at the reception if a meal is being served. Give your caterer the vendor count, letting him know that they are vendors, as they won't need all the fancy embellishments he may be planning for your guests.

- Sometimes extra guests who didn't RSVP (or +1's who weren't invited!) show up too! Have your caterer plan for around five extra meals for unexpected guests. It's worth it to be prepared. If in the end they go unneeded, you have extra food you can take home!

- Speaking of headcount, do keep in mind that your caterer will need the final headcount number about a week before the wedding. Plan to have your final RSVP count by this time.

Wait Time

Weddings are notorious for their long buffet lines...

- Setting up the buffet tables so guests can walk down both sides of them helps eliminate guest wait time.

- Setting up serving “stations” (i.e. multiple buffet tables) can also help the line go faster.

Other

Does your caterer offer more than just food?

- Ask your caterer if they provide rentals, such as chairs, tables, linens, tableware, etc. to consolidate vendors. Often, adding extra services to a package with a vendor you're already working with will be cheaper than adding an extra vendor to your team.  

- Does the caterer also make cakes or bar tend? This can make the menu more cohesive, eliminate additional staff, and consolidate your vendor team. 

- Remember to get as many details included in your catering contract as possible. Some good details to have on the contract (in addition to standard items, such as menu, pricing, etc.) are the caterer's arrival, set up, dinner, and tear-down times, server-to-guest ratio, and any fees, such as overtime, delivery, cake cutting, and corkage fees.

PC Grace For Dover

PC Grace For Dover

Whew! That was a lot of information! Feeling overwhelmed? Don't be! If you find the right caterer, they will walk you through the process and make your wedding food experience amazing. Questions? Feel free to ask down below.

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