Wedding Cakes: A Sweet Primer from Three Gay Experts

Wedding Cakes: A Primer
Courtesy of Moya McAllister

We invited some of our favorite gay sweet tooths to offer their tips on one of the Big Day’s most anticipated—and dread-inducing—traditions: the cake. Below, sage advice from three dessert dynamos: Renato Poliafito of New York’s ultimate cake and cookie outpost, Baked; Bryan Petroff, one half of Big Gay Ice Cream, purveyors of our favorite soft serve; and Yigit Pura, winner of 2011’s Top Chef: Just Desserts and now the owner and executive chef behind Tout Sweet Pâtisserie in San Francisco.

Location, Location, Location

You likely wouldn’t be foolish enough to order an ice cream cake for a beach wedding, unless you have a portable freezer on hand, but whatever cake you’re considering, make sure it works with your location. “The dream location may be a logistical nightmare,” says Petroff. “Think these issues through or you’ll pay for it, one way or another, either in dollars or heartache.” 

Know Your Batter

“People often go for design rather than flavor,” says Pura. “When tasting cakes, ask your cake maker the hard questions: Do they use real butter and cream in their fillings?” Petroff agrees. “Do you want to spend $8 a slice to find out they’re using store-bought cake mix?” he says. “It happens.” 

Bigger Is Not Better

“By focusing only on height, you’ll end up ignoring an array of intriguing designs, plus all sorts of unconventional desserts that would make your wedding that much more memorable for guests,” says Petroff.

For Pura, simplicity is key. “It’s not uncommon for people to try to jam too many ideas on style, color, and flavor into one cake,” he says. “Sometimes less is more.”

It’s All About You

It’s your wedding, and it’s your cake. “Don’t worry about whether or not people like pistachio or pomegranate,” says Petroff.  “People will eat whatever sweet you put in front of them.” But if the cake is the only dessert you’re serving, says Poliafito, maybe plump for a crowd-pleaser. Just forget trying to accommodate everyone’s palate. “We live in a very finicky culture now,” adds Poliafito, “and I’ve seen couples brought to tears over something as simple as choosing a cake flavor.”

Don’t Get Trapped by Tradition

“A little pop of color in what may otherwise be a subtle and classical cake is a great way of putting one foot out of the box,” says Pura. “A few bursting bright peonies on a couple of the tiers can make all the difference.” Petroff suggests going for a small focal cake but playing up the desserts. “Choose something that has emotional significance to you,” he says. “What did you eat on your first date, or when you proposed?” Bonus: Guests will think you’ve really delivered. “If the tiered wedding cake is made smaller, you can splurge on other treats,” says Poliafito. “It creates the impression that you went all out when really you just spread your budget a little differently.” 

It’s Your Money—Spend It Wisely

“At Baked, we try to work with any budget we’re given, but don’t expect a wedding cake the size of a mountain with a $300 budget,” says Poliafito. 

One way to keep within budget is to work with a favorite restaurant or sweet shop and avoid the traditional cake decorator. “There’s a reason you love that ice cream shop or cupcake place,” says Petroff. “See if they can make a cake or cater a more unique, unexpected dessert.”

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