The cake is one of the central features of a wedding reception, and one which everyone looks forward to seeing on a couple’s big day, which is all the more reason to truly go all out with how it’s designed. And with so many ways to build and decorate your cake, from a single-tiered confection with fondant to a multi-tiered one covered in buttercream or ganache icing, you may feel like you’re spoiled for choice.
We’ve already explained how important wedding flowers are for a bridal bouquet, but have you ever thought of incorporating floral arrangements into how you decorate your wedding cake? Fresh flowers, for instance, can add colour and shape to your cake for a pretty low cost compared to other traditional decorations like sugar-paste flowers. Plus, they are naturally beautiful, and smell incredible even if they don’t last very long. However, not all flowers are a good idea, and while many different kinds are edible, others are definitely not aren’t safe to eat. Read on to learn all you need to know about decorating a wedding cake with flowers.
Fresh flowers are safe to use as cake decorations, as long as they come from a reputable organic source that hasn’t used any harmful chemicals to grow them. To ensure you don’t use potentially dangerous flowers, it’s safest to stick to edible flowers grown specifically for human consumption, with no toxic pesticides involved. Using inedible flowers, could cause a range of symptoms if touched or ingested. However, despite being labelled as edible, it’s normally only the petals which are safe to eat.
Flowers bought from a supermarket, garden centre or florist are to be avoided, as these have likely been sprayed with insecticides, herbicides and fungicides that aren’t safe to eat. Chemicals like these could make a flower poisonous, but flowers from these sources can still be placed on your cake if done strategically. If the baker thoroughly washes and dries them, they can be used for decoration only, and should be marked as such to your guests. The stems should also be wrapped in order to prevent any bitter tasting fluids from leaking into the cake — these aren’t poisonous, just not tasty to eat.
Most cake makers will use specifically designed holders to put flowers on your cake anyway. This minimises any risk and allows them to arrange blooms without impacting the cake. Same applies to well-trained florists – they will always make sure that flowers are not in direct contact with the cake.
Pansies, lavender, violas, roses, carnations, peonies, cornflowers and sunflowers are just some of the flowers that can safely be featured on your wedding cake. Roses are edible, and have a strong perfumed taste, as do cornflowers, which offer a sweet and spicy flavours similar to cloves. You can also use herbs like rosemary, thyme and chamomile.
Plants such as daffodils, baby’s breath and poppies are poisonous, and should not be used on your wedding cake, even if they aren’t consumed, as the sap and fine hair irritants can seep into the cake. For instance, every part of a daffodil contains a chemical called lycorine, which can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain if eaten. You should avoid using flowers such as lilies of the valley, poinsettias, azaleas, hyacinths and wisterias as these are toxic. The Royal Horticultural Society has a list of plants that are potentially harmful to humans.
Fresh flowers look beautiful on a cake for eight hours in a fridge, and remain fresh for a few hours outside of the refrigerator. Flowers will last longest if bakers have kept them in water until the last minute, and the cake is kept in the fridge at the same time. It’s worth bearing in mind that warm weather will quicken the wilting process so if you’re having a summer wedding, it’s best to bring the cake out just before you plan to cut it, instead of leaving it out in the sun all day.
Now that you know which flowers will be most suitable for your wedding cake, it’s time to explore the endless design possibilities. Flowers can be added to the top and the sides of the cake in a variety of styles — romantic blooms like roses and peonies will look elegant on top of your cake, while greenery such as amaranth look stunning on the sides.
One particularly popular trend is flowerfetti, where edible flower petals are scattered like confetti over the cake, providing a colourful way to add plenty of texture and flavour. You can also ask for petals to be mixed into the icing before decorating.
Flower stems can be inserted into the cake using straws, which will avoid ruining the appearance of the buttercream icing and the structure of the layers themselves, also allowing them to be more easily removed. If you don’t want your flowers to actually touch your cake at all, bakers can place a frosting-covered board on top, which you can adorn with flowers, and simply remove when it’s time to cut your cake.
A cascading effect can be designed onto a three-tied cake for a beautiful and glamorous-looking confection. These flowers are positioned down the sides in a cascading pattern, providing an elegant, feminine look which can be achieved using a range of different types of flowers. Garden, spray and Juliet roses are most frequently used, while passion flowers will also perfectly complement a cascading arrangement.