Desserts: Icing On Top

From classic buttercream to fine-art sugar flowers, four local bakers whip up festive and flavorful wedding cakes.

Photographs by Jessica White Photography | Decor and Prop Styling by Charming Details |
Wardrobe Styling by Tessa Woolf

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Berry Good

A trio of classic confections with a decadent touch sets the mood for sultry summer and fall receptions. “I love designing wedding cake displays as opposed to just one cake,” says Tauri Tucker of Pippa Cakery. “It’s an opportunity to make a statement with several mediums rather than trying to force everything on one cake. Done correctly, they can be quite the showstoppers!” Case in point: Tucker’s triple threat of chocolate and butter cakes dressed with fresh blackberries and coconut Swiss meringue buttercream.

If blackberries aren’t your thing or aren’t in season for your event, she suggests raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or stone fruits as fresh alternatives. Tucker says these cakes yield about 55–60 servings; her order minimum for wedding desserts is $400.

Rhinestone top and skirt by local designer Bree Lena (price varies based on services).

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SET THE SCENE “I love when couples choose multiple cakes; it allows me to create a visually stunning cake table,” says wedding designer and planner Emmily Jones of Charming Details. She styled this spread using beautiful nature-inspired blooms by Soil & Stem, textured linens from Silk & Willow, and an assortment of cake stands. To complement Tucker’s cake flavors, she mixed up a fruity blackberry cabernet cocktail.


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Sugar Rush

This creamy white-chocolate frosted confection by Annie Larrabee of Annie Bee Cakery may look like a classic wedding dessert on the outside, but it features a playful, modern twist on the inside. Slice into the thick layers of fluffy, moist white-chocolate cake to discover a cascade of glittering raw sugar. “The best part about this cake, and what sets it apart from more traditional cakes, is the surprise factor when you cut into it,” says Larrabee. “It’s fun to see the colored sugar spill out of the middle; no one will expect it, and it’s something that your guests will definitely remember!”

Larrabee hand-dyed this pink sugar and says a rainbow of hues are possible to complement big-day color palettes. These extra-tall slices can be divided in half to serve about 40–50 guests. Simple, two-tier buttercream cakes, like this one, start at $200 plus a delivery fee.

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TOP TIERS Jones is a big fan of nontraditional wedding sweets, from large dessert buffets to small, single cakes made for each dinner table (yes, she’s done that!). “Couples should never feel tied down to any tradition,” she notes. “Every detail of their wedding should reflect their unique personalities and tastes.” She paired Larrabee’s playful cake with an equally playful cocktail: cotton candy rose champagne with a warm gold-sugar rim.

Cake topper by local designer Alexis Mattox for BHLDN. Floral by Soil & Stem. Table linen from Silk & Willow. Stemware from West Elm. Narces silk and beaded gown ($398), Farasha Boutique.


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Floral Finery

Cassidy Budge of Flour & Flourish spent days crafting the delicate sugar flowers on this formal chocolate cake spiked with rich whiskey caramel buttercream (one of her favorite flavors). “Hours go into each flower; every petal is hand-sculpted and wired together,” explains Budge. “I always match the sugar flowers to the wedding flowers. It makes the cake feel like it belongs at the party.”

She drew inspiration from Soil & Stem’s lush floral arrangements when designing this batch of candy blooms. Because they’re handmade and time-intensive, Budge says sugar flowers cost more than fresh ones, but they’re a true work of art, and, if you want a nuptial keepsake, “they’ll last forever if you take care of them and don’t get them wet.” Pricing for this cake starts at $350.

Opera cakes by Flour & Flourish.

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FANCY THAT One of Jones’s favorite details from this photo shoot? “These incredible sugar flowers,” she says. Equally eye-catching: this glittering gold sweatshirt (comfort and style? Sign us up!) and frothy tulle skirt by local designer Bree Lena. Change into this cozy-chic ensemble to cut your cake and hit the dance floor. 

Sequin top and ballgown skirt by local designer Bree Lena ($925).


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Smooth Moves

Employing two popular cake-decorating techniques—metallic foil and hand painting—Hilary Cavanaugh of Rue de Lis handcrafted this pretty, mixed-media confection made of vanilla cake with brown-butter praline Italian buttercream layers. To get the look, she frosted the top tier with buttercream and coated it in a fine layer of genuine edible silver leaf. She then covered the tall bottom tier with fondant and used an edible paint to apply the colorful floral designs.

Cavanaugh notes that edible foils and hand painting can be costly, but here’s the silver lining: she says silver leaf is about half the price of gold, and there are a variety of ways to incorporate brush-stroke accents on your cake without breaking the bank. This confection costs $300–$375 and feeds about 60 guests.

SLICE IS RIGHT When to cut the cake? Jones recommends slicing into your confection following dinner and the last toast. “It prepares the guests for the next stage of the evening…the party!” she explains. “It also gives the bride a moment, while guests are eating dessert, to put on her dancing shoes and get refreshed for the first dance.” Cake cutting set from BHLDN. Narces silk and beaded gown ($398), Farasha Boutique.


Shot on location at The Loft Studio
Hair & Makeup: Flavia Carolina of Versa Artistry
Model: Levea Johnson / NIYA Model Management

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