How sweet it is: Five cakes we love

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Photos (from left) Jillian Michelle, Paris Levinovitz and Meredith Sledge Photos (from left) Jillian Michelle, Paris Levinovitz and Meredith Sledge

Among the many details you’ll have to decide on when it comes to your wedding day, there’s one important one that should never be overlooked: cake! From bold color to deceptively simple, here are a few local choices we’re digging (into).

Go big (above, left) This eight-tier from Maliha Creations featured vanilla butter cake with a strawberry jam schmear with vanilla buttercream and lemon cake with two layers of raspberry buttercream and one layer of lemon curd. “I’m guessing it was 3.5′ tall,” says chief baking officer Anita Gupta.

Bold choice (above, center) Inspired by the work of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, this black cake interplays darkness and light. “A black cake makes a lot of impact,” says creator Paris Levinovitz. “It’s very unexpected, but still seems classic.”

Simple pleasures (above, right) Sometimes, it’s what’s inside that counts: An unfettered design—two layers painted with gold—lets the honey lavender and champagne flavors in this understated design from Arley Cakes shine. A cake topper found on Etsy (a phrase the couple often says to one another and included in their wedding vows) completes the look.

Photos: Tom Daly (left), Gayle Driver (right)
Photos: Tom Daly (left), Gayle Driver (right)

Glam touches (above, left) Chocolate stout cake made with Starr Hill beer layered with chocolate ganache; almond cake with almond cream filling; white cake with blackberry filling—all that beneath a swirled vanilla buttercream icing with gum paste laurel leaves painted with edible gold luster dust in this Favorite Cakes creation. “We wanted it to be simple yet pop off the black table cover,” says cake designer Kathy Watkins. “The edible pearls added a nice touch of elegance without pushing it too far.”

So fly (above, right) Fondant birds and a gum paste flower adorn this glitter-and-gold confection from Passion Flower Cakes. “It’s a really romantic little cake,” says owner Paris Levinovitz.

Layer over layer

Some couples know that dessert needs to be a highlight of their wedding, for other couples it’s more like icing on the, well, you know. No matter how you slice it, you should be sure to budget for your wedding cake.

“There are so many variables involved in pricing a wedding cake—from the number of servings to the final details, which also include delivery and setup. For a 100-person wedding, a couple should expect to pay a minimum of $500 from a boutique cakery,” says Anita Gupta, chief baking officer at Maliha Creations in Charlottesville.

Most wedding cakes are priced by the slice, with a minimum cost that can go up depending on the design. Fondant, specialty flavors and unique shapes are more expensive than buttercream frosting, vanilla and traditional square or round tiers.

Rustic designs like textured buttercream or semi-naked cakes are both popular with brides and easy on the budget. “Not only is it more affordable to keep designs simple, but it also allows the flavors to take center stage,” says Arley Arrington, owner of Arley Cakes.

Final advice: Start working with your baker early to determine your design and budget sweet spot.—Whitney Ayres Kenerly

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