Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for The Essex Room, discusses the recent trend of brides and grooms forgoing the traditional wedding cake in favor of cupcakes and dessert bars, and why wedding cakes may now be making a comeback.20
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off-site catered events at the Essex room in Essex Massachusetts. Today we’re talking about, “Are wedding cakes making a comeback?”. Welcome Maureen.
Maureen Woodman: Hi John, thanks for having me.
John: Sure. Maureen, when did wedding cakes start going out of fashion and why?
Maureen: I would say probably 2013, 14, 15. In 2016, 2017, I saw them coming back a little bit, but there were about five years there that they were just having a declining trend for some reason. I really don’t know why. I don’t know if they were expensive; wedding cakes are costly, and maybe a lot of people wanted to give more variety to their guests instead of just one flavor cake. I really don’t know what happened.
John: What are some alternatives to wedding cakes that couples have been using if they didn’t choose a cake?
Maureen: One thing that really took over in those last five years were cupcakes. There were all kinds of cupcake trees, different flavored cupcakes, cartoon cupcakes. We did a wedding where they just loved Disney World and all the cupcakes’ frosting was all done in Disney characters. We did another one that was Bert and Ernie, that was their theme; they had all kinds of Sesame Street characters. It’s a funny take on it.
Right now with Valentine’s Day, the cupcake companies are out there. What they’re doing with the frosting is amazing. Georgetown Cupcake became really popular in that time. People were waiting outside in line for a quarter of a mile to get a cupcake. They weren’t regular cupcakes. These were cupcakes on steroids. They were double, two-fisted cupcakes.
John: Right, those gourmet ones where they’re stuffed with peanut butter and jelly, different things like that, really unusual ones.
Maureen: Yeah, and they were put on the birch logs, they were put in what they call cupcake trees, they were set on tiered cupcake tables so they actually looked like a high wedding cake; I would say that was the major one. Then a lot of people went to mini dessert bars where they would have cannolis and maybe chocolate eclairs, a lot of little Italian pastry. Another thing that became very popular for a while were s’mores bars. They were popular with on and off-site catering for weddings.
Maybe people want a little more interaction; at that same time a lot of stations were becoming interactive. People wanted their guests to actually do something at the wedding. I think the coffee bars became popular in that time too, where you were making the espressos and the cappuccino. There was just a lot more attention put on the dessert than just a traditional wedding cake being served or carried out in a cake box at the end of the wedding.
John: Okay, do you think that wedding cakes are making a comeback now and why do you think that is? You said in the last couple of years you’ve seen it more often.
Maureen: Right now for the 2018 trades, I’m seeing in the catering magazines as well as the wedding magazines and just reading all the articles, there’s been a lot going on with the wedding cake now. Different kinds of styles. The biggest one, of course, is the “naked cake” with no frosting. A lot of them have jam with whipped cream and fruit. One of the things I think that’s leading is the cake topper. People are putting their theme into their topper on their cake. It’s going along with part of the wedding. It’s not just your initials or Mr. and Mrs. or a traditional little bride and groom sitting on the top of the cake.
These things have something to do with you, a little bit more personal, in there. A lot of cakes are being made with whipped cream or the tres leches milk cake is really popular from the Mexican background. Even this year, 2018, I have a girl that requested a confetti cake, a Duncan Hines confetti cake. Now those were really popular back in the 80s. It’s just the cake that has all the different colors in the body of the cake; this is what she wants for her wedding cake. Maybe just a little more personalized or something going back to their childhood.
John: Do you think that people are just, like you said, they went to cupcakes for a little while or dessert bars and things like that because they wanted something a little more young, a little more fun and interactive than maybe what they viewed as being that traditional wedding cake that their parents or grandparents had, but now that there’s so many different options for different types of cakes, like the naked cakes you were talking about, or adding a little personal touch with the cake topper, that that’s what’s bringing people back?
Maureen: Yes, I think so, and the other thing, the gluten issue and celiac. That’s another thing. We have a lot of requests now for either a gluten free ceremony cake, where the ceremony cake is just for the bride and groom, cut, then you go into a dessert station; or an entire gluten free cake. That also seems to be running the show where probably 25% of my brides are showing up with some kind of gluten issue now.
That too has taken over to lead the way. I think now, over the last five years, you’ve seen tremendous strides in the gluten-free products. No longer do they taste like sawdust. They really have come a long way with all the different flours that are out there now.
John: All right, that’s great information, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Maureen: Thanks John. Thanks for having me.
John: For more information, you can visit the Essex Room website at essexroom.com or call 978-768-7335.