The wedding cake is more than just eye candy or a tool for slapstick humour; it sweetens up the big day. Traditionally, a three-tiered affair, the cake features prominently as a centrepiece at the wedding banquet, which is never over until the bride and groom have cut into it and fed a piece to each other.
For couples and guests, the cutting of the cake is a highlight of any wedding and provides happy memories in the album.
'I think couples [in Hong Kong] realise that wedding cakes are really an integral part of wedding receptions,' says Jennifer Cheung, owner of patisserie Sift Desserts. She agrees that the wedding cake is the perfect way to wrap up any wedding celebration, but also says that its design plays a bit part.
'The design of the wedding cake also adds to the general aesthetic of the entire occasion,' Cheung says.
It used to be that the cake was for decorative purposes only. Couples soon realised there was no point in having a cake that couldn't be eaten. There has been a recent shift from inedible wedding cakes to mouthwatering ones, as evident from the many speciality cake shops sprouting up across Hong Kong.
'It has always been a bizarre idea to me to have a wedding cake that is not edible,' Cheung says. 'Cakes, like anything sweet, are the perfect way to round out a dinner celebration. I can't imagine a wedding celebration without finishing off with a perfect slice of wedding cake or a wedding cupcake.'
For couples looking for alternatives to classic wedding cakes, Cheung suggests wedding cupcake towers. 'They make distribution easy and couples can always order a variety of flavours so that guests can choose what they like,' she says.
Just like choosing that special someone to spend the rest of your life with, Cheung's advice for couples looking for their impeccable wedding cake is to figure out what you like and follow your heart.
She says: 'The wedding cake is always perfect if it is a representation of the couple. When it comes to design, choose something that matches your theme and aesthetic. Last but not least, taste is always the most important factor, so choose something that you love to eat.'
Sarah Lee, founder of dessert shop Sweet Secrets, thinks local couples are influenced by the Western culture of wedding cakes.
'In Western weddings, it has been said that guests would remember two things: how gorgeous the bride's dress was and the wedding cake,' she says. 'More than 10 years ago, our wedding clients were mostly Western couples or cross-culture couples. These days, we see a lot of local couples asking for speciality wedding cakes as it becomes more of a norm to have one that suits the style of the couple's well-planned party.'
Lee believes clients are embracing the possibilities of diversity when it comes to wedding cakes. 'Clients are more open
to non-conventional designs and cake structure. It may not just be neatly stacked cakes; it can be fun, funky, topsy-turvy or a cupcake tower. There used to be more cream-based designs, but now most are finished with fondant as it offers more design versatility,' she says.
Sweet Secrets creates a wedding cake by inviting couples to a consultation where they get to know their needs, style, party agenda and preference for flavours. 'It is important to design a cake that reflects the couple's style and to serve a cake that everyone will enjoy eating. It is beyond having a gorgeous-looking cake,' Lee says.
Katherine Jay, confectionary artist for custom-designed cakes and confectionery shop Antique Patisserie, thinks couples' desire for a memorable wedding experience is reflected in their careful choice of wedding cake.
'The wedding cake can now be a decorative edible piece of art, which can also be a centrepiece in the wedding banquet,' she says.
The reign of the huge wedding cake is over, according to Jay. 'Many couples want a uniquely designed cake to create a memorable experience for their friends and family that non-edible cakes will not be able to provide. Just like many couples are looking for small unique weddings,' she says.
Jay suggests couples set a theme for their wedding before they search for their wedding cake. 'The wedding cake is just like the wedding dress - there are lots of different styles. Other than the theme, the budget is also very important,' she says.
The most memorable wedding cake Jay did was a cake the groom ordered to pleasantly surprise the bride on their big day. '
The cake was all covered with the bride's favourite flower, the rose. All roses were handmade, edible sugar roses,' she says.
Just like any edible wedding cake, it ensured sweet memories.