Cakes may have been an afterthought in weddings past, but these days couples are getting more adventurous in their dessert choices with showstopping icings, creative cream fillings and novelty accents.

Quintessential three-tier fondant cakes are still the norm, but cake designers are elevating their game to stay relevant and fend off competition from non-cake options, such as donuts and lemon bars.

“You have to get more creative in the wedding industry, because you can buy a great chocolate cake anywhere,” says associate planner Danae Johnsen.

A Little Glitter and Shine

Just as metallics are huge in interior décor and fashions, the sparkly hues are popular in wedding cakes whether the cakes are etched in gold leaf or are adorned in gold ribbons or completely enrobed in the shade.

Celebrity endorsement of the trend over the years hasn’t hurt. Deborah Lauren, owner and creative director of City Sweets & Confections, created the stunning five-tier, gold cake for the wedding of Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas. Jessica Simpson chose a cake burnished in gold fondant to complement the gold embroidery on her bridal gown for her wedding with Eric Johnson this past year.

“It’s a trend that’s not dying down,” says Lauren, noting that couples really enjoy the opulence of the look.

Dyed to Perfection

Ombre cakes are also taking a cue from fashion and hairstyles. The dye job on famous celebrity tresses from Kourtney Kardashian to Emma Stone has inspired cakes with colors bleeding into one another, often from light to dark. Pantone’s color of 2016 was rose quartz, making the pink hue a favorite for ombre cakes.

Rustic and Refined

Rustic cakes are a big trend as well, Lauren says. Couples appreciate the imperfect nature of the dessert, whether customers opt for the textured approach to the cake, creating a less-than-smooth finish, or birch tree bark designs.

The “naked” version, however, is the one that is burning up Pinterest. These unfrosted confections feature sumptuous fillings such as buttercream or mascarpone with berries or richer varieties filled with caramel and nuts. Model Chrissy Teigen and crooner John Legend opted for a bare, four-tiered, carrot cake layered with cream cheese icing for their Italian nuptials.“It’s like how grandma makes cakes,” Lauren says.

Sugary Accents

Cake accents are another way couples can showcase their creative bent. While real flowers are always an option to heap on a cake, edible ornamentation is a tasty alternative. Succulents spun of sugar are big at City Sweets, especially for outdoor weddings, while whimsical mushrooms and fiddleheads are in demand at Baked, according to co-owner Kristina Serfass.

If cake is only one of the desserts couples would like to have at their affair, they can opt for smaller cake bites as well. The one-by-one inch squares can help round out a dessert bar. “They’re a great alternative to cake pops and it’s a great way to have a lot of different flavors for your guests,” Serfass says.

Show-stopping Presentation

How you present the works of art is key. A number of brides are opting to display their cakes on tree stump pedestals for a simple touch while others are using glossy, metallic stands. Another trendy option is to create the illusion of a stand. At City Sweets, Lauren uses a Styrofoam base underneath a tablecloth to create a natural-looking elevation.

Photo by CLY Creation Photography

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