Choosing a wedding cake can be one of the most fun things that you do as you plan your wedding. There are a variety of decisions you have to make: What flavor of cake would you like? How should the cake be decorated? How extravagant do you want to be?

What flavor wedding cake would you like?

Wedding cakes were traditionally vanilla or white cakes. However, in recent years, there has been a trend towards choosing a wedding cake of a more unusual flavor. Current favorites include hazelnut, raspberry almond, carrot cake, banana cake, and a variety of flavors that incorporate fresh fruits. One advantage to of many these flavors is that they are likely to create a moister wedding cake. The traditional plain cake often tends to be too dry.

You may consider asking a family member to bake and decorate your wedding cake, but for the sake of your sanity — and theirs — it is highly recommended that you use a bakery. If you order your cake with enough notice, they may be able to recreate a favorite family recipe, or a traditional recipe that has been handed down from your grandparents. They’ll also be able to tell you whether such a recipe can be successfully multiplied for large cakes such as wedding cakes.

Would you prefer a traditional or a contemporary wedding cake?

Wedding cakes traditionally have three layers; are covered in hard white frosting; and have a small plastic model of a bride and groom on top. A cake of this sort, decorated by an expert cake designer, can look very beautiful. However, more cutting-edge brides have been choosing a wedding cake that is more unusual, in colors that range from one end of the rainbow to the other. One logical choice is to match the color of your cake to the theme of your wedding. Although cakes are traditionally either round or square, many other shapes are also possible, and an asymmetrical design can look very elegant.

How to choose a wedding cake designer

The best way to choose a designer for your wedding cake is of course through personal recommendations. If you have friends who have got married recently were particularly pleased with their wedding cakes, those designers would be a good place to start. Perhaps you have a favorite local bakery, where you buy muffins each week for breakfast on a Sunday morning. Do they also design wedding cakes?

Once you have a short list of designers — perhaps three — make appointments to meet with each of them and to taste samples of their wedding cakes. Most designers are happy either to design a cake exclusively for you, or to recreate a cake that you have admired. If you have already begun to think about the design of your wedding cake, and you have pictures of cakes that you particularly like, be sure to take them with you.

How big is your budget?

Wedding cakes can be surprisingly expensive, with prices ranging from $3-$15 per portion. There are ways that you can economize on your wedding cake. One of the most effective is to choose a wedding cake that is smaller than you will need and to supplement that with a sheet cake of the same flavor and design. Not only is this likely to be cheaper, but it may also be easier for your caterer to serve desert quickly and efficiently after the cake cutting ceremony.

The best wedding cake designers are often booked months in advance. If possible, you should start your planning as much as nine months before the wedding, and order the wedding cake you choose at least six months in advance.