Cheap 'n' Quirky Wedding

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The Top Layer August 7, 2011

Not everyone is aware of this, but it’s traditional to save the top layer of your wedding cake for your first anniversary. This tradition started back when it was also traditional for the top layer of your cake to be fruitcake. Yeah, fruitcake. Like the one your great-aunt sends you at Christmas and no one eats. While I don’t eat much fruitcake, I assume that one can spend a year in the freezer without it’s flavor or consistency changing much. But what about a marble cake with ganache filling and buttercream icing? How would that survive a year in the freezer?

There are sites with instructions on how to freeze the top layer of your cake. These instructions include tightly wrapping the cake in multiple layers of different wrapping materials. While these methods probably help preserve the cake a lot, I’m also sure the cake would be a little bit “off” by the time you try to eat it.

Our cutting cake and cupcakes.

At our wedding, we had cupcakes with a small cutting cake. As would be expected, we cut pieces out of the cutting cake to feed each other. Unfortunately, our venue was a bit too eager to clean everything up and they threw out all cupcakes that weren’t eaten within the first 10 minutes after they were put out. Many people who got up to dance and expected to eat their cupcake on their return to their table were greeted with an empty space. In fact, the only cake my husband and I got to eat all day was the tiny slivers we fed each other. While the venue threw out tons and tons and tons of our cupcakes, they at least saved our cutting cake (presumably so we could freeze it.) After all that wedding planning, I was really excited for the cake and I wanted to eat it now, not in a year. As soon as we got back from our honeymoon and picked up the leftover cake from my in-laws, we ate it. It was delicious even at a week old, but already starting to taste it’s age. I knew there was no way to successfully wrap it: with pieces missing, it had plenty of surface area to get hard, crusty, and freezer-burned. There was no saving it so we ate the whole thing over a few days. Plus our freezer space is at a premium, we just lacked the room.

Fear not, if you’re not saving your top tier for a whole year, there are ways that you can still partake in this tradition. Friends of ours ate their top layer on their six-month anniversary so that it didn’t have as long a time to deteriorate in the freezer. If you’re doing cupcakes for your cake, maybe save a couple in the freezer in case not every one is perfectly preserved. My plan is to go back to the same bakery that made our cake, order the same type of cake (though in the smallest size possible since there’s just two of us) and eat that on our first anniversary. We get the memories of our wedding and a fresh cake, it’s a win-win.

I’m curious, has anyone successfully frozen, defrosted, and eaten their wedding cake? What are you planning on doing? Remember, you deserve good cake, so make sure that you do something that will have delicious results.


A Camera-less Post about Cupcake August 2, 2010

My camera just stopped working a little over a week ago so I haven’t been able to take photos of my wedding crafts. Let me assure you, there’s been a lot, all involving ribbon. My new camera is supposed to arrive today so look out for new posts including lots of photos in the near future.

In the mean time, I’ll tell you about my cake. We wanted (well, more like I wanted) to serve cupcakes in place of a wedding cake. There’s no worry about slicing it, plating it is simple, and they look adorable. One of the biggest perks that we found when looking into cupcakes was the cost. Traditional cakes seem to run about $3-4.50 per person, whereas cupcakes are usually about $1-2 each. We went with a marble cupcake with chocolate ganache filling for $1.50 each.

Another surprise I found was that there weren’t significant savings at the grocery store bakery. The first place we tried was an upscale grocery store. They didn’t ask us anything about the wedding, they had very few flavor options, a big delivery charge, no cake stands (which would have meant we’d have to buy one,) the portion sizes were either huge or tiny (nothing in between,) and the prices were rather high. I definitely didn’t feel like we were in the right place while we were talking to the woman there.

We tried out an independent bakery and knew right away that it was the right place. As soon as we said we were looking for a wedding cake, the woman asked us pertinent questions and was able to make recommendations. Their cupcakes were a decent size and there were plenty of flavor possibilities. On top of that, the delivery charge is only $10 and they’ll provide a cupcake stand to borrow free of charge. This all adds up to big savings for us, a minimum of $120 actually.

We’re also getting an 8″ cutting cake in the same flavor; it’s a compromise because my future MIL isn’t a fan of the cupcake idea, plus we’ll have space for the homemade topper from a past blog entry and we can get some nice cake-cutting photos. That cake with ganache filling only costs $20. Our quote (for 120 cupcakes, more than we’ll need) came to $210. I was expecting cakes to run closer to $400 so I’m very pleased with this.

Moral of the story is to shop around. Explain what you want, listen to what they can do, get a quote, and choose the bakery you feel confident with. Also, don’t feel that you have to have a traditional cake. Untraditional cakes are cheaper and will be a bigger surprise to the guests. You can make a big visual impact without paying hundreds of dollars for glue-flavored fondant. Also, I’ve got to give a big shout-out to Vesta Bakery. The staff there is amazing, their work is delicious, and I am sooo glad that they are making our wedding cupcakes.


Move over, Cake Boss April 30, 2010

Michaels is supposed to be a happy place where you’re capable of doing any craft and you can buy the materials for them with your handy coupons. When I went there to buy my Wilton Classic Wonder Mold, the cashier looked at it, looked at me, and asked, “have you ever made one of these before? They’re supposed to be really hard.” Thanks for your confidence in me, Michaels cashier.

I get that working with fondant would require a lot more skills than I possess, so I didn’t mess with it. I did my practice cake on the weekend and I’d like the Michaels cashier to take a look at this:

My practice Barbie bride cake

Not bad for my first try, plus I made it myself with a little help from my old friend, Betty Crocker. I used the Betty Crocker Cherry Chip cake mix (the little pink dots inside are so cute) to keep it easy. When I poured the batter into the pan I was very concerned that there wouldn’t be enough, but it does rise. I followed the directions that came with the pan and it turned out perfectly (except it required a knife and some prodding to get the cake out of the pan.) Since I wasn’t going to mess with fondant, I knew icing for a top wouldn’t fly, so I sewed one quickly out of a few layers of tulle. It doesn’t have to be super-sturdy, it won’t be handled much, but it does have to have some tapering because that doll pick has a SUPER skinny waist. I also made a little veil that I sort of sewed into her hair. You’ve got to be very careful with that, pulling too much of her hair in one direction can create a bald spot.

Close up of the Barbie bride practice cake

For the icing on the cake, I used Betty Crocker Whipped Cream Cheese icing (I didn’t know Betty made cream cheese icing!) I went with whipped so that it’d be easier to deal with on the cake, and cream cheese to balance out the sweetness of the cherry cake plus the off-white colour matched the off-white tulle I had sitting at home (and my own ivory dress, actually.) It will never spread completely perfectly and smoothly, but I think that gives it a cute, homemade appeal. It’s not like my loved ones don’t know I’m not a professional cake-icer.

So my icing job isn't perfect, wanna fight about it?

Anyway, I’m pleased and I’m ready to make this for the engagement party. Trust me, if I can make this, you can too. Disregard whatever the Michaels cashier may tell you, you can do this.


My Childhood Dream Cake April 18, 2010

Filed under: cake,diy,events — clln @ 1:07 am
Tags: , , , , ,

My childhood dream cake

What little girl didn’t want to eat a cake-flavored dress as a child? I sure did, and I was always so jealous of my friend down the street whose mom would produce the most amazing birthday cake with a Barbie in or on it each year. My mom always said no. She got excited when they came out with a cake mix that could be made in the microwave (I don’t think I have to tell you, but it was bad.) So I’ve spent the last twenty-odd years wanting one of these cakes made to look like a Barbie’s skirt.

I figured since I’m getting married, I could finally justify a doll cake decorated as a bride. I want cupcakes for the reception and I don’t expect to have control over a bridal shower, so I took matters into my own hands and bought one for the belated engagement party I’ve decided to throw for us so that my side of the family can meet my fiancé. (Side note: We had an engagement party thrown for us by my fiancé’s parents and I got a chance to meet friends and family on his side, but we haven’t done the same here. My parents aren’t big on entertaining, so it’s become clear that I have to throw my own the next time fiancé comes up here. The plus side is that I can have control over my cake!)

I went out on one of my many trips to Michaels and got the Wilton Classic Wonder Mold on sale, of course. I don’t do fondant, so I know I’ll never achieve the insane decorating levels I’ve seen on the internet, but I think I’ll do a practice run with a heck of a lot of buttercream icing and see what happens. No matter what, I get cake. Plus, I like to think my friends and family like me enough to put up with a ghetto-looking homemade bride cake. I have visions of it being ghetto in a cute way, but it could turn out ghetto in an ugly way. I’ll have to keep you posted on how it turns out, sorry to leave you in such suspense. I know you’re practically jumping off of your desk chair in anticipation. Me too. Well, more in excitement over all of the practice cake I’ll get to eat. Plus I’m excited that I can arrange the desserts like this so it looks like the doll is commanding a sugary army:

Barbie commands her cupcake army

Wish me luck!


Registry Ideas April 2, 2010

Filed under: cake,love nest,registry — clln @ 3:55 am

So the fiancé and I started an online registry at Crate & Barrel that we’re super excited about, but I just discovered Fishs Eddy. So awesome! Very unique and/or vintage-looking glassware, dinnerware, serveware, etc. They’ve got a gift registry, but I guess my aunties might be a little shocked if I registered for some Strip Tea glasses… I think a few unique pieces from here could really complement the basics we’ve already registered for at other stores. Just think of what a conversation-starter this cat pitcher would be at future dinner parties you throw as a married couple in your love nest:

Cat pitcher from Fishs Eddy

Very classy cake stands going on. They’d make a great display for the cupcakes at the reception or a bunch of small cakes; perhaps the venue would even present a dessert table on them. Alas, I am too cheap to pay that much per stand for multiple stands. I’m sure a similar look could be achieved with some tough antique shopping… Well, this is if the cupcake bouquets don’t work out. Of course, we’d have some awesome cake stands for our house afterwards….


Cutest Cake Topper Ever March 28, 2010

Filed under: cake,crafts,diy,just plain cute — clln @ 2:21 am

As personalized, homemade, and fitting as our Habbo caketoppers are, I feel like these sock monkeys totally blew ours out of the water. Adorable! Props to Yota and Joe and their wedding on Once Wed. Not only did they make them themselves, the monkey bride’s dress is an exact, tiny replica of the human bride’s. Too cute!

It totally wouldn’t fit with anything else at our wedding, but I’d really love to stick sock monkeys everywhere. Amazing.


Cupcakes Just Got Cuter March 25, 2010

I love cupcakes. So does everyone else, apparently, they’re super trendy. I just found a way to display then that’s still original, adorable, and matches really well with the bunches of carnations I fell in love with (and documented in a previous post.) Feast your eyes on the cupcake bouquet:

Holy cow, how cute is the cupcake bouquet?

I just found Little Cakes, the makers of these cute little bouquets and the source of the photos. If my wedding was anywhere near Gaithersburg, MD, I would definitely look into getting them to make my cake. Alas, I just learned by wedding will be over 6 hours away from there (I Google-mapped it, just to be sure that I couldn’t have them.) Disappointing! They can even make a giant cupcake Cosmpolitan. Here, look at them all and drool. I think it might be worth a try to take a photo into a local bakery and see what they say about their ability to make such an arrangement.

Perhaps a couple of those bunches in white flower pots around a small cutting cake with our lopsided Fimo cake toppers… yes, I have the vision in my head. The cuteness of cupcakes, the ease of single serving sizes (no cutting!), the originality of any presentation other than the usual tiers of cupcakes made to look like a cake… yes, many are the perks. I just have a bad feeling that if it’s not executed well, it could end up on Cake Wrecks. It’s a constant fear of mine. Well, for now it’s a definite option.

Have you found any cupcake display options you love? I’m always up for looking at photos of cupcakes… I mean, doing research. It sounds better when I put it that way. Leave me some cupcake research links and photos in the comments section!


DIY Cake Toppers March 11, 2010

Filed under: cake,crafts — clln @ 4:46 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Like many couples, my fiancé and I met online. It wasn’t on a dating site  or even one of these new-fangled social networking sites.  We met on Habbo Hotel. You make a cute little avatar, you walk around the hotel, you meet other little avatars, and you chat in little speech bubbles. It was eight years ago, we were young. We even got Habbo-married. 

We wouldn't want to easily identified on the internet, our Habbos went undercover with mustaches.


As a result, Habbo holds a special place in our hearts and we’d like to incorporate it into the wedding somehow. My fiancé suggested a cake shaped like the hotel. As this blog’s title would suggest, I’m cheap. I’m not paying for a cake that looks like that; for starters, I’m not a fan of fondant. Plus I think it would be challenging to cut… So my fiancé suggested a cake with a photo on it, like from Sam’s Club’s bakery.  OK, that’s a bit too cheap and any still off of Habbo will be pixelated (see above.) I love the idea of cupcakes at weddings. They’re adorable, no one has to stand around and cut them, they’re easy to take along if the guests are too full to eat it there, and if a child (or drunk person) decides to dip a finger into the icing, they only ruin one cupcake and not the entire cake. It happened at my aunt’s wedding, it’s been a fear of mine ever since. We can do a small cake to act as a cutting cake/top tier (depending on how we decide to arrange the cupcakes) which can take cake toppers.

That’s it: cake toppers! That’s how we’re incorporating Habbo Hotel into our wedding. Of course, no one sells custom Habbo cake toppers, so we made some out of Sculpey III. I say “we,” but it was my fiancé’s idea and he made his and I made mine. I’m not the only crafty one in this couple. So here, enjoy photos of our craftiness.

My fiancé's cake topper's head. I got myself a crafty man.

Yes, my topper's head looks like a balding man now, but just wait for the finished product.


Basically we used small styrofoam balls in the heads to keep them spherical and two in each torso to keep the weight down (we don’t want them too be too heavy on the cake.) We also used toothpicks to keep all of the styrofoam balls where we needed them to be or to hold them one on top of the other in the torso. In the bottom of the bride’s dress, I used some crumpled up tin foil to fill it out, save clay, and cut down on the weight. Here are the finished products:

Well, the bride is accidentally tall and busty, but hey, I can't complain that I'm fabulous.

By the way, the groom did have a very spherical head before having to attach that hat. The hat was tough, but my fiancé’s Habbo always wore one so it had to be there. 

Hopefully they look bobbaing awesome on the cake! I would definitely recommend trying to make your own clay toppers. They’re cute, not too tough once you get the technique down (we didn’t even have a practice run), and they add a very personal touch. Have you seen some of those cheesy toppers people are falling for now? Plus these aren’t too pricey if you get your clay on sale. Hello, Michaels coupons!