If you have been looking through inspiration images or following ‘trend’ reports you will probably have noticed the rise of hand-painted wedding cakes. In truth this decorating technique has been around for many years now, but it’s only recently had the attention and spotlight it deserves. So what exactly does it mean, why has it suddenly become such a popular choice, and how can you choose a style that suits you as a couple? Well, hopefully, this article can help go some way to informing and inspiring you on the topic.
What Is a ‘Hand-Painted’ Wedding Cake?
There are quite a few different techniques out there when it comes to hand-painting cakes. These range from traditional disciplines that have stood the test of time, to more recent revelations that have taken the cake industry by storm. Most methods (if not all) involve mixing edible food colouring with another edible medium to create a paint, and then painting a design onto an iced cake using a paintbrush. In principle this probably sounds quite obvious and simple, and to a certain extent it is. However, just as an artist who paints on canvas can take years to master their own method and skill, so too can a cake designer.
Two very popular hand-painting choices with professional cake designers are vodka (or sometimes boiled water) to create a watercolour effect, and cocoa butter to create a more solid effect. Both of these methods allow talented cake decorators to create works of art that wouldn’t look out of place in a gallery.
Another method I’m seeing increasing respect and appreciation for is creating more textured and almost three dimensional ‘paint’. Using mediums like butter-icing or royal icing as a base, the food colouring mixture becomes thicker. When applied to a cake it creates a tactile appearance, much like that of an oil painting.
There are so many potential variations within these concepts. Every cake designer will have their own preferred food colourings, bases, and techniques, each creating an ever so slightly (or sometimes drastically different) end result.
Why Are Hand-Painted Wedding Cakes So Popular?
Just as shifts occur in society and culture, from time to time we start to see shifts within the wedding industry. More couples are looking to introduce their own style and personality into their special day, by either adding their own twist to more traditional concepts or forgetting ‘rules’ altogether.
With the diversity available from the many different painting techniques, hand-painted wedding cakes offer couples the chance to really express their personality and style through their choice of design… literally making their mark on their wedding.
Unlike other ‘trends’ which rely on what’s popular in the moment, and can quickly date or become boring, the techniques of hand-painting are ever-changing and updating within the hands of the cake designers who practice the skill. The popularity of hand-painted wedding cakes is therefore less about the concept itself and more about the refreshingly broad spectrum of design options it opens up.
From the simple to the splendid, from delicate florals to bold patterns, and from a small accent to an entire masterpiece, hand-painted details or designs can add that extra special dimension to your wedding cake.
How Can You Choose a Hand-Painted Wedding Cake That Suits You As a Couple?
I always feel a couple should take their biggest inspiration for their wedding designs and concepts from themselves. You, both as individuals and a couple, have your own personality that is unique to you. No one else will have exactly the same style, likes or story. By focusing on what you both enjoy and reflects you as a couple, your wedding can become a true celebration of what makes you special, and something both you and your guests will remember forever.
When choosing your wedding cake the most important thing is to find a cake designer who really ‘gets you’. Someone who understands your style and resonates with you. If you are a romantic couple with a more refined style, then choosing a cake designer who specialises in striking and showstopper wedding cakes probably isn’t the best fit. Likewise, if you are a very expressive and flamboyant couple, then choosing a cake designer who creates beautiful and subtle designs is unlikely to result in the cake you’ve always hoped for.
The diverse nature of hand-painted wedding cakes means there is likely to be a style, and cake designer, out there for everyone. If you have set your heart on a hand-painted wedding cake, try not to focus too much on which method you think you prefer. Instead, find a cake designer whose previous work you like or, ideally, love.
Just because the ‘watercolour’ style painted cake images you have found all feel right for your wedding, doesn’t mean there is a local cake designer who can create the same effect (even if they also use a watercolour method). So, browse through photos of potential cake designers’ past creations and look for elements that fit with your personality and style, regardless of technique.
Unless you are choosing an off-the-shelf design, finding just one cake you adore from a designer and expecting to either receive a replica or similar feel for your cake is risky. You need to find a cake designer whose work you respect as a whole, and who you can trust will create a design that’s right for you.
Hand-painting on wedding cakes is such a wonderful decorating technique, and with so many variations and possibilities I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg. However, I hope I’ve helped answer some of your questions and given you lots of inspiration with the gorgeous photos.
Guest post by Kerri Channell of Brambleolai
White and Blue Floral Cake (1) and Deep Blue Cake (8): Zaza Marcelle
Carrot and Beetroot Cake (3) and Scenic Cake (11): Brambleolai
English Garden Cake (4) and Bold Brushstrokes Cake (7): The Sugared Saffron Cake Studio
Watercolour Floral Cake (6) and Watercolour Deer Cake (9): Nevie-Pie Cakes