When your guests arrive at the reception, they’re looking at two things: the bride and the cake. You’ve put in the work to look like a million bucks on your wedding day, so make sure your cake doesn’t look like an afterthought.

You’ve been looking online at cake after cake and chances are, there are so many options that you have no idea what you want for your own. That’s okay! If you go into your cake consultation with an exact plan for what you want, you’ll miss out on the fun and ultimately the benefit and full experience of working with a designer. That being said, there are a few steps you can take to make your cake consultation easier for everyone.

While you’re looking at cakes online, try to focus on the different aspects that you like about each. Think about this question: “If I remove the colors from this cake, what do I still like about it?” You just opened yourself up to tons of style inspiration! You’d be surprised by how many couples go to their cake consultation with photos of their “dream cake,” only to realize that there really isn’t much that they like about the design at all. Your designer will be able to make every tier unique, so it’s okay to pick and choose what you like about individual cakes you find in your search.

Before you meet with your designer, collect some fabric swatches for the linens that will be used at your reception. Specifically take any linen that you’ll have on your dessert table. This will help them know what colors will look good on your cake, as well as which ones to avoid.

If you’re able, also bring a swatch from your wedding gown. This will allow your designer to include those patterns and design details to make your cake even more “you.”

Another thing you can do to help your cake designer is this: Visit your local hardware store’s paint department. There, you can literally look through thousands of colors and find a swatch with the exact ones you’d like to style your reception. Grab a few of these for your wedding designer, planner and definitely one for your cake designer.

In addition to swatches, consider bringing paper items such as your invitation and save the date, menu and name cards. If you have images of the flowers you’ll have in your bouquet and centerpieces, those can also help your designer know what recommendations to make when you design your cake together. It’s okay to draw inspiration from the cakes you see online, but also allow your designer to match your cake to the design choices you have already made for your wedding.

It is also important to remember the venue where the reception will be held, so that the cake doesn’t look out of place on the desserts table. Basically, if you’re hosting your reception in a barn, you likely don’t want a glittery cake with tons of bling. At the same time, if you’re having your reception in an opulent ballroom, a rustic cake with stucco icing and twig layers probably isn’t cohesive to your overall design either.

Lastly, remember that you’re working with a designer. This should go without saying, but we still feel the need to remind you—it’s their job to DESIGN. Bringing all of your materials and inspiration are the best way to make sure that you’re happy with the final product but remember to trust what your designer says, as well as their professional judgment. Designers typically do their best work when given creative freedom. They do this for a living, and know what design, size, and flavor elements will please a crowd.

While this is your wedding cake, do your best to remember that you want to make your guests happy with a sweet treat to finish dinner so take into consideration what typically pleases the masses.

When it comes to designing your cake, remember to have some fun. Don’t let your inspiration be suppressed by limiting yourself to certain colors or themes. Your wedding cake can be whatever you want it to be and above all else, your cake designer wants you to be happy. Bringing them a plethora of design options will help both you and your designer come to the most stunningly unique wedding cake that you possibly can.

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