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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 that your cake doesn’t look like an afterthought!

You’ve been looking online at wedding cakes, and chances are, there are so many options that you have no idea what you want. 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. Here are a few steps you can take to make your cake consultation a great experience.

While you’re looking at cakes online, try to focus on the different aspects of each wedding cake. What do you like? What don’t you like? And 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 isn’t much that they like about the design at all! Your designer can make every tier unique, so it’s okay to pick and choose what you like and want about individual cakes that you find in your search.

Before you meet with your designer, collect some fabric swatches for the linens that you are using at your reception. Specifically, bring a fabric swatch of the linen that you will use for your dessert table. It will help them to determine what colors will look good on your cake, as well as which ones to avoid.

Also, if you’re able to bring a swatch from your wedding gown, do! It allows your designer to include those unique patterns and design details into your cake to make it 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 look through thousands of colors and find a swatch with your reception’s exact colors. Grab a few paint swatches for your wedding designer, planner, florist, and, of course, 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 for 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’s also essential to keep your reception venue in mind so that the cake doesn’t look out of place on the dessert table. 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 going to look cohesive either.

Lastly, remember that you’re working with a designer. It’s their job to design! Bringing all of your materials and inspiration with you to your consultation is the best way to ensure that you’re happy with the final product. Just 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 too. Don’t suppress your inspiration by limiting yourself to specific 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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