A traditional wedding cake was frosted in white or ivory buttercream. The buttercream icing has a softer and more genuine look than the too-perfect look of perfectly smooth fondant. (I once attended a wedding where one of the young guests insisted that the cake was fake; he could not believe that fondant was edible and not plastic!) The look of buttercream frosting harkens back to the day when the families of the bride and groom did much of the cooking for the wedding celebration. Although I don’t necessarily recommend having your mom try to make your wedding cake, working with buttercream is something that a talented amateur could conceivably do.
Classic wedding cakes were generally round, and could either consist of stacked layers or tiers with risers in between. The risers got a bad name in the 1980s, as they were often really tacky plastic things made to look like fluted columns, or worse yet, bridges spanning from one tier of cake to another adjacent to it. Yet, pedestals can be used to in a good way to add height to a cake and to give it a lighter feeling. One very nice way to use risers without the tacky factor is to partially obscure them with flowers between the layers of the cake.
The decorations on your nostalgic cake are what will really give it a charming simplicity. White on white is best, perhaps with a touch of pale pink if you want a hint of color. Keep the design classic. You cannot go wrong with pretty decorations piped in white frosting. Wonderful choices include garlands, scrolls, and Swiss dots. The pearl is another lovely addition to a vintage inspired cake, as it really ties in with the classic bridal jewelry favored by brides throughout the ages. You can have a simple pearl border piped along the edge of each tier, which looks beautiful when the bride is wearing pearl bridal jewelry.
Another nice choice for cake decorations would be fresh flowers. They can be arranged in small clusters on the base of each tier, cascading down one side of the cake, or as filling between layers if your cake has risers. Ask your florist to bring some additional flowers to place around the base of the cake, as well as some petals to sprinkle on the cake table. Roses are a timeless flower to use; even more vintage would be orange blossoms. Choose cake flowers that tie in with your bouquets and centerpieces. One of the nice things about decorating your cake with real flowers is that it is considerably less expensive than having the baker create handmade sugar flowers.
A nostalgic wedding cake should definitely have a vintage cake topper. The best of all would be if the bride or groom’s parents saved their cake topper for you to use. Otherwise, look around at vintage stores and online for wedding cake toppers with a sentimental design. You cannot go wrong with an original bride and groom topper. Other popular choices from the past are wedding bells and doves.
Your wedding cake should be special, but it does not have to be cutting edge or extravagant. Create a cake with a nod to the past for a dessert that will have both beauty and simplicity. A nostalgic wedding cake is the perfect sweet ending to your special day.