Couples are striving to put their personal touch on everything having to do with their wedding — and this includes the cake. So much so that the age of the multi-tiered white wedding cake seems to be over, replaced with a wide array of sweet treats.
"Millennials are all about the new and the trends," said Karina DeJong, owner of Rosebud's Sweets and Treats, a home-based business in Raymond. "They want to create an experience for their guests."
Benson Bakery, which has been in business since 1933, used to create extravagant tiered wedding cakes, full of fondant flowers and iced string art.
"I did a six-tiered cake, it was the scariest cake I've ever done," said bakery manager and cake decorator Becky Halverson, who has worked at the bakery since the 1970s.
Today, couples are ordering smaller and simpler cakes, along with dozens of cupcakes, if they want cake at all.
"The cupcakes with a small centerpiece are our number one," Halverson said.
DeJong, who has owned her business for just over a year, specializes in cupcakes and has seen her wedding business soar over the past several months.
"Sixty to 70 percent of my business is weddings," said DeJong, who already has several weddings lined up for 2020.
Cupcakes are small and portable and are less formal than a traditional wedding cake. They also lend themselves to more unique flavor combinations. A couple can have several cupcake flavors, instead of being boxed into a couple of flavors in a cake. DeJong recommends her couples use no more than four flavors in their cupcake display, though she'll do up to six.
"They want to try out more fun and unique flavors," DeJong said. "They're personalizing it to show who they are as a couple."
At the Benson Bakery, popular flavors include carrot cake, red velvet and angel food.
"They're more adventurous," Halverson said of the wedding couples.
DeJong has been baking a lot of chocolate flavors including peanut butter cup, Oreo, monster cookie and even mint.
"I've noticed people gravitating toward flavors they've never tried," DeJong said.
Rustic and shabby chic wedding themes are still in vogue, and dessert decorations are following that trend. Decorations are more natural looking, like wildflowers and tree bark, and the decorations on cakes aren't over the top.
"It is a lot of silk flowers. They usually bring that stuff in for us," Halverson said. "A lot of cakes come off Pinterest."
The cupcakes might have a flower on the top or just a bit of sparkle.
"Right now its rustic and simple. The cupcakes are pretty simple too, just some glitter," said Tonya Johannessen-Fath, another cake decorator at Benson Bakery. "It is what they want."
One trend that continues to grow in popularity is the naked cake, where there is only a thin layer of frosting on the sides of the cake, allowing the actual cake to show through.
"They really like the look and feel of that," DeJong said. "It is fun and they can make it what they want."
For those couples who don't want cake, there are many, many more treats to choose from to sweeten up the reception. Benson Bakery has created everything from cheesecakes and pies to a donut wall, where the donuts were hung from pegs on a wall.
"We've done a lot of dessert bars," where couples choose several different types of bars for their reception, Halverson said. "One time I did a whole bunch of peanut squares. I had 10 to 15 dozen of them."
A unique dessert the Benson Bakery gets orders for is a kransekake, a Norwegian wedding cake. They're made of rings of a chewy almond cake, decorated with icing and other ornaments, including Norwegian flags.
"We have a lot of Norwegians around here," Halverson said.
Wedding orders can be time-consuming and stressful, but enjoyable too. DeJong said she doesn't like to start baking the base cake for her orders any more than two weeks out and frosting them only a few days before. Her largest order has been about 324 cupcakes; next summer she'll have an order of nearly 400.
"It is super crazy, but it is fun," DeJong said.
At the Benson Bakery, Halverson said she usually makes the cakes and cupcakes only a few days before the wedding, if not the day of. Delivery can sometimes be the most stressful part of wedding cake business. The time of the year can be an issue as well.
"Graduation is not a good time to do a wedding cake," Halverson said, due to the sheer amount of graduation party orders the bakery fills. Couples usually come to the bakery six to eight months before the big day, to begin the planning process for the dessert.
According to Halverson it has been years since she's created a multi-tiered wedding cake, complete with a bride and groom topper. One day she hopes they come back into style.
"They were a lot of fun," Halverson said.
Today's tastes, both aesthetically and literally, have changed and wedding desserts along with them. The dessert is just one more way a couple can show off their personalities, whether that takes the shape of an array of cupcakes or a snack bar with gummy worms and popcorn. Whatever the wedding couple wants, bakers like DeJong and Halverson will be on hand to work with them and create that special, never to forget, moment.
"It is a way to be unique," DeJong said. "I'm excited to see what people come up with next."