I have always been less than impressed by wedding cakes. My general feeling is that they can look cool but typically taste bad and … they can be wasteful. What do you do with all that excess cake? So how do you green a cake? Well here's the things you consider:
1) Do you want a cake or cake alternative?
2) What do you have it made out of?
3) What do you stand it on?
4) What do you decorate around it with?
5) What do you use for a cake topper (or not)?
Picture by Tom O' Neal
So this is what we came up with:
Instead of a traditional cake, we opted for paperless petit fours. Cakes can be wasteful because not everyone eats the cake. Although cupcakes are all the rage, I also wanted something different -a little more elegant. It was Jessica, at the Ventana Inn, that actually suggested the petit fours. They had made a petit four wedding cake before. I liked what I saw but, much like cupcakes, petit fours typically come in papers. To minimize waste, I requested paperless petit fours.
Why do ingredients matter? Well … if the cake doesn't taste good, there will be a lot of cake left over that you will not know what to do with. If it doesn't taste good, you can't pawn it off on people. The people that didn't want to eat it will definitely not want to be taking it home. You and your partner, can only eat so much cake so … make it taste good! Now honestly -who knows what everyone will like so … try your best. Our cake was white chocolate with lemon curd and buttercream frosting. The top piece was created for Ken and I and was actually more of a small cake than a giant petit four. We chose carrot cake for that part since we knew we would personally eat all of that.
Cake stands … we went for the cardboard cake stand. Many cake stands are made of plastic or acrylic, some are porcelain but … these options are expensive (even if buying used), I just think any type of plastic should be minimized, and I just didn't know where these items were being manufactured in the first place. You can buy cardboard cakes stands though from Cupcake Tree. They are only meant for cupcakes or petit fours. Although they are biodegradable and possibly recyclable, if not too badly soiled, I found that they are definitely on the one time use side. A side note about the cardboard cake stand: This was one of the most stressful pieces of our wedding. My mom hated it, and then I had several friends that seemed worried about it as well. I'm not going to lie, when you set it up all by itself, it's not attractive. However, you have to see beyond that and know that when you have cake on it, no one is really looking at the cake stand. Ken and I wanted to be punk and just go cardboard though. We felt like it best represented us. We did not want pieces of ribbon dressing it up. We wanted it as simply as possible, always keeping in mind about our waste -I personally don't know what to do about ribbon after the fact -I didn't want to deal with it, so I didn't use any. I was pleased when I actually saw our "cake" at our reception. New ideas with eco-friendly materials are tough for some people so if you have an vision, stick to your guns!
Picture by Tom O' Neal
What do you decorate around it? A lot of times, people use flowers as the extra decoration. As much as possible I wanted items that were used in my wedding to have a reuse purpose. If were were to cut flowers just for the cake, there was not going to be much use for them after so … I opted for soba "flowers" which are reusable. They are made out of natural tapioca wood and then shaped into flowers. I had bought mine from Save on Crafts, and I bought a few different styles. I bought and used ones that looked like roses, ones that looked like gardenias, and some that looked kind of like pine cones. Flowers are not necessary, depending on your wedding you can go with none, or you can do dried herbs, etc. The possibilities are endless -just look online to see what people are doing or hire a good wedding planner like Green With Envy.
Cake toppers … I guess the greenest option would be not to have one I considered this but then found that I actually had "traditional" leanings and wanted one. Again, waste was of prime concern. I did not want something that would have no purpose after the wedding, so I would definitely want it as a keepsake but not something bulky. I knew I didn't really want something mass produced so I called upon my friend, and local designer Amy Tan, to customize cake topper for us. She came up with an adorable illustration piece that she hand painted onto handmade, flower seeded paper. The illustration looked like Ken and I as I had sent her pictures of my dress and his tux in advance. We will be re-using our cake topper by including it in a shadow box that will house our wedding picture.
You can follow me on Twitter @GreenGeisha, or check out Green Wave http://www.InspiringWavesofChange.org