The Secrets To Fresh Flowers For Your Wedding Cake

Decorating your wedding cake with real flowers can offer an understated and chic alternative that brings a modern touch to the grand finale.

Beautiful and delicate edible flowers crafted from pliable sugary gum paste dough are fabulous to behold, but expensive. Real flowers, on the other hand, are less expensive to decorate with and can trim your wedding budget, while still looking luxurious. But they do come with some limitations. If you love the look or need to shave costs and are considering using fresh flowers on your wedding cake, here are the facts you need to consider.

Know what's edible

There are some blooms that are safe to adorn your cake with. Nasturtium, a type of watercress, is the edible kind. The Amazon Jewel and Whirlybird blossoms come in an array of cheery red, orange and yellow. If you're looking for blooms in a different palette consider pansies, roses or marigolds.

Unlike sugar flowers, some real blooms can be beautiful, but deadly if ingested. "Don't use flowers that have a poisonous trace like lily of the valley, daffodils or even calla lilies," advises Liz Shim, owner of New York City-based Eat Cake Be Merry. Beware of oleander and poppy, as these are also potentially deadly if ingested.

Luckily, not all gorgeous blooms fit for your wedding cake are bad for your health. "As a precaution, ask for certified organic flowers that have not come in contact with toxic pesticides." Orchids, for example, are often heavily treated to protect them from insects, so they may not be the safest to place on food.

Be Aware of Scent and Taste

Another guideline to work with when selecting your blooms is considering their aroma. Stay away from flowers with a strong odor. "The scent leaches into the cake. And trust me, it will smell better than it will taste," says Cecile Gady, former owner of Cakework in San Francisco, who started out using fresh flowers in her designs 26 years ago. 

"In any case, make sure your baker places the flowers in plastic spikes specifically designed to be inserted into cakes. This will help prevent any of the water in the stems from leaking into the cake and leaving a bitter taste," recommends Shim.

Go for One Impactful Bloom

A new trend in decorating wedding cakes, says Deborah Lauren of City Sweets, is skipping the bouquet of flora and going for one grand blossom instead. "I love the huge boule de neige from France," says Lauren. "The bloom comes up to 10 inches in diameter and makes such an dramatic statement."

--Erinn Bucklan

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