It’s early April 2020 and we are all on lock-down/self-isolation. But it’s a glorious day outside, which got me thinking about having a wedding cake at an outdoor wedding.
In the UK you can’t, as things stand currently, have a fully outdoor wedding. There must be some kind of permanent structure, with a roof, that will hold at least the minimum 5 people needed to legally marry. This is why many wedding venues have pagodas etc in their grounds, usually open sided so that it’s as outdoors as possible.
Or you can do the legal marriage somewhere else. Then have a fully outdoor blessing, hand-fasting, or celebrant led ceremony.
However, I’m a wedding cake maker. And so my focus is going to be on the cakes with these kinds of weddings.
Can you even have a cake at an outdoor wedding?
Unless there is an extreme heatwave, then yes you can, with a few considerations.
Now I’m not going to say that you can’t have a certain kind of wedding cake if you are having an outdoor wedding. It’s your wedding, you can have exactly the cake you want! But there are types of wedding cakes that will work better than others.
Firstly I would avoid the fully naked wedding cakes.
These are the ones with no icing or buttercream at all on the outside, just the bare cake on show. This type of wedding cake dries out quit fast at the best of times, put it outside and it will dry out even faster. And no one wants a dry cake.
Semi naked wedding cakes will cope a little better, but not if it’s hot. Buttercream, of any type, wants to melt. It’s why I won’t set a cake up by a heater or open fire etc. Or directly in front of a window getting full sun. you’ll have a sticky mess in no time.
Plus it’s only buttercream on the outside, and buttercream can get sticky. If you’re wedding cake is set up outside then there will be dust, pollen, grass or even sand floating around. If this sticks to the buttercream, then you’re going to be eating more that just the cake.
Your best option is a fondant covered cake for an outdoor wedding.
Think of the fondant (sugar paste) as armour. It will be protecting the cake inside from the elements, and anything floating in the air. Once the cake is cut the fondant can be pulled off, and the cake inside will be perfectly okay. Of course you can eat the fondant too.
This is not to say you can set a fondant wedding cake up just anywhere outside.
The ground needs to be level. If it’s not, then the cake will look wonky. And you may have stability issues too. If the cake table is standing on uneven ground, then it’s going to be unstable too. The same goes for log slice cake stands. You’ve seen me mention them before. Make sure they are properly prepared and level or you’ll have a wonky looking cake.
The cake needs to be set up in the shade. Even with a fondant cake it will still need to be in the coolest place you can find. Fondant is sugar, and sugar doesn’t like heat. I always keep all wedding cakes as cool as I can before delivery, and will often travel with ice blocks in the car with them. Once it starts to warm up though, the cake will start to soften, the fillings will start to soften, and we need to avoid that for as long as possible. Even though the cakes will have their supporting dowels, this won’t guarantee that nothing will move if the cake gets too hot.
I hate wasps, and it’s mutual (is there actually any point to a wasp??).
A wasp sting will knock me off my feet for a good 24 hours. And wasps LOVE sweet things. Therefore they are going to love your wedding cake! I have seen a whole swarm of wasps on a cake before (not one of mine, but online) and it wasn’t nice. You certainly won’t be able, or want, to eat it after they have finished with it.
Again, a fondant covered cake will offer some protection. They will only be touching/attacking the outer covering, and not the cake itself. So if the worst happens you can pull the fondant off and the cake beneath will be fine.
It’s the same with flies.
Okay I know I sound like I’m raining on your parade, sorry about that. That’s not my intention. I want you parade to be as glorious as possible!
If you want to have the wedding cake outdoors, then I would recommend having it brought out just before you want to cut it. This way it is not out for too long. Discuss this with your cake maker, and make sure you have someone on hand to carry the cake out at the appropriate time who knows what they are doing.
The other option would be to have the cake table set up under semi cover. Which brings me to my next point.
It might rain.
Yep, it’s the UK. Rain is highly likely let’s face it. So having the cake set up outside will mean someone has got to try and quickly get a heavy wedding cake under cover, without dropping or damaging it! I certainly wouldn’t want to do that!
Some kind of semi cover is a good compromise. Maybe a small, open sided marquee or gazebo. Or if the venue has a summerhouse or covered patio, that would work well. Even under a large tree. Plus, there will be somewhere for everyone to shelter should the great British weather do its thing.
Here are my top tips for having a wedding cake outdoors.
1/ Have the cake in the coolest, and shadiest place you can find. In semi cover is best.
2/ Make sure the ground is level before setting the cake table up.
3/ Be aware of wasps, flies and general air borne dust and dirt.
4/ Have a fondant covered cake to help protect the actual cake underneath.
5/ If the venue has a room that looks out over the site of the wedding, where the cake can be set up, but everyone can still see it, that’s the best option of all.
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