Do You Have to Have a Traditional Wedding Cake Topper?

Get the etiquette right when all eyes are on your luscious buttercream masterpiece.

vintage bride and groom cake topper
Photo: Graham Pollack

After the bride, the star of every wedding is the cake. The delicate sugar flowers, the towering tiers, the gorgeous coloring all add up to one striking confection that guests look forward to viewing and eating. But one thing they won't see at many weddings these days is a traditional bride and groom cake topper.

For decades it was trendy to position plastic miniatures of a generic newly married couple on the top tier of a wedding cake, depicting the lovebirds dancing, holding hands, or sometimes simply looking straight ahead (perhaps into their future?). Though it was expected, the mini marrieds never lost their appeal. Years later, even before the customizing craze took over weddings, clever twosomes were having the bride and groom created to resemble themselves. Then they started to favor other toppers. Here's where big-day cake toppers stand today.

Skip the iconic one.

If the plastic bride and groom figurines don't feel right, you don't have to put them on your cake. As with all the other wedding traditions, adopt the ones that you like and leave the rest behind.

Make it your own.

There's a wide variety of choices when it comes to today's wedding cake toppers. Choose one that's more suited to you and the groom, your theme, the season, your hobbies, or another detail of your wedding. We've seen lots of personalized toppers including monograms, crowns, quotes, birds, fans, and small trophies.

Go for nothing.

Many wedding cakes leave the top tier bare, which goes well with today's minimalist designs.

Pick some flowers.

Flowers made from sugar or buttercream often act as a cake topper, since they echo the blooms on the rest of the cake. If you use fresh flowers instead, be careful: While no one should attempt to eat the real blooms, play it safe and avoid varieties known to be toxic, including hyacinth and Calla lilies.

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