A Baker Outlines the Pros and Cons of Using Either Fresh or Sugar Flowers to Decorate Your Wedding Cake

Learn how to decide which type of flower will work best on your cake.

White wedding cake flowers
Photo: Natalie Watson Photography

Adding flowers to a wedding cake is a popular, beautiful way to take a big-day dessert to the next level. Generally, these details are either fresh flowers provided by your florist or lifelike creations handmade by your baker. If your baker is designing the adornments, they will usually go with sugar flowers, which are generally made from sugar paste—an edible (and delicious) compound—which can be molded into a variety of shapes. If you have decided to go with the natural option, your florist will provide a selection of food-safe florals that match the rest of your wedding décor.

So, how do you decide which type of flower you prefer to use when it comes to your wedding cake? Kara Buntin, the owner of A Cake to Remember, explains what you need to know before choosing between the two.

The Benefits of Using Fresh Flowers

There is nothing quite like the beauty of fresh flowers. The delicate petals, the subtle nuances in color changes and the varied textures can all add a major wow factor to your cake. Plus, there are so many options to choose from. You are only limited by your imagination (and seasonal availability) when it comes to non-toxic blooms. With the variety of flower sizes and shapes available, you can select your florals based on the look you are going for and the size of your cake.

The Downsides of Using Fresh Flowers

Of course, with fresh flowers you can run into several health issues, Buntin explains. "Some bakers won't even use fresh flowers because of the possibility of pesticides and other contaminants. There are also many flowers that are toxic and shouldn't be used with food at all, including some that are commonly used in wedding bouquets." Above all else you want to prioritize the health and safety of you and your guests over the ascetics of your cake.

The Benefits of Using Sugar Flowers

Made to order, sugar flowers are always going to be the exact size you and your baker want for your cake. And for brides who have their hearts set on a specific type of bloom, sugar flowers have no season, so you'll always be able to have a replica made no matter the time of year. Buntin says this may be more cost effective, too. Plus, unlike their au natural counterpart, sugar flower won't wilt except in cases of extreme humidity.

The Downsides of Using Sugar Flowers

Sugar flowers are fragile, which means they run the risk of breaking or crumbling if the cake is not handled with care. If you're working with a baker who does not regularly create sugar flowers, the cost may be higher for their time or for them to have to place an order for a pre-made version of the design you're looking for.

Other Alternatives

Buntin explains that there's a third option: wafer paper flowers. They are close to sugar flowers in appearance but with a slightly lighter look. Due to their construction, they are less likely to break in transit. "Whether you choose sugar flowers or real ones, make sure that you communicate with your baker and florist to make sure that everyone is on the same page," she says. "The most important thing is that all of your wedding professionals know what your vision for the cake is so that we can work together to make it happen."

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