AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF
Wedding cake toppers
By Mel Paradis
Legend has it, in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, the daughter of a baker asked her father to create a symbol of love for all her wedding guests to see. After much time and trial, he decided to place a figurine on the cake to represent his daughter and another one for her betrothed. These figures were to symbolize the couple’s love and unity. When the daughter saw them, she was overjoyed and placed the cake—with its figurines—at the center of her wedding. The wedding cake topper was born. Although this is likely just a legend, ornamental decorations have been adorning the tops of wedding cakes for well over a century.
While figurines of brides and grooms have been the classic choice for the past hundred-plus years, today’s couples have almost countless options available to them. Kjera Strom Henrie, wedding planner for Grand Teton Weddings & Events, advises, “It’s nice to coordinate with the overall feel of your day through fresh flowers or colors, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun with a cake topper that really shows your personalities.” Whether you serve a three-tiered wedding cake, cupcakes, pies, or some other confection, you can personalize your dessert table. With toppers ranging from simple flowers to traditional figurines to whimsical pieces of art, there is something out there for everyone.
Get ideas by looking through bridal magazines, Pinterest boards, Etsy, and eBay. “With there being so many cake toppers out there, it can become overwhelming to choose one. My advice is to have a topper created custom that reflects the couple, the event, or something significant in their life,” says Ashley Ost of Everything but the Dress and Roam Mercantile and Makery. Not sure where to begin? Here are just some of the options available to you:
Figures of brides and grooms became increasingly popular in the twentieth century. Companies like Sears Roebuck sold mass-produced statuettes starting in the 1920s. By the 1950s, these toppers became a symbol of togetherness and were a mainstay at most weddings. Bride and groom figures are made of varying materials from plastic to glass, clay to fondant. Artists can customize figurines to look like you, your fiancé, and even your beloved pet. Search Etsy or ask your dessert chef for options. Interested in adding vintage elements to your special day? Ask if your grandparents still have their topper or search eBay for toppers from the twenties, thirties, or forties.
Banners and monograms
Banners, banner flags, and monograms have emerged in the last few years as popular toppers. These pieces are often the couple’s initials, names, or a favorite loving word or phrase. They are constructed of paper, wood, plastic, glass, or metal. Letters and words can also be made from edible ingredients, such as chocolate, sugar, or ice. Banners can be purchased stock, ordered custom, or can be homemade if you are the artsy kind. Etsy and eBay are good places to source banners and lettering.
Animal toppers have become increasingly popular over the past several years. Lovebirds are an obvious choice, but don’t overlook local options. Moose, bison, elk, or even bears will fit in at any Teton wedding.
Interested in keeping things simple and showcasing the cake’s inherent beauty? Fresh flowers are always a classic choice. Talk with your dessert chef and florist about different options available. “Communication is key,” says Suzanne Hochstrasser of the Flower Market at MD Nursery. “Give your florist [and cake designer] photo examples of what you like and don’t like, so that we can get a full understanding of your vision.” According to Hochstrasser, 80 percent of the weddings MD Nursery worked on last summer had flowers as a part of their cakes. Texture is currently trending—with berries, eucalyptus, and succulents serving as popular choices.
If you have a wedding theme, make sure it carries over onto the cake. Whether it’s a Teton getaway or a western hoedown, toppers exist or can be special ordered to fit your theme. Met while on a ski trip at Grand Targhee? Place figurines skiing through your frosting. Miniature cowboy and cowgirl boots can match the ones that you wear down the aisle. You can even have a likeness of the Tetons made of wood, metal, or glass to place on top of and around your desserts.
Whether you purchase a stock piece, have one custom designed, or make it yourself, cake toppers add a unique element to any wedding. Figurines, banners, monograms, animals, flowers, and themed toppers are just a few of the ways to express your togetherness. Like the baker’s daughter, you and your betrothed can have a symbol of love and unity at the center of your wedding for all to see and enjoy.
Mel Paradis, a native of Chicago, now lives in Tetonia, Idaho, with her husband, daughter, and dog. When she is not at work on her computer, she can be found playing in the kitchen, tending to her garden, teaching kids, serving hungry and thirsty people, or making a fool of herself with Jackson’s improv troupe, The Laff Staff. The vintage 1940s cake topper from Mel’s wedding sits on a bookshelf in her bedroom.