Let them eat cake

Wedding styles are constantly changing and so is the traditional wedding cake.

Ages ago, what the cake looked or tasted like really didn't matter, because it wasn't for eating. It was thrown at the bride as one of the fertility traditions of the ceremony.

Now cake is considered a sweet start for the married couple. Choosing flavor and style has become as important as picking the bride's dress. Couples have so many more options to choose from.

"One thing we're noticing is that anything goes," said Millie Szerman, owner of New Directions, publicist for wedding authority Beverly Clark Enterprises. "Cakes are still an important part of the wedding."

The traditional cake has usually been three to five round tiers, a light yellow or white, with royal icing.

"Older brides, especially, seem to have very specific tastes," Szerman said. "Today we see cake flavors run the gamut from banana to spice to chocolate with custard to raspberry fillings."

A new twist to flavor is adding liqueur such as Godiva Cappuccino or Grande Marnier. Fruity flavors such as lime, lemon and orange seem popular this year.

So many choices in flavors can make for a difficult decision.

"Sometimes brides will choose to have each tier a different flavor," Szerman said. "Instead of a single wedding cake, it's not uncommon for the couple to have individual cakes and put it in a display like a dessert table so people can pick whatever flavor they want."

Most couples choose a cake that goes with the style or location of their ceremony, such as having a wedding on the beach. Couples can opt to have a cake in the shape of a sandcastle with shells as an accent. Also, with

having so many choices in frostings, bakeries are able to create pearl-

finished toppings with sea horses,

mermaids and sea stars.

"Many times the cake will reflect the colors chosen for the wedding," said Szerman. "Cakes now take on more of the personality of the bride or the couple."

Cakes can also be geared toward the season of the wedding, such as fall. The season theme can be added to by serving a spice cake or serving apple, pumpkin or pecan pie. Pumpkin bread has also taken the place of a traditional cake.

There is no detail too small in choosing the cake. Icing may not seem like a big deal, but there are so many types é and which to use can depend on the type of cake. Choices include buttercream, royal, marzipan and fondant.

"Fondant has become very popular because it lasts longer," Szerman said. "It needs to be refrigerated like the others, but it can take room temperature longer than buttercream frostings. It's also easy to mold and do more intricate designs."

A variety of wedding cake toppers are also being used. The traditional bride and groom is still used, but a wider variety is available to reflect family heritage.

"Couples can really be creative in toppings," said Szerman. "We see a lot of weddings where the use doves, dolls and lace designs. Flowers are very popular, especially with edible flowers."

The bottom line in choosing a cake: Don't be afraid to experiment. "There is no right or wrong," Szerman said.