T here were a lot of unknowns when my husband and I were planning our wedding, but one thing was certain: We had to have a cake. I couldn't even tell you why—I figured it was a wedding, and a wedding needs a wedding cake. And I was obsessive about what kind of cake it would be. Did we want ombré buttercream or ruffled fondant? Or no frosting? Maybe we just glaze it with chocolate ganache? That would be so pretty, dripping down the tiers. Or what if the whole thing was covered with chocolate flakes? Or fresh flowers? Or what about EDIBLE GLITTER? My husband refused to glitter, no matter how edible. But CAKE! Definitely cake!
Two years later, of all the things I remember about my wedding day, the cake doesn't even crack the top 10. Between the sweet and funny ceremony, my dress constantly and hilariously trying to fall down, and my friend Patty's toast delivered while she was high on a Benadryl-and-wine cocktail thanks to a hidden nut that triggered her allergies, I've kind of forgotten about the cake. The only thing I remember about it is how awkward it was to eat.
When the time came, my husband and I weren't sure what to do. I'd assumed we weren't going to do the traditional "feed each other" thing, because our wedding wasn't very traditional in the first place and feeding someone else by hand is just weird. But then there we were, standing in front of a wedding cake like we'd seen so many other people standing in front of their wedding cakes, and without any other ideas, we awkwardly started feeding each other while giggling and whispering, "Why are we doing this?"
Even as a guest, I've never eaten a memorable piece of wedding cake. The banana pudding at my friends Carrie and James's wedding? That I remember. The fully stocked ice cream sundae bar at my sister's wedding? That I remember. The vegan cupcakes at Kelly and John's wedding? Those I remember—they didn't taste vegan at all! But I don't remember any specific slices of cake I've had.
You know what's better than cake? Crème brûlée. One idea: Fill small ramekins with custard, set the tables with bowls of caramelizing sugar and a cheap culinary torch or two, and let your guests melt their own burned sugar topping. That's something people will talk about. "Remember when [insert your names here] let us play with fire at their wedding?!"
Or, if you want the grand, iconic presentation that comes with a wedding cake, fill a tiered display with miniature seasonal pies. Or doughnuts from the coffee shop you went to on your first date. Or whatever dessert you have a shared story about. Obviously, if you want a cake, have a cake. But don't do it because you think it's one of those things you need in order to make your wedding feel like a wedding. That whole "getting married" in front of friends and family thing will take care of that.