Decorating a Wedding Cake Article -
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How to Decorate a Wedding Cake

Once the frosted cake layers arrive at their final destination, you're ready to stack the tiers and add the finishing touches.

1. See Assembling a Wedding Cake for step-by-step instructions on filling and frosting the cake layers. For more information, see our Cake Decorating articles.

2. Before you stack the cake tiers, add some extra support. You can simply stack the cake layer--still on its cardboard cake round--onto the layer beneath it, but the cake will be easier to disassemble and cut if you use cake supports, which give your spatula a little extra room to maneuver between the cardboard and the buttercream.

  • You can buy cake supports or simply cut plastic drinking straws to the proper length
  • Straws should extend no more than a quarter of an inch above the cake's top surface.
  • A pair of tweezers can help you grip the straws and pull them out if you need to trim them further.

The style shown here is a "flush stacked" wedding cake: the layers are stacked directly on top of each other, without pillars separating the tiers.

    3. Is your base layer flat? Place a clean cardboard cake round on the straw supports and crouch down to eye level to check. A small carpenter's level is a great tool for your baker's kit.

    Carefully lower the next tier onto the base layer. Stand directly over the base layer to make sure it's centered. (This is easier to do if you have someone helping you.) A long off-set spatula can help you avoid digging fingertips in the icing.

      4. When all of the cake tiers are in place, it's time to touch up any flaws and to hide the gap between the layers with piped frosting. You can pipe a shell border or round pearls. For an extra-special touch, you can use a parchment cone for fine detail work.

        5. If you don't have a traditional cake topper, you can decorate the top tier with sugared fruit, flowers, or intricate piping.

        Cornelli designs look like intricate lace patterns, and are made by piping a single fine squiggly line that loops back and around but never touches or crosses over itself. (Practice on a plate or sheet of parchment paper if you've never tried it before.)

          6. Add flowers or fruit that corresponds with the season, the cake's flavors, or the color scheme. Be sure to use pesticide-free nontoxic flowers.

          Aug. 11, 2009 1:40 pm
          well will give it a try.hope it comes out pretty.
          Sep. 16, 2009 3:02 am
          cant wait to try it out. get back to u soon
          Oct. 10, 2009 2:14 pm
          you chefs you make me to aim high because this is my job to be as of know i am doing diploma
          Oct. 19, 2009 9:19 am
          i'll think this wikll hope my husband likes it
          M Bennett 
          Nov. 11, 2009 6:23 am
          Good idea about the straws in between the stacked cakes.
          Debbie B 
          Dec. 10, 2009 5:37 pm
          Great tips - except for 1 - I have made many wedding cakes. My one near-failure resulted from a time when I used straws rather than dowel rods as supports. To maintain a beautiful,fail-safe cake - and your reputation - I suggest never relying on straws to support a 3 or 4-tier cake.
          Jan. 5, 2010 2:37 am
          will try it out
          Lottie Ann 
          Jan. 22, 2010 10:48 am
          When I made wedding cakes I always used heavy duty drinking straws in my layers as support. I did use wooden dowels for the heavier batters such as fruit cake-type. All you can do is try for yourself and see what works for you. Best Wishes in this New Year.
          Jan. 29, 2010 11:24 am
          As an experienced cook and baker I decided to take on the task of the wedding cake for my own wedding just a week ago, 1/23/10. The cost of someone else doing it at an average of $5.00 per serving just seemed outragous to me. I used boxed cake mixes from the store and all butter cream frosting that I made at home. I borrowed the 14" and 10" pans from a friend of my wife. The baking, trimming and masking went off without a hitch. When it came time to decorate, I just could not decide what I wanted. Every time I thought I had something, I would put the idea to the cake only to have it turn into a disaster. In the end I had a nicely frosted 3 tiered cake (supported with wooden dowels)with only a simple shell border around the bottom of each layer. Now it's the day of the wedding and I'm really pressed for time. I have to get the cake set up,get into my tux and get to the wedding on time. It looked too bland with just the shell border. I asked a friend to by a simple bouquet of flowers. We
          Jan. 29, 2010 2:19 pm
          I too bake wedding cakes I would never put straws inbetween layers .They just are not strong enough to hold it up.Dowels are the only way to go.
          Jan. 31, 2010 10:12 pm
          i'm just starting out making cakes. Can you give me the receipe for this size cake. Thanks
          Feb. 15, 2010 2:41 pm
          Support in between tiers-straws,dowel rods, and pvc pipe. Chef Angie
          Feb. 17, 2010 3:01 am
          i am going to try decorating my own wedding cake and will use the idea's i have read here, thanks.. wish me luck..
          Feb. 24, 2010 10:50 pm
          I'm confused about the rods/straws for support. For someone who wants to try this kind of cake who has never gone to culinary school or had much experience, how exactly do you place the straws or rods? I would need a very clear, step by step explanation. I'll look online, but if someone could explain in detail, I'd appreciate it greatly!
          Noisy Girl 
          Mar. 17, 2010 1:18 pm
          I purchased rods for a 3-tier cake, but cutting them to height was taking too long. Instead I used straws, and then slid bamboo skewers into the straws. Like straws, they could be trimmed to proper height with shears.
          Mar. 20, 2010 8:36 pm
          As an extra pre-caution, when I use wood rods, a take an extra rod, and sharpen the end in a pencil sharpener, and after measuring the total heights of all tiers together,I push in down the middle of all tiers. This makes the cake very stable. This will only work if you use cardboard circles, so the rod pierces all the way down. Also I use a little powder sugar or cornstarch between each layer so the icing doesn't stick to the boards.
          Esing prudencia 
          Apr. 21, 2010 4:25 am
          th recipe is just too good i'll try it and come back to you.
          May 6, 2010 10:40 am
          Im a cake decorator of 7 years. Never used straws to support your cake, big or small. Wooden dowels r the way to go. You can even find them at walmart.
          May 19, 2010 4:10 am
          When I made my own wedding cake, I kept the tiers separate on their own crystal plates. I covered encyclopedias with white paper, arranged them and covered the whole thing with bridal fabric before putting the cakes on them. The cakes looked beautiful and I didn't have to worry about supports. Now it looks like I'll be making my stepson's cake for his wedding...I feel very honored!
          May 25, 2010 2:26 pm
          I have made several wedding cakes. I'm an amateur at it, but they came out pretty good. I'm in the process of planning a wedding cake for a young lady. One problem I have to transport it over 300 miles. Any suggestions. I don't think I will have the time to make the cake when I get there.
          May 25, 2010 2:28 pm
          Lynda, that is a very good idea. I have made a wedding cake and separated it on clear pillars. It was scary, I was afraid they would fall. Using the book and covering it,neat idea.
          Jun. 27, 2010 7:46 am
          I am a self taught cake decorater. About 30 years ago I decided to do it with all the family needing cakes and there was not a lot of exta money. I learned from watching a lady do cakes a a local grocery store and asking questions. As far as supporting the cakes it was a learn from mistakes. The best is dowel rods or the pvc like rods you can get though Wilton's or another bakery supplier. I have made cakes with as many as 15 layiers, of course not on top of one another. I have put two fountions and worked with frog toppers and dragon topper not least was the flags of the racing theme, but the most lovely was a simple cake with pearl strings and real flowers. So go for it guys you can do anything you want if you just keep trying.
          Jul. 13, 2010 7:19 am
          As some of the others have suggested I use small dowel sticks instead of straws. Straws are flexable and can bend allowing the cake to lean which can be a disaster. I just buy wooden dowel sticks as they can be easily cut to your desired height.
          Jul. 28, 2010 3:31 am
          i want to learn how to bake and decorate this cake please. thanks
          Aug. 31, 2010 3:41 pm
          I made one wedding cake and would like to start doing it again. How many cups of batter is in a wedding cake, 3-4 tiers?
          Sep. 1, 2010 11:01 am
          I have made about 15 wedding cakes in the last 10 years.I use only real flowers anymore. I had the hotel owner of one remark it was the best cake he ever had in his rest. I was called into the kitchen of the Holiday Inn ball room by the head chef. Iwas afraid he found a hair or something worse.instead...he said it was the 1st time he had a cake that taste as beautiful as it looked.I I'll stick to my real flowers buttercream icing!
          Sep. 13, 2010 7:07 am
          I want to learn how to bake the cake and decorate it
          Sep. 14, 2010 5:31 am
          Iam a beginner and i want to learn more
          Sep. 20, 2010 8:36 am
          I love to bake cakes. The most simple thing to do and what I deem less ime consuming is to frost the wedding cake with butter cream icing and decorate with flowers. That is the best route to take!
          Nov. 3, 2010 11:39 pm
          I also do cakes on the side, as for the dowels, there have been times if the cakes were not really dense I did use straws, most of the time I use wooden dowels however they do make large thick plastic dowels, I think Wilton sells them.
          Nov. 7, 2010 7:02 am
          Jan. 4, 2011 5:01 pm
          Lynda I would love to see a picture of your wedding cake, I think that's so cool. I would like to try it.
          Jan. 13, 2011 6:19 am
          I would luv to learn to how to decorate cakes. I can bake any cake I just can't decorate it
          Jan. 18, 2011 2:59 pm
          When using fondant to cover the cakes, do you still use the dowels? Do you just stick them in there are the cakes are covered?
          Feb. 5, 2011 8:31 am
          I could never imagine using drinking straws, wow.....wooden or pvc is the only way to it safe use the good support system!!
          May 9, 2011 10:04 am
          I too love baking cakes but when it comes to icing the cakes its a disaster. Would love to learn more.
          Jun. 9, 2011 12:44 pm
          My brother-in-law and future sister-in-law asked me to do their wedding cake. I will be using this as a guide. I've made wedding cakes in pastry school and have used the straws and they worked fine, but I will be using the wooden for this just to be cautious since I will be doing a strawberry fruit filling. Like I said, I went to pastry school, and I have worked as a cake decorator in the past. Therefore, my piping technique might be a little rusty. My plan is to keep it simple. Wish me luck and I will post pictures.
          Jun. 11, 2011 9:37 pm
          Can you freeze the cake after it is filled and has the crumb coat on it?
          Aug. 5, 2011 11:08 am
          I have no problems stacking or decorating a cake. My problem lies when it is time to serve the cake. How do you keep frosting on the tops of the bottom tiers? When I take the top tier off all the frosting comes off with it, so half the cake doesn't have frosting.
          Aug. 5, 2011 12:18 pm
          For all of you who have questions about stacking, dowelling, and has tons of videos on cake decorating! You will be amazed what you can learn on there! Also, pick up a Wilton Yearbook (Walmart or Michael's). The middle section has step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures. Practice, practice, practice and believe in yourself!
          Aug. 15, 2011 11:43 am
          Thanks for the reminder ensuring we use pesticide free non toxic flowers.
          Oct. 8, 2011 6:30 pm
          I have used straws and dowels and dowels are the only way to go. I wouldn't trust anything else.
          Jan. 14, 2012 7:04 am
          gonna try this
          Feb. 27, 2012 11:25 am
          I can bake a cake i just need help in decorating them. I am going to renew my wedding vows, I want to do my own cake.
          olawummi sodeeq 
          Mar. 6, 2012 6:38 am
          I can bake a cake but when he comes to decoration is not easy but i promise to look for solution.
          Apr. 8, 2012 9:54 am
          Design me a cake website has tutorials on all these questions. She's an award winning cake artist.I refer to her site all the time.Edna has been on TV and won cake decorating shows.
          Jul. 3, 2012 1:09 pm
          that looks really good they just make me hungry
          Jul. 24, 2012 3:16 am
          is nice been one of your fans but i don't really know much about cake though i just registered in one of the catering school. pls i will like to know more about especially on how to design a cake and it becomes attractive to who ever that sees it.thanks you are already a star keep it up and Gog bless you.
          Jul. 24, 2012 9:25 pm
          When I made my niece's wedding cake, I sent the pans and directions so she could make the cake at her house in Texas. I was in Oregon. I gave her my directions that Duncan Hines sent me years ago. The batter is thicker and the tiers need just the right amount in the pans to come out even. Use box mixes. This cake turned out so moist, it was the best. I told her she could wrap the layers in plastic wrap and freeze on level surface. On cake day, thaw out completely. Yes, completely! use a Wilton wire cutter to level the layers and stack so the tops are facing each other. No wire cutter? Use toothpicks and stick them in the sides to mark where you will level off. Use a long knife and using the picks as a guide, cut the tops off. Use dental floss if you want. If using fruit or custard filling, pipe a large ring of icing around the edge to keep the filling inside. Ice the layers by crumb coating first. Let "dry" out while you finish all the layers. Use an offset spatula and
          Aug. 3, 2012 10:30 am
          I love cakes and i would like to know more in terms of preparations.mmmhh...these cakes are really good.
          Aug. 14, 2012 4:03 pm
          Sep. 17, 2012 5:20 pm
          When I transport a wedding cake I put each tier in a bakery box to fit the cake . Then I put it together when I get there . I bring some extra icing if buttercrem for touch ups . I would only use wooden dowels too much work to trust to straws. Water proof ribbion makes a nice even border on the cakes too .
          Sep. 23, 2014 5:52 pm
          I'm a self learning cake maker/decorator. Most of the cakes I make are really heavy. I usually carve cakes not stack them and recently I've been asked to do stacked cakes a lot. I had no idea it was ok to leave the cardboard rounds on each cake lol so this has helped me out tremendously :) I do wonder what keeps all the frosting from sticking to the bottom of the cake board sitting on it?
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