What I Learned about Wedding Cakes: My Interview with a Professional Cake Artist

As a wedding photographer, I am often one of the first vendors booked and I get asked a lot of questions about everything from venues and timelines, to cakes and gowns. I recently sat down with Tracy Irwin, the owner and cake artist behind Sugar by Tracy, to talk about the most important details to consider when booking your wedding cake. I have known Tracy for just over 3 years, and have come to trust her expert opinion when it comes to all things cake. She runs a luxury business and even the smallest details are incredibly important to her, which is why, out of all the cake artists around, she is my number one recommendation.

I asked Tracy to answer the most commonly asked questions that I hear from bridal couples about their wedding cake. Here’s what she had to say…

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What are your predictions for 2017 Alberta wedding trends?

The biggest trend that I am excited for in 2017 is statement wedding cakes! People are starting to shift away from cupcakes, and are having grand and luxurious cakes at their reception instead. Big wedding cakes will double as reception décor, and are one of the most talked about aspects of your wedding. 4 or 5+ tier cakes give you such a visually stunning display which means you get another place to show off your wedding colours and theme. You can also have multiple cake flavours with a larger cake, which your guest will love!

Another huge craze are dessert tables! There’s no need to decide on what kind of dessert to offer your guests if you choose an assortment of mini, bite sized treats! You are guaranteed to have something to please everyone. From decadent French macarons and cookies to mini fruit pies and chocolate mousse shots to gourmet cupcakes and cake pops, there are so many options to choose from. I will work with you to customize a sweets table for your wedding and put your own spin on your after dinner treats!

Naked cakes, metallic cakes, ruffle cakes and white on white wedding cakes are all becoming really popular! They are just a few trends that can help inspire you. I will work with you to design your dream wedding cake.


How do you start planning your wedding cake?

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You should think about booking your wedding cake at least 6 months in advance. If you are having a summer wedding, I would suggest booking closer to 12 months before your wedding. By spring, I am fully booked between May and September with a few exceptions.

When we start planning your wedding cake, I like to get to know you! If you have pictures of cakes you like, that’s great! If you have no idea where to start, that’s where I come in. I like to discuss the style of your wedding. Where are you getting married, what does your dress look like, what kinds of flowers are you carrying? I pull inspiration from all areas of your wedding when designing your custom cake.

How many servings of cake do you need?

Calgary wedding photographer, calgary wedding photographers, calgary photographeOne thing I will help you with during the planning stage is determining how many servings of cake or other desserts you need. I take a few different things into consideration, mostly how you decide to serve your wedding cake. If wedding cake is your main dessert you will need more servings than if it is a part of a sweets table and your guests have the option of taking a slice of cake along with other desserts.

If you want a large 5 tier showpiece without having 250 servings of cake, decorating Styrofoam tiers is a great alternative. Your wedding cake can have a single tier of real cake for your cutting ceremony with the rest being fake. Your guests will never know!

If you are having a dessert table, plan on having 2-4 desserts per guest. You can offer a variety of options, but I would suggest no more than 8 or it is too overwhelming!

One thing I advise to bridal couples…is to eat your cake! Serve it as your dessert! Your cake is edible, it’s delicious, and your guests will love it.

Do your cakes and desserts taste as good as they look?

How your cake looks is important, but not as crucial as how it tastes! You shouldn’t have to compromise flavour for the look of the cake. Everything I make is homemade, from scratch, using the highest quality ingredients. I specialize in gourmet cake flavours, which I promise your guests will rave about all night.

You don’t need to decide between just traditional chocolate or vanilla when I offer flavours like Honey Lavender, Guinness and Bailey’s, Orange Cardamom Chai, or Pina Colada cake! Your wedding cake is always made fresh…it will never be frozen which is really important to me. I also use Meringue Buttercream rather than the traditional American buttercream. If you’ve never tried it, you just don’t know what you’re missing. It isn’t as sweet as ‘regular’ buttercream, and is so smooth and creamy you can eat it by the spoonful. Three or four times a year I offer my bridal couples a wedding cake tasting box. I hand deliver an assortment of different cake flavours, fillings and frostings right to your door! You can try 10 of my most popular cake flavours and be confident in your choice of wedding cake.

How do you recommend handling your wedding cake?

One of the last things you want to be worrying about on your wedding day is your wedding cake! You have the option of picking up a smaller wedding cake, but I always recommend having it delivered. We can arrange delivery to any venue across Alberta. Many venues require proof that your cake and desserts are made in a licensed facility, which I will send to them prior to your wedding. I am fully licensed with a health inspected studio, so I can deliver cakes anywhere!

Calgary wedding photographer, calgary wedding photographers, calgary photographerMany wedding cakes are assembled on location once I arrive at your venue. I bring extra sugar flowers and specialized tools with me on delivery to do repairs if anything happens during transit. If you decide on fresh flowers, I can add those to your cake at delivery. I will need to coordinate with your florist to ensure your flowers are safe for food and are properly handled. Flowers must be organically grown which can limit your choices. I can hand make anything out of sugar and offer a level of fantasy that real flowers can’t.

Always consider how you are going to display your wedding cake. Place it on a nice cake stand and make sure your cake table is proportional. New, more extreme, displays are becoming very popular too! Cakes hanging from the ceiling, upside down cakes, or gravity defying cakes are all different options.

Do you have any other advice for bridal couples?

Enjoy choosing your wedding cake! If you are a sweet tooth like I am, this will be your favourite part of wedding planning. We will work together to make sure you love your wedding cake, and it fits within your budget.

Let’s talk cake!


Still looking for your Calgary wedding photographer, get in touch with us. If you haven’t seen the rest of this romantic bridal shoot check it out here and learn how we did it here. Up next, I will be sharing what Travis Mills from Calyx Floral Design had to say about your wedding flowers!
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