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What are the different styles of wedding cake?

Are you finding it hard to know what type of cake would be best suited to your wedding day?

Us cake makers sometimes forget that we must sound like we are speaking gibberish when discussing cake finishes so here is a list of some of the terms which you may have/will come across when you are choosing the cake for your special day with pros and cons for each.

Pressed flower ganache wedding cake

The different wedding cake finishes.

Semi naked wedding cake

Semi naked cakes are sponges covered in a thin layer of buttercream or ganache which still allows you to see some of the sponge edges.

Pros -

. They are perfect for a more rustic celebration and look beautiful with natural decorations.

. They tend to be slightly cheaper than a fully iced cake

. Perfect for couples who are absolutely against having fondant.

. Can be refrigerated in the event of high heat (depending on the decorations)

Cons -

. They are less stable than a fully iced cakes in the heat.

. Possibility of drying out if left out for too many hours in or out of the fridge.

. Limitations on the cake design finish (Smooth looks the best)

Semi naked and full ganache finish mix

A semi naked cake with a full ganache covered bottom tier. It adds a little extra protection and still looks gorgeous.

Pros & Cons - Same as above but with the bonus of added stability and reduced bulging of the bottom tier.

Semi naked ganache finish cakes

Full ganache wedding cake

White chocolate ganache is my go to for couples wanting to have that clean and contemporary look and is my alternative to a buttercream finish. It is perfect for down here in south west England and is one of my most popular options.

Pros -

. Holds up pretty well in the heat.  I did an experiment over the summer and it got to a whopping 29c before the ganache started to look a little sad.

.  Tastes delicious

.  Can be coloured some beautiful pastel shades.

. Can be textured for a rustic look wedding cake.

Cons -

. Can’t be painted on easily.

. Has the tendency to sweat if it’s humid outside. Not a con so much as something to consider when it comes to decoration.

Ganache finish wedding cake with dried flowers

Fondant finish wedding cakes

A really versatile cake finish which can be made both rustic or clean and contemporary.

Fondant is the rolled out sugar which you probably associate with birthday cakes as a kid. It can now however be rolled out really thin and tastes a million times better than 10 years ago!

Pros -

. Holds up the most effectively in most weathers.

. Can have a range of different textures and deeper colours

. Perfect for hand painting

. A great option If you would like to include a mix of fruitcakes and sponges.

Cons -

.  Some people hate fondant. More on this to come!

Fondant finish wedding cake with handmade flowers

Cake finishes I actually don’t do!

There are a couple of finishes I have decided to steer clear of.  One likely more surprising than the other.

Naked cakes

I haven’t actually ever made a naked cake. I’m not a huge fan of the look of them as I love a clean finish and from a cake makers perspective, they are a pretty risky option.  Unless you are having a winter wedding or your reception is in an air conditioned room, there is a very real chance that that cake will start to sag.  On a semi naked or iced cake, there will be a dam of white chocolate ganache to hold in all the delicious fillings.


This is a fairly recent choice, but I now solely use white chocolate ganache.  Not to worry though, your cake will still be filled with plenty of delicious buttercream.

My main reason for ditching buttercream as a finish was because it made it too temperamental when we had unexpected weather changes.  Down here in Dorset we can have quite varying temperatures and after the random heatwave in September, I decided it was a much safer option to use my silky ganache instead.

I have just started using the most delicious organic white chocolate flecked with vanilla, so I can promise you, it makes for a delicious finish. More on my seasonal fillings and flavours here.

Cake terms you may come across when ordering your wedding cake.

Now you are all clued up with the different cake finishes, its time to go over the other cake terms which may crop up.

My hope is it will also be a helpful tool when it comes to researching what style of cake you are really drawn to.

Smooth - The type of finish which lends itself to a modern and contemporary style. You may hear this term when talking about a buttercream or ganache finish.

Textured - Textured cakes can be really subtle, such as this rough texture ganache wedding cake, or heavily textured with patterns etc

Wave/ruffled top - I am a big fan of a wave top on my cakes in both fondant and ganache.  I love how non uniform it is and it lends itself perfectly to my natural style of decorating.

Ruffle topped fondant cake

Standard height/ Tall - Now I am a real fan of a taller cake.  My standard height tiers are between 6 and 6.5” and I love the way they look on both celebration and wedding cakes.  This means cakes can be sliced horizontally as well as vertically for more portions.

My extra tall cakes are between 8 and 9” and are perfect for a contemporary modern cake design look.

Tiers and layers - Tiers describe the individual cakes, stacked on top of each other. The average wedding cake I make is a 3 tier like this cake here.

The layers are how many cake rounds are in each tier, sandwiched between delicious buttercreams and fillings.

Modern-contemporary/ Classic - I personally make modern and contemporary cakes as its where my heart lies. I love twist on the classics and adding in bursts of colour, varying heights and unusual flavours. As much as I can make a really delicious fruitcake, I am a big fan of couples choosing a different flavoured sponge for each tier.

Classic cakes tend to be white, round cakes with with piped royal icing work or sugar flowers.

Sustainable and seasonal - Granted, this is mainly directed at my own business, but if a cake company has sustainability values, they will have made changes to their making.

I have ditched single use plastic such as plastic dowels and clingfilm and replaced them with wooden dowels and reusable silicone coverings. I try and buy/pick seasonal fruit and am always trying to find eco switches. 

So what have we learnt?

As long as your cake maker is a specialist in the style cake you love, there is no real limitation when it comes to the finish on your cake.  They will be able to advise you what finishes will work best for your venue and let you know what precautions will be put in place on the day in the event.

Are you looking for a sustainable cake designer who creates modern style designs and love the idea of incorporating a floral or nature element to your cake.

I would love to hear from you and start planning your show stopping wedding cake.


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