Rachel: Half-Baked


by Rachel W. Miller, Contributor

Rachel: Half Baked | A Practical Wedding

Rachel: Half Baked | A Practical WeddingGoing into wedding planning, I was rather dismissive of the whole idea of wedding cake. Despite the fact that I really enjoy baking and eating, I thought cake was super overrated. I always think of the line in Father of the Bride when George says, “A cake is made of flour and water, Frank.” Because it is. My lack of interest in wedding cake may have something to do with the fact that I don’t care for sweets. (Eric, on the other hand, has a big enough sweet tooth for both of us. Whenever I say I’m not in the mood for dessert, he looks like I just kicked his puppy.) If the traditional wedding dessert was, say, waffle fries, I’d understand spending thousands of dollars. And since Eric had repeatedly told me that he didn’t care about any of the wedding details, I didn’t think this was something into which we needed to put much thought.

So early in our planning process, I suggested that if we couldn’t find a wedding cake that fit our budget, we could just have pie instead. I thought this was a very practical suggestion. To be honest, I like pie even less than I like cake, but I’d never heard of a pie costing upwards of $500. But when Eric heard the term “pie,” I think his brain said, “Look at this f*cking hipster you’re marrying!” and he reacted pretty strongly. Not long after this, we agreed to scrap our original wedding plans, collect our deposits, and plan a courthouse and brunch wedding instead; I did this with the knowledge that some of the money we were saving on the venue or the food would need to go toward a cake. I say this like it was some sort of huge sacrifice, but let’s be honest… if I was choosing a hill to die on during wedding planning, one made of buttercream didn’t sound so bad.

Give Me Some Sugar

Like I said, I had never seen a wedding cake that had blown me away, but it’s probably because I really hadn’t been looking. When looking at wedding blogs, I skim over the cakes and focus more on the color palette, the wedding dress, and the non-floral centerpieces. I was so “take it or leave it” before we’d decided to have a cake, but once I knew we were having one…whoops! I was suddenly so into wedding cakes and dessert bars, Eric began to suspect my whole pie suggestion had just been an elaborate ruse to convince him to increase our cake budget.

We started looking for bakers in the Austin area; I read each baker’s flavors aloud to Eric (real slow and sexy-like). After we set up two tastings, a friend of Eric’s from college reached out and offered to make our cake as a wedding gift to us. We were really touched by her offer, and given that she had made her own wedding cake, along with several others since, we felt pretty confident she could handle it. So we kept our scheduled tastings and planned to meet with her too.

Fifty First Dates

I’ve been approaching the process of looking for wedding vendors much like I did dating. I treat every email exchange with a potential new vendor like I’m messaging with a guy on Match.com. For some reason, I want every vendor to think we’re really hip and fun and that our wedding is going to be awesome so they’ll really want to work with us. Not only is this silly because we’re paying them, it makes it really hard to tell them when we’ve chosen another vendor because now I feel like a jerk. I’m sure they don’t know what to do with brides who end rejection emails with, “I hope we can stay friends!”

This actually wasn’t a problem with the first baker. Our meeting with her felt more like a setup with your mom’s friend’s kid who was great on paper. While she was extremely polite and professional during our email exchanges and in person, there was just no chemistry. She served us five cupcakes in her signature flavors; they were all really yummy but after tasting the first one, I realized I better reel it in if I were going to make it through a whole day of this. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” I told myself, much like I had when having my first beer at 6 AM on St. Patrick’s Day in college. I switched to having just a little taste of the frosting and a couple bites of cake whilst making awkward small talk with the baker. After we left, Eric and I agreed that while the baker’s designs were very nice and the samples we had tasted like really amazing cupcakes, they weren’t exactly mind-blowing. And since this wasn’t offset by competitive pricing, we knew she wasn’t our baker. Which was fine, because I had a really good feeling about our next stop.

Tiers of Joy

So that vendor flirtation I mentioned? With the next baker, I had already been doing it in spades. When I was on the phone with Denise to pre-pay for our tasting, Eric walked in, took stock of my giggling and twirling around, and wondered if he should be suspicious. Her designs were gorgeous, her flavors sounded divine, and her first email to me said, “We love Pinterest brides!” In the dating game that is vendor selection, I’d list “understanding and using the Internet” as my number one turn-on.

When we arrived at the space where she holds her tastings, it was like stepping into a Pinterest board. It took me a minute to realize that it looked exactly like what I had in mind when we painted a spare bedroom in our house pale pink last summer…except whoever designed this space didn’t fail so miserably in their execution that they actually had to buy new furniture and repaint the whole thing a different color, which is what happened to Eric and me.

Five perfect little wedding cakes were waiting for us in the tasting room, next to a Macbook Air that had my wedding cake Pinterest board on screen. (I told you I’d gotten into cake…) Our intention was to have a two-tiered main cake and a few single-tier cakes along with it. I should say here that Eric said as long as we have a cake, he doesn’t care what it looks like, and while I’ve grown skeptical of these sort of claims, I decided to take this one at face value because this was one area where I knew exactly what I wanted. I’m always embarrassed to admit it when I fall in love with a very WIC-centric thing, but there it is.

We tasted five flavors, including lemon cake with lemon cream filling, fresh raspberries, raspberry preserves, and lemon cream cheese buttercream and strawberry cake with strawberry preserves and white chocolate buttercream. Denise also mentioned we may want to try some other flavors in the future, including pistachio (my favorite) and banana cake (which is when Eric got the vapors). While we ate, she talked to us about the ingredients and how she works. You know when someone is trying to get in your pants and saying everything right, and on some level you’re aware of it, but mainly you don’t care because it’s totally working?

We left totally charmed, and on the brink of a huge crash. We had not been thinking clearly when we scheduled our tastings without giving ourselves time for a lunch break. All either of could think about was meat. Pressed for time, we headed to Chipotle where we took down anything that could take the edge off. We felt better, but I feared it was too late.

Half-Baked

Whenever I think of the term “sugar high,” I think of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. But I was surprised to discover when I experienced my first true sugar high, I felt more like Eeyore. I was sugar stoned. “Maintain…maintain,” I told myself as we walked up to Lisa’s apartment. Unfortunately, being sugar stoned did not cause the munchies, and I was really struggling to get excited about the flavors that had sounded delicious that morning. I realized we should have done this like a wine tasting, spitting the cake out after each bite.

Lisa had put together quite a spread for us; there were four flavors of cake, five flavors of frosting, and even more fillings to try. I tried to think of motivational quotes to get me through. Go big or go home! You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take! Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars! I hallucinated a kitten in a tree. Hang in there!

After my first bite of cake, filling, and frosting, I realized I was so not hanging in there. I looked at Eric, who seemed to be doing just fine. “I’m going to need you to do the frostings,” I said (or, most likely, slurred). “I trust your judgment. I just…can’t.”

At least I was thinking clearly enough to start with the flavors I had been most excited about: grapefruit cake, blueberry cake, and rose frosting. I took a nibble of each and then sat back on the couch in a daze while Eric kept tasting flavors and chatted with Lisa. How is he so sober right now? I thought. I felt awful that I couldn’t be more visibly excited about these flavors and worried that Lisa thought I was a terrible person. (I also wondered if it would be inappropriate to un-button my jeans.) But every time I tried to join in the conversation, I was that girl at the party who gets too high to function and then every so often says something she thinks is brilliant but instead just makes everyone else feel awkward.

Lisa was a very gracious host and sent us home with all the leftovers so we could sample them again after our sugar hangovers had passed. I unbuttoned my jeans and we drove home. We tried everything again a few days later, and there was no doubt in my mind that we had to have some of these flavors at our wedding. I mean, a grapefruit cake, you guys!?

A Tale of Two Bakers

Eric and I were faced with a bit of a dilemma over which baker to choose. Eric suggested we could have Denise make our two-tiered cake and ask Lisa to make the additional cakes. This made me feel icky, like both women would be insulted. When I asked friends for their opinions, they suggested something similar: we could just have one make the groom’s cake, a concept I find even ickier for its implication that the groom’s input in a wedding is relegated to one small corner of the dessert table (and also because it suggests that the main cake can’t be shaped like an iPad). And anyway, a true groom’s cake in our case would be five feet tall with purple frosting and loads of sprinkles, while the bridal cake would be a modest stack of bagels with some really legit cream cheese.

We decided to cautiously approach both women with the idea of having Denise create our two-tiered bridal cake and Lisa creating multiple “groom’s cakes.” I was really worried they wouldn’t be comfortable with our non-monogamous approach, but we just couldn’t decide. (Why do you think we’re having a brunch wedding in the first place? This whole meal is a tribute to the fact that we’re indecisive eaters.) Luckily, both said yes, so we’re now on board to have lemon cake, strawberry cake, grapefruit cake, blueberry cake, and yellow cake with rose frosting.

Because…people want options, right? Apparently when it comes to cake, I’m my mother.

Photo: From Rachel’s personal collection

Rachel W. Miller

For most of her life, Rachel has loved the sound of her own voice. She loves reading, doing yoga (she still refuses to call it “practicing”), hanging out with her dogs, and talking Eric’s ear off. She lives in Houston, TX. You can read more from her on her blog.

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  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    Both the husband and I have sweet teeth, and pretty much would have had a whole reception based on cake (well, we did have a high tea + brunch menu)… but when it came to choosing a cake it was quite easy. We did not even do more than one test.
    Originally we wanted to get several cakes from our favorite bakery / cake shop, where we used to go often when dating. They had the best cake: cherry meringue, nuts and caramel, cheesecake to die for, yummy chocolate…. But it turned out they would not deliver the cakes to the venue or make an adaptation (I would have loved raspberry meringue) and our wedding morning was already super full, so logistically it would have made things very complicated.
    Our venue suggested a bakery they often work with, we tried a slice of their classic flavors and went for the delicious, creamy, moist fruity one (I think it’s called chipolata) and were done with it…. mostly because as they work with our venue they would bring it there, it was yummy and they could adapt their decorations to us. Done and done.

  • Marie

    I love this! “I tried to think of motivational quotes to get me through. Go big or go home! You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take! Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars! I hallucinated a kitten in a tree. Hang in there!” This is exactly how I felt on the day we looked at reception venues, marathon-style. When we got home I had to sit alone for like an hour before I felt human again. I’m glad I’m not the only one who schedules things back to back and then regrets it. Lol

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    We tried to be responsible at our cake tasting, but our baker was also our caterer and while we worked out the dinner menu, we kept sneaking another taste of the piles of frosting left on the plate until they (along with the cupcakes we’d already finished) were gone. We ended up with lemon cake with bavarian cream filling and chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. (Three tiers – chocolate/lemon/chocolate.) We both love sweets, cake being my favorite, so pie was never an option for us. I like pie fine, but it has no frosting. Buttercream and champagne may have been my top two requirements for the reception. We had a cookie buffet in lieu of groom’s cake since cookies are Raj’s favorite. Twelve kinds of cookies, because people want options!

    • http://therapyisexpensive.wordpress.com KatjaMichelle

      “I like pie fine, but it has no frosting”

      This is my feeling exactly!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Ooh, cookies! That sounds really fun!

  • Kat

    This post has just undone all my hardwork of maintaining that I don’t REALLY want a wedding cake, when deep deep deep way deep down I really do. Sigh.

  • Manya

    Haha! This cracked me up.

    Funny enough, a good tasting cake was the ONE THING my husband cared about (who knew?).

    Also, this cracked me up:
    “I’ve been approaching the process of looking for wedding vendors much like I did dating. I treat every email exchange with a potential new vendor like I’m messaging with a guy on Match.com. For some reason, I want every vendor to think we’re really hip and fun and that our wedding is going to be awesome so they’ll really want to work with us. ” I totally do this! Hahaha!

    I’m REALLY enjoying your voice, Rachel! So glad you are writing!

    • http://www.alacartealbums.com Jane

      That was so my first husband. He wanted to wear tails, and he wanted a champagne cake covered with smooth fondant and a golden music symbol on top.

      Everything else? Totally up to me (and, I punted and passed most it onto my mother, becuase she cared, and was in the same state as the ceremony.)

      In our current planning, R is insisting on making a Kransekake. There is no negotiation available on this.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        Kransekake! WOW! That’s cool. Is he Norwegian?

        • http://www.alacartealbums.com Jane

          Yep, very :) She’s thinking about incorporating rosemaling and a sølje into her outfit too.

          • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

            That is so very cool she is incorporating her Norwegian heritage! I think the bunads (and the gorgeous jewelry) are so incredibly beautiful. How fun! I would love to see a Wordless Wedding or Wedding Grad post, if you felt up to sharing someday. And I have some rosemaling hanging on the wall here beside me! :)

  • Miriam

    “Look at this f*cking hipster you’re marrying!” wrt pie made me lol on the bus :)

  • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

    One of the disadvantages we had with the location of our wedding was that we were limited in our cake choices in terms of flavors – and we were limited in our options for bakers. Somehow, even with that knowledge, our wedding cake actually caused or led to (I’m not entirely sure which..) one of the biggest wedding-planning-related arguments of our entire planning process. At Thanksgiving. In front of my step-grandmother-in-law. That was not pretty. What it boiled down to was budget: by necessity we had a very (very) small budget, and a tiered cake that I thought I really wanted when I didn’t (let me just say the WIC got into my head and I was feeling like cupcakes weren’t right by not being wedding-y enough, until I came to my senses and remembered that we had wanted cupcakes and a cutting cake basically from the get-go, which would be fine (and tasty!)), wouldn’t fit into the budget with the super awesome invitations that we loved. We could have one or the other, but not both.

    We ended up with really basic cupcakes, but they were amazing, along with our cutting cake. We had vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and our cutting cake was confetti cake – all with white frosting. Basic but very us – and exactly what we wanted.

    • Martha

      Did we have the same wedding???? We had basic cupcakes too – they were delicious in 3 flavors, but just frosted!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      We did cupcakes too, but no cutting cake. We made ours, and if I had it to do over, I would have made a little cake to cut too. Oh well, not the end of the world to not cut cake…

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

        We decided on a cutting cake so we would have leftover cake – and it also let us decorate it with Opening Day buntings in red and white,w hich was hard to do on cupcakes.

        Martha – it sounds like we were very similar!! Did you have colors or a theme? If so – what were those? We went with Baseball as the theme and red and white as the colors!

        • Martha

          AH! No, we used blue and light yellow with some burlap and birds. We didn’t go too over-the-top with the decorations or anything. People we just there to have a good time!

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    Really enjoyed this :) And I love how even a personal humor piece is chock full of practical lessons (schedule lunch! pace yourself! it’s okay to just be a customer instead of potential life partner!).

  • The Family Jules

    “the bridal cake would be a modest stack of bagels with some really legit cream cheese.” I do like cake, but I’d rather have a good bagel with cream cheese any day. Except if there was grapefruit cake. That sounds like it needs to be in my mouth right now.

  • http://www.pebblesandmarbles.com kristi jean

    WOW! Your final choice of cake flavors sound incredible! This makes me wish that we had gone for cake tastings. Mmmm, I LOVE cake.

    It was very important to me that we have a wedding cake–mostly because I love cake, I found the most amazing cake topper on etsy, and because I love the tradition of ‘cutting the cake’. It’s one of the only traditions we are holding onto. However it was a pretty easy decision for us. We both have a favorite bakery, so we asked if she would do a funfetti cake with vanilla buttercream frosting (which I was originally planning on baking myself, but decided to save myself the stress). She’s also doing 100 mini cupcakes–vanilla w/ vanilla buttercream and chocolate with vanilla buttercream.

    Funny thing was, when I got home, I told E that I placed the cake order and didn’t even think it would be an issue that I ordered a standard 8inch round cake. E was so upset that it wouldn’t look ‘weddingy’ enough. It was the first thing he really cared about! So I went back, explained the story (which the baker got a kick out of!) and added on a tier and all was fine.

    I’m supplementing the cake with my chocolate chip cookies and oreos. because there’s really nothing better than oreos in my opinion.

    • Teresa

      Remember that time I didn’t care about cake at all until you found a cake topper for me on etsy and then all I cared about was THE BEST CAKE TOPPER EVER!? Thanks for that…

      • http://www.pebblesandmarbles.com kristi jean

        girl, I saw it and only thought of you! you HAD to have it. and i’m glad you did. so perfect. :)

    • Rachel

      Re: cookies…I thought you might appreciate this! http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/dining/16cookies.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&

      • http://www.pebblesandmarbles.com kristi jean

        WOAH. they are serious about their cookies. so interesting! thanks for sharing this. :)

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        That is the article that made me wish we had included some cookies among the desserts at our dessert reception…. Maybe someday I’ll have a big cookie party instead!

  • Martha

    Man, I wanted to come to your wedding before when I heard it was brunch, but now that I know there will be multiple cake flavors . . . I wonder how much a flight is from Missouri to Texas . . . .

  • LifeSheWrote

    Oh wow, I just love your writing. This had me laughing out loud. I’m totally doing that “vendor flirtation” with photographers right now and it’s dawning on me that I’m going to have to “break up” with a couple of them because, at the end of the day, we’re only going to have one photographer. (Not that I wouldn’t hire them all if I could – these PEOPLE! They’re so amazing!) Thanks for this!

  • Stephanie

    I am gluten-intolerant AND a huge cake lover. (This isn’t the world’s best combination.) There are some bakeries around here that make gluten-free cakes, but they really aren’t geared towards making wedding cakes.

    Enter my mom and stepdad, who are thrilled about the wedding in general, but SUPER EXCITED about 2 things: (1) buying the wine for the reception, and (2) cupcakes in lieu of a wedding cake. (They had recently attended a wedding that had cupcakes, and they think it’s the best idea ever. They are cupcake evangelists now.)

    As it turns out, there’s a cupcake bakery across the street from my office that makes gluten-free cupcakes, and they do weddings. After I tasted their gluten-free options and saw the tiered stands they use for wedding cupcakes, we went with them as our (cup)cake vendor.

    (My dad was VERY dubious about the idea of cupcakes for the wedding, because I think he was picturing grade-school bake-sale cupcakes from the 1970s. So I took him to the bakery and got him a cupcake. That changed his mind right away! Now HE is a cupcake evangelist, too.)

  • Lia

    We’re having an awesome ginormous cake made to look like a desk full of stuff we love/own/that sums us up (eg. a rubix cube, books, teacup…) – the only negative thing about this amazing cake is that it has to be made of fruit cake, so that enough of it can be done in advance without spoiling. I love fruit cake, but it just meant we didn’t get to taste any of those amazing-sounding flavours!

  • Emmy

    Ooo, I love hearing fancy cake flavors. Our cake is blackberry lime, with vanilla frosting, made by my fiancé’s favorite baker—me! I suppose it seems totally crazy to make your own wedding cake, but I’ve done extensive planning and I’m confident in my ability. It’ll probably be ugly, but at least it will taste good!

    • Catherine B

      It will be beautiful! I made my friends’ wedding cake and holy hell was it ugly at various points in its construction, but a crumb coat, lots of frosting, flowers, and love made it quite pretty.

    • Abby Mae

      Emmy, I’m making my wedding cake too! Well, technically my FH baked it and I’m frosting it. So, you’re not crazy! (Although, I’m clearly biased.) Your cake is going to taste yummy and be super special to you and to your hubby!

      And personally, I can’t believe it will look ugly. I think the cake you make will have “EAT ME” written all over it! Good luck. =)

    • Rachel

      Don’t doubt yourself! Like I said, Eric’s friend/our second baker made her own cake…she said everyone tried to talk her out of it but that she found working on it before the wedding relaxing. AND it was beautiful.

    • Caroline

      We’re currently planning to have my mom make our cake with some of our help (pending the test cakes not being absolute disasters.) I just couldn’t imagine paying 400 bucks for cake. Totally fine if you want to, (I’m spending lots on other stuff that matters to me) but my qualifications for cake are “tastes good, follows family banana cake recipe, not look like total sh*t.” For me, the cake is relevant for the 5 minutes you are Putin it in your mouth. 400 bucks for 5 minutes was totally not worth it to me. (That said, if my mom comes to me and says she thinks it will be too stressful, 400 bucks to save mom from serious stress and freakouts is totally worth it.)

    • http://www.alacartealbums.com Jane

      Blackberry Lime sounds amazing! Do you have a shareable recipe?

      • Emmy

        I’m adapting it from a recipe in Dede Wilson’s Wedding Cakes You Can Make. It’s just your average yellow cake with lime zest in the batter, filled with blackberry jam and lime curd, and frosted with vanilla Italian meringue. We came up with the combo ourselves based on a favorite cocktail recipe (blackberry lime gimlets!) and my family association with blackberries. It’s AWESOME, if I may say so myself.

    • Carolyn

      Don’t worry! I made my wedding cakes—one was ugly (I thought) and the other was pretty except for the fact you could see the cardboard between the tiers. All anyone remembers is that they tasted darn good, and that the bride made them herself. Triple kudo points when you’re marrying into an Italian-American family.

      (For the record, the ugly one was chocolate cake with salted caramel drizzle, and the not-so-ugly one was almond cake with apricot filling. No frosting.)

    • KSandoval

      I made my own wedding cakes as well. There were many naysayers, but cooking and baking is what I do, so I went for it. So delicious and a fulfilling process. I do suggest having some helpers the day of to help you set it up!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      I think that’s exciting! I learned a lot more about baking after getting married, but if I had known then what I know now…I would have wanted to give it a go too. Or at least a small cake and then lots of cupcakes.

      Anyhow, there are some great posts on smittenkitchen.com because she baked her cake and wrote about it. Here’s the link for anyone whose interested in baking their own cake(s): http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/category/wedding-cake/

      Good luck!

    • yet another Meg

      Not crazy at all! We are making our own cake as well (with some help from my grandmother who makes the best cherry cake ever)

  • CPM

    Wow, what fantastic cake flavors! We’re also doing a brunch wedding, and for a while I had a heavy flirtation going with various exotic fruit-flavored breakfast pastries to have as a “wedding cake.”

    But my dude had only one deeply-held-since-childhood wish for our wedding, and that was to have a cannoli cake. Not a giant cannoli to feed 100 people, not individual cannoli on a cupcake stand, but a normal wedding cake with cannoli cream filling. And the cake had to be frosted white.

    Do you know what flavor cake goes with cannoli cream? Vanilla. (Chocolate is also good, but vanilla brings out the spices in the cannoli filling.) Do you know what flavor of frosting is white? Vanilla. So we are literally having a plain vanilla cake. It will be tiered. It will be frosted white. It will look like the Platonic ideal of a wedding cake.

    And we’re having orange honey cardamom gelato on the side. :)

    • Rachel

      OMG, I never thought of having wedding gelato. I think we got gelato after our first date (or maybe the second). Now I want wedding gelato.

      Also I love all these stories about guys’ lifelong dreams for their cakes!

    • Brenda

      Vanilla gets a bad rap. A proper vanilla made with vanilla beans is a delicious flavour. Your cake will be amazing.

      Also, I am totally with your husband. Cannoli cream is my favorite thing in the whole world. I am going to have to make a cannoli cake now.

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        This is so true. I really love chocolate but my husband is meh on it, so 2/4 layers of our cake was red velvet.
        But my husband insisted that the other 2 layers be plain old white cake with vanilla frosting because “not everyone likes chocolate.” (Heretics!)
        Well, the red velvet was good, but we got several rave reviews about the vanilla. One guest is a hotel manager and he said it was the best white cake he ever had. And he eats it about weekly.

    • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

      I went on a bad (first) date once; the one good thing I learned from this guy is that if you’re gonna buy cannolis and eat them later, get the filling separate from the shells. Fill them yourself right before eating. That way the shells stay nice and crispy.

      You’re welcome.

      (And BTW Rachel, I also love your voice. The metaphor of dating is so perfect and hilarious.)

  • Abby Mae

    “I hallucinated a kitten in a tree.”
    This is when I lost it and accidentally snorted milk up my nose. Thanks for such an entertaining start to my day, Rachel.

    I can already tell that it’s one of those stories that will have me chuckling to myself all day. =)

  • Lauren

    The cake was the first thing I delegated to the fella in the whole process. He has a separate dessert stomach, I believe that mashed potatoes are a good dessert.

    He did amazingly well. We only went to one baker who made us lovely little cakelets in her own home kitchen. We are doing almond cake with raspberry filling and cream cheese frosting. I am still less-than-thrilled about the cake (because, mashed potatoes?!) but it was the gateway that opened and “allowed” me to start delegating more. Yay!

    • Rachel

      Mashed potatoes ARE a good dessert! Please tell me you’ve seen the meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato “frosting.” http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/meatloaf-cupcakes-3_thumb.jpg

      • Lauren

        And meatloaf… which is also a great dessert! Yum!

    • Laura

      I’m really hoping that writing content for our wedsite will be Brian’s gateway drug to taking on more planning tasks! Turns out that, being a communications/PR professional, he’s way better at the verbal communication (“guest relations”?) side of wedding planning. I, on the other hand, will continue to be in charge of all spreadsheets and music – let’s each play to our individual strengths, right?!

  • Aly

    Ahhhh it sounds delicious! Also your Pinterest cake board is exactly like the one I have in my head. Woo similar tastes! :)

  • Laura

    Vendor selection as online dating – YES! Incidentally, this is also the same basic principle on which I found my apartment and adopted my cat.

    And I too get all melty when a potential vendor asks, “Do you have a Pinterest board?”

    Do. I. Ever.

  • http://dungeons-and-flagons.com/ Heather L

    Is this cake week or something?

    Our cake story was rather simple-we had initially wanted cupcakes from a fantastic place in his town, but our venue came with cake. So we visited the bakery, tasted a few things, made sure my husband was not allergic to the icing or filling, and ended up with a dark chocolate cake, buttercream icing, and raspberry-baci filling. Yum. And also very lazy.

  • Charis

    My FI has been so blasé about the whole wedding planning thing, and the only thing he really seemed bothered about was keeping costs down lol!
    But when I suggested having one of those new-fangled ‘naked’ cakes, so I could bake it myself, he was mortified we weren’t having fondant icing!
    So we’re just going to order one from Marks & Spencer, I’m not sure if you have them in the US but here in the UK they are great value for money and you can mix and match layers and flavours and put them together yourself. Hopefully that’ll satisfy his gigantic sweet tooth!

    • Amy March

      We do not have M&S. It is a source of great sadness to my lingerie drawer.

      • Charis

        Yeah all us UK ladies love our M&S bras and pants! The whole world should be able to enjoy their undies, they should ship worldwide :)

  • Emilie

    Off Topic: I’d love to know if you’ll be having dancing at your brunch wedding. I know Meg’s talked a little about this, but we’re doing more a breakfast-y brunch. Most daytime dancing photos I’ve found are taken at more lunch-y receptions. What are you doing Rachel?

    • Rachel

      This is….currently being discussed. One of the other things that Eric and I did not see eye-to-eye on is the need for a deejay/dancing. He kept insisting that a wedding without a deejay would be boring and you need an emcee (lies)…and I kept reminding him that neither of us enjoy dancing (in fact we AVOID dancing) and that I just cannot fathom that our friends and family would be bored hanging out together. After all ,there’s much socializing to be done! I could tell it was important to him so it was a battle I figured I’d rather not pick.

      BUT. He hasn’t been doing a very good job of researching deejays, and the bands/deejays we had looked into were over our budget. (Bands are out completely.) I started toying with the idea of music as entertainment and not for dancing this week, and looked into gospel choirs and a capella groups in the Austin area, which seemed like a good fun fit for a brunch wedding. (On that note, if anyone has recommendations for gospel choirs or a cappella groups in Austin, please send them my way!) And we’ll probably go out in Austin that night with our friends for an after-party, so there can be dancing then. But also this week, our venue recommended a deejay who IS in our price range and he’s not booked so there’s that. I still think my idea would be more fun and makes more sense for us since seriously the thought of dancing in public WITH PEOPLE LOOKING AT ME makes my skin crawl, but we haven’t made a decision yet.

      • http://www.anawerks.etsy.com Alvi the Small

        Have you considered checking with the local college music school? Or high school? Don’t know the Austin community, but out here in Seattle, I’d call the Roosevelt High School band teacher (whose jazz bands go to Nationals every year) or the university or community college music department. If you pay them a little, feed them, and let them have flyers at the wedding, I imagine most student or community bands would be happy to do it. Or call a local church about hiring their pianist to play – we did that for our wedding service, and it cost $50 to have him play non – religious background music. Win.

        • Rachel

          I had been creeping around on the college of music’s website but hadn’t thought to check with the high school…thanks so much for the tip!

      • Ellen

        A wedding we went to was very much a breakfasty-brunch reception and the couple getting married was not one for dancing. There was one dance total- their first dance, which they actually ended up cutting short.

        What they did instead- which was so them- was TRIVIA. It was like Jeopardy only more awesome and with champagne. It actually helped us as guests to get really comfortable talking to the other people at our table that we didn’t know and WHOA COMPETITIVE. (We almost won. We lost over knowing the name of a font. This was two years ago.)

        In any case there does not need to be dancing for people to have a fantastic time at your wedding!!! I was impressed enough by the trivia that we’re seriously considering doing it at our wedding.

        • Rachel

          THIS COMMENT VALIDATES MY IDEA TO HAVE A CROSSWORD PUZZLE AT THE RECEPTION. I pitched Eric on this the other day because we both really like crosswords and what’s more romantic than spending a morning in bed with coffee, breakfast, and a crossword puzzle?!

          • Ellen

            DOOOOOOO ITTTTTTTT. I think if we do programs we might put a crossword puzzle in there because let’s face it, sitting there waiting for the show to begin can be boring!

            We are also thinking about diner-style placemats with a crossword puzzle or word search at our tables, because that is our favorite thing to do on Sunday mornings.

          • Jessica B

            Do it!!

          • Rebekah

            I want to do this as well as some mixer trivia so our families get to know each other. “This person has run 4 marathons.” “This person is an ordained minister.” “This person won a Model-A contest.” and you have to find them and make them initial your card.
            Also a page of those brain teasers, like “2 C in a P” is 2 cups in a pint, etc.

        • Sarah

          We had some dancing at our wedding, but my husband cannot STAND any event where he is expected to sit and just talk/listen to people. He gets bored so fast. So at our reception we covered our tables with butcher paper and crayons, and we also took all of our board games (we’re big board game people) and scattered them around the tables. It was fun! Everyone had something they could do.

        • http://breadandcheeseplease.com Charise

          I went to a brunch wedding last year where instead of dancing they played the newlywed game! They had two other recently married couples join them (on stage, bc there happened to be one in the venus), and our hilarious friends served as the host and the “Vanna”. It was great!

      • http://www.pebblesandmarbles.com kristi jean

        my FH is a musician and we are DANCERS when the music is blaring, so this part of the reception was high on the importance list. we are going with our ipad playlists (which he was in charge of) and the weddingDJ app. we rented a pretty good PA system for $200 and that’s that! we’re using it for both the ceremony and the reception.

        even if you don’t have a dance party reception–i LOVE the crossword idea, btw!–it might be nice to have some background music on, and this is a fairly inexpensive way to do it.

      • CPM

        We’re doing the iPod DJ thing for our brunch wedding. My fiance and I both did college radio, so we were both excited to make the playlist. We’re only paying for the sound system and a few must-have songs we didn’t already own. We will have dancing, but not a lot of it since our wedding is only 4 hours (crucial for our sanity as well as our guests’, since many of them are just driving down for the day).

    • meg

      If you dance, they’ll dance. It’s pretty much that simple. I really could give a shit. If our reception at been at 8am, I would have been tearing it up on the dance floor with David. Trust me, no one leaves a bride who’s workin’ it alone on the floor.

      (If you’re not going to dance, they probably won’t either. Unless David and I are at your reception.)

      • Rachel

        I’m pretty sure all of our friends will dance even if we don’t, and if we ask them to, they DEFINITELY will take the lead on it. Our families probably won’t. So it would be about half and half I think.

        (PS I was hoping these cake flavors would sell you on coming to the wedding.)

      • Haley Y

        I’m going to have to disagree that if you don’t dance, your guests won’t. My husband and I aren’t big on dancing, but we knew our guests would be. While we did do a “first dance” (middle-school swaying style, gave us some time to chat and made everyone happy), we mostly circulated and mingled instead of dancing the rest of the night. But the dance floor was packed!

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

        This is SO true. (Meg’s comments). At least, it was in our experience: we did the iPod reception and if I was out dancing, my friends were dancing with me. If I sat down, they sat down. We had a LONG dancing playlist so I wasn’t out on the floor all the time. When I wasn’t dancing, my parents were tearing it UP!

  • http://therapyisexpensive.wordpress.com KatjaMichelle

    Men like cakes. This is (one of) the lesson(s) I’ve learned in wedding planning. TeacherMan couldn’t care less about most of the wedding details, but was very clear there would be cake and it would be from his favorite bakery (Corina Bakery in Tacoma WA if anyone is curious).

    We are doing a “brides” cake and a “grooms” cake because we each have so many dietary restrictions (migraine triggers for me veganism for him)

  • http://byjacki.com Jacki

    Yummmm. I know I said I don’t care much about cake, but these sound so delicious. And also this made me literally LOL: “But every time I tried to join in the conversation, I was that girl at the party who gets too high to function and then every so often says something she thinks is brilliant but instead just makes everyone else feel awkward.”

    • http://partialto.tumblr.com LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      GOD yes. I died at that.

  • Lena

    Rachel this was hilarious and I officially want to be your BFF and I will gladly eat all the desserts you don’t want. An all day cake-tasting marathon sounds like a perfect Saturday to me. But then again, so does waffle fries for dessert.

    Also off topic: I have two questions for you (and maybe this was answered in an introductory post? I’m sorry if so), but a) Is your wedding on a weekday? If so, can you talk about that decision? and b) That seems like a lot of cake – are you inviting more people to brunch than to the courthouse? (that’s assuming the courthouse has a limit, and also assuming that I know anything about how many people each cake can feed, which I don’t).

    • Rachel

      Ah, these are good questions that I had totally not answered yet! Re: the date, our wedding is on a Saturday morning!

      As for the second question…so, the courthouse is kind of a perfect venue for us because it’s gorgeous and historic and has a very like mid-century bureaucratic vibe that I really wanted (pic of the exterior)…BUT it’s also available to rent for private ceremonies so you can make it as wedding-y as you want. (You can book one courthouse room or the whole building. We’re just renting the District Courthouse, which holds 200. Pics here and here.) We’re inviting 78 (I think?) to both the courthouse and the reception, and we are figuring somewhere between 50 and 70 will attend. The reception is at a restaurant and we’re actually renting the whole thing out from 11:00 to 3:00. So I feel like it’s kind of a courthouse wedding but kind of a traditional wedding too!

      In terms of this being too much cake…yeah, it likely will be, but I’m totally being my mom right now and not caring because we love all the flavors so much. The tiered cake is relatively small (it serves 35) so the additional cakes don’t need to serve many people. However, we’d really love for people to try a little bit of each because they are all so good! I also read somewhere recently that traditionally, people set out little bags/boxes with the groom’s cake and sort of encourage people to take a slice home with them as a favor? Eric liked that idea a lot and so did I because basically we want people to be able to sample the different flavors because we think they are all so amazing. So if that means sending them home with some extra cake, it’s fine by me.

      • Lena

        Thank you so much for so much detail! I am pre-engaged but something like a courthouse + brunch is high on my list of preferred weddings. The nearest nice courthouse to me is like, $5,000 for a weekend wedding, and that’s your only option, which is exactly the kinds of costs I’m trying to avoid by going to the courthouse!

        I love the cake favor idea, and generally the idea of “so many flavors try them all!”

  • Sam A

    ” Apparently when it comes to cake, I’m my mother.”
    I just loved this! I too discovered ‘my mother’ side of myself during wedding planning!!

  • Sarah

    My husband and I are the exact opposite – I have a ridiculous sweet tooth while he does not so much care for dessert. However, I’m not huge into cake, so I really wanted a dessert bar type set up. Phyl couldn’t picture it. Then we went to his aunts wedding where they had a beautiful, tiered display of cut fruit instead of a cake, which really intrigued him. So we compromised and had artistic family members create a big fruit display for our ‘cake’ and I baked a whole bunch if chocolate chip cookies instead if having a whole dessert bar, because cookies are my favorite dessert ever.

  • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

    Non sequitor comment forthcoming but let it be known everything about this is amazing. I had never imagined I would be so utterly enthralled by a simple story about cake.

    but…you’re supposed to spit at wine tastings? Crud, I knew I was doing something wrong. :-)

    • Jessica B

      I like to consider it as the “pinky up” rule of wine tasting–supposedly correct, but more of a hassle!

  • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

    One thousand times this: “In the dating game that is vendor selection, I’d list “understanding and using the Internet” as my number one turn-on.”

    Essentially if you didn’t answer my email and you didn’t have a website, you were off my list. I don’t have time to call every vendor during business hours and chat about things.

    Also, a bagel cake sounds amazing.

  • Kirsten

    This was hysterical. Thank you. As someone who would have just said “chocolate, please” without even thinking, I’m now looking forward to the cake adventure! With a break for meat, of course. Ha!

  • http://www.piecesofanna.com Anna

    Your wedding sounds delicious, and now I want to try blueberry and grapefruit cakes!

    We had cupcakes at our wedding in three delicious flavors (two of which were called Cuba Libre and White Russian) and it was a super easy decision for us because we did not want cake, AND our caterer had a baker who made these super delicious cupcakes. We didn’t even bother with doing tastings elsewhere.

  • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

    Holy cake. I want to try these flavors so badly now! Blueberry cake! And grapefruit cake! I don’t know if I didn’t look hard enough or if Santa Barbara was just more traditional, but I did not find nearly the level of interesting cake flavors that you did. I mean, our cake was still really yummy – it was a cake, after all – but I pretty much want to stalk your baker (the one with a business, not your friend – although she was the grapefruit cake person…) the next time I’m in Austin so I can try this deliciousness out!

    Also, your comment on hipsters and pies cracked me the eff up!

  • Jessica B

    This has reminded me that we still have to do our pie tasting.

    Yes, Pie. No, not fucking hipsters. Reasons:
    1.) Pie is better than cake (to us).
    2.) Of all the cake I’ve had at weddings, I think I’ve enjoyed one of them. The rest of them have too dry, too wet, just not great.
    3.) Our relationship started with pie, it would be a crime to not have pie at a celebration of our marriage. It also started with tequila. If you’re on pinterest you’ve probably seen the idea to put a box together with a bottle of wine and letters to each other in a box at the ceremony, with the plan to open it when you’re fighting or on your anniversary. That’s what we’re doing, but with a bottle of good tequila.

    Rachel, I really like your writing style. As others have said, it is snort-milk-out-my-nose funny. I’m glad you found cake that you enjoy and want at the wedding! If I’m ever in Austin I will want to go try some grapefruit cake.

    • Rachel

      Dude, you don’t sound like a pie hipster at all! That sounds great.

      Also, we’re thinking of having two “signature cocktails,” and the bride’s will most DEFINITELY contain tequila.

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

      Another pie-having bride here. It’s one of the details we are most excited about because, really, it’s PIE! And they are the best pies I’ve ever had (and my family makes damn good pies). And I do not even care about our (awesome) dinner, because I want a slice of every single pie flavor that will be there!!

      5 more weeks, and I will be eating delicious, delicious pie….

  • itsaprocess

    One of the first wedding decisions we made was to have a giant donut tower instead of a cake, but now I want to go taste cakes and flirt with bakers and generally live the life. I wonder if we can get donut makers to let us do tastings on their dime? How would I even pitch that? If any of y’all have approached non-wedding vendors about wedding stuff, I’d love to hear how it went!

  • Sabrina

    I’m super excited because we are having a Halloween costume wedding, and instead of wedding cake I am making layered pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust. We are also having a “trick-or-treat” table with bowls and bowls of awesome candy, because I am a 5 year old at heart and want an excuse to pig out on candy!

  • Emilie

    Cake isn’t that important to us. We are doing assorted desserts (strawberry short cake, macaroons, truffles, mini pies, tirimisu, etc.–all of which were our caterer’s ideas) We also asked out caterer to come up with something pretty and small for a cutting. Totally excited about how easy and lazy the dessert prrocess has been for us.

  • Celina

    This post was so delightful!! I’d like to live in your thoughts for a little while…seems like such a happy place.

  • http://proofitgood.tumblr.com Rizubunny

    My wife is a pastry chef, and her mom has owned a bakery for the last 15+ years, so we really didn’t have the option of no cake (even though I briefly flirted with it mentally). We ended up having a grand marnier rum cake with nutella filling and chocolate buttercream icing. Made by my wife, of course. We got a couple of extra jars of nutella too :)

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