The Icing On the Wedding Cake

Do you want fondant, royal, or buttercream? Walk in to the bakery like a pro armed with your dictionary of wedding cake terms.


A traditional, rich and creamy icing. It is easily colored or flavored, and is used for fancy decorations like shells, swags, basketweaves, icing flowers, etc. Since it’s made almost entirely of butter, buttercream has a tendency to melt in extreme heat, so it’s not recommended for outdoor weddings.


This icing looks smooth and stiff and is made with gelatin and corn syrup to give it its helmet-like appearance. It looks the best when decorated with marzipan fruits, gum paste flowers, or a simple ribbon. Fondant does not need refrigeration.

Royal Icing

A mix of confectioner’s sugar and milk or egg whites, royal icing is what the faces of gingerbread men are decorated with.  It’s white, shiny, and hard, and does not need to be refrigerated. It’s used for decorations like dots and latticework.


This chocolate and heavy cream combination can be poured over cakes for a glass-like chocolate finish, or whipped into a filling that it stands up beautifully between cake layers. Due to the ingredients, however, it’s unstable – no heat or humid weather, or the icing will slide right off the cake.

The Last Word

Be sure to look at different styles of cakes before you go to your baker so you have an idea of what you want. The more froo-froo you get on your wedding dessert, obviously, the more it will cost, so sometimes the simpler way is better. And, don\’t forget to ask for a taste test!

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