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Faking it? What are dummy wedding cakes and do I need one?

Cornflower blue buttercream wedding cake finished with gold painted elements and handmade gold painted sugar flowers designed by Bluebell Kitchen

Dummy wedding cakes, fake cakes, imitation tiers….what are they and do you need one?  We’re asked this question time and again!  This is usually when clients think using a dummy cake is a more budget friendly way to create their wedding cake.  What are the benefits to having a dummy or fake tier as part of your wedding cake?

What’s a dummy wedding cake?

Dummy wedding cakes are flawlessly iced and decorated polystyrene blocks.  Unseen by the naked eye, fake cakes blend seamlessly into your wedding cake design adding height and drama.

Traditionally dummy wedding cakes are used by your wedding cake maker for display, such as at our studio in Maidstone, Kent or for a wedding show or photoshoot.  As couples are choosing more statement style wedding cake designs they’re now firmly established as a wedding cake option.

Five tier white fondant iced wedding cake filled with handmade sugar flowers
Imitation tiers blend seamlessly into your wedding cake design adding height and drama

Do I need a dummy wedding cake?

Like with everything this is dependent on multiple factors, which can include your wedding cake design and the number of guests attending your wedding.

Fake cakes have unlimited design possibilities, the more elaborate the better.  For example the out of this world geode designs from a few years ago, where sections of the cake were cut out without compromising your wedding cake’s stability.  For a more traditional style wedding cake, they are perfect for adding depth to your style of design as shown in the wedding cake below, which we created for an intimate wedding at The Globe Theatre, London.

4 tier white sharp edged wedding cake finished with rich Autumn colour sugar flowers at The Globe Theatre designed by Bluebell Kitchen
A Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding cake design at The Globe Theatre, London

Where your wedding planner suggests placing your cake at your venue can also seriously affect its look.  If you’re having approx. 100 guests to your wedding but your wedding cake is being displayed in the grand entrance to your venue, for example at Stowe House, anything less than a five tier wedding cake just won’t cut it.  This enables you to include two extra imitation tiers, increase the level of design and none of your guests need to know you’re faking it!  Of course, we’d advise you of this during your consultation.

Five tier ombre ivory to peach to pink wedding cake at the grand entrance to Stowe House, Buckinghamshire
Five tier ombre designed wedding cake placed at the grand entrance to Stowe House

Dummy wedding cakes are cheaper…pfft, don’t believe the hype

We probably get asked this question the most when a couple considers including fake tiers as part of their design.  Contrary to popular belief/ the internet rumour mill dummy wedding cakes will NOT make your wedding cake design cheaper!

We design and create your wedding cake just for you.  The delicate sugar work on your wedding cake, which might include hundreds of handmade sugar flowers is what sets it apart.  Every sugar flower is made petal by petal, a labour of love to bring your wedding cake to life.  Whether it includes dummy cakes or is full of real sponge cake, the true expenditure within your wedding cake is in this detailed design and your wedding cake maker’s skill level.

5 tier shows topping wedding cake finished with gold paint, ivory handmade ruffles, handmade sumptuous pastel sugar flowers designed by Bluebell Kitchen
We design and create your unique wedding cake just for you

Can I fake the whole cake?

You can, but without labouring the point about cost, replacing a dummy cake with a selection of kitchen cutting cakes actually adds to your wedding cake budget.  Your wedding cake maker will be creating a showstopping dummy wedding cake for you AND delicious cutting cakes to eat.  Double the work.

Will my guests know I’ve got fake tiers?

There shouldn’t be any difference between your real cake tiers and your dummy cake tiers.  Look at the three wedding cakes below.  Can you tell which one includes all dummies, which one is all cake and which is a mix of both?

Three multi tier wedding cakes finished with sugar flowers showing how difficult it is to tell the difference between all real cake and dummy cakes
Can you tell which wedding cake designs are real cakes and which are dummy cakes?

Just for fun, cakes A and C include a mix of real cake and dummy cakes whilst cake B is all real.  As your wedding cake maker, we’re highly skilled and ensure that only those that need to know, know.

I’m having a buttercream wedding cake; can I have a dummy tier?

Two of our favourite buttercream wedding cake designs have included fake tiers.  If you’re having a rustic style wedding, what’s to stop you including an imitation tier or two.  Many barn wedding venues in Kent are huge, so why not soak up wedding cake design inspiration from the glorious Kent countryside and create a bold, centrepiece wedding cake.

Four Tier Cornflower blue buttercream filled with hand painted gold sugar flowers - the ultimate gold wedding cake
Even buttercream cake designs can include dummy tiers

Are dummy wedding cakes environmentally friendly?

There is an environmental cost to consider if you’re contemplating using a dummy cake.  Polystyrene is not environmentally friendly and takes more than 500 years at an absolute minimum to biodegrade.  In fact if you google how long it takes to breakdown, the answer can be forever.  We hope that an alternative to polystyrene will be found very soon.

If the cost difference between dummy and real cakes is negligible why not, simply choose real cake.  If you’re concerned that you’ll have cake left over, discuss this with us, your wedding cake maker.  We’d always advise serving under your number of guests to ensure that every last slice is enjoyed and is an  important part of your design and taste experience.

Should you fake it?

Are there really any benefits to using dummy tiers?  It’s true, using dummy cakes means that there can never be any compromise on your design vision.  What appears to be a showstopper wedding cake in a small cake design studio might be dwarfed in a giant ballroom, which is where the inclusion of a fake tier or two works really well.

However, you must also consider the environmental and financial cost.  If you’ve set your heart on a multi-tier intricately designed wedding cake, in reality the cost difference between having a dummy or real cake is negligible.  We base our pricing on the style and design of wedding cake we work on with you, not whether its dummy or real cake.  The design is where most of the creative time is spent on your one of a kind sumptuous wedding cake.

Photos: Rebecca Douglas Photography, The Bostons, Bluebell Kitchen

We are Erica and Charlie Bell, a mother-daughter team creating breathtaking wedding cakes and macarons from our studio in Maidstone, Kent.   We love nothing more than getting to know our couples, and creating distinctive designs that are inventive and imaginative.  Our one-of-a-kind cakes that are designed down to the very last (sugar) detail. We deliver across London, Kent, Essex, Surrey, Sussex and beyond.

Want to learn the secrets of sugar craft, create your own favours or macarons?  Join us at our cake school in Maidstone, Kent.

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