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Have your cake and eat it too

Brides find sweet satisfaction in serving a wedding cake that's both delicious and an expression of the couple's personal taste.

Three area bakers weighed in with some tips for a wedding cake that will make guests say, "This is amazing!"

Signe Gardo, of Signe's Heaven Bound Bakery on Hilton Head Island, has been baking wedding cakes for almost 35 years. She has been recognized by wedding website The Knot as one of the country's best.

Gardo encourages brides to share their personal style, be it "girly girl" or sophisticate, and to be frank about their budget.

"Finding out what a bride likes, and doesn't like, is important," said Gardo. "Particularly when she isn't quite sure of her design."

She also noted an experienced baker can help in unexpected ways, such as by providing advice about where to locate the cake for the best effect or easing tensions when the bride and her mother don't see eye to eye about the cake. Remember to tell your baker if your cake will be served inside (climate controlled) or outside, as some ingredients and designs resist heat better than others.

Barbara Brookshire, of Country Morning Bakery in Ridgeland, has been baking pastries and wedding cakes for more than 50 years. She learned her trade as a teenager in her family's Ohio bakery. Her advice for a bride on a tight budget: Opt for a simple, elegant design and have a sheet cake behind the scenes to serve more guests.

"If you are doing a smaller wedding and your funds are limited, working with a baker that doesn't handle a high volume of business can really help," said Brookshire. "They can spend a little more time helping you work through your options and also be a great source of ideas for money saving tips."

Just like when getting a new hair cut at the salon, it can be helpful to bring in a photo of a cake you like. Or, ask the baker to show you photos of her past work-one might inspire you.

An artist at heart, Minette Rushing of Minette Rushing Custom Cakes in Savannah has been crafting award-winning cakes for 12 years. Her sugar flowers are so lifelike, even Mother Nature might be fooled. Accustomed to working with celebrities and Savannah's elite, Rushing crafts lavish cakes that wow. This attention to detail comes at a price-her cakes start at $1,000.

"A bride needs to decide how important the cake is to her event," Rushing said.

So whether your invitation list is as long as Chelsea Clinton's or you're having a small, relaxed affair, getting the cake you want is as much about trust and dialogue as it is about numbers, colors, and decoration.