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Welcome back to my wedding planning journey, guys + gals! Today we’re talking cake + sweets – an important component of any wedding!

Call me traditional, but when I think wedding cake, I think tiered, white, and lovely, like these pretties below:

All cakes from Martha Stewart Weddings except bottom left, which is from Southern Weddings (photo by Tec Petaja)

In fact, that cake in the upper left is my all-time favorite wedding cake — it’s absolutely perfect in my mind!

However, after tasting the cakes at my sister’s wedding, I pretty much decided that I could never serve a tiered confection at my wedding. For me, tiered cakes are always too dense and/or dry. I’m not a baker, but I think this is because they have to be denser in order to support the weight of the tiers — I’m not sure a fluffy tiered cake is possible! (However, should any pastry artists out there wish to prove me wrong, I am always up for taste tests!)

Besides, we don’t really have the budget for a gorgeous tiered cake, anyway. Instead, we’re going to be serving an assortment of mini desserts (to go along with our mini food!). We’ll also have a small cutting cake, but more about that in a minute. First, let’s feast our eyes on some delicious-looking + diminutive desserts!

There’s mini pecan pies…

mini key lime tarts…

mini fruit tarts…

mini cookies…

and even more exotic offerings, like mini donuts, milkshakes, candy apples, and waffle bowls with ice cream!

Pecan pie photos by Caroline Joy (via SW) and Braedon Flynn (via SW); key lime tart photos by Karen Wise (via Style Me Pretty), Jessica Lorren (via SW), and Jodi Miller (via SW); fruit tart photos from Cannelle et Vanille and Martha Stewart Weddings; mini cookies both from Martha Stewart Weddings; mini milkshakes photo by Julie Lim (via SW); waffle bowls and candy apples from Martha Stewart Weddings; donuts photo by Chris Court

We’re still debating which, exactly, mini desserts we’ll be servings at our reception, but I do know that mini fruit tarts will be in the mix – they’re John’s favorite, and one of his only requests! I also know we’re going to be serving a special treat made by my Momma — I’m not going to spoil the surprise for any of our guests that might be reading, but I will say that all of my high school friends could probably guess correctly right away — these little treats have been a staple at the Ayer household for as long as I can remember! I’m so grateful that our caterer, A Thyme to Cook, is willing to transport and set out our homemade treats along with theirs — it makes it so much more possible to contribute family recipes and still have everything move smoothly and flow seamlessly!

Now about that cutting cake. We were originally going to have A Thyme to Cook make it, as well, but as we took a harder look at our budget, we realized that this was one detail we could pretty easily take care of ourselves, and save some money while doing so. I don’t think I would be brave enough to make a cake a few days before our wedding that I’d actually be feeding to our guests, but since John and I will be the only ones tasting this cake, I’m not that worried! All we have to do is make it edible and decently pretty on the outside. Here’s some of the “doable” cake inspiration I’ve been gathering:

Bow cake photo by Braedon Flynn (via SW), meringue cake photo by J. Malahy (via SW), white cake buffet photo by The Nichols (via Style Me Pretty), heart cake buffet photo by Brooke Images (via SW), ruffled cake photo by Melissa Schollaert (via SW), flag cake photo by The Nichols (via Style Me Pretty), and raspberry cake photo by Aaron Delesie

Surely my family and I can pull off something like the above – what do you think? Oh yes, and we’ll totally be making the cake itself from a box — no way am I going “from scratch” on this one!

I’d also love to hear what y’all will be serving for dessert at your weddings. A traditional cake? A cake buffet? Pies? Mini desserts? Please comment + let me know!

In case you missed a post…
The main characters
Where we’re getting married
I go dress shopping
We choose a photographer
I ponder bridesmaid style
Mini food!
The music
We’re renting a tent!
We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres
We send out our save the dates
I gather hair and makeup inspiration

Jessica Lorren, Brooke Images, Jodi Miller Photography, and Melissa Schollaert are fabulous members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Laura reply

    We’re planning on having a dessert buffet of pies, cupcakes, and doughnuts (Krispy Kreme, of course!), but I also wanted to have a very small cake for our actual cake-cutting. I hadn’t thought about making it myself, but like you said, we’ll be the only ones eating it and it would be far more economical. How far in advance will you make it? I just wouldn’t want to be worrying about it the day before or the day of.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Laura! That all sounds DELICIOUS! We’ll probably make ours the Wednesday before the wedding. I don’t really care if it’s all that fresh, since I’ll probably just be eating a bite or two anyway! :) You could also make the cake layers a few weeks or even months before your wedding and freeze them!

    • avatar Laura reply

      That is true. I think you may have inspired me to bake my own wedding cake!

  2. avatar Haley reply

    Hiya Emily! My fiance and I are doing a tiered cake and mini pies. We can’t wait! We’ll be using my apple pie recipe and my mother will be making my grandmother’s chocolate chess pie. YUM! Your wedding is going to be lovely! Congratulations!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Haley! YUM! Mini pies are just the most adorable thing to me… I’m sure yours will be lovely!

  3. avatar Brittany R reply

    I love the idea of mini desserts! They will be a huge hit.

    We opted to do a cake buffet with 5 flavors-they are each a 2-3 layer round cake like you would by from a bakery…only we ordered 2 of all of them, so we can have backups for when they run out. My grandmother has been gifting me milk glass cake stands for the past few years, and unbeknownst to her, we will be using them for our cake buffet! I thought that was a sweet way to pay homage to her. :)
    In place of a traditional groom’s cake, he opted to do a cobbler bar with vanilla ice cream…so far, everyone loves the idea!

    • avatar Brittany R reply

      Brittany R: sorry, typo! “like you would *buy from a bakery

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Brittany! A cobbler bar sounds AMAZING, and I love the idea of using the cake stands from your grandmother as a surprise! I’m sure she’ll be thrilled!

  4. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    Hi Emily!

    We are doing 2 cakes – a groom’s cake and a bride’s cake. His cake is going to alternate between tiers of chocolate and strawberry w/ vanilla buttercream and will be grey on the outside with one tier possessing the pattern from his argyle sock! My cake is going to be lemon w/ lemon buttercream and will be all white on the outside with one tier possessing the chevron pattern we used on our stationery and table linens! We are going for a very modern look with one tier taller than the rest and both cakes will be the same size. Our cake is definitely contributing/enhancing the decor!

    PS: Y’all can totally handle a traditional small cake! You should do funfetti!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Madelynne! Love that you’re using patterns pulled from other places in your design — so fun!! And you’re right, those cakes will TOTALLY add to the overall vibe/decor!

  5. avatar Desiree reply

    Hey Emily – So, I made a small layered cake for a photoshoot last year. I would highly recommend getting the following tools: round shallow cake pan, skinny knife for trimming top layers, those plastic pipes that you shove in the cake to support the layers, a good icing spatula, cardboard platter that you wrap in pretty paper and construct the cake on (dang near impossible to move a cake once its layered and iced…duh.) and you might want to find a DEEP freezer. My cake melted in the car ride bc I didn’t have it frozen beforehand. ALSO – get one of these:

    I carried mine it just a general rubbermaid box and you guessed it, cake all over the place. It’s totally doable but you just need the right tools. Go add those things to your registry ;o) xoxo

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Desiree! Thanks for the tips! I actually learned a bit about cake making from the owner of Sugarland a few years ago for an SW feature, and one tip she had was to use bubble tea straws for the supports! They work great!

  6. avatar Elizabeth | Glessner Photography reply

    OBSESSED with that Pecan Pie tower… my absolute favorite dessert (my grandmother’s recipe is the best of. all. time). I’m just jealous I didn’t think of it for my own wedding :)

  7. avatar Lindsay Ann reply

    Emily, I love the mini dessert idea. It reminds me of the cookie table tradition in a lot of Italian American weddings that I attended while growing up in Northeastern Ohio. There were always lots of pizelles, tarts, and oh so heavenly clothespin cookies. Yum!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Lindsay Ann! I completely agree with the similarities! Also, you’ve really got me intrigued as to what a “clothespin cookie” is…

  8. avatar [email protected] reply

    You’re going to be a gorgeous bride Emily! And I know how you feel so many dessert options! We just picked donuts for our mini dessert bar options. I am obsessed with donuts so it was a total “duh” moment when we selected Glazed in Charleston to create the fun flavors! They are the best!
    Good luck planning girl!! xo

  9. avatar Kelcey H. reply

    I LOVE that you’re making your own cake! As an aspiring self-taught baker I think everything is better (and sweeter) homemade. The rose cake you have shown above is actually super easy (even for a not so regular cake baker). There are tons of how to videos online if you’d like to give it a try. Plus, no one would ever know you made it yourself.

    Happy Baking!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Today is a very special day here at Southern Weddings, dear friends!  Miss Emily Ayer is celebrating a birthday and we plan to celebrate the good ‘ole Southern way – BIG!  As many of you know, Emily is our resident Art Director, wedding guru and crafting queen.  This is Emily’s 3rd birthday with SW and we couldn’t be happier!  From day one (read the story of how she came to work at SW here), she has made all of our lives happier and well…. prettier!    We are so grateful for you, Em.  Since you are the director ‘o art around here, we had to make your birthday wishes finer than a frog’s hair sanded twice and split four ways!  Happy birthday!!!  Let the festivities begin!  YEEHAW!!!

Special extra birthday love from some people who love you dearly

Happy Birthday Emily! I hope your day is every bit as fabulous as you are! I know that this year is going to be a truly great one for you, enjoy! – Amber

For my beautiful sister Emily, I share with you these wishes for your birthday: First, I hope that today, of all days, you realize how very loved you are. Second, I hope that in September you experience the happy and beautiful continuation of your love story, and know that it will be perfect no matter what. Third, I wish for you many sunny and sea-filled days in Maine, Trains and Catan to help you laugh, challenges to help you grow, late night conversations to bring us closer, and that our family remains at the very core of our lives. I hope this year brings you happiness and laughter, challenges and the strength to overcome them, sadness to make you appreciate the happy days, and, most of all, love, because you deserve it more than anyone I know. Finally, I hope we continue to only grow closer to each other and to God, together. We are so different, but I love you so very much. Happy birthday, Emilia, you deserve a wonderful one. – Kim

Happy birthday, Em! You have incredible talents, and I love that you’re always willing to share them. I’m proud to call you my sister. I hope this year is better than you can even imagine. Love, Kate

And one last birthday wish from your husband-to-be!

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Happy birthday, Emily!!! Have a wonderful, beautiful day!! :)

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Y’all are the sweetest!!! Thank you so much for the birthday wishes!!

  3. avatar Meredith Perdue reply

    Happy birthday, Emily! I hope you have the most wonderful day!

  4. avatar Brent and Anna – Live View Studios reply

    Happy birthday Emily!

  5. avatar Lauren l dwellanddine reply

    Happy Happy Birthday! I hope you had a great day.

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Did you know that, not counting today’s post, there are only 16 “Emily Plans a Wedding” posts between now and, well, when Emily Gets Married? That may seem like a lot to some, but yikes!! Our big day is going to sneak up faster than we can believe, I just know it.

It only makes sense to chat about dates in today’s post introduction, because this week’s post is all about our save the date! For those who might not know, a save the date is typically a simple card that gives your guests a heads up on the date and location of your wedding. They can be sent six to twelve months in advance, unlike a formal invitation, which is traditionally sent just six to eight weeks before the wedding. Save the dates are by no means necessary, but they’re definitely useful if your wedding is on a holiday weekend or you know the majority of your guests will be traveling. Of course, they also serve to get guests excited about the upcoming celebration, too! For instance, I’d be pretty excited if I got this lovely in the mail:

One of my favorite save the date designs, a collaboration between Love*Jenna and Swiss Cottage Designs

As many of you probably know, I am an inveterate paper lover. I attend the National Stationery Show every year, and almost nothing makes me happier than collaborating with designers and calligraphers to develop stationery suites for editorial shoots. Great paper details are usually one of my favorite things about wedding submissions, too. So of course I was excited about the first paper-related detail of our wedding!

Knowing my love for paper and my general craftiness, I think some of my friends and family members were surprised I didn’t DIY our save the date. It certainly was a possibility that crossed my mind, but I pretty quickly decided that with my busy schedule and busy Etsy shop (where I design things for other brides – ha!), this was one wedding project that I didn’t need to take on. I am a little sad about not having gone “all out,” but I’ve come to terms with it :)

My decision was made much easier by the abundance of chic save the date designs available today. My personal favorite source? That would be Minted, and I know I’m not alone in this. Their crowd-sourced designs are the cream of the crop, and their prices are quite reasonable for the quality and customer service you receive in return. Plus, they often offer 10-15% off discount codes, so sign up for their emails and be ready to pounce once you’ve picked your preferred design!

Once I had decided we were going with Minted, it was time to pick. John and I considered several options, including these below:

Sources: 1) Fireflies save the date ($1.58 each), 2) Winter Flourish save the date ($1.58 each), 3) Float + Spring Shades save the date ($1.58 each), 4) Midnight Vineyard save the date ($1.58 each), 5) Fling save the date ($1.36 each), 6) Charming Go Lightly save the date ($1.58 each)

We did a little crowd-sourcing on my blog, and happily, public opinion seemed to line up with what we were already thinking: Midnight Vineyard was the winner. To make it our own, however, I knew I wanted to make a few modifications to the standard design. Happily, Minted is totally fine with that! We changed the font, the arrangement of the text, and the color of the text with no difficulty. We also added a solid colored backer, and a fun striped envelope liner. Literally about a week later, we had these beauties in our hands!

It’s a bit hard to tell, but the back is a solid pale blue.

I hand addressed each one with my best script, then stamped on the return address (I made the design in Illustrator, and then we ordered it through The stamp was about $16 with shipping, and since I didn’t include our last names, we’ll be able to use it long after the wedding! I also very carefully chose our postage — the Edward Hopper Forever stamp is perfect for our ocean-side reception spot! (Is it weird to feel as strongly about a stamp as I feel about this one? Because I’m slightly obsessed with this design…)

The envelopes, front and back:

And with the pretty striped liner:

Many thanks to Nancy Ray for snapping these lovely photos! Now, ladies, tell me: Did you send save the dates? What did they look like?

In case you missed a post…
The main characters
Where we’re getting married
I go dress shopping
We choose a photographer
I ponder bridesmaid style
Mini food!
The music
We’re renting a tent!
We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    Gorgeous! That was instantly the one I picked for y’all before I saw which one you picked! Love the liners and your calligraphy and stamp choice!

    We designed our own save the date, but were DEF inspired by etsy and other sources. We did postcards on 80# metallic linen finish bright white paper – so PRETTY! They were digital printed and had our own custom logo on the front and some bright yellow chevron on the front w/ lovely rounded corners! We also picked some USPS stamps that had our wedding colors in them! We were so pleased!

  2. avatar Mary reply

    Love these! They were my extremely close second choice to the ones I ended up with! How exciting!

  3. avatar Julie reply

    Save the dates are a must! I made my own online and used our engagement photos for the cards. On the back of the cards (I used a postcard template) I left space to write in the addresses and then included some smaller pictures with the date and our wedding website. Still waiting to get the cards mailed to me, but I’ve seen the proofs online and they are fantastic!

  4. avatar » Southern Weddings Shout Out Swiss Cottage Design reply

    […] with the SW readers. Yesterday she gave our watercolor save the date {a colab with Love, Jenna} a little shout out- very exciting! Thanks […]

  5. avatar AmandaR reply

    I had big plans for our Save the Date! My mom was repainting the big barn on the farm before the wedding anyhow, so we painted “Save the Date, June 9, 2012” REALLY big in John Deere green paint (cue the Joe Diffie song) and posted ourselves in front of it for our Save the Date picture. SO. MUCH. FUN. and a lot of work…. :)

  6. avatar Emily reply

    Which stamp did you order on their website? Can you send me the link? I seriously need one of these with 200+ invitations to mail out. haha :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Emily! We ordered the 3 inches wide by 1.5 inches tall rubber stamp ( I uploaded a custom design, which was pretty easy. Hope that helps!

  7. avatar Emily Plans a Wedding: Accessories! – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] style Mini food! The music We’re renting a tent! We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres We send out our save the dates I gather hair and makeup inspiration We talk cake and sweets I introduce you to our videographer We […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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