Instructions on Decorating a Wedding Cake

wedding cake

If you're looking for instructions on decorating a wedding cake, you've found the right place. While no two wedding cakes look the same, the basic steps hold true for the decorating process.


You have your basic design in mind but how do you get started? Careful preparation makes the decorating process run smoothly.


Having the necessary supplies on hand allows you to work efficiently. Searching for forgotten equipment eats up valuable time when your decorating schedule is tight. Who wants dig through a pile of decorating tips when you can be playing with sugar? Gather all of the tools you'll need before you begin the decorating process.

The typical set of tools needed includes:

  • Offset spatula for smoothing buttercream
  • Cake decorating tips, pastry bags and couplers
  • Flower nail
  • Fondant roller or rolling pin for fondant-covered wedding cakes
  • Fondant smoother

Instructions on Decorating a Wedding Cake

The supplies are gathered. The cakes are baked and cooled. Now the decorating fun begins.

Crumb Coat

The crumb coat seals any loose crumbs on the cake, preventing them from showing in the final layer of icing. You'll want to lightly brush away any visible crumbs from the cake's surface before spreading a thin layer of buttercream icing on it.

Buttercream Designs

Once your crumb coat is set, you can add your final layer of buttercream icing. Smooth buttercream icing remains a mystery to many cake decorators. Lots of practice and a few tricks help you achieve a smooth surface on the wedding cake. A warm, offset spatula eases the task of smoothing the icing. Another option is to let the buttercream crust slightly. Then place a piece of parchment paper or a plain paper towel on top and smooth the icing gently with your hand or a fondant smoother.

When you have the buttercream smooth, the cake is ready for the decorations. This is where your individual design comes into play. The piping, flowers or ribbon accents you selected are added to each tier of the wedding cake to pull the design together.

Fondant-Covered Cakes

Fondant-covered cakes also begin with a crumb coat of buttercream which glues the fondant to the cake. Roll the fondant to about 1/4 inch thickness on a surface sprinkled with powdered sugar. After you transfer the fondant sheet to the cake, a fondant smoother helps remove any bubbles in the surface. A pizza cutter or sharp knife works well to trim the excess fondant from the bottom.

The blank fondant canvas is now ready for your creative expression to develop the design of the cake. As with a buttercream design, the decorations for the fondant cake are only limited by your creativity. Channel your inner artist when adding the accents to the fondant cake.


With the icing in place, the wedding cake is ready for the decorative touches. These general instructions are flexible, allowing you to customize the exact design.


The border along the base of each tier adds decoration and hides any uneven edges on the cakes. Icing borders remain a popular option for wedding cakes. Ribbons are growing in popularity as the bottom border. You can use real ribbon or cut a strip of fondant to resemble a ribbon.


A round decorating tip is used for piping on a wedding cake. The size of the round tip varies depending on the desired outcome. Experimenting with the different sizes of tips helps determine which is best for your design. Popular piped designs include dots in straight lines or randomly scattered, scrolls and swirls. Vine patterns accented with flowers are another popular choice.


Fondant accents provide additional options for decorating a wedding cake. Fondant cutouts stick well to either a buttercream or fondant-covered cake. Stripes, circles or hearts cut from rolled fondant work well on the tiers.

Finishing Touches

With a few finishing touches, the wedding cake is ready for display.


Now that your design has been created in sugar, the tiers are ready for stacking. The typical stacking method involves placing the tiers directly on top of one another, with the layers gradually growing smaller as they reach the top. If you don't want all of your hard work in a pile on the floor, a solid stacking system is a must. A commercially-produced stacking system or dowels are the most common options for stacking wedding cakes.


Many brides love the look of flowers on the wedding cake. You have a few options when it comes to the floral accents. Flowers made from gum paste or fondant are a popular choice. Silk flowers allow a more realistic look without the worry of wilting. Real flowers also work well on cakes. Freshly cut flowers are typically placed on top of the cake, around the base and sometimes on each of the tiers. This step is best saved until the cake is in place at the reception.

The basic instructions on decorating a wedding cake fit nearly any design. Your creative touches in the decorating process make a one-of-a-kind sugar masterpiece that will take center stage at any wedding reception.

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
Instructions on Decorating a Wedding Cake