"Naked" Wedding Cakes Reign Supreme This Year, Along With These 9 Other Cute Trends

Semi Naked Wedding Cake

We’re deep in the throes of wedding season right now, so, hey, let’s take a second to look at some cakes, shall we? Google just released its list of the most searched for wedding cake trends of 2019, after all; now seems like an excellent time to see what’s been on the minds of everyone who’s been planning a wedding this year — or just people who like to stay up on their current wedding trends. Things just change so quickly now, you know?

We’ve been over wedding cake history here at Bustle a few times in recent memory, but in case you need a refresher, it’s worth remembering that wedding cakes as we know them today — big, elaborate, tiered things made of fluffy sponge cake and covered in rich frosting and fondant — are a relatively recent invention. Food has always been a big part of wedding celebrations, of course, and a number of traditions do predate the wedding cake — the English tradition of “bride pie” comes to mind, for example. But white sugar wasn’t widely available until the 16th century — and given that this kind of sugar was (and is) an essential ingredient not just of the cake itself but also for the frosting that gave it its fanciful appearance… well, you can see how what we think of now as wedding cakes might not have been much of a thing before that point. Queen Victoria, meanwhile, is generally credited with starting the tiered wedding cake trend — and several centuries later, here we are.

Trends, though, are always changing — and in the world of weddings, that includes cake trends. And now that search data is so easy to track, we can get an excellent idea of exactly how wedding cake trends have evolved over time. Here’s a snapshot of what’s popular in 2019, according to Google’s most searched wedding cake trends of the year:


Naked Wedding Cake

Detail of a wedding cake - Naked CakeShutterstock

Characterized by their lack of an outer layer of frosting or fondant and generally adorned with minimal decorations, naked wedding cakes have exploded in popularity in recent years — but although their current prevalence is often credited to Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi, who added them to Milk Bar’s menu around 2014, they’ve been around for a bit longer than that. (When Hilary Duff and Mike Comrie got married in 2010, for example, they served a naked wedding cake at their reception.)

Although naked wedding cakes can cost a little less for bakers to make, add-ons to your order can bump the price up again pretty quickly. There’s also less margin for error when it comes to actually baking and assembling the cake; as Arlene Murray of New Jersey bakery Polkadot Cupcake Shop told in 2018, “A cake without any outer icing needs to be baked to absolute perfection, since there’s no icing to cover any missteps and to add moisture to a potentially dry inside.” Done right, though, these cakes are stunning — and given their trendy nature, it’s no wonder they’re the most searched wedding cake trend of 2019.


Simple Wedding Cake

Are giant frosting whorls, huge piles of fondant, and a plethora of floral decorations not quite your jam? You’re not alone; searches for “simple wedding cakes” clocked in second on Google’s list. So what exactly is a “simple wedding cake?” If the Google image search results are anything to go by, they’re generally white, tiered, and frosted, just like a… regular wedding cake? Non-simple wedding cake? Complicated wedding cake? What’s the correct term here?... would be; however, they’re subtler in their designs, with more of a monochrome look to them than a colorful one. They also feature pared-down garnishes — a flower or two here and there, rather than cascading all over the place — and might only feature two tiers instead of three or four. There are even a couple of naked cakes in the mix.

Ultimately, though, what makes for a “simple wedding cake” depends entirely on what your own take on the phrase itself is. You do you!


Italian Wedding Cake

Like many of the search terms on this list, number three — “Italian wedding cake” — can mean a lot of things. Although big, fondant-covered, tiered wedding cakes have been on the rise in Italy in recent years, Italian wedding planner L’Arabesque Events notes that traditionally, an Italian wedding cake is one of two things: Millefoglie or pan di Spagna.

Millefoglie (which you might know by its French name, millefeuille — both words mean “a thousand layers” in their respective languages) layers puff pastry with Chantilly cream, pastry cream, or chocolate cream, with the finished effect ultimately resembling a one-tier sheet cake. It’s often covered with berries and topped with powdered sugar. Pan di Spagna, meanwhile, is a treat made of sponge cake layered with cream that might be anywhere between one and three tiers high. It’s usually topped with things like fresh fruit, meringue, cream puffs, or flowers. Either way: Yum.


Rustic Wedding Cake

elegant and simple wedding cake with flowers on topShutterstock

“Rustic wedding” is another one of those slightly nebulous terms; we all kind of know what a “rustic wedding” looks like—artfully homespun, a little rough around the edges, basically the formal event equivalent of intentional bedhead — but it’s hard to pin down exactly what the definition of such a wedding might be. The same goes for “rustic wedding cakes,” but what Google’s results for the popular search term suggests is that the cakes, too, are artfully homespun and a little rough around the edges. Rather than stiffly-sculpted fondant and fancy buttercream frosting and fillings, they might incorporate whipped cream and jam instead. Not unlike the search results for “simple wedding cake,” there are a lot of naked cakes in the results for “rustic wedding cake,” too.


Hawaiian Wedding Cake

As the long-running Hawaiian webzine Kaʻahele Hawaiʻi points out, there isn’t really such a thing as a “traditional Hawaiian wedding cake,” largely because cake itself didn’t really exist in ancient Hawaii. However, a haupia cake — a spin on the Hawaiian coconut pudding called haupia — might be incorporated in modern weddings.

According to Kaʻahele Hawaiʻi, the cake itself is white and coconut-flavored; it’s then and decorated with fresh island flowers and greenery. (Just, y’know, make sure you’re not edging into cultural appropriation territory if you opt to have haupia cake at your wedding; if you’re not Hawaiian or have no connection to the culture, maybe don’t put this one on the menu.)


Small Wedding Cake

Weddings don’t have to be celebrated with huge, teetering, multi-tiered confections; small wedding cakes can also fit the bill, especially if you’re having a small wedding with a select number of guests or if you want to serve other desserts alongside the cake. Heck, you might even opt to have a teeny tiny cake solely for cake-cutting purposes, making it more of a symbolic gesture than an actual dessert to serve to your guests. From single-tiered cakes to miniature, two- or three-layer affairs, small wedding cakes can be as meaningful as huge ones — and for that reason, it’s no wonder that the search term takes the number six slot on Google’s most searched wedding cake trends.


Sunflower Wedding Cake

Wedding cake decorated with flowers of sunflower.Shutterstock

I’ll admit it: This one surprised me. By “sunflower wedding cake,” we literally mean “a wedding cake decorated with sunflowers.” Whether those sunflowers are real, silk, or made or fondant can vary according to what you like best, but it does seem to a growing trend to decorate the desserts served at your nuptials not with roses or other blooms traditionally associated with romance, but with bright and cheerful sunflowers. Sunflower wedding cakes often go hand-in-hand with rustic theming, so if you’re having a rustic-style wedding and in search of something a little more specific for your cake than a “rustic wedding cake” (looking at you, Number 4), a sunflower cake might be your best bet.


Donut Wedding Cake

Finally, a wedding “cake” that isn’t actually a cake! Wedding cake alternatives have been growing more and more common in recent years; you might see anything from an ice cream sundae bar to giant trays of cinnamon rolls served in place of the traditional wedding cake these days. It’s a trend I can get behind — particularly when the alternative in question is donuts. (In fact, my spouse and I almost had a donut tower at our own wedding for that very reason.)

Wedding donuts can be served in a variety of different ways, from beautifully-arranged platters to the aforementioned tower. Donut walls — peg boards with donuts hanging off of them which guests can feel free to snatch up at their leisure — have even become A Thing, reaching viral status around 2016. With a growing number of donut bakeries noting that, yes, they will do weddings (hi there, Voodoo Doughnut), having wedding donuts is easier — and tastier! — than ever.


Cupcake Wedding Cake

Cupcakes in the wedding DayShutterstock

Cupcakes are undeniably fun. They can also be sophisticated. As such, they’re an excellent choice for weddings — and given how popular fancy cupcakes have become over the past 20 years or so, it’s no surprise that searches for wedding cupcakes would still be hitting the list. Whether you’re a devotee of Magnolia Bakery — the New York bakery that shot to fame in the early 2000s Carrie and Miranda stopped there for a treat in an episode of Sex And The City — or a fan of Sprinkles — the Beverly Hills-based spot that launched in 2005 as one of the earliest bakeries focused exclusively on cupcakes — there’s a cupcake for everyone. There’s also really nothing quite like the spectacle of a table full of beautifully decorated wedding cupcakes.


DIY Wedding Cake

Remember when I said my spouse and I almost opted for donuts instead of a wedding cake? We actually ended up with a combination of a number of things on this list (along with a few other things) instead: We had a small lemon cake, a pie, some hand pies, and a bunch of cupcakes — all of which were DIY’d by a beloved and extremely generous friend. (I do not deserve such awesome friends.) Granted, we had a tiny wedding with only around 25 people including ourselves; it was still a phenomenal amount of work, though — and the results were beautiful, delicious, and far more meaningful to us than a big, fancy wedding cake would have been.

The point is, you can absolutely DIY wedding desserts, from cakes to pies and everything in between. Just make sure you’re prepared for it; DIYing your own wedding can be overwhelming no matter how handy you are, and when it comes to cakes and desserts in particular, there can be more complications than you might face in your standard, at-home baking marathon. Me, for example? I like to bake, but I would have in no way been able to handle making desserts for my own wedding. My gorgeous and amazing friend, however, had done this before and knew exactly how to go about making it happen. So, y’know, just… be prepared if you opt to go the DIY route.

Here’s the thing with “trends” lists, though, whether they’re based on search data or not: They’re just a look at what’s generally popular. When it comes to weddings, go ahead and have the wedding that’s best for you and your partner—not what anyone else tells you they think your wedding should be. Wedding cakes, for example? Ultimately, any cake can be a wedding cake if you want it to be; all you have to do to make it one is to serve it at your wedding.

So, hey. Have fun. Take some inspiration from this list if it’s useful to you, but feel free to leave it be if it’s not. And hey, even if you aren’t planning a wedding right now, we can all appreciate a good dessert, right?