NEW YORK – Whether you love shopping for shoes, eating Chinese food or talking on a cell phone, your personal passion can be embodied in a wedding cake.
These days, couples walking down the aisle have bid farewell to the old-fashioned three-tiered creation topped with a plastic bride and groom and are choosing cakes that reflect their style.
And bakers are willing to go to extremes when creating what is viewed as the centerpiece of the reception, whether it's a tower of doughnuts, a giant cell phone-shaped Mississippi mud cake or a stack of edible hatboxes
"I just spoke with a bride who wanted to be able to do a cake that disassembles so guests can take it home if they wanted,” said Sylvia Weinstock (search), a woman dubbed the "Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes." “Her whole wedding is going to have a lounge motif. She wants her guests to take cakes when they want cake."
According to Weinstock, whose past clients include Mariah Carey (search) and Donald Trump (search), the cake should compliment the affair. "In terms of the look, if it's a large wedding in an ornate place, you can't give them a simple cake."
But couples have to be prepared to pay to have their visions come true. A Weinstock cake can cost up to $2,000 depending on how many people it's meant to serve.
Tad Weliczko, a baker at New York City's Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, who has created wedding cakes to resemble a groom's tattoo, a family pet and designer products like a Gucci suitcase and a bottle of Chanel perfume, said the only stumbling block to creating a couple's dream cake is physics.
"Some things can't translate into a cake,” he said. “You can't do Superman flying.”
But it's not just the shapes that have changed. The industry once dominated by white butter cream frosting now offers a variety of wacky flavors.
"People are getting away from vanilla,” said Weliczko, whose creations come in novelty flavors like Clark Bar and key lime. “We allow couples to come up with whatever they like.”
Weliczko said some of the more popular cake flavors are rum, marble, tiramisu and cheesecake. And for couples who want to give their guests variety, they can choose a different flavor for each layer.
That's what Irene Columbus, 21, of Long Island, N.Y., decided to do when she tied the knot with her beloved.
"One layer was cannoli, one was fudge and the top layer was strawberry," she said.
All of these current creations can cost plenty, but there's nothing that says couples have to sink their budget in order to impress their guests. A Krispy Kreme doughnut cake ranges from $3 to $6 a person.
But traditionalists need not fret. Many brides who aren't ready to embrace this outlandish trend are choosing to modernize their cake with embellishments like monograms or a topper that reflects their sense of humor or interests.
"We've had everything from people wanting a Mr. Potato Head cake topper to a doctor groom and nurse bride," said Ellen Stenard, product manager for The Bridal People, based outside Portland, Ore. "We also get requests for bald grooms."
One of the company's best sellers is the "Motorcycle Couple" topper, which costs $49.50 — significantly less that what a specially designed Harley-Davidson (search) shaped cake would cost.
But a couple's actual wedding day can be so hectic, some brides and grooms barely have time to nibble on their cake at all.
When asked how she liked her cannoli, fudge and strawberry wedding concoction, Columbus replied, "I didn't have a piece, but everybody tells me it was good."