All sweet teeth are different. Devil's food versus chocolate, strawberry preserves versus cream cheese...and, of course, buttercream versus fondant.
Now you ask, what the heck is fondant? Cake is cake, right? And frosting is frosting? Not so! Wedding cakes usually come with two main "frosting" options: Buttercream and Fondant. The first you know well. It's what grandma put on every holiday homemade cake and the stuff you licked off the spoon when she was finished icing the layers. The second is tricky. Whether you say fon-dònt or fond-ant, this one word makes tastings complicated and, at times, frustrating.
When approaching wedding cake, you need to know what you're getting into. There's no Easy Bake Oven involved and Betty Crocker is staying out of it, so it's important that you arm yourself with the appropriate questions. Let's explore and troubleshoot.
Lesson #1: Don't knock it till you've tried it.
Fondant has a bad rap. By now, you've likely heard that it tastes like glue, cardboard or plaster. While I hope you've never tried a shot of glue, a slice of cardboard or a spoonful of plaster, one can only imagine how awful this thing called fondant must taste. So, ask your baker what product she/he uses and ask to try a little piece of it at the tasting. Some kinds actually remind me of marshmallow...yum!
Lesson #2: Seasons matter.
You've imagined an outdoor, tented, June wedding since you were 12. Well, start imagining a fondant cake, too. Buttercream likely won't last in the heat and outside, so you may want to go fondant shopping and focus your cake search on this item alone at first. Otherwise, you're looking at a melty mess by the time you and your love cut the cake.
Lesson #3: Costs.
Regardless of how it tastes, bakers charge more to use it. If you're on a tighter budget, consider sticking to buttercream to save fifty cents per slice.
Lesson #4: Smoothing it out.
Looks matter. Even with cake. If you want your decorations to look smooth, fondant is the best route to take. Some bakers can make buttercream look 100% flat, so ask to see pics of previous work.
Now that you know the four major considerations, you can confidently approach cakes and icing. Don't be intimated by the names or options. This isn't a pop quiz...take your time and decide what you like.