The finished product!
As my last entry revealed, I somehow survived making 300 cupcakes for my friends' wedding. This post is by no means meant to be the be-all-end-all of how to make cupcakes yourself for a wedding, but it will highlight what I did and my tips for what I found helpful.
These are the test cupcakes that I made for the bride and groom to taste
1. Cupcake Consultation
I invited Tim and Jenna over in order to taste cupcakes, look through my (numerous) cupcakes and cake book, look at what kinds of cupake stands I own (too many?), and discuss what they were looking for. I already knew that Tim wanted white cake with vanilla buttercream, so I made those cupcakes for them to see if they liked how it tasted and then decorated each of them a little differently so that they could get a feel for what I could do for them. This is a good time to have the couple bring in their invitation if they have it, or other details about the wedding that would be useful for cupcake inspiration, like color theme and flower arrangements. In the end, Tim and Jenna said that I could do whatever I wanted. I decided to match the invitation by having hearts (which were in the invite) in matching colors. You may need another session or two to have the couple decide what flavor(s) they want, or at least to have them taste what you make to ensure that they like it.
Some things to think about:
- cupcake tower?
- cutting cake?
- what kind of wrappers?
- how many different flavors?
- how many people? will people want more than one cupcake?
- what time do the cupcakes need to be there?
- will be there a place to refrigerate cupcakes?
- will I be able to make 300 of these?
- Baking time: I had about 5 weeks for the cupcakes. I briefly thought about the idea of baking them in advance and then freezing them, but I can't imagine that it would taste as good as them being fresh, and luckily I knew that I would have enough time to bake all of the cupcakes within 24 hours of the event. I also have no idea how to properly freeze cupcakes to avoid freezer burn and I have a very small freezer. I did see several blogs that suggested doing this, however. I made a test batch of the cupcakes for the cupcake consultation, so I knew how long it would take to bake each dozen. I calculated how many hours it would take to bake 300, and then added extra time. Tip: It will ALWAYS take you longer than you think! Plus no one can bake for 5 hours in a row without some sort of break. Tip: Buy extra ingredients! You also don't want to bake exactly 300 cupcakes. I dropped 4 on the floor, and the only thing preventing me from having a heart attack was the fact that I made 12 extra cupcakes.
Cuppies in their boxes waiting to go to the wedding
- Transportation: The wedding took place about a 10 minute drive from my house, but I still needed a good way to get all of the cupcakes there. I went to the Baker's Nook and asked them what they normally do when they transport large amount of cupcakes. I ended up purchasing the boxes that they used, available online here. If you don't want to buy them online, try going to a local bakery and buying some of their boxes. I know that other people use shallow office paper boxes, but I like that proper cupcake boxes have inserts that separate each cupcake so that they won't fall over.
It seemed like there were cupcakes EVERYWHERE in my house!
- Storage: I decided to make my cupcakes starting the afternoon before the wedding with the goal of having most of them finished by the next day so that I just had to make icing and frost all of the cupcakes and only make a couple dozen the day off the event. I purchased some nice plastic food storage containers from the dollar store so that the cupcakes wouldn't dry out overnight. Three-hundred cupcakes take up a lot of space! Make sure that you have a place to put them :)
Some of the fondant hearts that I made and allowed to dry overnight
- Toppers: As I mentioned, I made fondant hearts to top the cupcakes. I made most of them two weeks in advance so that they could dry overnight and not be so pliable and so that I didn't have to do everything all together. Tip: If possible, make your fondant/gum paste/chocolate toppers in advance. You can allow them to dry and be hard, which will make them easier to place on the cupcake, or keep them in airtight containers. Tip: make extra! You never know when something will break or you might have some last minute inspiration.
- Help: I am a pretty stubborn baker and like to do everything myself, but it's ok to have people help you. My roommate and I made a little assembly line where I would put the swirl of frosting on the cupcake and she placed the hearts and put them in the boxes. It saves time :) Also, I needed help moving the cupcakes from my hosue to the location of the wedding. As your friends in advance to make sure that they are available to lend a hand.
White cake with vanilla buttercream
- Frosting: Although many frostings can be made in advance, I would vote for not making or frosting the cupcakes until the day of the event if that's possible. It will look better and taste better. Besides, putting swirls on 300 cupcakes doesn't take as long as one might think! Again, have extra ingredients just in case. And don't forget the icing bags.
All of the different colors of hearts
3. Baking and Decorating
Again, I did the cupcakes in the 24 hours before the wedding. I'll admit, it was stressful. However, I was confident that cupcakes were fresh, and if they had been for me I wouldn't have wanted frozen and defrosted cupcakes. It was SO helpful to have the fondant hearts made in advance.
Things that made the baking easier:
- Standing mixer (I love my Kitchen-Aid. I sort of want a second one!)
- Several cooling racks
- 4 cupcake tins
- Two ovens (would have reduced the baking time in half!)
- Kitchen-Aid paddle with scraper ability (then I wouldn't have to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula).
- Extra standing mixer bowl
- Commercial kitchen. I know that won't be happening anytime soon but it really would have made things easier :)
Completed wedding cupcake! The heart on the right has pearl dust
4. Other recommendations
If you are attending the wedding, be sure that you finish with enough time to rest before the ceremony and reception! I didn't have time for anything except to shower and get dressed, and I was unbelievably exhausted before the wedding even started! Try to give yourself some time :)
Be sure to do a test run of the recipe to get an idea of how many the recipe will make, how long it takes to bake, etc.
Did I already mention have extra materials and give yourself extra time?
Enjoy the process! It was unbelievably satisfying and rewarding to play a role in such an important day.
NB: I used the medium sized heart in the Wilton Fondant heart cutout pack for most of the hearts. I also used Wilton fondant and gel colors in rose, creamy peach, and teal. I applied the pearl dust with a clean brush.