While we're on the subject of ways to throw a child-friendly wedding, I think a word or two about cake is in order. Because I've yet to meet a child who doesn't like cake.
Now y'all know I didn't want a fancy wedding gown, so I guess it only makes sense that I didn't want a fancy wedding cake either. (A) I'm not a huge cake person to begin with, and (B) have y'all seen the prices people charge for those things? Crazy-town. Plus, and excuse my negativity here, but those fancy wedding cakes--while beautiful--tend to be a little on the dry side, often with crunchy icing, right?
Anyway, after deciding against cookies (my first choice) and doughnuts (my sister's suggestion), Tod and I figured we'd jump on the cupcake bandwagon, especially after we visited the Pawleys Island Bakery and spoke with the owner, who was ever so helpful.
Here's a slightly truncated version of our conversation:
Me: We'd like about 80 cupcakes for a wedding on the afternoon of April 21. Is that something you could do? Oh, and I have a niece with a nut allergy.
The owner: We can do 80 cupcakes, and we don't use any nut oils or cross-contaminate anything so no worries about the nuts. (My mom double-checked about this just to make sure.) Now what kind of cupcakes are we talking about?
(We sat down at a table to discuss.)
Me: Hmm, 80 cupcakes, maybe three or four different flavors, but not embellished? In other words, I want the icing to be sort of messy and homemade-looking. I've talked my mom into making little toppers so I'm just looking for simple, plain cupcakes.
The owner: Okay, I understand, no flowers or fancy icing designs. Just plain iced cupcakes that look homemade. Those won't cost as much as the regular cupcakes we sell. (The first and only time in all the wedding planning that someone gave me an initial price and then ended up lowering it.) Now, which flavors do you like?
Me: Hmm, I like chocolate and vanilla. I like carrot cake. I like strawberry. Ooh, and raspberry. And red velvet. And dark chocolate. And butter cream. And . . . yes, I continued like that for a while until I realized I had listed every kind of cupcake on the menu and even some not on the menu. But you know what? I ended up having an epiphany. They all sounded amazing, so why not spare myself the decision and just let the cupcake maker himself choose the flavors?
The owner: Wait, you really want me to choose the flavors? Are you sure?
Me: Yes, I'm sure. They all sound really great, and I'd just like an assortment of whatever you think will look and taste the best.
As you can imagine, he was a bit taken aback, and he told me as much. He said most brides were a bit more, let's say, opinionated about the cake. I gave myself a pat on the back upon hearing that because being less opinionated is actually something with which I struggle.
Okay, so let's get back to those cake toppers I talked my mom into making. (That lady really loves me, I tell you what.) I actually had the idea one day when I was driving down Broad Street on my way home for lunch. It's like a vision of these things just popped into my head, so I called mom immediately because we all know how fleeting those visions can be. I told her my idea, and boy did she run with it. I said, "what if we decorate popsicle sticks with round cut-out pictures from children's books and stick the popsicle sticks in the cupcakes?" Of course we worked through various ideas like cutting circles from Parisian Metro maps or from maps of downtown Charleston and sticking those on the popsicle sticks or cutting circles from old photographs. We even talked about gluing lucky pennies and Scrabble tiles to popsicle sticks, but in the end we agreed that the pictures from some of my favorite children's books (think the Berenstain Bears, Richard Scarry, Matilda, and Sesame Street) would be the most fun. And because my parents' house never has a shortage of children's books lying around, my mom picked up a box of popsicle sticks, whipped out her pinking shears and some glue, and went to work.
The results were positively beyond charming, at least if you ask me. Oh, and as for the flavors, I think we ended up with something like: vanilla/strawberry; vanilla/chocolate; dark chocolate/raspberry; chocolate/strawberry; chocolate/chocolate; and red velvet. They were delicious, and I have to say that half the fun was just looking at all the precious toppers.
One final note about the cupcakes: do you see the white metal stands on which the plates are sitting? Mom and I found them at a thrift shop for a couple bucks a piece; they are those fold-out pot/plant holders that you can find at garden supply stores. We spray painted them white, and as luck would have it, my mom's white plates fit inside the openings perfectly. I still have them, and one day I think I'll set them on a porch and fill them with terra cotta pots overflowing with ferns and ivy.