wedding cake

Something Sweet

If you’re going to have a “traditional” tiered wedding cake, like all the other details you’ve personalized for the big day, it too should be reflective of you.

Emily Chavous Foster Current Digital, Weddings Planner

wedding cake

A wedding cake from Desert Villa Bakery.

Gone are the days of basic white wedding cakes. Blame Pinterest. Blame wedding magazines. Blame modish competition like donut walls and chocolate-dipped churro bites. If you’re going to have a “traditional” tiered cake, like all the other details you’ve personalized for the big day, it too should be reflective of you. After all, the wedding cake doubles as a work of art.

“Everybody wants something modern,” says Erica Villanueva, the one-woman cake artist behind Desert Villa Bakery. “I don’t do many solid white cakes anymore. Even if somebody does want white, they want texture or something to make it different, something that stands out.”

Here, Villanueva dishes on what’s hot right now in baking.


“I’m seeing a lot more texture — not a smooth surface. I use palette knives to spackle on texture or give an adobe finish.”


“People are [asking for] a lot of color, very abstract. Muted jewel tones, and then rust and taupe and beige. It has a lot to do with the location that people are getting married. They come here because they like those earthy tones, that dusty desert vibe.”


“Adding florals is a big thing, and not just sticking to roses, but [using] desert flowers, dried florals, palm leaves. That definitely changes the look of the cake. Market flowers are perfectly fine, but with wedding cakes, it can be better to work with the florist. Make sure your cake artist knows about the florals they’re putting on your cake and that the florals are wrapped before they’re inserted. Hydrangeas are poisonous, so those shouldn’t be put on cake unless you wrap them really well, but even then, it’s not a smart idea.”


“You only want to plan for about 70 to 80 percent of your guests. By the time you cut cake and have dessert, a lot of them have left, it’s later in the reception.”


“Out here in the desert, it gets really warm. If you’re sweating, your cake is sweating. Bring the cake out for pictures, refrigerate it, and then bring it out about 20 to 30 minutes before you’re going to slice it.”

Saving a tier

“Cake is safe to eat a year later if you’ve stored it properly [in the freezer]. It doesn’t taste much different, actually. But my suggestion is to just order an anniversary cake.”

Alternative Eats

Wheat & Fire pizza.


Signature cocktails match the desert heat.

A well-orchestrated meal — or a memorable bite — will keep guests talking long after your reception wraps. But it’s no secret that catering often eats up a big chunk of the wedding budget.

A three-course dinner with tried-and-true entrée selections like prime filet, pesto-crusted salmon, and foraged vegetables is sure to please, however, certain alternatives have the potential to save you some coin and add a touch of character to your special day.

Woodfired pizza, In-N-Out Burger, street taco stands, paleta (popsicle) carts, and fresh fruit cups with Tajín were among the toothsome eats served at soirées in the Coachella Valley area over the last year. (Naturally, any of these options would make an excellent addition to a three-courser, if budget is of no concern.)

Wash it all down with signature drinks that live up to the local heat. One of the most popular picks? A spicy margarita. Serve yours with mezcal instead of tequila for a smoky kick.

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