Celebrity news outlets reported this weekend that Pamela Anderson celebrated her marriage to Rick Salomon with a cardboard wedding cake. The wedding was held at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and the fake cake was the supposed result of planners having "only a day" to prepare. Where does a wedding planner get a fake wedding cake?
A fake-cake rental company. Some real bakeries rent real cakes they've created for showroom display. They might also turn out fake cakes on request, but that wouldn't help with a last-minute order. It takes about the same amount of time and money to produce an artificial cake as it does a real one, since most of the effort goes into the decorating—whether you're dealing with angel food or Styrofoam. A dedicated fake-cake rental company can supply a prefab wedding cake for a fraction of the cost of the real thing. These companies can be found in major cities or on the Internet.
Artificial cakes are decorated exactly like real ones, but use Styrofoam "forms"—structures shaped to mimic the look of tiers—instead of actual cake. The forms are decorated with icing and fondant for an extremely realistic effect. Some decorators use drywall spackling paste in place of icing, or a product called PermaIce, which mimics the appearance and consistency of regular icing but dries hard as a rock and doesn't lose its color. Fake-cake experts say they would never use cardboard as a base, since it might not bear the weight of the heavy icing and decorations. Styrofoam cakes can be reused indefinitely, at least until they're broken or the icing begins to yellow.
Many artificial wedding cakes also have real components. Sometimes the top tier is an actual cake for cutting; other times the bottom layer will have a hidden compartment where real cake (or Twinkies) may be inserted so that the bride and groom can feed each other for photos. Guests at fake-cake receptions are usually served slices of matching sheet cake or individual desserts. This approach will save money: A fake cake can be rented for $100 to $200, while purchasing a comparable real one costs many hundreds of dollars, and sometimes much, much more.
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Explainer thanks Nancy Chinnock of Custom Cake Design, Judy Faber of Kreations by Judy, Kimberly Aya of CakeRental.com, and Karin Lutz at the Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas.