Our Unexpectedly Inexpensive Cake Toppers

January 04, 2013   //  Posted in: DIY, Wedding   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

Once upon a time we had a really easy time planning our wedding. The venue, caterer, dress, and general aestetic came together effortlessly. The rings, easy. The wedding shower, delightful. The bouquets, perfect. We didn’t bicker about anything. One of the only snafus we encountered happened two weeks before the wedding when the girl baking our wedding cake casually bailed. Via email.

It was funny, in hindsight, that kind of nervous-laughter-while-sweating-and-crying-on-the-couch-late-at-night-funny, and I won’t really get into how manically upset I was, I was pretty on-edge the whole month of the wedding trying to make sure everything would come together nicely, and anyways, the whole thing ended up working out really well in our favor by our wedding day, as evidenced by this happy picture. The DIY wooden cake stand looks pretty bitchin’, right? Maybe bitchin’ is the wrong word, my verbiage is all askew since I took a few days off.

Our beautiful wedding cake, complimented by our DIY wooden cake stand and a custom bunting.

Baker #1 bailing was really disappointing for several reasons, but mostly because together we had plotted to have a gorgeous blue velvet cake (you know, kind of my “something blue” and more than kind of awesomely delish). I found the idea on Pinterest and quickly stuck it on my Wed It board, donchaknow. And for once, the image link directed me to the original source, Adventures in Cooking:

Perfect blue velvet cake via Adventures In Cooking.

I’d still really like to make it for myself one day, it’s beautifully divine, and I threw it in this post in hopes that someone else out there will try it for their wedding so I can live vicariously. And so you can overnight me a slice thankyouinadvance.

Crisis aside, we got lucky in recruiting an amazing bakery out of Williamsville, NY (shout out to Dessert Deli Bakery) who also happened to bake my wedding shower cake (which was amazeballs), albeit wasn’t comfortable with trying our blue velvet without time to test out the recipe themselves. The concession was well worthwhile in the end, the red velvet cake alternative with a custom cinnamon buttercream filling was really one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted, the leftovers of which will be lucky if they last in our freezer until February let alone our first anniversary.

In working with them, I focused on the exterior design and decided on the wavy buttercream horizontal stripes like the ones in this picture. Goodness, this is terrible, I can’t find the source details or photo creds for where this picture is from, despite all Pinterest searches. If you know where it originated from let me know, their inspiration made our day.

The inspiration for our gorgeous wedding cake.

It was back in October that I showed off my set of $4 cake toppers from snugglymonkey; as planned, I left them as simple light wood figures with absolutely no DIY handpainted details, instead deciding to ornament them atop of the cake with a delicate bunting.

How to make a custom bunting for your wedding cake.

I decided on selected materials and design at the moment I realized that my sewing machine would accomodate real wood birch veneer paper sheets that I found in the clearance section of the craft store. The paper itself was 12″ x 12″ and I had bought several sheets of a long time ago as they were priced at just $2.50/each, but this project only required me to use about 1/4 of a single sheet. The others will arise in some other project, someday.

Using real wood veneer in birch for a DIY cake bunting.

During wedding week, most if not all of our projects took place in the nighttime hours; just know that’s why these photos have that glamourous lightbulb glow to them. This one was of my test stitching, when I realized happily that my plan for a wooden bunting might work.

Did you know that the common sewing machine can tear through real birch veneer? I didn't.

Seeing that the veneer paper itself had a standard white backing, I decided to change that and sprayed an area with gold enamel (my favorite, by Testors, used on this little gold sailboat and the golden magazine rack) so that it would be an earthy party on the front, with gold pow-wow on the back.

I spray painted back of the paper with Testors gold enamel.

Using the exact same methodology as when I created garland for Pete’s surprise fiesta, I cut the paper into small strips (each measuring only about 3″ x 1/2″).

I cut the pieces of birch veneer to create the strips of bunting.

With the strips cut evenly (although not that evenly, I didn’t take precise measurements), I pulled about 10″ of thread through the machine to create a long tail for tying it to the stick that would anchor the bunting over our cake, and then fed the wood pieces carefully through the sewing machine leaving no more than 2-3 stitches drop between each piece. If you’re doing this at home, you’ll want each piece to be sewn close together so that they dangle without big gaps, but not so close that they’re sewn together or too close to allow movement.

Cake bunting, darling.

For the aforementioned sticks, what I used was actually an extra store-bought smores stick with one end pointy; it was f-r-e-e and on hand and thinner than any of the scrap dowel pieces laying around. Cut in half, the long smores dowel became two short dowels and I used a utility knife to sharpen the blunt end of the cut dowel so that it would stick into the cake smoothly. Left, manufacturer’s pointy, right, my quasi-pointy.

Yes, store-bought smores sticks came in handy for our wedding cake bunting.

To tie the bunting to the sticks, I sawed a couple little notches in the end opposite the pointy tip of each dowel so that the thin threads would have something to grasp onto when tied. Tying into these notches helped to prevent the threads from sliding downwards.

Notched the end of the sticks so that the bunting stayed hung strongly.

When hung, the pieces of paper immediately began to twirl and exposed both the gold side and the birch wood evenly, creating a unique cake topper for just a few dollars. If you count the $4 wooden people, the $2.50 sheet of birch paper (of which I only used 1/4), and thread, spray paint, and a dowel that I already owned, this whole topper, people and all, only cost $6.50. It’s not that I was looking to create a super inexpensive cake topper, even, it just happened that way and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.

Here’s a pretty picture if you want to pin it. Hint, nudge.

Make a wedding cake topper for <$5.


  • Cait @ Hernando House
    5 years ago - Reply

    Love your cake topper! Also, mmmm red velvet cake!

  • Heather
    5 years ago - Reply

    I didn’t know about your baker snafu! I could’ve made you a cake (and a blue velvet one at that!) if you’d been in a real pinch. Remember that for the future. :)

    I’m surprised your baker was nervous about making blue velvet without having tried it. Although I can understand that as a professional, you’d want to try all recipes before selling them, the only thing that is different between red velvet and blue velvet is the color! Seriously, you just add blue coloring instead of red. Easy-peasy, so you can most certainly do it yourself someday.

    Also, I’m catching up and just wanted to say that I had no idea that all of the flowers surrounding us at Preferred Plants were fake. I guess I should have realized (hello, unobservant), but nope!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      I could never have thrown something else onto your plate last minute during the holiday season! But I’m glad to know you could whip one up for me. I may come a-ringin’ before our first anniversary. I might have been able to beg the bakery into doing it, but they shone some reluctance when I sent them the photo for reference and I didn’t want to push my luck. I’m still so happy with how the red velvet turned out.

      So funny that you didn’t notice that everything was fake! Trees, pine shrubs, succulents, everything.

  • Trish
    4 years ago - Reply

    First, congratulations on your marriage!

    I noticed the wood pieced cake holder. And….then, I noticed all the other pieces. Very beautiful design!

    I have sewn through some odd items before…Ziplock baggies to store items in…but not veneer paper backing. Sometimes, we JUST have to try it! What a success you had!

    Thank you for sharing this with us. And many more blessings in the years ahead.

    • Emily
      3 years ago -

      Thanks Trish!

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