We’ve all been to weddings, we know how it works — your guests have been eyeing the well-dressed cake in the corner since the DJ dropped his first beat, waiting for the ceremonial slicing and passing. We took a look behind the scenes of a few local bakeries to find out what sweet trends take the cake this year.

Natural beauty

Cakes decorated to look like birch-tree bark are wildly popular, according to Julie Rogers of Cake and Crumb Bakery in Morrisville. Rogers co-owns Cake and Crumb with her mother, Susan Camley. Both women bake, but Camley is in charge of decorating.

The birch bark trend started “a solid four years ago,” according to Rogers, but Cake and Crumb still sees a good deal of requests for the look. To make the woodsy-looking cakes, Camley uses white buttercream icing which she then hand-paints with edible pigments.

“I think it’s unique, it’s pretty, and it fits the bill of being rustic and still being unique to the couple,” said Danielle Devlin, owner and baker at BakeAria in Sheldon.

“Naked” cakes — frosting-bare on the outside — are also catching on, according to Wendy Adams of Delicate Decadence in Barre. “There’s very little frosting and you can actually see the cake,” Adams said.

“Brides just like that simple, rustic look,” Adams said.

“It’s unfinished, but everyone just loves it because it’s so organic,” said Michelle Hines Tomlinson, who owns The Cakery Vermont and Baby Bundts of Vermont.

Pick a flavor

Trends aside, the traditional tiered wedding cake is still a staple, often with different cake flavors in each tier. Vanilla raspberry is by far the most popular flavor at Delicate Decadence, while Cake and Crumb’s biggest crowd-pleaser is vanilla cake with their handmade maple buttercream frosting. The mother-daughter team at Cake and Crumb spent years working to perfect their maple frosting, which uses real maple syrup and packs a sugary punch.

Devlin said her caramel-flavored cake is requested a lot, and she even found a way to modify the recipe with a cream-cheese frosting so that it tastes like cookie dough.

“A lot of the things that have been requested are simple,” Adams said. “A lot know exactly what they want. We recommend they make an Instagram or a Pinterest and come in with the pictures.”

Devlin suspects rustic wedding cakes are still so popular because they work well at any price range.

“People still love over-the-top wedding cakes, but it’s not within their budget,” she said.

If she had her way, Devlin would enrobe cakes with sugar flowers.

“I’m heavy on fantastic sugar flowers,” she said, because of the brilliant colors she can use. “You can keep them forever, too.”

Pricing your slices

What should brides and grooms have figured out before they go in search of their perfect cake?

“Knowing when they come in how many people they’re going to serve” is helpful, Camley said.

“Sometimes they come in really early, and they haven’t sent out their invites yet, so it’s hard to direct them one way or another,” since the cost of the cake depends on the number of servings, Rogers said.

It also helps to “figure out in your head what your budget is,” Devlin said. BakeAria charges $7 per serving, since Devlin uses organic, local ingredients.

Delicate Decadence charges $4.50 per serving, Cake and Crumb charges $3.50, and The Cakery charges between $5 and $6 per slice.

What do bakers want couples to know?

“It’s okay to be on a budget. Everyone gets that,” Tomlinson said. “You get very caught up in it and you get these grandiose ideas, and then when you come in with your budget, we can’t accommodate that, it’s unrealistic. You have to know what you can spend and never feel bad about that.”

Know before you go

Whether the bride or groom knows exactly what he or she wants, or has no idea, Rogers and Camley try to make cake tasting a fun experience, as well as a delicious one.

“You want them to be comfortable and ask questions,” Rogers said. “They need to feel listened to. It’s no different than the dress. It’s another big piece of the wedding.”

Tomlinson requests photos of ideas before a consultation, and emphasized Pinterest as a way for brides and grooms to pull together cake ideas. “It’s the most amazing tool,” Tomlinson said. “You can type in colors, styles, anything, and everything comes up for you.”

Devlin encourages people to have some other parts of their wedding plans in their minds as they consider their cake.

“When they come in, they may not know what to ask,” Adams said. “Where is their venue? We want to make it a personal experience and bring the emotional level down.”

Brides and grooms can be stressed when they feel they need to be involved in everything, but Adams says it’s important for them to feel they’re in good hands, so they can relax.

“When you’re getting married, you just want it to be perfect,” Adams said. “That’s why you get the professionals to do it, so the little details are taken care of.”

Some bakers who craft cakes out of their homes are turned away from venues for not having a license, so it’s important to go with a licensed bakery, Devlin said.

“The wedding is the centerpiece of the reception,” Devlin said. “People come in, they ooh and ah, and they can’t wait to eat it, so it better be delicious. Whether the décor is simple or extravagant, people are really looking for that cake. It makes a statement about the couple.”

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