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Flowers on wedding cakes - silk, fresh or sugar flowers?

Flowers on wedding cakes - silk, fresh or sugar flowers?


John Maddaford Updated:
2nd of January 2024

Floral wedding cakes have always been a popular wedding trend - they look beautiful, are easily personalised to match your wedding theme and can make a big impact on a small budget. With a choice of silk flowers, fresh flowers or sugar flowers, which is best for your wedding? Talented wedding cake designer Ali of The Little Sugar Box is our guest writer today to talk through your options...

Floral Cake Display

One of the most popular decorations for a wedding cake at the moment is flowers, because they are so versatile. Even the most contemporary of wedding cakes looks more finished with a gorgeous flower sat on it. Flowers really do work for all styles and you can create lots of different looks simply by adding them to your cake.

If you've opted for a classic look for your big day, it's easy to create a soft, romantic feel by adding blush roses and traditional flowers such as hydrangeas and freesias. Or maybe you'd like something more fun and fresh like dahlias? These really do steal the show with their abundance of pretty petals and different colours. We mustn't forget the rustic look either, which is still a firm favourite for brides who love the look of tiny flowers scattered over lashings of whipped buttercream.

Floral Cake Display

A good wedding cake maker will help you to decide on ways to create the right look for your cake too. They'll explain where to position the flowers, how many you'll need and how to give the cake the exact look and feel you've been dreaming of

Once you've decided that you'd like flowers on your wedding cake, that just leaves you with the choice of fresh, silk or sugar flowers! Having worked with all three, I must admit I do have a clear favourite. They've all got their pros and cons, and they are all beautiful and will all make a wedding cake look fabulous - but, sugar flowers always will be my go to. Here's why…

Fresh flowers

Who can resist fresh flowers? You can't beat the wonderful scent, the texture and the colours. They're cost effective and of course, easy to source as your florist can simply order a few extra ones in for you. Your cake will match your venue and bouquet perfectly and you'll be hit with the delicious smell of sugar and fresh flowers whenever you walk past your cake.

Floral Cake Display

Image via Unsplash

Sweet smells, cost effective, easy to source... so why on earth would you choose anything else? Although fresh flowers will look charming I rarely use them on a wedding cake.

Firstly, your gorgeous fresh flowers will wilt, especially if it's the lovely hot day that you're both hoping for. There's nothing worse than watching the petals start to wilt and fall off of your beautiful cake only hours after it's all been set up. And of course, if your dream flower is not in season, you just can't have it!

My second, and main reason for not using fresh, is that unless a flower is organic it's probably going to have been treated with some form of pesticide. This isn't quite as dramatic as it sounds, but these can sometimes cause allergic reactions amongst your guests so you'll want to get it right. I've worked with some wonderful florists along the way but not many provide organic flowers and if they do, their flowers are understandably more expensive to buy and still won't last for more than a day.

Silk flowers

Silk flowers have come a really long way over the last couple of years and you can now find really pretty ones absolutely everywhere, including garden centres, department stores and online. Of course, they have the added bonus of lasting forever too and you can always reuse them after your wedding.

You also have the advantage of being able to buy your silk flowers in advance and taking them along to your wedding cake consultation, which means you'll know exactly what you'll be getting when your big day arrives.

Floral Cake Display

Image via Pixabay

Although silk flowers are a good option, there's a few extra things to take into consideration. To get a realistic silk flower, you'd expect to pay at least double the cost of a fresh flower, so although they last forever they are not as cost effective at the onset and it's often hard to find a good colour match. 

Sugar flowers

An absolute must for your wedding cake! Gorgeous, dreamy sugar flowers will wow your guests and make fantastic keepsakes long after your big day.

Well-made sugar flowers can only be described with one word: heavenly. It's not often that we can use the words 'practical' and 'stylish' in the same sentence but sugar flowers really are both. They will look fresh and pretty all day, are completely safe to use and best of all, you can have all of your favourite flowers even if the fresh ones aren't in season.

Floral Cake Display

I started my Sugar Flowers Only Service about a year ago when I realised that good quality, affordable sugar flowers weren't as easy to source as fresh and silk. I thought how lovely it would be if a bride could come along to my studio (or email me if it was easier), get lots of advice on which sugar flowers she could use on her wedding cake as an alternative to fresh or silk flowers, bring colour swatches along so that everything matched perfectly and then in just a short period of time, receive a box of gorgeous hand-made sugar flowers all ready to decorate her cake with. 

Floral Cake Display

The best thing about this service is that I can work with all budgets (even tiny budgets can buy something beautiful), and they can be shipped anywhere in the UK.

And the only negative... they're so beautiful, that you'll want to buy them all when you see them!

Thanks to Ali from The Little Sugar Box for her advice - see more of her wedding cakes here!

Looking for the sweeter elements?

John Maddaford

About the author


John Maddaford

With 15 years experience at Guides for Brides, John has many clients that are bakers, cake makers and suppliers of all sorts of sweet treats. He is the best person to contact for supplier recommendations in your area.

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