Ask the Expert: The Cakegirls

June 10, 2013
Words by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of The Cake Girls

The redheaded sister duo from Chicago, known as the Cakegirls, create wedding cakes that could “wow” any bridal couple. The ingenuity of Mary and Brenda Maher is in the details. They craft grooms cakes that look like miniature stadiums, centerpiece cakes that mimic giant baubles falling out of the signature Tiffany’s box, and Louis Vuitton handbags that are real pastry delights. 

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“My sister and I have been decorating cakes for 15 years, handling about 96 weddings a year”, says Brenda. When selecting a cake designer Brenda has this tip: “Receiving a referral from someone who has used the designer is always the preferred choice,” she says.  “Being able to see examples of the work is extremely important. Make sure that baker has done the work in the photos and the photos are not cut from a magazine or another designer’s cake book.”

When the Cakegirls work with a destination bride, they try to get to know the couple’s personality and gather as much information as possible (design preferences, color scheme, feel of the wedding) via the telephone or email. Then they draw up a sketch so the bride can get a true sense of what her cake will look like.

They prefer to design the cake after other wedding decisions have been finalized. She says “It is much easier for us if we can see an invitation or a picture of the bridesmaid dress. Knowing where the wedding is taking place will enable us to design a cake that will fit appropriately into that location.”

When working with your budget, Brenda advises flexibility. “Many brides bring in photos from magazines,” she says. “To some degree it is impractical, if you are on a budget, because most cakes in wedding magazines use the most difficult of techniques and tend to cost the most. We are always able to skim down a design, but to some degree it will not look the same.” Another tip from Brenda: “If you are not looking for a gigantic cake, consider extra sheet cakes which are kept in the kitchen and served when the wedding cake is served.”

What are the new trends ? “Groom’s cakes that reflect the interests of the groom are extremely trendy,” she says. “It is a southern tradition that has become mainstream. A couple’s initials detailed on the side of one tier, as well as a cake topper in the shape of the couple’s last initial are also popular trends,” she says.

If a centerpiece cake doesn’t tickle your fancy, Brenda says there are less-traditional options to consider. “Cupcakes are still a popular choice as well as mini wedding cakes for each guest,” she says. “Another popular idea is a cake for each table.” She cautions that smaller cakes may not mean a smaller price tag.

When asked if they have a “favorite” design, Brenda said, “I honestly don’t think we have a preference. Our ultimate goal is to make sure the couple is choosing a design that bests matches their personality and the overall feeling of the wedding.”

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