What Type of Icing Is on Wedding Cakes?

Updated April 17, 2017

The wedding cake is the standout showpiece of a wedding reception. Whether it is a grand cake with eight tiers or a simple, classic three-tiered cake, everyone looks forward to seeing how the cake is decorated. Brides have several options when it comes to the type of icing they want to use for their wedding cake. While some types of icing choices are more popular than others, they all have their advantages and drawbacks.


The smooth finish of fondant makes it a popular icing for wedding cakes. Fondant is made from sugar, hot water and corn syrup. Fondant comes in three forms: rolled, poured and sculpted. The thick, modelling clay consistency of rolled fondant makes it ideal for wedding cakes. Fondant is rolled out about pancake thin with a rolling pin and then draped over the cake. The cake should have a thin layer of a basic glaze or buttercream frosting to seal in crumbs before placing the fondant over it. Fondant is used for cakes that look like wedding presents or have flawless, rounded edges. Fondant has a gummy consistency that is not always appealing to some, however.


Buttercream is the traditional type of icing used to frost birthday cakes and other everyday type of cakes. The icing can be made in a variety of ways but the classic American buttercream is made from icing sugar, butter, milk or water and some type of flavouring such as vanilla extract. Buttercream is has more flavour than fondant and is soft, making it easy to cut into cakes. If you are having an outdoor wedding in the summer, or you live in a very humid environment, buttercream frosting may not be ideal because the icing will begin to melt in really warm weather. One option to alleviate this is to refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Royal Icing

Royal icing is made from beating egg whites together with sugar. It is most often used to make intricate decorations, such as flowers, on a cake already covered in fondant, although it can be used to cover a whole cake. Royal icing hardens fairly quickly when exposed to air so you must work with it fast, or cover the icing with cling film. Avoid touching royal icing if you have any kind of grease on your hands or on any tools you are using, as it will turn hardened decorations soft, causing them to lose their shape.


Marzipan icing can be rolled out and draped over cakes just like fondant can. The difference is that marzipan is made from an almond paste, which has a more pliable structure. The sweet flavour of almonds also gives marzipan icing a delicate almond taste. Fondant is sometimes mixed with marzipan to make it more pliable and flavourful. After placing marzipan onto a wedding cake, it needs to be covered with a cloth and cling film to prevent it from drying out before serving.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.