Wedding Wednesday:: Cake Decorator Jim Lentini!

It’s Wedding Wednesday!!  Last weeks post was such a huge hit, and I’m very excited to present today’s guest blogger.  Jim Lentini from Lentini Family Creative Creations is a great family friend of ours.  He has an artistic ability that most of us only dream about.  He created a custom wall mural for my 9 year old son that has a train traveling over the horizon on his entire bedroom wall.  He also created an adorable Sock Monkey cake topper for my son’s second birthday.  If I weren’t posting this from a KOA outside of Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood Forest, I’d post a picture of it!
Jim and his wife Debby do a fabulous job with their creative cakes, he tells me he has had requests for cakes ranging from spiders to super heroes, and he delivers on each request!
Without further ado, here is Jim Lentini!  Please go check him out at Lentini Family Creative Creations on facebook.  Make sure to “like” his page as well!
The wedding cake, for the bride it is the prime focal point for the day she has been dreaming of since she was a little girl. Every detail thought out, representing elegance, a symbol of love and things to be. For the groom, it an opportunity to see if he can destroy a slice all over his new brides face….ahhh, that’s amore! Point is, is that most grooms are not really involved in the cake decision process, because it is for the bride and you might get a lot of ” what ever you want is fine with me” answers. In this post I will help you to have a better understanding of what to look for in a cake decorator, and also touch on the growing trend of the “grooms cake”.

My name is Jim Lentini and I have been decorating and creating cakes for close to 4 years. I have a background in drawing/art and music so the creative side is always churning. I first got into cake decorating when I was very young, things for family, and I would draw something on the cake with frosting nothing to elaborate. When I got married and our children came along, my wife and I would make cakes for the kids by using the Wilton decoration character pans. My wife the found a new show called Cake Boss. She thought I would enjoy it as I love to bake and I am Sicilian as well, fugett aboutit!! And the rest is history, I have been making cakes ever since. I have a real love for carved or “specialty” cakes. I really feed off of the challenge presented to make a cake not “look” like a cake. I love nothing more than hearing, that’s a cake? If that is said, my job is complete! You can see more of my work and contact me through Facebook at Lentini Family Creative Creations.

When choosing a decorator it is critical to have a few points in mind. Number one have a budget. This is very important as some people overlook this concept. You really can’t expect to have a nine tier cake with hand crafted sugar roses, hand piping with dropped lines and embellishments for about a hundred dollars. If you don’t have a large budget, talk to your decorator. They may have ways to trim costs, an compromise to get a cake you both can agree on. I have had customers that want the stars and the moon, but no budget. Also realize that a private cake decorator will not be able to compete cost wise with store-bought cakes. Store bought cakes are there for a purpose. If you don’t have a lot of money to work with, store-bought cakes are a fantastic option. But if you are approaching a cake decorator to make your custom cake for you, they won’t be able to make a cake for store-bought prices due to the fact that cake decorators use premium ingredients, they make cakes from scratch and they put hours of custom work into your personalized cake. So it doesn’t make it fair if you approach a cake decorator and say “can you do this cake? I can get it for X amount of money at my local store”. It really does end up being apples to oranges in comparison.
The second thing to keep in mind is give your decorator plenty of notice. Giving a decorator two weeks notice might put you in a bit of a bind because they may already have current clients to work with or prior engagements already set in place. Typically the earlier you know of your date and what you want the better.  Keep in mind that most decorators also require half the money down and then require the rest of the payment prior to picking it up or having the cake delivered, And if done in plenty of time you can always go in and with down payment and set up a time for a cake tasting which is very important. So not waiting until the last minute will be a lot less stress for the both of you.  
Third, ask to see prior work if you are not familiar with your decorator. Most cake decorators are more than happy to show their past work to you. It will help you to know if they are capable of transferring your thoughts to cake. It is also crucial to keep an open line of communication with your decorator, things change and things come up, keep them in the loop so they don’t have to try to consume four tiers of cake! One thing I like to do before I even turn the oven on is to sketch out the cake this way I can sit with the customer and we can shift things around and play with a design, it is a lot easier to play with the design and ideas at this point and again you both are on the same page!

And the fourth thing BE CREATIVE! It wasn’t to long ago that so many options became available to brides, thanks to mediums such as fondant, sugar paste, and modeling chocolate. Old school bakers had only buttercream and royal icing to work with and they were masters at it, but limited to what could be created. Today’s cake decorators are often referred to as cake or sugar artist. So if you have an idea in mind try to be open to suggestions and interpretations, let their artistry come through then you are sure to have a truly one of a kind piece. I have seen wedding cakes from grooms climbing the cake to slay a dragon to save their bride, to multi tiered video game themed cakes. You are only limited by your imagination.

Earlier I mentioned how the wedding cake is primarily the brides concept. The groom typically is not part of that process. A growing trend amongst the wedding community is the grooms cake. This is just what it suggest, a cake specifically for the groom. It is typically a carved or 3-D cake of special interest of the groom. For example, if the groom is going to med school, you might see a doctor bag, with a stethoscope and other medical items, or if they are a sports fanatic, you might see a football helmet of their favorite team, or basketball, or if they love cars you might see a classic muscle car that they have always wanted to own. And of course who can forget the bleeding armadillo cake made famous in steel magnolias! Many brides get this in addition to the main cake as a token or “gift” from the bride. The grooms cake will most likely not be nearly as big as it is a secondary cake, however, that is not the intent. It is a great conversation piece and an excellent moment for you both to share in on your perfect day.

Remember that your cake decorator wants you day to be memorable, they want to know when you go through your wedding album in ten, fifteen, even thirty years that your cake will bring fond memories. So before you take the picture of your perfect cake, to your sweet Aunt Edna in hopes to cut a few corners and save a few dollars, budget for an experienced cake decorator, you won’t regret it!

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