Cupcakes are whimsical, easy to serve and may be more cost-effective than the traditional multitiered wedding cake. They can also reflect the bridal couple's personalities and tastes — which is why they're so popular.
"Each tier (of a cupcake stand) offers you the opportunity to completely change the cake and the icing. You can't do that with a traditional cake," said Bobbie Lloyd, president and chief baking officer of New York-based Magnolia Bakery.
"With cupcakes, (couples are) looking more for flavor. You may have one layer of pumpkin cupcakes with maple-cream cheese icing. Another layer could be coconut cake with meringue icing," she said, noting Magnolia's cupcake trees hold 24 cupcakes up to more than 100 cupcakes.
"On a wedding cake, people traditionally use a butter cream frosting that has some structure to it or they use fondant because they're looking for those three-dimensional shapes," she said. "A meringue icing you could never put on traditional wedding cake. Cream cheese icing you could never put on a traditional wedding cake."
As with anything you eat, but especially a cupcake, it needs to taste delicious (not just be sweet) and really special, said Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings.
"What's going to go with your color palette and the feeling of your wedding? What's going to go with the time of the year you're getting married? What's going to go with your guests or your menu?" she said. "Often today at weddings, people serve more than cake. They'll serve chocolate mousse or sorbet. So I'm not really sure if you're serving chocolate mousse whether your cupcakes should be chocolate."
Also think about how they'll be displayed. "There are so many great things that you can do," said Miller. "I love those cupcake wire stands. We've taken the plastic foam rounds that a cake baker would use to make the dummy layers of cake, and we covered them with papers and doilies and tiered them."
If you let a pro handle the wedding cupcakes, you still can showcase your cupcake baking talents sometime during your wedding celebrations, suggested Miller: "You might make them for your rehearsal dinner or engagement party. Or bring them to your shower as a gift to thank those who are throwing the party for you."
Appetites: Will there be other desserts? Sorbet? Cookies? If you're doing mini-cupcakes, you may need more.
Beyond cupcakes: "If you want to be part of making your cupcakes, make an embellishment," said Miller, whether it's fondant hearts or sugared petals and you won't be frosting cupcakes the morning of your wedding.
Confirm: "Someone is assigned to the project, and they understand these are delicate," said Lloyd. "They can get squished."
Magnolia Bakery super rich chocolate cake
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Makes: 24 cupcakes
Adapted from a recipe from New York's Magnolia Bakery.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar