Lions and Tigers and Brides, Oh My!

A veteran bride wrangler, Marissa Sertich handles ten different wedding cakes in a weekend and still maintains the bride’s delusion that the sun orbits around her axis.
By Marissa Sertich

The Thing, the Blob and Rosemary’s Baby pale in comparison to the notorious and horrifying Bridezilla. It is the Halloween tale of that perfectly normal, sane and professional woman mutating into a wild-eyed beast that sends cold chills down the spine.   After years of telling her friends that she would never become “that bride,” the Mr. Hyde to her Dr. Jeckle lurks in the presentation of a simple, diamond ring.  I imagine that even Van Helsing recoiled from the impervious fangs of his bride-to-be.

To us in the wedding cake business, Bridezilla haunts our daily lives and we watch her demands grow as the wedding date approaches.  In the beginning, when she seems reasonable and calm, the plans for the wedding cake begin.  She chooses colors, a simple design and flavors.   The cake will be frosted in ivory buttercream, with Swiss dots and a simple pale blue ribbon around the base of each tier.   The cake designer sighs in relief because this bride seems wonderfully down-to-earth.

All of the details are settled, but in a couple months the bride returns.  This time, she is thinner, her eye is twitching a bit, and she carries a wedding invitation, which is metallic silver.  Now, she wants the colors of the cake to match the invitation.  She wants them to match exactly.

Making frosting look metallic is a complication.  The cake-designer explains that they will have to switch to fondant, rather than buttercream, and airbrush the cake to give the bride her desired look.  This, or course, is a more laborious cake-making process and will considerably affect the final cost.  The designer has backed Bridezilla into a corner, forcing her to choose between spending more to have the cake she saw Wilton McDuffasalot make on TV, or she can stay within her budget and go with the original idea.  This is not what Bridezilla wants to hear, but the cake designer is a professional and doesn’t scare easily.

A veteran bride wrangler, the cake-maker handles ten different wedding cakes in a weekend and still maintains the bride’s delusion that the sun orbits around her axis. To many, including the bride, the wedding cake is an iconic centerpiece.   To the bakers of the world, it is a dissection of flavors, layers and decorations.  Still, the pressure for perfection is high and the only thing scarier than a bride on the loose is a thought that runs through the back of every baker’s mind – What if I drop it?

But the story ends happily and I’ve yet to see a cake dropped.  When the Big Day arrives, the bride is almost always pleased with the outcome.   Despite the trials of the months leading up to the wedding – the color changes, the different designs, etc. – the fangs retract and are replaced with welcomed sunbeams, rivaling those of Rainbow Brite.  At some point, a metamorphosis occurs.

It is unclear what exact moment breaks the spell and returns the bride back to her rational state of being, but the bride’s newfound gratitude and admiration remind the cake-maker of why she loves her job.  The final result of the evening makes the requests of each bride worth the ulcers they may cause.   It is an honor to be a quiet participant in a person’s memorable day and the cake-maker knows this, even when Bridezilla comes out to play.

Marissa Sertich

Marissa Sertich Velie is a New York based pastry chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She passionately documents her adventures of baking and eating her way through the fascinating (and sometimes nutty) underbelly of the American pie. Velie has a Master's degree in Food Studies from NYU.

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