Wedding Cakes A Brides Guide To Buttercream or Sugar Paste


What do you go for?

There’s so much to consider in terms of design, stability and of course cost!

Sugar paste used to be the main covering on a wedding cake for the longest time, but now buttercream is proving to be more and more popular over these recent years with some amazing designs and textures being created.

For me, my heart lays with buttercream!

So lets discuss the pro’s and con’s for buttercream cakes 



I’ve not met anyone yet in my 38years on this planet that says they don’t like buttercream!


This option is a lot cheaper than a sugar paste option. In general there is less work involved, no pricey ingredient costs and the accessibility to those ingredients are not restricted.

However, depending on the level of detail and design, the cost can still rise due to time and skill required.

*Design possibilities

There is so much that can be done with buttercream, from cake combing which has become very popular to artistic textures and detailing and colour possibilities.

Upclose Black and nude


*Will never be white

Due to a ban in our country (Northern Ireland) on the whitener used in food products white is not completely unachievable.  The replacement for this whitener is just not as effective, it can get close to a whiter tone, but unfortunately will never be bright white.

*Seen to be unstable

Depending on where you are in the world the heat through the summer months can cause havoc with buttercream cakes.. it is butter after all and butter will melt in the heat.  Now, there is a few things that can be done to make the buttercream more stable, like ganache undercoats which help keep the cake silhouette solid, and mixing icing sugars with the likes of royal icing sugar which will help keep it more stable and heat resistant.  I very much prefer working with buttercream even in the warmer moths, but our warm months here in Northern Ireland are heights of 22-25 if we are lucky! 

So if you are having a summer wedding and your weather is a scorcher… your cake maker might not offer buttercream as an option.

Buttercream is my go to covering, I love it! 

I love creating modern unique designs and the whole can’t be white thing just isn’t even an issue!

Couples are opting for neutral, nude tones and dramatic blacks and dark greens which as a cake designer just excites my soul. 

Yes, simple and classic whites etc are always so gorgeous and pretty, but I’m loving the requests I’m getting this year for different colour and designs


Now lets talk Sugar Paste cakes…



Depending on the skill level of the cake designer, sugar paste can give you that flawless classic finish.  It has a smooth silky finish to it and can look pretty perfect.

*Bright White

Sugar paste is available in many many colours, one being bright white! So if that bright white flawless look is what you’re after then sugar paste is the option for you.

*Design possibilities

Same as with buttercream, but using very different textiles and tools there is a lot that can be done with sugar paste! 

Anything from edible fabric, edible prints… hand painting! Some absolutely beautiful, modern designs are getting created in the last few years.


*Not everyone likes sugar paste 

Throughout my years doing cakes, so many people have commented saying they dislike sugar paste, which is a reason why I feel buttercream cakes have become more and more popular. 

Granted though, once cut there is very few guests at the wedding who will get a slice with some sugar paste on it.


Good quality sugar paste is not cheap.. and the cheap sugar paste just isn’t worth entertaining when it comes to a wedding cake.

There is considerably more work involved in sugar paste cakes, therefore adding greatly to the final price of the cake.  

Keeping it plain and simple doesn’t mean the cake will be cheaper. This actually means more work effort and skill from the cake designer to produce a completely perfect, flawless cake!


Unfortunately, for us here in Northern Ireland, Covid and other issues have proven to cause havoc for our ability to get some products. Good quality sugar paste being one of them

If I do manage to find it on some supply sights its more than tripled in price. Making an already expensive product just extortionate! 

And also delivery to Northern Ireland has become a disaster with items constantly not reaching us or taking way longer that it needs to take.

I’ve had cake related items arrive months after the date I needed them for, even though I’ve ordered them a month or 2 in advance. 

So some cake designers might just not offer Sugar paste as an option in the possibility they won’t actually be able to source it.

A cake designer who specialises in sugar paste will have a constant supply compared those who only do a few throughout the year.

*Skill set

There’s a certain skill set required to achieve a high standard finish on a sugar paste cake.  This might not be something every cake designer has.

There will be cake designers that work solely with sugar paste and have a complete polished finish then there will cake makers who work solely with buttercream and have never even attempted a sugar paste cake.

Of course there will be cake designers like myself who work with both, and it will depend on their experience on how developed they are in both areas.

My Views

I work with both sugar paste and buttercream, but my clients have dictated where my experience has been built.  Which is buttercream… I have done so many buttercream cakes that this is where I personally feel most confident in. 

Sugar paste, I feel I haven’t had enough experience in. I still try to keep my skills developing in this area though with practice.

So I don’t shy away when a couple ask for a sugar paste cake. 

I do however go in a blind panic and a crazy search to get the products sourced asap! I don’t keep a stock level of sugar paste etc as it doesn’t have a very long shelf life and it’s one maybe two sugar paste cakes a year at most. 

I do plan on really developing into the new modern heavily textured styles in sugar paste through the next year.. just even for personal development.

So, How do you choose?

Knowing the pro’s and con’s of both then you really have to think about the finished look of your cake. 

Once you know that then you can go on the search for a cake designer to suit that look by browsing their social medias, their website gallery etc

Bearing in mind that either option require a specific skill set, and you will pay for that skill and experience. 

But if they have what you are looking for then don’t try to get it cheaper else where as the standard might not be so high, which will possibly lead to disappointment on your big day! 

Wedding cakes have become a focal part of the day again, I feel for a good while there people would choose to not even have a cake, or that they would get a friend or family member to make their cake to keep their costs down.

It’s great to see so many artistic and and creative cakes being produced and the traditional photo of the cake cutting is coming back to life with some amazing back drops and settings for the cake! 

Do you really want to look through your wedding photos when they arrive back from the photographer and everything look beautiful and gorgeous, then you get to your cake cutting photos and feel disappointment, or that none of those pictures can be used or shared due to the standard of the cake you choose to go for… or do you want to feel like wow! Look at how incredible these photos are, with the cake and the back drop and omg remember how good the good the cake tasted too!! That’s the feeling I’d be wanting… 

So I guess it’s entirely up to you.

Does that high standard and wow factor cake matter to you? 

Or are you not really bothered? And if you Aunt Jeans friend Liz is available to make the cake then that’l do…

The decision is all yours…

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