There is some controversy around the use of fresh flowers vs sugar flowers on a wedding cake. Ascetically, both can look equally as beautiful, and often enough, I advise brides that it comes down to their budget and visual preference, in regards to which option they choose.
However, one area that is not often highlighted to brides is the food safety risk of using real flowers sourced by your florist.
Many flowers are toxic, and this does not just involve direct consumption, but also many flower stems, and leaves have a sap or threads, that if exposed to food products, may leave a residue, and thus there is a huge risk of these being ingested by your guest.
This can cause extreme sickness, and is certainly not something you would want for your wedding party.
Wedding florist are not in the business of food safety, and artisan cake bakers are not horticulturalist, so where your florist will typically be the one who decorates your wedding cake with fresh flowers, there will not always be a knowledge of what can, and cannot go on the cake.
To help guide you when talking to your florist about decorating your cake with fresh flowers, I have put together a Pinterest board listing a range of non toxic flowers https://uk.pinterest.com/cakembsurprise/edible-flowers/
Now, it is not all doom and gloom, there are ways in which we can assist in reducing cross contamination. For example, the use of florist picks is ESSENTIAL if a rose stem, for example, is being plugged into a cake. (Please, if you, or a family member are decorating your own wedding cake, never stick fresh flowers directly into a cake).
Oasis trays ( these are little trays with beads/foam in to keep the floral arrangement hydrated) can be used to sit floral arrangements on top of a cake, and this allows for the flowers not to come into contact with the cake at all.
However, the important thing to note, is that typically flowers from your florist will not be organic. They will have been sprayed with pesticides to help preserve their shelf life, and kept in water that will harbor bacteria. For your general wedding floral arrangements, this is absolutely fine. But of course, we do not want this coming into contact with your cake.
Another option, is to go down the route of having your cake baker source organic edible flowers. I used these last year on a wedding cake, and it adds such a gorgeous finish to the cake.
Ok so the big debate, is using 'babys breath' or gypsophilia on wedding cakes. Yes, it is toxic. The symptoms are often 'mild', skin irritation, or sinus problems.... but lets be serious, anything that causes a potential reaction to humans, is just not to be added to a wedding cake. If you really have your heart set on gypsophilia, this can be created out of sugar ( if your cake artist is really smart, they will know how to do this) or your can purchase artificial gyps.
But... as a complete advocate for the art of sugar floristry, if you have the budget then why not go for a cake complete with sugar flowers. They can be created so that they look incredibly realistic. They can be preserved as a keep sake after your wedding, and you can hold onto these for years to come. There is also the freedom to have any flower you wish, as they will always be in season, and of course not difficult to source (we just make them!). Last of all, they can be created in your choice of colour.
So here its is, sugar flowers vs real flowers. Post in the comments below what you are having on your wedding cake, if your having flowers at all?!