If there has been ever a wedding cake that deserves a celebrity status, that’s definitely the glamorous over-the-top-Swarovski-craystals-dripping work of art from Sex and the City 2. Chances are, if you’ve seen the movie (of course, you have), you are still dreaming of having the exact same one on your wedding and we don’t blame you — it is absolutely stunning.
We caught up with the mastermind behind it, celebrity wedding cake designer and owner of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City and Food Network judge Ron Ben-Israel, to chat about what it took him and his team to create the 6-feet 4-inch cake and how you can personalize your own wedding confection (minus the $32,000 price tag).
How did you come up with the idea for the design of the cake in Sex and the City?
"The idea came from two directions. One was, the movie had a partnership with Swarovski that we had already worked with on other projects before, so the movie designer wanted us, and Swarovski also wanted us to continue exploring venues of collaboration. We had done events with Swarovski for which we created cakes with their crystals. So it all came together both from the movie designer and from Swarovski.
"We wanted to create something that looked like a waterfall that was also very fashionable. So we looked at dress designs from shows in Las Vegas. And we found Mitzi Gaynor who had at the time this dress that was all beaded. So this was one inspiration.
"We also looked at crystal chandeliers made with Swarovski crystals and we used in this cake chandelier crystals that are very costly, because they are very heavy. Nine people worked on the cake for about 50 hours. We also created a custom-design Lucite or Plexiglas stand so the whole cake seems to float above the ground. And the separations between the cakes are also Lucite. We tried to give the illusion of cascading waterfalls.
"The real challenge was to design the cake, to execute the Lucite stand, and then to string by hand each one of the 4,100 crystals and then to find a way to attach them to the cake."
What's one wedding cake that you've worked on that was really a challenge for you to create?
"The most complicated cake we’ve ever done was actually not a wedding cake. It was for the 100th birthday of the Plaza Hotel and we made a cake that fed over 1,500 people and it was one of the most expensive cakes we’ve ever done. Also it was very big — 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide."
What are some ways couples can personalize their wedding cakes?
"Everything that relates to who they are as people, their taste sensibilities should come to the cake designer. I like to know what time of the year the wedding is, where it’s going to take place — is it in a garden, is it in a castle — even the menu would influence when we make the cake.
"We ask them, of course, what they are going to wear, from the wedding dress to the bridesmaids and the mother of the bride, everything could end up influencing our choices. The invitations can be extremely helpful to us and I usually ask about the architecture of the location where the cake will be placed — whether it’s going to be a turn-of-the-century hotel or a modern loft.
"And finally, the flowers that are going to decorate the room are extremely important to us. So I ask all those questions, we gather a lot of material about the wedding and when design it [the cake] we try to put a lot of those elements together."
Have you ever personalized a flavor for a couple?
"All the time. For instance, we may have an Indian family and we would suggest to them to work with mango and spices like cardamom or we would suggest chai spices. Then you could have a Japanese family, so we would play with green tea flavors. And some families love nuts so we would start thinking what we can do with hazelnut and caramel so it continuously evolves."
What is one mistake couples often do when they choose a wedding cake?
"I think of wedding cakes as luxury items. They are very special so I would not skimp with making a smaller cake. I would say if the budget is limited do a simple cake but serve everybody a piece of the wedding cake. Maybe make the cake a little less elaborate.
"And also don’t go for the cheapest option. You only have one wedding and one wedding cake so if you let somebody experiment with your wedding cake you may end up very disappointed. So I would say go to somebody who you can trust but work with them to get the ultimate cake. Don’t cut corners."