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Wedding Cake Florals (Fresh vs. Fake vs. Edible)

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

One of the most frequent questions I receive from my brides about their cake design has to do with flowers.

Couples usually come to me with a general idea about what type of flowers they want on their cake, but many have no idea what their options are, or even that they have options!

Sugar flowers are a skill set that few seasoned cake decorators possess, and true edible floral talent may be hard to find locally. If you do happen find someone who can, sugar flowers will be a beautiful addition to your cake!

The 3 main floral options cake designers generally refer to are silk, real, and sugar. Below I touch upon the pros and cons of each, and from there you can make your own decision on what is best for you!

Real Flowers:

This is usually the standard option for florals on a cake!

Naked Cake with real flowers


  • Certain fresh flowers are not in season year-round, or readily available. So, that black and white anemone you were gushing over for your cake...may be a bit pricey, and possibly hard to find.

  • Many flowers don’t last very long without water, so if your cake is sitting in the reception hall waiting to be cut, some types of flowers may start to wilt while waiting for their moment. Certain flowers (like Magnolias) will begin to wilt and die almost immediately after cut.

  • Unless you're selecting the flowers yourself, you and your baker may not have any control over the quality or selection of flowers that are left at the venue. This may lead to a disappointing final outcome especially if the bakers needs weren't communicated to the florist.

  • Also, (and this is my biggest peeve with fresh flowers) dirt and pesticides, Ew! Yes, you can get organically grown flowers and greenery, but many flowers we’re seeing lately that we’d love to decorate with, are poisonous. If the flower should not be consumed by a human or animal, than it’s safe to say it doesn’t belong on your cake. Hydrangeas are one of those flowers.

**There certainly are ways to prevent cross-contamination, but it’s more than likely if the florist is the one placing the flowers on your cake, there is little chance they will be taking measures to prevent the two from touching.

Sugar Flowers:

Sugar flowers have become incredibly popular over the years, and I can see why! There are many talented sugar artist around the world who can create the most gorgeous, and realistic edible flowers. Some that even rival the real deal.


  • Sugar flowers are made with edible materials (with the exception of the wires that hold the petals on), so there is no fear of any type of cross contamination, and are always food-safe.

  • They can be customized to any color scheme, and are readily available year round. Want a mauve garden Rose with gold leaves? Sure! Or a beautiful closed peony in January? No problem!

  • You can keep them for as long as you want! If kept in a cool, dry place you can hold onto this keepsake for as long as you wish.

  • Cake artists treat sugar flowers with as much care as they do your cake. They are kept in a sterile environment, and you won’t have any foreign debris or chemicals touching your cake.


  • Although Sugar flowers are a wonderful, and incredibly versatile option, they can be pretty pricey. Sugar flowers are often crafted petal by petal and can be extremely time consuming. Larger flowers range anywhere from $12-$25 each depending on the type of flower you’re looking for, and the skill of the artist who is making it.

(If you'd like to start making your own sugar flowers, I've included links below with awesome products to help you get started!)

Silk Flowers:

Silk or fake flowers are often overlooked as an option for wedding cakes.


  • Silk flowers have come a long way as far as realism in recent years, and it really depends on the brand, and colors of the flower you pick, but many are pretty realistic, and very beautiful!

  • They are very affordable, and there’s usually a huge variety to pick from locally, and of course you can use a coupon!


  • Silk flowers can still come off as a bit cheap looking.

  • Silk flowers aren't usually treated as something that will potentially be put on a cake, so if a silk flower gets dropped on the floor at Michael’s, than it will probably end up right back in the bin, and potentially touching your cake. Ew.

  • Local stored may not have the exact colors you need, and may be hard to match to your other decor. Also, you may have to go to several stores to get as many as you may need.

Another type of flower worth mentioning are wood flowers. These are beautiful flowers made out of recycled wood. I have used them a few times, and I will say that although they are stunning and unique, they can be difficult to adhere to a cake!

So, If you’re looking to save a few dollars, silk flowers may be a good option. Real flowers are a great option if you want it to match your other wedding florals without any extra hassle. Sugar flowers are perfect if you want something truly custom and food-safe!

Best, Emily

If you're interested in making your own sugar flowers, here is a good place to start!

(Affiliate links below!)

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