When I took my first cake design class in 1996, I was taught that wedding cake tiers must increase in diameter by 4″ increments. A 6″ cake must sit atop a 10″ cake on top of a 14″ cake, etc. Of course, being the consummate rule follower, I adhered strictly to these guidelines, straying only occasionally into 3″ increments (6″ on 9″ on 12″), but never, EVER, less than 3″. Frankly, it never occurred to me that it could be done any other way. Height? A standard 4″. Always. And wedding cake color? Duh.
That all changed for me in 2005 when I discovered the work of April Reed. She was new to the scene from what I could tell, but her work was so different, so avantgarde, and she was so clearly NOT a rule follower, that I was smitten (and, I’ll admit, jealous) immediately. I had never even seen cakes that increased by only 1-inch in diameter, like this one:
I had never even considered that cakes could have varying heights, like this one:
Or this one:
Or this one:
A black cake? The thought never entered my mind.
And a cake covered in truffles? Really?
I remember staring at her website for hours, drooling over her designs, and lusting over her creativity. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. In 2009, Abby Larson, editor of the popular wedding blog Style Me Pretty, called April Reed the “queen of all things gorgeous” and credited her for being “the cake designer that has inspired SO many trends, SO many different cake styles.” According to Ms. Larson, April Reed “literally redefined what a wedding cake should look like.” I completely agree. In a very short time, April Reed was tremendously influential. I’m sure you can see the influence she had on me here:
Not to mention here:
And, of course, here:
I recently described what April Reed had done for the cake industry to Monica Majors, my friend and colleague of Paper Cut Industries, and how she had broken every rule. Monica wondered whether Ms. Reed simply hadn’t been taught the “correct” way to size cake tiers or whether she was intentionally defying convention. It’s an interesting question, and one I would love to ask her. Unfortunately, when I went to her website, as I often do, I was disappointed to find that it had been taken down.
Whether her style was derived from a lack of professional training or a keen design sensibility makes no difference. Ultimately, April Reed changed the game, and had an enormous influence on me and countless others. Thank you, Ms. Reed, from the bottom of my heart, for your ingenuity, inspiration, and fearless disregard for convention. Wherever you are, I hope that you are well.