Barn Wedding. June. Buttercream. HELP

I have a wedding coming up in June that will take place outdoors in a barn. The theme is rustic elegance and the bride likes the look of the “messy-iced” cakes that are becoming popular in part, because of Pinterest. I’ve attached a picture to show something similar to what we’re doing.

Temperatures in an Oklahoma June can exceed 100 degrees and for a 7 o’clock wedding I’m anticipating at least 85 degrees in the barn. What is my best chance of getting a stable buttercream that will be able to take the heat and humidity for the longest amount of time? She expressed that she doesn’t want the traditional American buttercream containing shortening. Would SMBC be better than an all-butter buttercream or what about white chocolate ganache? She wants the cake to be ivory in color, not white.

The groom’s cake will be a tiered chocolate cake and she likes the idea of chocolate curls or even big “shards” of chocolate on the outside of his cake. I’m worried about condensation and slumping of the chocolate. Any tips to avoid this would also be appreciated.

I’m used to working with fondant and I’ve certainly never done buttercream for an outdoor event. Thanks in advance!

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Here’s what I suggest- have the cake cutting at the reception ASAP- I have been to my fair share of weddings throughout the years where it was just too darn hot to do anything about the icing. SMBC will melt fastest, you can make a stiffer white chocolate ganache by adding a larger proportion of chocolate…but white chocolate is the softest of all chocolates too…. and a suggestion for the grooms cake is to use dark chocolate shards as they will retain their shape longer than milk chocolate (but not muh longer!!) The nice thing about american BC (the powdered sugar kind) is that you can really make some super stiff icing by adding more powdered sugar….if it’s hot enough, by the time it gets cut and served the icing will be soft anyways- too bad the bride doesn’t want that!! and last sugestion….since it’s barn-themed and rustic, what about a ‘naked’ wedding cake? No icing=no melted icing. I’m going to get kicked off Cakes Decor for suggesting such a thing LOL!!! Good luck with whatever you do- Heat is no friend to us cakers!

Tiffany Palmer

I actually really like Corries idea of a ‘naked’ cake. I think they look lovely. I would be straight up with your client and let her know the chances of going with the icings she is choosing. With that heat and her not wanting a shortening buttercream I’m not sure what would be the best to do. Good luck!


I definitely warned her about the risks involved but I’m hoping that with the “messy” look, no one will notice if it starts to melt. I also thought about making the Groom’s cake similar to the Bride’s with the messy icing and just keeping my chocolate curls in the freezer and on ice before placing them on the cake on-site. I’m thinking that if I keep the cakes in the fridge for at least 24 hours prior to the wedding they’ll be really cold all the way through and hold up until the reception. I did mention that I’ll be having them sign a release upon delivery acknowledging that the cakes are in good condition and I’m not liable for whatever happens after that. That being said, I still don’t want it to cast a negative light on my work if the cakes don’t look great.

K Cakes

The only thing I could think of for a ‘messy’ look which won’t melt in the heat would be royal icing? It will set as solid, if not more so than fondant and you can get the unfinished look quite simply be spreading it on roughly. As for the chocolate cake, you could ask for it to be kept in the fridge of the venue and presented at the time of the cake cutting? I did that recently with the groom’s cake at the venue and the hotel staff were happy to make space in their larder.

K Cakes

Mind you, if it’s in a barn there may not be refrigeration close by. Whoops. lol


remind her of bugs…. I attended a wedding this past summer and I was so glad I wasn’t able to do the cake because the cake was covered in nats by the time it was cut. no one got a piece of cake! It was gross and a waste of time and money.

I also agree sometimes there is nothing you can do about the temp. you could add a little meringue powder to the icing it might help stabilize it.

Good Luck that is no fun for you!

Also, YOU are boss! You are the one who is the professional and might need to put your foot down. I understand it’s her day but is icing running of a cake how you want people to remember your cake? Sometimes we have to say no, "I’m sorry this is how it’s going or I won’t be able to help you. " :-)

Donna Tokazowski- Cake Hatteras, Hatteras N.C.

I deal with the ‘Out Door Wedding Cake’, often. It’s one of my pet peeves and I’ve become kind of a tough guy about it. I live at the beach. People like getting married outside and having receptions outside, too. This past August, I delivered a 3 tier with 12, 10 and 7" tiers, all buttercream! It was 99 degrees with over 90% humidity, and a stiff south west wind blowing around 30 m.p.h. The wedding reception was held in a tent, near the water. The bride was insisting on setting the cake outside. I refused to be responsible for the cake, if they weren’t going to take proper care of it. The wind, heat and humidity would have destroyed that cake, had it sat out for hours in that kind of weather.

I found a delivery waver on another website and I made someone sign off on it when I delivered the cake.

I try to convince my customers that wedding cakes should be kept inside at room temperature.

It seems a shame to spend all that money on a cake and let it sit outside in the heat, bugs and humidity.

We certainly wouldn’t leave other baked goods like bread, or a pie or cookies sit outside, uncovered for hours. Why do we think it’s okay to do this with a cake which is more delicate, and has an icing which is usually half butter? Just sayin’


How about an icing recipe that uses powdered coffee creamer? I used this on my son’s cake one year (that was outside at a waterpark), & it held up nicely. It’s not an icing that I would prefer to use (after a little experience now) but, it did hold up to the heat & humidity…


Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I’m sure I’ll be losing sleep over this until June 9th!

Becky Pendergraft

I’ve heard Italian Meringue buttercream has a good hold-up rate, but have never tried it myself. A local wedding cake vendor swears by it though, might be worth a try?