Like love itself, some wedding cake toppers don't seem to make a lot of sense. That Steelers-themed couple smiling happily from its perch atop cake and fondant? Now that makes sense. They're not worrying about the team's record; they're there to celebrate a bond stronger than any NFL lineman.
But how to explain the "happy couple" of a horse and unicorn? Or the severed zombie hand wearing a new band of gold? Pug puppies in top hat and veil? Colorful octopi? A same-sex couple high-fiving in place of the traditional embrace? Duck hunters?
"I am always surprised and delighted by the original requests from customers," said Holly Edwards, an artist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, whose website, www.mycustomcaketopper.com displays a rainbow of top-of-the-cake keepsakes.
Ms. Edwards sculpts from polymer clay and customizes toppers that will be sent around the world, from Singapore to New Zealand. Most of her orders, however, are from the United States.
Locally, many upscale bakeries, such as Vanilla Pastry Studio in Regent Square, don't seem to find a big demand for toppers, which often indicate a more laid-back approach to matrimony.
"We actually haven't had a wild topper request in a long time," said Rex Hoffman, assistant pastry sous chef, adding they receive more requests -- sans toppers -- for sweet decorations that are part of the overall decor of the cake.
Where once porcelain or plastic figures of bride and groom defined the traditional topper, more -- shall we say? -- "unusual" themes are emerging. Ms. Edwards created "Iguanas on Toast" to represent a private joke between the newlyweds.
In England, a bakery specializing in molded sugar wedding toppers played the bride and groom, as well as the TARDIS, as the centerpiece for "Doctor Who" fans.
Andrea Denton is a graphic/product designer for Alberta-based Weddingstar.com, which has warehouses across the globe, including Australia, South Africa and Russia. Her porcelain designs pop up on sites such as Etsy, where others have turned the figures into customized, eclectic toppers with zombies or videogamers.
"It's flattering, in a way, and they're still using our product," she said.
One of WeddingStar's newer designs -- featuring a firefighter groom -- represents the popularity of customization.
Perhaps the ultimate in personalization, however, are the artists who will fashion toppers in the the image of the happy couple.
Animals are popular. Turquoise Edwards-Stroud, president of North Carolina-based "That's My Topper" (www.ThatsMyTopper.com), said the summer's big hit was a couple of kissing bears. There was another, titled "Bear-throved," with a bear groom carrying the bear bride over a threshold.
"That is one of the most enjoyable aspects, creating something unique to those individuals," said Ms. Edwards. "It's something that has personal meaning to them alone and no one in the entire world has that cake topper."
Maria Sciullo: email@example.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published October 1, 2013 4:00 AM