From hiring the right baker to choosing the appropriate colors, here’s how to get a perfect wedding cake.

• Do your homework: Look at tons of wedding cake photos so you know your options. If you have a custom style in mind, cut out pictures, snip fabric swatches, and pull from other resources.

• Do personalize your wedding cake: One of the first things guests notice when they enter the wedding reception is the cake, so make sure it fits the decor and suits your style. You can use any inspiration point to start with, from your wedding colors to your reception space – even the lace on your gown.

• Do book your wedding cake baker early: Cake bakers should be booked four to six months before your wedding, though some reputable bakers are hired up to a year in advance. If you have someone in mind, don’t wait. Secure their services now, then nail down the specifics later.

• Do schedule a time to cut the wedding cake: Traditionally, the cake cutting signifies that the end of the reception is near (and cues the elder attendees that they can politely slip out), so couples typically wait until an hour before the party ends to cut it. If you don’t want to interrupt your dance party, however, cut it at the beginning of the reception right after you make your grand entrance while everyone’s eyes are on you.

• Do get wedding cake baker references: Find a cake baker who can deliver precisely what you want within your budget. Do some research: Ask recent brides whose cakes you liked for suggestions and check bakers’ websites to see if there’s a cake similar to what you’re seeking. Then make appointments with a few bakers to determine which one you like best.

• Do eat a piece of your wedding cake: Couples often don’t get a chance to eat their own wedding cake. Ask your caterer to save some for you. Share it with your new spouse as a snack that night or taste it at the post-wedding brunch. You deserve to enjoy the cake you worked so hard to help create.

• Don’t overdo the wedding cake add-ons: Flowers and other additions like polka dots and stripes are great but use them in moderation.

• Don’t choose a generic wedding cake topper: Consider your cake a great piece of art. Just like you wouldn’t put a Picasso in a plastic frame, you should avoid completing your cake with a generic bride and groom topper. Instead, pick something that’s “you.” If you have an heirloom piece – say, an antique brooch – work with your baker to incorporate it into your top tier. You can also consider using your mom and dad’s (or even grandparents’) cake topper as your “something old.”

• Don’t ignore your wedding cake flavor: What’s inside the cake counts too.

• Don’t forget about transportation: You’ll want to be certain your baker has a sound way to transport your cake to your reception site (appropriate boxes, packing materials, and so on) and that it will be sufficiently insured in case of any mishaps. include all the transportation and travel details in your contract.