Decorating A Cake With Real Seashells

by Iva

Sea Shell Wedding Cake By Iva

Sea Shell Wedding Cake By Iva

Hi Lorelie,

I have been asked to make a 3 tiered wedding cake. The bride and groom's reception is beach themed. They would like a basic white cake frosted with buttercream icing. They also would like a variety of real seashells and starfish used to decorate the tiers.

They have a large quantity of these that they have gathered while vacationing in Florida. They are colored white, tan, gray, and brown. The bride's color scheme is coral and gray.

The wedding topper is a groom standing in sand holding his bride in his arms. They definitely do not want shells made out of fondant, candy molds, or gum paste.

I was wondering if you have ever decorated a wedding cake using only real seashells? If not, do you think it is safe to do so? Any thoughts and ideas about decorating would be appreciated.


Lorelie's Response

Hi Iva

I uploaded a couple of pictures of a beach themed wedding cake. The scenario was similar in that the bride and groom had collected these special shells.

Funny I don't have the picture of the entire cake in one piece, and I don't have the middle tier photo either.

Just make sure to wash the shells well before using them. Is the cake pillared? It helps if it is because then you can place the shells on the plates in between.

Is the cake fondant? Fondant would be the best case scenario if you need to place them directly on the cake. If its buttercream try using crushed Graham crackers for sand and placing the shells on top? Not sure if that will go well with the design you have in mind. I just re read your question and see that the topper has the groom standing in sand so maybe this would fit in.

I hope that helps you out. I don't see any reason not to use the real ones as long as they are clean. if anything, I would be worried about the shells getting greased by the buttercream. Hope it goes well.

Please send a photo of it. I can add it to this post. Use the submission form to do that or email through the website contact page.

There are a few designs on this site using seashells, but they are all made with chocolate and gumpaste. Here are some examples. Have fun!

Florida cake

Another design idea

Beach themed with sand

Comments for Decorating A Cake With Real Seashells

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 15, 2014
Sea Shells
by: colleen

The one that to watch out for is 'shell breakage'. They are so delicate sometimes little peices chip off and might end up in the buttercream = not a nice thing to eat. I would also place a couple on a mound of buttercream on a plate and leave it for a few hours to see if there is a reaction. I would really try to place them on a piece of fondant or some base like suggested. The piece of fondant can be small; just enough to rest it on.

Jul 16, 2014
Done this before!
by: kimmy NZ

I have done this twice. Once a surfers birthday and once as a wedding cake. I thought I would give you an idea of my mistakes and problem areas so you don't hit the same dilemmas that I did.

Once you add sand to the butter cream - now you have a surface that nothing will stick to. I thought - just add a blob of butter cream on the sand and then the shell NO! doesn't work! This was on the top of the cake and not even the sides. Move your cake and the top acts like an ice rink. SO, I had to tooth pick everything.

If you have a fondant shell you have a flat sticking area at the bottom to stick with royal etc. However, use real shells and you have nothing underneath depending on the different shapes you use.

I would make a fondant disk for the top days ahead. Don't forget a hole for the bride and groom 's placement. This means that you can really glue the shells down good and the sand will not go on the butter cream as it will have time to settle in place. (Oh, and turn the air con off......sand! butter cream! I don't think I need to explain that mess I got into!!!!) Then a few decorated strips for the tiers on fondant. Very easy for the cutting of the cake and being able to take decoration off. Add fondant blobs to the inside of some shells and add a tooth pick - put in foam to dry and now you have a number of separate shells to add to the side of the cake or any gaps.

Isn't it strange that the simple cake's end up being the biggest pain in the bum! I remember thinking, 'cool, a few real shells, no work for me, slap them all on a cake a hay presto - walk in the park' My heart sunk when I got a second shell cake order! LOL

Jul 19, 2014
Awesome Tips Kimmy
by: Lorelie

Hi Kimmy and Coleen, Thank you for amazing suggestions. My two helpful cake experts Kimmy and Colleen :-) You guys are the best!!!!!

Aug 22, 2014
It can be done!
by: Iva (NY)

August 20,2014
I wanted to provide some feedback of the wedding cake I recently made using real seashells:

Thank you for the comments submitted by Colleen, Kimmy, and you. They were very helpful and appreciated. They helped me to plan and complete the steps I needed to take several weeks before the wedding in regards to the cake decorations.

I first thoroughly examined and cleaned each shell using liquid dish soap followed by a Clorox/water rinse. Then using Wilton's concentrated gel colors and water I mixed up the color to match a swatch the bride supplied. I then dried brushed most of the white shells with this color. After drying completely, a light coat of vegetable oil was rubbed onto each shell. This was done to help seal the color and to create a slight luster. The back of the shells that were going to lie directly on the cake were filled with royal icing. I also filled the backs of the starfish with royal icing. The pieces of coral were made using royal icing and sprinkled with pearl glitter crystals. It took several days for everything with the royal icing to harden. (Next I made a miniature tiered cake decorating it with some prepared shells and pieces of coral. Everything held up-colored shells and coral did not bleed, shells and coral did not fall off, and coral did not disintegrate.)

On the day of the wedding I assembled the tiers and applied the shells at the reception site. The shells lying directly on the cake and the starfish were "glued" to the cake by applying dabs of butter cream frosting to the royal iced backs. The tiers are 14,10, & 6 inches. I used your best white cake recipe and an American butter cream frosting. I used the viva paper towel tip to smooth the cake sides and tops. In order to have enough cake I also made a double layered 11x15 inch sheet cake using your chocolate wedding cake recipe. Again this was layered and frosted with an American buttercream frosting. The bride and groom were very pleased and there have been numerous compliments regarding the taste of the cakes.

So I learned that I am able to make a wedding cake and that real seashells can be put on one. The weeks of worrying, planning, experimenting, and preparing were worth it. The picture at the top of this page is the end result.

I am so glad I found your website. Thank you for the terrific information and support you and it provides.

Aug 29, 2014
Your welcome !
by: Lorelie

Iva I am so happy for you. You did a beautiful job on your sea shell wedding cake and you have added some very valuable information here for future bakers and decorators to use. Thank you !!!!

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Wedding Cake Questions.

This article was printed from

Print Article
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.