DIYdiy projects

diy project: wedding cake toppers

by Grace Bonney

i promise that d*s won’t become land-of-weddings from now until ac and i are married but i couldn’t resist this fun diy project from readers luke and brian. married last october, luke and brian wanted something unique to use as a cake topper (on top of a stand full of cupcakes!) so they came up with these birds that were built to look like the happy couple (inspired by the work of ann wood). made out of styrofoam covered in glue and tissue with fabric and sparkles, each little topper has decorative details like wire glasses or an acorn hat that makes them the perfect way to add a little character and diy fun to your wedding. brian was kind enough to share his instructions below so click here for the full post or click “read more” below for directions and another adorable photo. [thanks (and congrats!) brian and luke!]


DIY wedding cake toppers

What you’ll need:

-paper and pencil to sketch
-white styrofoam
-knife or carving tool to carve the foam
-sand paper
-craft glue
-white tissue
-glitter, beads, pins and decorative details like buttons, fabric covered wire and pipe cleaners

1. First we sketched out our ideas based on a photo of us, then decided (by making a mock up of the cake) what size we wanted the final piece to be.

2. We then carved the body and head shapes out of white styrofoam, sanded them smooth with sandpaper and applied a layer of craft glue to harden and gloss.

3. Then we added a few thin layers of white tissue and craft glue to give a hard smooth surface on which to work.

[From here on out the decorative details are up to you…]

4. The bodies were then covered in fine glitter to look like sugar and eyes (made of beads with flathead pins attached) were pinned into the foam forms.

5. The wings and tails were made of tweed fabric (with a layer of clear glue to shape them and keep from fraying).

6. The beaks and legs are toothpicks dipped in glue and and glitter.

7. Brian’s eyeglasses are made of fabric covered wire and Luke’s hat is made from the top of an acorn!


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  • i love these little guys. the glasses and hat are adorable. and i do not mind the occasional wedding post :) congratulations again, grace!

  • I think a small section or maybe one small post once a week on weddings would be kinda nice. With your exceptional eye and style seeing your wedding plans if you choose to share would be kinda interesting.

  • These are lovely. Maybe there’s a way to make birds like this out of sugar. The sparkly texture of the glitter-covered styrofoam make me think of sugar crystals. Hmmm… maybe something to try at home. A small amount of wedding coverage would be fun – I’m hitched already, but wedding ideas can be a great source for entertaining and design ideas.

  • I’d love it if d*s started a special wedding section. So many of the wedding design blogs out there are so…fluffy. It would be cool if you started one that had the same aesthetic as d*s…

  • Arty weddings would be a great section- just once a week is not too much. Maybe readers could send in submissions?

  • Fabulous. My lovebird themed wedding is a few weeks away. We wanted to order some Ann Wood toppers, but they are quite the hot item. So we are making our own and this will be most helpful!

  • I have to say i had a hard time finding a site that had cool interesting and unique wedding ideas( other than Martha!!)- I think it would be fun!!!I still have a few projects from our wedding I’d like to share!
    Brian ( of Brian and Luke)

  • I love what they did! So cute, and what I love the most is that they made something that was unique to their personalities, which is what a wedding should be about. :) Well done!

  • too bad ann wood’s are sold out instantly & the etsy shop that has them cant get them in before August 2008…I’d love to find someone that can sew me some for my june wedding!!!!!

  • I think these birds are great, but obviously a reinterpretation of Ann Woods lovely birds. I find it irresponsible that you (design*sponge) did not acknowledge her original design when you published this piece. We are talking about a small, independent artist here folks – the very kind that are featured on this blog. Let’s have some respect!

    • wow i just found this link now….as one of the two who actually made the wedding topper in question I just wanted to let you know that neither of us had seen Anne’s work until this blog was posted…its flattering to be compared to such a talented artist but we had in no way intended to copy her idea/ideas..it was purely original.

  • I also wouldn’t mind occasional wedding posts as long as they’re nontraditional things that aren’t usually things that can be googled or have already been posted on the knot or martha stewart (a.k.a. reposting wedding things that have been featured already).

  • I would also love to see you do a few wedding posts here and there. I love your DIY projects- including these birds!

  • amy

    i added a link to ann’s work the same day the post went up- i also added a link to ann and other independent artists creating pre-made toppers in the comment section.

    i respect your opinion but i feel strongly that it is not irresponsible to share a personal DIY project that is not designed for resale. these are a much simpler version of what people like ann create and certainly are not a replacement for buying an original work of art.

    but the nature of DIY is to create someone that is handmade and unique to your own personality and style. these toppers are very much a unique statement about and by the couple who made them, not a product designed to hurt or rip off any independent artist.


  • grace

    A few things.

    1. Adding a link to ann’s website (along with other people who make cake toppers) in the comments section is not the same as honoring the inspiration for the idea in the original post. Also, you added this link only after other people pointed the similarities out to you.

    2. In reference to your definition of DIY – this particular DIY project was not “unique” – it was a project heavily influenced by another design.

    3. Lastly, I’m not sure why you are trying to justify your position when it seems counter to what this blog is all about – specifically to promote all kinds of unique and original design.


  • amy

    the link was added as soon as we were reminded of ann woods’ name, both in the post and in the comment section. brian and lucas acknowledged that they were inspired by an artist but did not remember the name when they originally emailed.

    i feel that this project was in fact unique to the couple who created it. contrary to popular belief, as lovely as ann woods’ birds are, they weren’t the first bird cake toppers ever made. there is a difference between creating something inspired by an artist’s work and making it specific to you (which is what brian and lucas did) and copying something straight off.

    i’m justifying this position because i find it upsetting that after devoting the last 3 years of my life to showcasing independent design someone would think i’d ever do something to hurt an independent designer.


  • look, all i am saying is that when a project – DYI or otherwise – is clearly influenced by another artist’s idea, it’s important to acknowledge it and in your original post – you didn’t.

  • Grace- From another indy-artists perspective-I think this is a great DIY project and commendable of you to add the links to the inspiration at all! I’m sure Ann-along with most artists-are used to seeing similar works appear after theirs become popular. Its flattering when ones design inspires others-and especially appreciated when the artists original isn’t copied- but re-interpreted-such as your diy birds.
    Thanks as always! -Katie Runnels

  • Thanks Grace for posting our work and everyone for their kind comments- we had alot of fun doing the project and, to be honest, we will treasure it all the more because we made it ourselves ( like Luke made the cupcakes, and I did my own flower arrangements, and bouteniers)
    Thats not to say that everyone can( or has the time to) do this and Anne’s work is fantastic, we would have loved to commision some pieces from her!!(Like they say,imitation is the best form of flattery!!)

  • plus we sort of cheated in our construction…Anne’s birds are all hand sewn from vintage fabrics…that skill I DO NOT have!!!

  • I love the birds and am reminded of the last weddings I’ve been to–my best friend’s and my own. Cool cake toppers are hard to come by, and whether you make them yourself–as did these guys and my best friend (imagine femo meets ipod meets wedding garb)–or slap a couple of vintage-y toys on your cake (like we did), I love the idea of a cake topper being a more intricate representation of the actual couple and not a manufactured idea of newlywedded bliss… Great job.

  • This is cute– but if you art up for crafts and if you like ann wood–
    I would also recommend cornflakegirl on etsy. She has these amazing doll-making skills. Ann wood’s birds are so gorg–
    but these are really quirky as well.
    Someone should buy the tim burtonesque pumpkin bride and groom. so awesome– but not the right colors for my wedding. love the yellow bird topper i ordered!