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Publix saves couple’s wedding cake over Zoom

Newlyweds Erin and Ben Cohen were expecting to have their ceremony surrounded by loved ones in her hometown of Coral Springs, but when the pandemic hit, it caused them to nix their travel plans and pivot.

When the coronavirus pandemic derailed a Florida-born bride's dream of having Publix cake at her wedding, the supermarket chain came to the rescue and showed that not all heroes wear capes. They sometimes wear aprons.

Newlyweds Erin and Ben Cohen were expecting to have their ceremony surrounded by loved ones in her hometown of Coral Springs, but when the pandemic hit, it caused them to nix their travel plans and pivot. 

The couple began strategizing how they would get a Publix cake to their new wedding location in Ben’s parents’ backyard in Minneapolis, Minnesota where family and friends would watch them wed live on Zoom. 

Since Publix locations only go as far up as Virginia, getting a fluffy buttercream cake over 1,600 miles north would pose a challenge. 

Newlyweds Erin and Ben Cohen were expecting to have their ceremony surrounded by loved ones in her hometown of Coral Springs, but when the pandemic hit, it caused them to nix their travel plans and pivot.

“From the time we met, Erin told me everything she loves about Florida. When I visited Florida with her for the first time, one of the first stops we had to make was to get a piece of Publix cake,” said Ben Cohen. 

Related: Engagement pictures at Publix? This Florida couple got creative

At first, Erin and Ben attempted to “re-engineer” the Publix cake recipe. But neither of them have any formal baking experience, and finding the recipe on Google proved harder than they expected; they felt defeated.

The process 

After being interviewed by the Associated Press, Erin’s dream became a reality. Publix received word about her desire to recreate their famous cake and reached out to the couple to see if they would be interested in participating in a wedding cake decorating session over Zoom

Erin and Ben said "I do" to Publix's offer and the grocery store “where shopping is a pleasure” sprung into action by sending everything Erin and Ben would need. Their special delivery included buttercream icing, pre-baked layers of cake, spatulas, a turntable for icing the cake and decorative gum paste flowers from the Publix headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. 

Brittany Lavallee, a Publix bakery technical specialist, walked them through the process from start to finish. She explained how to assemble the layers, ice the cake and add the finishing touches with gum paste flowers. 

More: Why do Publix stores have scales? Mystery solved

Although virtual cake decorating isn’t a traditional service offered by Publix, the couple’s special moment was viewed by the grocery chain as a “unique opportunity to help make a memorable wedding moment.” 

“Publix looks for opportunities to surprise and delight our customers, so if an opportunity arose in the future, we would potentially pursue it,” said Maria Brous, Publix Director of Communications.

A special touch

Publix added a special touch by delivering an identical wedding cake to Erin’s family in Florida, where they watched the wedding over Zoom, so the entire family could share the same cake and feel together even from different states.

“Publix created a way for my family to enjoy the exact same wedding cake we had at the ceremony in Minnesota — to share that experience with them was priceless,” said Erin Cohen. 

More: Coronavirus in Florida: Weddings nixed, and it’s not just the bride and groom who suffer

With the pandemic having no known end in sight, Lavallee has these tips to offer to couples who are seeking to decorate their wedding cake virtually with a cake decorator of their choice: 

  • Consider going with a simple design. This can create a really elegant look when you dress it up with flowers or other accents. Erin and Ben’s cake, for example, has a simple design that is made even more beautiful with decorative flowers.
  • Make sure you have all the tools and ingredients you’ll need. Having things like a spatula and a turntable (for use when icing the cake) will make the process so much easier for a DIY baker. Once you have the supplies, it’s also a good idea to do a practice run so you feel comfortable and ready to go ahead of your special day.
  • Have fun! This is the most important tip of all. Do-it-yourself projects are about the experience and memories made. Preparing your own cake for a special event like a wedding will mean even more when you do it yourself for the people you love.

For couples who aren’t planning on canceling their 2020 wedding and are opting to do things virtual-style, be sure to find ways to create small but meaningful experiences that will bring everyone together even if you have to be apart. 

“For Erin and Ben, that was being able to get a taste of home with a Publix wedding cake: one for the in-person event and one for Erin’s family watching live over Zoom. While they couldn’t physically be together, they could still share the moment, and they’ll always be able to share those memories,” said Lavallee.