Ultimate Guide To Wedding Cakes
Are you a simple round, buttercream cake couple, or more of the sleek, fondant-covered cake types? Maybe you like custom cakes, unusual wedding cakes, 3 tier wedding cake or even black and white wedding cakes. How about cost, what do wedding cakes even fetch for these days? Can I get a cake off-the-shelf or should I get a completely custom cake? You’re probably starting to see that when it comes to wedding cakes, there is tremendous choice and lots of things to consider.
If you ask the wedding planning team here at Team Wedding there’s nothing more chic than an all-white wedding cake. But for other, simple and elegant means old and fuddy duddy, so they prefer more unusual wedding cakes, amazing wedding cakes that take guests breath away. We hope our ultimate wedding cake has you covered no matter which cake you want.
Read below and learn all about wedding cakes, what the choices are, the things you should be considering and managing the cake planning process. Don’t forget that your wedding cake is a very big visual part of your wedding and is also expected to taste amazing too. It is important to know what you’re getting into and to be prepared.
Common Wedding Cake Questions & Answers
How do I save on a wedding cake? The simplest way to save on a cake is to cut a fancy cake during the cake cutting ceremony and save the cake to serve guests in the back. This lets you get an amazing cake (which would be expensive if you tried to feed everybody with it), maybe with one or two fake cake layers to give it more presence. Then you supplement the rest of the wedding cake with sheet cake. For more tips on saving on cake see this post.
Can my baker supply a wedding cake topper for me? Most cake stores will have a wedding cake toppers available, but it isn’t likely to be a robust collection. These days cake toppers can be found in many places, both physical stores, online stores and marketplaces like Etsy. We suggest that you get a topper by searching yourself, there is just so much choice. Physical stores that would have cake toppers include craft shops and cooking emporiums.
What’s with the cake-cutting fee? Most places will charge you an incremental fee to cut and serve the wedding cake. This usually happens with an outside cake supplier who isn’t partnered with the venue makes the cake. Truth be told, it is usually just an incentive for you to use their in-house supplier or pastry chef. If you decide to have your cake made elsewhere, factor in another $1.50 or more per person. Definitely ask them to waive it if you can though, some places will do that. For ways to save money on you wedding cake, see this recent money saving blog post.
Should We Serve Wedding Cake and Dessert? This is one of those wedding etiquette questions we always get asked. Frankly, there is no strict etiquette rule on this. Lots of brides we know serve dessert in addition to wedding cake but this is in no way mandatory. Historically, wedding cakes weren’t that great to eat, so most people served dessert. These days, a wedding cake isn’t just for show – cake bakers fully expect it to be the primary dessert at the wedding and the quality and taste are paramount.
Do I have to have a white wedding cake? Short answer is a definite no. Wedding cakes these days have morphed into a creative expression of the couple and cake designer. Cakes now incorporate amazing color and character. We’ve seen unusual wedding cakes, traditional wedding cakes, heart shaped wedding cakes, gorgeous vintage wedding cakes and even gold wedding cakes. Some couples choose their cake color and decoration based on the time of year they are marrying. For example, if you will marry in the fall they would go one route, whereas in the spring they would do something different. Cake designers are more than willing to sit down with you and come up with something that reflects your personality and taste. Often they will have photos of weddings cakes they’ve created in the past to help you get a good idea of their work. Despite everything we said above, we still love white wedding cakes too, gone are the days that white wedding cake is boring if you have the right cake designer working with you.
What can I expect to pay for a wedding cake? Wedding cake is usually priced by the slice, and the range is wide — anywhere from $1.50 to $12 a slice. The more complicated the wedding cake, the more you’ll pay. Fondant icing is generally more expensive than buttercream, and if you want elaborate molded shapes, vibrant colors, and/or handmade sugar-flower detailing, you’ll pay for the cake designer’s time and labor. A good cost-cutting option is to order a wedding cake for 150 people — your guests will be served “half-servings.” (People always leave slices half-eaten on the table anyway.) Or, have the wedding cake of your dreams made on a small scale for a price you can comfortably afford, and then order sheet cakes of the same flavor to be cut in the kitchen. For more tips on saving on cake see this post.
Why are custom cakes so expensive? You can get an inexpensive wedding cake, but you’re probably getting one made with different ingredients than a custom wedding cake. To have a custom-crafted wedding cake that’s a work of art, couples in the New York metro area pay from around $7 a slice to, well, the sky’s the limit, depending on the degree of the custom work desired, and any specialty ingredients. For starters, there’s artistry and experience. With a custom cake designer, you should also be getting the best ingredients from around the world. Your custom designer should be using genuine buttercream as well – which, by the way, is never snow-white. Then, it is all about the details.
Can I make my own wedding cake? Sure, if you’re up for it this can be a fun experience. A wedding cake is essentially just a really big layer cake, and making one from scratch can be fun as long as you plan ahead, are organized, and have all the right equipment on hand. The key to making a wedding cake is to find the right recipe. We tracked down and found the best wedding cake recipes ever.
For more information on Wedding Cakes see our complete Ultimate Guide to Wedding Cakes. You can also find additional wedding cake ideas, follow our wedding flower Pinterest board and find local wedding cake vendors.
Wedding Cake Timeline & Steps
- Read Our Tips: A good place to start is by reading our top tips from wedding cake experts. Our ultimate guide (this page) is designed to really help you navigate all the aspects of finding your wedding cake. Read up, it is important.
- Get Inspired By Pictures of Wedding Cakes: Next, spend some time searching wedding cake pictures to help figure out which wedding cake designs suit your style or match your wedding theme. From classic cakes to beautiful traditional wedding cakes, we hope your inspired.
- Find a Great Cake Maker: Finally, find a great local wedding cake baker to help turn your ideas into a wedding cake for your special day. Make sure you ask all the right questions and follow our tips for ensuring you work with the right vendor.
Tips For An Amazing Wedding Cake
Know Your Wedding Cake Style: We’ve already talked about getting creative with your cake. Gone are the days of simply accepting that your wedding cake is going to be white and round. There are so many other choices so do some research and narrow down a design that matches your style, venue and/or color schemes. The easiest way to get to know your style is to browse wedding cake pictures and save your favorites to show your cake maker.
Learn the Basics: Let’s start with the shape of your cake. Beyond the world of round cakes, there are tons of wedding cake designideas. Square cakes are hugely popular these days as are unique hexagonal, heart shaped cakes, petal-shaped and even triangle wedding cakes! Covering your cake also comes with lots of choices. You can choose icing, fondant, buttercream and even naked wedding cakes. Once again, browse wedding cake galleries to get a sense of what you like.
Know Where (And Where Not) To Cut & Save: Cakes are expensive, so expect to pay anywhere between $1.50 all the way up to $20 a slice and beyond depending on a custom cake and where you live. The more complicated the cake, the more you’ll pay. Fondant is generally more expensive than buttercream, and if you want elaborate decoration, remember that your cake makers time is probably the biggest cost you have. One idea for saving money on your cake is to order your custom cake on a small scale for the ceremony and then order sheet cakes of the same flavor to be cut in the kitchen.
Your Cake Maker/Baker Matters: Once you have a sense of the type of cake you’re looking for, it’s time to find a cake maker. Your baker starts with your online search. Find reviews, inspiration and then ask questions. Your reception venue and your caterer will also have connections to bakers. Once you have your top few bakers in mind, set up appointments to meet in person and look at their portfolios. You’ll discuss the time and place of the wedding, the degree of formality, the colors and what your gown is like. You should bring pictures of cakes you like.
Eat Up. Taste Test: It is no longer acceptable for your wedding cake to look great and taste bad. These days it’s what’s inside that matters so you want a baker who makes awesome tasting cakes. When you meet with short list of cake makers, ensure to taste lots of samples. You might also go for flavors based on the season, so ask your bakers advice. That will tell you a lot about them also.
Sign the Contract & Book Your Cake Maker: When you think you’ve met your match, book your baker. Often, a deposit is required at this time, and you’ll also be asked to sign a contract. Before you sign, there are a few important points to tackle: Find out how far in advance the cakes are made prior to the wedding day and who exactly will be baking and decorating your cake (it’s not always the same person). Lock in your baker asap.
Decide How You’ll Display It: Have fun dressing up your cake table and thinking about your cake topper. First of all, don’t settle for a generic cake stand. Like cake toppers these days you can find anything you want, so have some fun with it. As for the table, you can drape the table with fabrics or have your florist help you with flowers to match the cake.
Eat A Piece Of Your Own Cake: We can’t tell you the number of times we have heard from devastated brides who haven’t had the chance to eat their own wedding cake. If you don’t have time to sit down at the reception and enjoy a slice, ask your caterer to save some for you before the event (because you won’t remember during it). You deserve to enjoy the cake you worked so hard to help create.
Guidelines For Ordering Your Wedding Cake
Date & Time of Wedding
- Order 6 months to 1 year in advance.
- Know type of cake you are looking for.
- The month is important because the type of cake in which to order varies with the weather. Summer is not a good time for mousse in wedding cakes!
- Ask what cakes are in season. During the cooler month mousse and all types cake work well.
Pick Up & Delivery
- Give written directions for deliveries two weeks in advance.
- Give a time and day, 2 hours prior to ceremony for pick up.
Size of Wedding Cake
Number of guests that are attending. Add 10 servings if you are planning to keep the wedding cake top tier.
|Round Cake Sizes||Servings: 4″ x 2″||Tier Sizes||Servings|
|6″||10||8-6||16 – 19|
|8″||18||10-6||26 – 29|
|9″||23||10-8||23 – 30|
|10″||29||12-8-6||56 – 64|
|12″||41||12-9-6||56 – 99|
|14″||56||14-10-6||76 – 89|
|16″||73||14-10-8||78 – 90|
|18″||93||14-10-8-6||96 – 109|
|20″||114||16-12-8||103 – 125|
|22″||138||16-12-8-6||121 – 144|
|24″||165||16-12-9-6||126 – 144|
|sheet 9″ x 13″||48||18-12-10-6||146 -184|
|sheet 11″ x 15″||60||18-14-10-6||161 – 189|
|20-16-12-8||198 – 230|
|20-16-12-9-6||231 – 274|
|20-18-16-12-8||293 – 350|
|24-20-16-12-9-6||381 – 449|