Wedding cake prices are usually quoted 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. The key to understanding the wedding cake prices and what they mean (and ultimately how to save money) is to follow our proven four steps.
Step 1: Figure Out How Much Cake You Need?
Here is a good guide to use for figuring out just how much wedding cake you will need for your guests. For example a 14″ round cake will serve 66 peopled whereas a 14″ square cake should be good for 84 guests.
Wedding Cake Serving Chart
Step 2: Understand How Wedding Cakes Are Priced
The total cost of your wedding cake will typically depend on your choice of flavor, fillings, decorations and labor. Most cake designers don’t give you a formula that you can use to simply multiply features by your number of guests and get to a price. It is really a helpful guide to follow intuitively. If you’re inspired by four-tier wedding cake photos on Pinterest, just know that a simple, two tier cake is likely to cost you much less. Your final price will reflect your unique design choices and the number of guests you have.
Step 3: Custom Cakes & Where You Live Matters
As you begin to plan your cake, remember that of all the costs mentioned above, it is the labor — the time spent constructing, icing and detailing — largely determines most of the cost, not the ingredients. This isn’t to say that size and shape don’t come into play: They do.
Where you live also matters. The average cost of wedding cakes and desserts in the United States was $451 in 2013 and that’s going to jump to $466 in 2014. That’s a lot of money, but don’t forget that in areas like New York City and fancy parts of California wedding cakes can run as high as $1,200-plus. We’ve heard that in New York a custom wedding cake can be around $12 a slice depending on the degree of the custom work desired.
Step 4: Ways To Save Money on Your Wedding Cake
Cakes are priced per slice, and everybody knows that not every single guest is going to want wedding cake. Get fewer slices.
Opt for a cake-slicing station (rather than a served course) so that guests can choose from the plated presentation, for a savings of 10 percent.
Go small. Most couture cakes are small, so get a smaller wedding cake for your display and cake-cutting, and then have a non-decorated, non-stacked sheet cake for most of the guest slices. This can save you 50 percent.
Square is better than round. A square cake feeds more guests because you can cut it in a grid.
Standard flavors cost less than more unusual “premium” flavors. Vanilla, chocolate, lemon and key-lime cakes cost a bit less than red velvet and carrot; vanilla or raspberry buttercream run less than cream cheese or chocolate hazelnut cream.
Choose buttercream frostings over fondant coverings because buttercream frostings are cheaper and less labor intensive.
Get a lace or chevron effect with a roller pressed over fondant. Advanced and elegant look for less.
Use ribbons. Wrap your wedding cake with layers of ribbon, which takes only seconds to apply.