How Much Does a Wedding Cake Cost?
Since the 1800s, couples have been celebrating their nuptials by serving their guests a slice of wedding cake. While different desserts have gained popularity over the years—cupcakes, cake pops and even pies—nothing will ever truly replace the tiered wedding cake. And in recent years, bakers have been getting super creative with their designs, meaning that whatever a couple's theme, color palette and style, they can create a unique cake to go with it.
Of course, with any wedding item, it's important to budget for your wedding cake wisely. Before you meet with your baker, find out what factors into your cake's final cost.
The average cost of a wedding cake
Data shows that the average cost of a wedding cake in the United States is $500. Breaking down the cost by slice, the price can be anywhere between $1.50 to $12 per slice.
What impacts the cost of a wedding cake?
There are several factors that play a part in the overall cost of the wedding cake, including:
You might think making a wedding cake isn't expensive; after all, you have most of the ingredients in your home, right? But even the basic ingredients can range in price, especially if couples want everything to be organic. Of course, specialty cakes that are vegan or gluten-free will also cost more, as well as exotic flavors and icings.
The number of tiers a wedding cake has an impact on the price. And if you want each tier to be a different flavor, then you can expect to pay more.
Just like a wedding gown, the more embellishments a cake has (sugar pearls and flowers, hand-painted designs, etc.), the higher the cost. A unique design--like this spaghetti-themed wedding cake--will also cost you.
Fondant is typically more expensive than buttercream.
Make sure to ask your baker if the delivery of the cake is included in the overall price.
A cake display, stand and topper can be rented from your baker.
How to choose the perfect wedding cake for your special day
The first thing to consider when choosing your wedding cake is how many guests you plan to have at your wedding. You want to make sure you order something big enough to accommodate all of your family and friends in attendance, but not so big that you will have a ton of cake left over (this is simply a waste of money and food).
Of course, the type of wedding cake you choose will also depend on your preference in terms of taste. Depending on what your baker can create, there are no limits to the selection of cake flavors and fillings out there. When figuring out what you want to serve your guests, you might want to take your wedding season into consideration. Fall and winter are a great time for heavier cakes, such as carrot or red velvet, while spring and summer works better with lighter options, including lemon and coconut.
And couples should think of their wedding cake as more than just a dessert—it is a work of art that will be on display throughout the reception. With that in mind, you will want to choose a design that matches with the overall style and theme of your event. Bring some photos of cakes you love the look of to your meeting with the baker so they can help you design something in a similar style.
What questions should I ask a wedding cake baker before ordering?
Can I see photos of your work?
How many different flavors and fillings do you offer?
What flavors are your specialty?
What kinds of ingredients do you use? Where do you get them?
Can we taste the selection of cake flavors? Is there a fee for a tasting?
Is it possible to create a design just for us?
What kind of decorative touches can you put on the cake?
Do you work with a florist if we want to include fresh flowers?
Can you explain how you price your cakes?
How will the cake be displayed? Do we need to rent a cake stand?
How far in advance should we order?
How many cakes do you make in a day?
Can we make each tier a different flavor?
Is there a delivery fee?
Are you licensed and insured?
How far in advance will my cake be baked before the event?
When should you order a wedding cake?
The optimal time to order your wedding cake is six months before your date. Like all other popular vendors, bakers can get booked up far in advance. If you find someone who can create your perfect wedding cake, you want to hire them asap.
Tips to save money when picking your wedding cake
Order the right size
Many couples think bigger is better, but why pay for a huge cake if you don’t need it? Keep in mind when ordering that a standard size 3-tier wedding cake will serve 50 to 100 guests. You should also be able to trust your baker in figuring out the right size to order for the big day.
Serve half servings
Most guests don’t eat the entire piece of cake—especially if there are other desserts being offered at the reception. So it makes sense to serve guests smaller slices. For example, if you are trying to serve 200 guests, you only need a cake that serves 100 people.
Feature a “fake” cake
Ask your baker to decorate a Styrofoam cake with all of the bells and whistles just so you have something beautiful to showcase and take photos of for your wedding album. The real cake can be a cost-effective sheet cake—in your desired flavors—that will be sliced in the kitchen and then served to guests.
Keep it simple
The more embellishments you have on your cake, the more expensive it will be. Naked cakes are still in and look gorgeous in photos. The same goes when choosing flavors; if you opt for elaborate combinations, then your price point will go up. If you’re on a tight budget, stick with vanilla and chocolate.
Go for buttercream
Buttercream is more affordable than fondant, so if you’re going to have a multi-tiered cake, this can save you a nice bit of cash.
Real flowers and berries are more cost-effective options than having the baker create them with fondant.