The cutting of the cake is one of the sweetest wedding traditions. This long-standing staple of the wedding reception continues to be popular even with modern brides and grooms.
Not only is the cutting of the cake and feeding each other a bite a special memory you’ll have forever, but it makes a lovely focal point at your reception.
If you’re a bride or groom who wants to uphold this tasty tradition, then it’s important to allocate the correct amount of money in your budget so you can get the wedding cake of your dreams.
To help you do just that, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of wedding cake pricing that is sure to help you stay on track.
How Much Does a Wedding Cake Cost?
Although wedding cake prices vary based on size, shape and the level of decoration, a typical couple in the U.S. spends between $125 and $700. That means the average cost of a wedding cake rings in at about $350.
The average wedding cake cost for couples wanting large or elaborate cakes are between $1,000 to $1,200.
You can also expect to shell out more if your baker is in a large urban area like New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles.
How to Determine Wedding Cake Prices
Most professional bakers price their wedding cakes by the slice. The starting price of an average fondant-covered cake is $5 per slice while a slice of a buttercream frosted cake is $4. The average cost of a very simple wedding cake is about $2.50 per slice.
Cake sizes and specialty cake designs, however, come at a cost. Large round or square tiered cakes are typically between $7 and $9 per slice, although custom shaped wedding cakes or cakes with a lot of detail and decoration can cost as much as $12 per slice.
Specialty cakes with fancy shapes, multiple tiers, upscale ingredients, fondant, custom sugar flowers and other elaborate decor will drive up your wedding cake costs considerably. Think of it this way, the more labor-intensive the cake, the more the cake will cost per slice. And that means a bigger chunk out of your wedding budget.
The following list of factors can vastly effect wedding cake prices:
- Location — Where your wedding cake designer works can be a huge factor in cost. Wedding cake bakers in metropolitan areas tend to charge more than small town cake bakers.
- Wedding Cake Ingredients — Special ingredients, vegan cakes and gluten-free cakes always come at a higher price point.
- Wedding Cake Flavors — The more elaborate your flavor profile, the higher the cost.
- Wedding Cake Shape — Round or square cakes are easier to make because standard pans can be used. Cakes in unusual shapes require more labor and special equipment which will drive up your cost.
- Wedding Cake Size — The size of your wedding cake and number of tiers will impact the price.
- Wedding Cake Design — Wedding cake trends like a geode feature, use of edible gold leaf, sugar flowers, sugar ruffles and ombre fondant will increase the price.
- Wedding Cake Frosting — Fondant frosting or gum paste come at a higher price point than buttercream frosting.
- Wedding Cake Add-Ons — Most bakers won’t include wedding cake stands/toppers as part of the cost. Expect to pay extra if you want the baker to provide them.
Average Wedding Cake Cost: What’s Included and What’s Extra
We recommend speaking directly with your cake designer to determine what you can expect to be included in the price of a wedding cake. Pricing will vary from baker to baker, so it’s wise to find out directly from the source.
In most cases, the price of a wedding cake will include:
- A design consultation
- Cake tasting appointment
- The actual wedding cake
- Delivery fee
Some bakers include an extra wedding cake tier for couples to freeze and enjoy on their first anniversary — but this isn’t something you should count on. If you want a layer to save for your anniversary, ask your baker if it’s included in your wedding cake cost or if you’ll need to pay extra.
Items that are not likely to be included in the price are the cake stand or display, cake cutting utensils and cake toppers. You can buy the items yourself (which are sure to come in handy when you entertain with your spouse in the future) or you can ask your caterer if they have a stand and utensils you can use.
If you have a wedding planner, he or she should be a part of the design consultation with the baker. A wedding coordinator is good at convincing wedding vendors to offer a deal and may be able to negotiate a savings on costs like delivery fees or add-on items.
How to Choose Wedding Cake Size
Knowing what size of wedding cake you’ll need is vital to ensure none of your guests go without. This guide should help you determine what size of cake to order.
- Six-inch tier — 14 servings
- Eight-inch tier — 26 servings
- 10-inch tier — 40 servings
- 12-inch tier — 56 servings
- 14-inch tier — 78 servings
- 16-inch tier — 100 servings
Creative Ways to Save Money on Wedding Cake Costs
There’s no getting around it; traditional wedding cakes can be costly — especially if you have a lot of people to serve.
If you need a large wedding cake to serve 100 people or more, you can expect to pay at least $400 for a buttercream frosted cake and a minimum of $500 for a fondant cake. That price doubles if you have 200 guests.
With the cost of even basic wedding cakes averaging $350, many couples are getting creative to save some money. Let’s look at some ways you can cut costs without doing away with a wedding cake all together.
Opt for a Serve Half Slices
Serving half slices of wedding cake will mean you can feed more people with less and will literally cut your wedding cake cost in half.
Choose a Small Cake
If you truly want the best bang for your buck, a small round or square wedding cake for pictures and sheet cake for serving is the answer. With slices costing around $2.50, it is a far more economical way to serve wedding cake.
Fondant wedding cakes may be chic and stylish, but they cost at least $1 a slice more than buttercream. Depending on the wedding cake baker you hire, it could be $2 more. While fondant does offer more decorating options, it doesn’t taste as good as buttercream and will be left behind on almost every plate.
Ask your wedding cake baker what decorating options you have with a buttercream cake. You may be surprised at what a professional decorator can offer.
Have a Display Cake
This fake cake looks like the real thing and is used for the cake cutting wedding photos. Made of Styrofoam cylinders decorated to look like layers of cake, it can be as large and grand as you want and has one small real cake layer for cutting and feeding a morsel to your spouse. Guests are then served slices from a sheet cake or are served another type of dessert all together.
A wedding cake baker should be able to make a display cake for you for a small discount but, because of the amount of decoration that goes into it, the only real cost savings will be the ingredients for the batter.
If you’re just looking for a small savings, this can be a good option.
DIY Wedding Cake
If your wedding venue permits it, and you or a family member have some serious baking chops, creating your own wedding cake can be a major cost savings.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to consider basic cake designs like round or square to lessen the chance of a structural issue. Working with fondant isn’t easy so, unless you have a lot of experience, it’s best to stick with buttercream frosting.
Just remember, wedding cake decorating takes a lot of skill so be sure you are actually up for the task before committing to this route.
Do I Need to Serve Other Desserts?
While many couples do opt to have another dessert at their reception, you can choose to serve only wedding cake. If you only want to serve cake but still give your guests more than one option you can:
- Have two cakes: one for the bride and one for the groom.
- Have each layer be a different flavor.
Having a bride and a groom cake is a lovely idea, but you probably won’t save money with this option. It will however give you two distinct flavor profiles to serve for dessert.
If you choose a cake with at least two tiers, you can request different flavors for each tier. This is the cheaper of the two options because it means your wedding cake baker only needs to design one cake.
If you are open to serving other desserts, however, that can be a good way to save money. Many couples opt to have a small wedding cake for the cutting ceremony and then serve their guests a different dessert or even an array of desserts. Choosing to have your caterer provide the desserts will likely be a more cost-effective option and will allow you to choose tasty treats like creme brulee or even a fresh fruit platter.
Your wedding cake is an important part of your big day. Knowing the costs of professional cake sizes and designs will not only help you to budget accordingly, but choose the best cake for your wedding.