Your Guide to Wedding Cakes

Your Guide to Wedding Cakes

If you love cake as much as we do, you will be serving it at your wedding. To help you choose a one that’s delicious, beautiful and in your price range, we’ve put together a quick guide to choosing your cake, from the fundamentals to the frosting on top.

Here are the five things we’ll be covering:

  • The Flavor
  • The Frosting
  • The Size and Number of Tiers
  • The Decorations 
  • The Cost per Slice
posh-pink-tiered-cake-with-floral-decorations-photo-by-dana-cubbage-weddings
Photographed by Dana Cubbage Weddings - South Carolina wedding photographers

Starting with the flavor, think about what delights your taste buds. Then, check with your partner and see what flavors are on their list. If your choices aren’t compatible, don’t worry. You can always order a cake with multiple tiers in both of your favorite flavors. Here are some of the most delicious and popular flavors available at most bakeries. Take a look for inspiration and be sure to ask your bakery about special flavors they offer.

  • Vanilla: A classic choice that is always a crowd pleaser especially when it’s made with real vanilla.
  • Chocolate: Just yum! Choose from dark, light, or white chocolate.
  • Red velvet: A traditional cake of African origin with a deep red color and a subtle cocoa flavor
  • Lemon: A light and refreshing option if you love the flavor of citrus.
  • Carrot: A rich, sweet cake stays moist for days
  • Spice: Delicious and comforting cake spice cake is make with a blend of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
  • Coconut: This tropical flavor pairs well with a variety of frostings
  • Almond: A delicate and nutty flavor that goes well with fruit fillings
  • Marble: A combination of chocolate and vanilla, swirled together for a unique and visually appealing presentation.

Ultimately, the most delicious wedding cake is one that is moist, flavorful, and beautifully decorated to match your wedding theme. Be sure that your bakery makes your cake fresh without freezing it and then it will be served within 48 hours of coming out of the oven.

tiered-cake-in-orange-with-orange-and-green-floral-decorations-photo-by-f10-studio
Photographed by F10 Studio - Toronto, Canada wedding photographers

For your frosting and fillings you’ll find lots of sweet choices including:

Buttercream: Versatile and delectable, this frosting can be flavored using a variety of extracts or liqueurs. Made with soft butter and confectioners sugar,  it is delicious, creamy and relatively easy to spread, making it a popular choice for wedding cakes.

Fondant: Smooth and pliable, fondant can be rolled out and draped over your cake to create a flat, seamless finish. Because it conforms to your cake evenly it provides the perfect medium for decorating with marzipan or royal icing, but it may not be as tasty as other frosting options. If you’re planning on serving fondant be sure you go to a tasting.

Royal icing: A stiff, glossy frosting made with egg whites and powdered sugar. It dries hard and is often used to create intricate decorative details.

Cream cheese frosting: Cream cheese frosting is a rich, tangy frosting made with cream cheese, butter, and sugar. It pairs well with flavors like carrot cake and red velvet and can be used as a filling or frosting.

And when it comes to fillings, the sky's the limit! Bakeries can make almost any flavor from icing, to jams, ganache, and mousse.

colorful-cake-being-carried-outside-photo-by-m-and-g-wedding-photography
Photographed by M and G Wedding Photography - UK wedding photographers

To determine how big your cake should be, consider the following:

  • Your guest list. The size of the cake should be based on the number of people you expect at your wedding. As a general rule of thumb, you will need about 1/2 to 1 slice of cake per guest. For example, if you expect 100 guests, a 50-slice cake would be appropriate. If you are worried about serving everyone, 70 slices would ensure you don’t run out.
  • Serving size: Consider how you want to serve the cake. If you want to serve larger slices, you may need a bigger cake. On the other hand, if you want to serve smaller, more dainty slices, you can get away with a cake that is 25 to 50% smaller.
  • Dessert options: If you're planning on serving other desserts in addition to the cake, you can order enough cake for a third of your guests and serve cookies, pies, donuts, candy and other sweets. These days lots of people are on gluten free diets so don’t forget to offer wheat free goodies and don’t miss our article on Gluten Free Menus that will please all of your guests.
  • The number of tiers you’ll need will depend on the number of slices you’ll serve and the overall design of your wedding cake.

To choose the decorations and design, work with your bakery and keep these things in mind:

  • Your wedding theme: If you have a specific theme for your wedding, choose a cake that fits it to a tee. For example, if you're having a garden wedding, celebrate your theme with pressed or fresh flowers, and for a country style wedding use musical instruments as your cake toppers and bright colors to play up your style. 
tiered-white-cake-with-modern-floral-designs-photo-by-dana-cubbage-weddings
Photographed by Dana Cubbage Weddings - South Carolina wedding photographers
colorful-tiered-cake-with-two-guitars-atop-photo-by-talitha-tarro-photography
Photographed by Talitha Tarro Photography - New Mexico wedding photographers
  • Consider the presentation: In addition to the flavor and design of the cake, think about how it will be displayed at your reception. You may want to choose a cake stand or display that fits with your wedding decor and create lighting that will draw attention to your cake cutting.
  • Choose a color scheme: Consider the colors of your wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, flowers, and other décor elements, and use these colors to inspire your cake design.
tiered-cake-with-gold-decorations-on-gold-stand-photo-by-zee-anna-photography
Photographed by Zee Anna Photography - Naples, Florida wedding photographers
  • Use ribbon or lace: Wrapping a ribbon or lace around the base of each tier or using it to create a border can add a sophisticated touch to your cake.
  • Add details: Consider using small details like pearls, sprinkles, or edible glitter to add some sparkle and shine to your cake.
  • Personalize it: Consider adding monograms or other personalized touches to your cake to make it unique and special.
cutting-the-cake-rose-first-photo-by-yves-schepers
Photographed by Yves Schepers Photography - Belgium wedding photographers

To set your budget, keep in mind that wedding cakes can vary greatly in price and will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the cake, the complexity of the design, the ingredients used, and the location of the bakery. On average, wedding cakes can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Here are a few factors that can influence the cost of a wedding cake:

  • Size: Larger cakes will generally cost more than smaller cakes. 
  • Design: Cakes with intricate designs, multiple tiers, and lots of detail work tend to cost more because of labor involved.
  • Ingredients: Cakes made with high-quality, premium ingredients will generally be more expensive than cakes made with less expensive ingredients.
  • Location: Cakes from notable bakeries or high-end wedding venues may be more expensive than those from smaller, local bakeries or venues. 

Once you’ve chosen the flavor and fillings, and you have a rough idea of the number of slices you’ll need, reach out to a few different bakeries with your design ideas and discuss your specific needs and budget. If you can, set up a tasting to ensure you will be happy with the final results.

To find more gorgeous cakes search our Details and Decor Gallery and don’t miss our recent article on How to Cut Your Wedding Cake