Wedding cake bakery: tiered, textured wedding cake.
THE HUNT

How to Find a Fantastic Wedding Cake Bakery

The Sweetest Part of Wedding Planning
BY MADISON ZOEY VETTORINO / 03 21 22
Photo by Sylvie Gil

Of course marrying your soulmate is the sweetest part of your big day, but your wedding cake should be a close second. “The purpose of your wedding cake is twofold,” says wedding cake baker Elissa Buckley, Owner of d'Elissious. “First, it is the highly anticipated centerpiece of the reception, and secondly, it serves as the final note of your guests' meal.” 

When you think of the dessert you’ll serve on your wedding day, what comes to mind? Do you envision an ornate, multi-tiered cake adorned with a custom cake topper? What about something more streamlined and modern? Or, do you want to ditch the cake altogether and shake things up with an easy-to-grab alternative, like cupcakes or a donut tower? 

Finding the perfect wedding cake bakery for your big day is no small feat, and neither is deciding what you want your cake to look like. But the search is quite literally one of the sweetest parts of wedding planning. (See what we did there?) 

Before you begin researching bakeries, answering a few key questions can help you gain more clarity about what you really want. First of all, do you even want a wedding cake? Some couples get really creative when it comes to wedding cake alternatives and other inventive wedding desserts. If you do want a tried-and-true wedding cake, which types of wedding cakes do you gravitate towards, and which designs might fit your theme? Do you and your partner have wedding cake flavors you adore or ardently dislike? How much of your budget did you allocate to purchase your dream wedding cake? If you tackle your search for a fantastic wedding cake bakery with these answers in mind, securing the right match will be much easier.

Wedding cake bakery: Tiered cake with flower detail.
Wedding cake bakery: This cake features a modern minimalist design.

1. What should you know about wedding cakes and wedding desserts? 

Think of your wedding cake as one of the main stars of the show during your reception. After all, it’ll have a full moment in the spotlight if you and your partner decide to do an official cake-cutting. So choosing a baker who can make a show-stopper—that also takes delicious—is key. Flavors, designs, size, and seasonality are all factors that you’ll consider when choosing a wedding cake—or you can get creative and come up with wedding cake alternatives that are still fun and celebratory. The options are endless! A little overwhelmingly so... Here are some helpful things to think about when planning your wedding desserts:

Wedding Cake Flavors

You’ve heard the saying the more the merrier, right? That mentality certainly applies to wedding cakes, since you will have the opportunity to select up to three (yes, three!) unique flavors for your wedding cake. Not only do you choose the flavor of the cake sponge, but you’ll also select your favorite interior filling and exterior icing flavors. The best part? You’ll get to taste them together to figure out exactly what you want your unique cake flavor to be. Sign us up!

Your wedding cake baker is an expert, so they’ll likely have some popular wedding cake combinations to suggest. And, similar to wedding dress styles, there are wedding cake flavor trends. Today, some of the most popular traditional wedding cake flavors are classic vanilla, rich chocolate, and luxurious red velvet. 

However, don’t be afraid to get creative with your wedding cake flavors, especially if you and your partner are self-described “foodies.” The possibilities are virtually limitless, so let your baker know if you want something less traditional—and look for a wedding cake bakery that specializes in unique flavors if that’s something you’re interested in. “I'm finding that couples are being more adventurous with their flavors—lots of hazelnut fillings, chocolate cakes, anything rich and decadent,” shares Sarah Schlesinger, owner of Sarah & Simon Cake Design. “In addition to that, more aromatic type flavors are going strong—lavender-honey filling, early gray soaks, and rosewater buttercream were all very popular last year. The standard crowd-pleasers were definitely fewer and farther between, which was exciting for me as a cake maker!”

Wedding Cake Designs

Sure, the flavor of your wedding cake is one of your main priorities when selecting a bakery, but you’ll also want to take their style of wedding cake designs into consideration. Buckley cautions against prioritizing appearance over taste, though. “It's very important to choose a cake baker that makes beautiful and delicious cakes,” she says. “Too many times I've heard from my clients that the wedding cake of a friend of theirs was beautiful but didn't taste good.”

In addition, consider how the wedding cake will contribute to the overall look and feel of your reception. A dramatic, trend-forward cake will be right at home in a ballroom—but may look out of place at a rustic-inspired backyard wedding. The key to finding the perfect wedding cake designs? Taking your wedding venue and aesthetic into account. 

Wedding cake bakeries: A slice of wedding cake.
Wedding cake bakery: A couple cuts a tall tiered wedding cake.
Wedding Cake Seasonality

Your wedding cake can also be inspired by the season. A light, refreshing lemon cake is the perfect way to cap off a glamorous summer gala under the stars, but might not have the same allure for those saying “I do” in December—a rich red velvet wedding cake might be a better fit for holiday-themed festivities. 

Wedding Cake Alternatives

What if your fiancé has always dreamed of a wedding cake, but you’re kind of indifferent—or just want something different? Luckily, there’s a sweet spot. In this case, there’s no need to sacrifice either person’s wedding dessert dreams—you can have your cake and eat it too! (Sorry, we had to.) It’s becoming more common for couples to offer guests additional desserts such as cookies, cupcakes, donuts, or ice cream. Not only does this open up the opportunity for a smaller wedding cake if you prefer, but your wedding cake bakery may be able to create the other dessert as well. Some, however, focus exclusively on cakes, so be sure to ask potential wedding cake bakeries—as well as potential caterers—when you are interviewing them whether they provide additional dessert options as well. Some popular options are a stylish wedding cupcake tower, an Instagram-ready donut wall, or a chic pancake cake which scores points for originality, and is an especially good fit for brunch weddings. That’s the beauty of this being your big day— if you and your fiancé agree to go cake-free, you can dream up whatever inventive desserts you’d like!

Wedding cake bakery: This donut wall is an innovative dessert.
Wedding cake bakery: This alternate wedding cake is chic and unique.
Wedding cake bakery: tiered wedding cake made of giant cheese wheels topped with figs.

2. How do you find a wedding cake bakery? 

Want to simplify the process of finding your wedding cake bakery? There are a few tried-and-true methods to know. First of all, was there a wedding you attended that had a particularly exceptional wedding cake? Maybe you still remember a friend’s mesmerizing wedding cake from years ago, or perhaps you had the best red velvet of your life on your brother’s big day. Whatever the reason a couple’s wedding cake sticks out to your mind, it’s worth reaching out to them to find out who created the masterpiece. Most couples will be delighted to give their recommendation! 

Your wedding planner or caterer is another invaluable resource. As industry pros, they will no doubt have suggestions of talented wedding cake bakers whose designs are as stunning as they are delicious. Another option is to browse our directory of wedding cake bakeries, which is searchable by area, and view photos of wedding cakes that were created for real weddings in your location. Taking a visual approach will help you narrow down your options, get an idea of what you like, and put you directly in touch with the wedding cake bakery you’re eyeing.

As with any wedding vendor, finding a personality fit is also important. During your initial discussion, see how willing they are to work with you to create your dream cake. “Look for someone who wants to work with you to develop something truly unique for your celebration—they should ask lots of questions and want to see your inspiration boards, invitations suites, and really hear what your initial ideas are,” Schlesinger advises. “You want to find someone who is a collaborator and can synthesize all your visual elements into a final, cohesive look.”

Couples should also be explicit with potential wedding cake bakers that the taste of the cake is just as important as the appearance. “Make sure they stress the importance of how the cakes taste as well!” adds Schlesinger. “A lot of people who make highly designed cakes don't keep the taste as high of a priority as the look.”   

Selecting your wedding cake is one of the sweetest, highly anticipated decisions that you’ll make leading up to the big day. Of course, you want to ensure that your favorite bakery can commit to creating your dream wedding cake. Once your wedding date and venue are confirmed, you can begin to source bakeries and arrange a tasting with two so you have options (but more is unnecessary). This is one of the most beloved parts of wedding planning, so enjoy!

Wedding cake bakery: A minimalist, neutral tiered cake.
Wedding cake bakery: A square tiered modern wedding cake.
Wedding cake bakery: an ornate, colorful floral cake display.

3. When should you book your wedding cake bakery? 

You might be wondering, how far in advance you should reach out to wedding cake bakeries? It depends, but generally speaking, the sooner the better. “A couple should reach out to bakers around one year to six months in advance,” says Buckley. “The longer they wait, the less likely the cake baker will have availability.” However, it never hurts to reach out to a wedding cake bakery if your wedding day is closer: “A last-minute cake can sometimes be squeezed in, so always ask about availability no matter how close you are to the date,” suggests Schlesinger.

Wedding cake bakery: A chic, minimal pink tiered cake.
Wedding cake bakery: a tiered cake with real flowers.

4. What should you expect at a wedding cake tasting? 

After reaching out to two potential wedding cake bakeries and scheduling a time to meet, it’s time for your wedding cake tasting. Your wedding cake bakery might ask you to select cake and frosting flavors you’re considering in advance, so be prepared. Another pro tip? Even though tasting wedding cakes is a highlight of the planning process, keep it small—there’s no need to invite your whole wedding party’s opinion, as this can make it difficult to make a decision. Let this be a part of the planning process that you and your partner can actually enjoy doing together.

When you arrive, you’ll be served small portions of each sponge, internal filling, and external frosting flavor. Then, you’ll create small bites of each combination that is possible. If you like what you taste, it’s time to discuss the details. Come armed with photos of wedding cake designs you’re inspired by, or images that illustrate your wedding theme and color palette. If you don’t come to the table with some sort of direction, your wedding cake baker may have a difficult time figuring out how to make your dream cake. The most specific you are, the better, so do your research, and you and your wedding cake baker will both be happier.

Additionally, you can treat your cake as another opportunity to showcase what makes you unique as a couple while adhering to the wedding theme. “Another way to look at it is thinking of how you can incorporate something into the design that's missing from your overall wedding—that might be a pet, a favorite vacation spot or destination, a special family heirloom, or an element that related to how you and your partner first met,” notes Schlesinger. “Inspiration can come from anywhere!” If this idea interests you, be sure to bring it up at your wedding cake tasting so that any unique details can be incorporated from the start. 

It’s also important that your wedding cake baker knows if your wedding is outdoors or indoors, as this will impact the best choices for your wedding cake. You’ll also want to discuss transporting your wedding cake, refrigerating/storing it at your venue, the delivery time, and any dietary restrictions your wedding cake baker should be aware of. If you’re looking for an allergen-friendly, vegan, kosher, or gluten-free cake creation, this is the time to bring that up. 

Lastly, some couples choose to save a piece or tier of their cake to eat on their first wedding anniversary. If this is something you’re interested in, mention it to potential wedding cake bakeries at your initial tastings so that they can be sure the team knows to save that special slice. 

Wedding cake bakery: tiered wedding cake with flowers and a dog cake topper.
Wedding cake bakery: small, tiered boxy wedding cake.

5. How much do wedding cakes cost? 

Like most things wedding-related, the cost of your wedding cake can vary enormously. The average cost of a wedding cake in the US is $350. But the range in prices can be anywhere from $125 to $700. Most wedding cake bakeries price the cake by the slice (or rather, by the head count). You can evaluate whether you think every single guest is likely to want a piece of cake or not, which can make a big difference in how much you order and ultimately, the overall cost of your wedding cake. This is especially relevant if you’re offering guests additional wedding desserts

“Unless you are serving the cake as a plated dessert, you don't need one slice for every guest,” adds Buckley. “If you are having other desserts at the reception, you also won't need as much cake. Getting a smaller display cake and then supplementing with sheet cake will lower the cost. Also, using fresh flowers versus sugar flowers will lower the cost.”

Once you’ve decided how many servings of cake to plan for, it’s time to think about your budget. There are quite a few factors that contribute to the wedding cake cost: the key components are cake size, number of tiers, any special ingredients, where you’re getting married (because areas with a higher cost of living generally have higher wedding vendor prices across the board), and the complexity of the decorations. We recommend researching each wedding cake bakery’s price point before scheduling your initial tasting to ensure that they are within your budget. Then plan to go into your wedding cake tasting with an idea of how much of your overall wedding budget you’ll be allocating to the cake.

There are also some lesser-known costs to be aware of: Some wedding venues will charge a wedding cake cutting fee, which will typically range from $1 to $2 per slice. While that sounds fairly minuscule, it can add up! If you have questions about this, be sure to reach out to your venue for more information.

Wedding cake bakery: textured, white wedding cake with other dessert options in the background.
Wedding cake bakery: tiered detailed wedding cake with florals.
Wedding cake bakery: white small tiered cake.

6. How big should your wedding cake be? 

We’ve reviewed how the number of guests determines how much wedding cake you’ll want to serve (and therefore the total cost), but there’s also the question of how big your wedding cake should be. Whether or not you plan to serve your decorated cake to all of your guests, some of your guests, or if you’ll cut a small, decorative cake and serve a simpler, undecorated one, it’s helpful to understand how many people a “typical” wedding cake serves.

Generally, the size and number of tiers in your wedding cake will impact how many people it can feed. A typical three-tiered wedding cake will serve approximately 100 people (provided the tiers are 12, 10, and 8 inches in diameter). Of course, if you’re having a 250-person bash, that does not necessarily mean you have to have two or three towering, extravagant cakes—though that would certainly make a statement! Many couples opt for a small, decorative cake that encompasses their wedding theme to cut the first slice. Then, guests are actually served a much simpler cake without the decorations, like a sheet cake. But just because each slice isn’t opulent, doesn’t mean it’s not delicious!

Wedding cake bakery: White minimal wedding cake with tiers and flowers climbing up the side.
Wedding cake bakery: Blue wedding cake with florals.

7. Let them eat wedding cake! 

Of course, your initial consultation isn’t the only interaction you’ll have with your wedding cake baker. In the last few months leading up to the wedding, you’ll work with your wedding cake baker to iron out all the design details and make sure your cake is just how you envisioned it. Then when the big day comes you can just relax, eat up, and enjoy!