Everything You Need to Know
If you are looking for a wedding cake to make your big day even more memorable, we can help you find the wedding cake designs of your dreams. From hair and makeup to music for the ceremony and reception and the invitations you send, your wedding day is composed of so many decisions that you and your partner will make together, and your wedding cake is a very big one—sometimes literally! Whether you are in the market for a healthy vegan wedding cake or an elegant four-tiered confectionary concoction, Carats & Cake has the resources you need to find the right cake for you. Search our wedding cake bakery directory to find a top vendor located in your area or near the location of your wedding, or if you are still in the inspiration-seeing phase, browse our wedding galleries by location, style or color, then get in touch with the vendors who created your favorite wedding cakes.
What do you need to know about wedding cakes?
The right wedding cake can be one of the highlights of your reception. Beautiful wedding cakes are available in an array of flavors, designs and sizes to suit just about any taste or preference. Wedding cakes can be designed to collaborate with your chosen flower arrangements, your reception venue, your wedding dress or to reflect your personal interests. Quite literally, we have seen wedding cakes that are precise recreations of a wedding venue, or that are covered in edible incarnations of the bride’s wedding dress embellishment. And if you and your partner can’t agree on what kind of cake flavor or decorations to choose, we are big fans of the southern tradition of unexpected groom’s cake ideas that will make your wedding desserts uniquely you.
We’ve got the latest popular styles, trends and wedding cake flavor combinations to inspire yours. We can help you determine the appropriate price range for your cake, and will explain some alternatives to traditional wedding cakes that might be right for you. If you are looking for wedding cake ideas, browse our extensive, curated selection of wedding cakes full of inspiration, from unique wedding cake designs to unexpected color choices. Then get in touch with the wedding cake bakeries who created your favorites.
How Much Does a Wedding Cake Cost?
How much is the average wedding cake? In the United States for the year 2021, the average cost of a wedding cake is estimated at around $350. There are a variety of factors that can affect the cost of your cake, which include the complexity of the cake, the flavors and frostings chosen, the number of tiers, delivery costs and the types of ingredients included in your cake. For example, gluten-free and vegan wedding cakes will typically cost more than comparable cakes with no dietary restrictions.
But of course wedding cake prices, much like all other types of wedding cost estimates, will vary wildly depending on where you are located. A helpful universal budgeting guideline is to allocate at least 2% of your budget to your wedding cake. Another way of thinking of it is including your cake as part of the 50% of your budget devoted to food and catering.
A few factors can affect the price of wedding cakes, including size, uniqueness of flavors and ingredients, and the complexity of the cake’s design. If your budget is tight, you can still have a delicious, gorgeous wedding cake if you go with a simple buttercream frosting (rather than fondant) and ask your florist to decorate the cake with fresh flowers and fruit rather than edible decorations made by hand that increase the cost. The results are stunning wedding cakes at more conservative costs. Alternatively, opt for a smaller decorative cake to have on display and for the cake-cutting, and then serve a simpler (less expensive) sheet cake to wedding guests. You rarely see the designs of wedding cakes once they’re sliced up anyway, so this really doesn’t take away from the elegant experience. Both of these options help you to reduce overall wedding cake prices to fit within your budget, while making a minimal impact on your wedding reception.
It is important to be careful of any unexpected costs that could derail your wedding budget and you might be surprised to learn that some of these can pop up around your wedding cake. Many venues or caterers (if they are not preparing the wedding cake) will charge cake cutting fees that can add up to as much as $450. Check with your wedding venue to make sure these costs are not a surprise to you and your partner.
So all in all, how much does a wedding cake cost? The answer really depends on you, your budget and your preferences. Wedding cake prices vary considerably from bakery to bakery. Choosing a wedding cake bakery that offers prices in line with your budget can help you to manage this expense much more easily while accessing the best wedding cakes for your special day.
How Big Should Your Wedding Cake Be Based on Your Guest Count?
Your wedding cake size will generally be directly correlated to the number of guests you expect to serve at your reception. This super helpful wedding cake serving chart is essential for estimating how big your cake needs to be depending on the number of guests you expect to attend—and how much you expect them to eat! The wedding cake serving chart provides information on the number of servings from a wide range of configurations to help you choose the right wedding cake size for your needs. In general, a single six-inch cake will serve up to 10 guests, while a 12-inch cake will serve up to 56 guests. These cakes can be combined in tiers to increase the number of guests you can expect to serve.
For example, a 3 tier wedding cake with six inches per tier will serve 30 people. A 3 tier wedding cake with a 10-inch, eight-inch and six-inch tier, however, will serve up to 80 people. If you are looking for a 4 tier wedding cake, you can expect to feed even more people. Even a simple stacked 12-inch, 10-inch, eight-inch and six-inch 4 tier wedding cake will serve as many as 136 people. By requesting that your cake be cut and served in half slices, you can double the number of people who can receive a slice of cake at your wedding. (And fancier, more expensive weddings tend to serve thinner slices than casual celebrations, so you can trust that the thinner slices will still look impressive!)
If you are planning to serve additional desserts along with your cake, you may not need to plan for a slice of cake for every guest.
By choosing your wedding cake size based on the wedding cake serving chart, you can often select the most cost-effective—and least wasteful—wedding cake and/or groom's cake for your upcoming ceremony.
How Do You Find Wedding Cake Bakeries?
Carats & Cake makes it easy to find beautiful wedding cakes and wedding cake ideas for your upcoming nuptials. Our wedding cake gallery is the perfect place to start when determining your preferred wedding cake designs and wedding cake bakery. We’ve compiled some of the most stunning and unique wedding cake designs we’ve seen at weddings all over the world, so that you can see the absolute best of each bakery’s abilities as you browse. This can streamline your search for decorative wedding cakes and help you get in touch with the professionals who designed your favorite wedding cakes on our site. Whether you’re looking for 3 tier wedding cakes, 4 tier wedding cakes, or groom's cakes, our galleries have all the elegant wedding cakes you could wish for.
Search the wedding cake gallery by your location so that you can find your favorite wedding cakes in your area, and get a visual taste of wedding cake bakeries before planning an in-person wedding cake tasting—one of the best parts of wedding planning, where you get to sample the types and flavors of wedding cakes that each bakery offers. We recommend making appointments with each wedding cake bakery only after you’ve evaluated their portfolio of wedding cake designs and prepared a few key questions. Starting with a little research on what you want can save you a good deal of time and effort when choosing a bakery to design wedding cakes for your big event. We recommend making appointments with your top two choices to ensure that you have the widest selection of wedding cake flavors from which to choose.
What Happens at a Wedding Cake Tasting?
Particularly if you are looking for unique wedding cake flavors, you may be asked which cakes and frosting flavors you would like to taste during your visit to each bakery. Wedding cake flavors go in and out of style, so it’s a good idea to think about what flavors would be exciting to you and your partner—and your guests!—when planning for your tasting appointments.
If you know that you will need gluten free wedding cake or vegan options, you can also request that these types of wedding cakes be available for your tasting appointment. Creating gluten free wedding cakes that are equally as delicious requires great skill, so be prepared to pay a bit more if this is a dietary requirement you know you need to accommodate. Let the bakery know in advance if you will need gluten free wedding cake options for some of your guests.
During your wedding cake tasting, you will be presented with smaller portions of each flavor as well as fillings and frostings. You can try these items separately or in combination to make the most informed choice for your reception. Come prepared with a list of questions you’d like to ask at your tasting, which should include questions about seasonal wedding cake flavors and availability, whether the bakery typically uses fondant or buttercream, what is their range of decorations, and what delivery arrangements will be made to get the cake to the reception on time. You may also want to ask if the bakery has ever worked with your chosen catering company to ensure that things go smoothly on the day of your reception. Specifically, you will want to check on refrigeration options and what the arrangements for transportation will look like for your cake delivery.
If you are planning to provide a wedding dessert table, you will want to ask whether the bakery offers additional wedding desserts, orif they exclusively offer wedding cakes. If so, you can also discuss wedding dessert ideas to help make your decision easier.
One tradition that you may want to skip is the anniversary slice, which can sometimes increase the overall cost of wedding cakes. While many couples over the years have chosen to freeze or preserve a wedding cake slice to allow you to enjoy it on your first anniversary, if this adds significantly to the cost of the cake, you may want to forego this particular tradition.
Exploring the various types of wedding cakes from each bakery under consideration can help you find the unique wedding cake flavors and the beautiful wedding cakes you want to make your ceremony complete. Be sure to look at the wedding cake designs presented by each bakery on your list. By discussing your preferences with the people who design wedding cakes every day, you can ensure that you can choose from the most unique wedding cake designs for your special day.
What Are the Most Popular Wedding Cake Flavors?
Some of the most popular wedding cake flavors are chocolate wedding cake, red velvet wedding cake and vanilla wedding cake with various icings and fillings. Lemon cake and carrot cake are also extremely popular wedding cake flavors. Chocolate wedding cake can be iced with fondant, buttercream or any other frosting you prefer to create the unique wedding cake flavors you want for your reception. Red velvet wedding cake is traditionally frosted with a cream-cheese based icing. You can always request a different frosting or filling, however, to suit your tastes and the theme of your wedding. In general, you can choose different flavors for the outside frosting, the filling between cake layers, and the cake itself.
You may be able to mix and match flavors to suit the tastes of most of your guests by having different flavor combinations in each layer of your wedding cake. If you prefer chocolate wedding cake and your partner prefers carrot cake, for example, you may be able to alternate tiers between these two cake types while maintaining a consistent external frosting design for the entire cake.
What is the Traditional Royal Wedding Cake Flavor?
For couples who want their weddings to incorporate a lot of traditional elements, many like to emulate royal wedding traditions—especially in years when a royal wedding has taken place—whether that be in the type of flowers in the bride’s wedding bouquet or the flavor of the wedding cake. For decades, the traditional royal wedding cake flavor in England has been fruitcake. Typically the cake is ceremoniously cut with a family sword, and at the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840, their traditional wedding fruitcake consisted of three tiers and weighed more than 300 pounds.
The royal fruitcake tradition was continued by Princess Diana and Prince Charles, a 40-year-old slice of which was recently sold at auction for more than $2,500.
In 2018, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ended the long-standing fruitcake tradition, opting instead for a lemon-elderberry wedding cake flavor. Created by London wedding cake baker Violet Cakes, the colossal confection contained 500 eggs and 200 Amalfi lemons, 44 pounds of butter, flour and sugar, and elderflower from the Queen’s Sandringham estate.
Wedding cakes chosen by members of the royal family typically set the industry trends for several years after the big even, so you can expect to see lemon elderberry cakes as a popular option when you sample wedding cakes at your own cake tasting visits.
What Are the Different Styles of Wedding Cakes?
You can choose from many different types of wedding cakes in an array of wedding cake flavors. Our wedding cake gallery has photos of all kinds of different cakes to help you determine what you’d like your cake design to be. Some of the most popular styles of wedding cakes are:
- Mini wedding cakes are a welcome alternative to larger cakes and can be a focal point for your reception.
- Multi-tier wedding cake designs are the traditional dessert for wedding receptions. These beautiful wedding cakes are available in an array of styles and sizes to suit just about any aesthetic.
- Rustic wedding cakes are a lovely fit for country weddings and outdoor receptions. These wedding cakes can feature fake wood, real flowers or seasonal decorations to create the perfect visual impression on your guests.
- Modern wedding cake designs are becoming much more popular among couples looking to tie the knot. From geometric shapes to clean lines topped with a simple orchid, modern wedding cake designs have an elegant simplicity. The best wedding cakes with modern designs echo the design and aesthetic of your wedding decor— and the best bakeries know exactly how to incorporate your designs plans into their wedding cakes.
- Simple wedding cakes have made a real comeback in recent years. These minimal wedding cake designs can take their color cues from bridesmaid dresses, groom attire or any other element of your wedding or reception. Sometimes less really can be more!
- Elegant wedding cakes are an ideal way to create the perfect visual cues for your upscale reception. White wedding cakes with monochromatic embellishments are a timeless and consistently stunning complement to just about any reception theme.
To find the best wedding cakes in exactly your style, filter our extensive photo library of beautiful wedding cakes for rustic, modern, glam or any other wedding style, and view wedding cake ideas that will fit perfectly with your reception design.
Are some wedding cakes better for certain seasons?
Depending on the season in which you are planning your wedding, you may want to look at seasonal wedding cake designs. This can help you find the best wedding cakes and wedding desserts for your Big Day. You can also filter our wedding cake gallery by season to see what other couples chose for their fall, winter, summer and spring weddings.
- Winter wedding cakes are often white to reflect the snow and ice associated with the season. They can also be a bit bolder in taste and more substantial than cakes for other times of the year. Red velvet cakes are a popular option for winter-themed wedding receptions because they inject a welcome splash of color and flavor into your winter wedding cakes—and they give just a hint of holiday spirit without feeling Christmas-y.
- Summer weddings often feature wedding cake flavors inspired by fruits and lighter fare. Lemon cake, for example, is a popular choice for wedding cakes during the warmer months. If your wedding reception will take place outdoors, you will want to consult with your bakery professionals to discuss wedding cake ideas that will stand up to possible heat or inclement weather—you don’t want your cake decorations to melt! Finding the best wedding cakes for your venue as well as your guests is an essential part of creating delicious and decorative wedding cakes for your reception dinner.
- Spring wedding cakes are often characterized by pastels, fresh flowers and vibrant green decorations. Fruit fillings, floral decorations and light aromatic cakes (like almond or elderflower) are especially popular. If you have something different in mind, however, your chosen bakery can help you to find spring wedding cakes ideally suited to your needs.
- Fall wedding cake creations may reflect the falling leaves and the colors of autumn. If you are looking for fall wedding cake options, your bakery may suggest carrot cake or other fall flavors as a base for your autumn nuptials.
Should You Have a Wedding Cake Topper?
Wedding cake toppers can add significantly to the cost of wedding cakes, depending what you choose. Some wedding cake bakeries and caterers may however have wedding cake toppers available to rent for one-time use. If this is an option you’d like to consider, ask your bakery for details on the availability and cost of renting a wedding cake topper. But if you want to keep your wedding cake topper as a souvenir of this special day, it may be worthwhile to do a little comparison shopping for wedding cake toppers. Prices and quality can vary significantly for these items, so you may wish to view an example of the specific wedding cake topper you are considering before putting money down on these items.
Wedding cake toppers are available in a number of different configurations:
More couples are deciding to omit wedding cake toppers in favor of other decorations, including fresh flowers, bows or frosted designs on the top of their cake. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you want a wedding cake topper, browse our photo library to see options with and without. Our goal is to help you find the best wedding cakes and ideas for your special day.
What Is a Groom's Cake?
Groom's cakes are a tradition that’s historically been most prominent in the southeastern United States, originally brought over by British colonists, but that is gaining more and more popularity across the country. These decorative wedding cakes are usually smaller than the traditional wedding cake and reflect something personal about the groom and his tastes, like wedding cakes in the shape of a surfboard for a surfer groom, or stacked wheels of cheese for the culinary enthusiast. Our wedding photo gallery has a ton of fun groom’s cake ideas, which are a great starting point if you’re trying to brainstorm how to add a personal and beautiful touch to your wedding reception.
What Are Some Wedding Cake Alternatives?
If traditional wedding cakes are not precisely right for you, you may want to explore the alternatives—and many couples are these days. From donuts to cake pops, cinnamon rolls and other wedding dessert ideas it’s amazing to see how creative couples and their wedding cake bakeries have gotten with alternative desserts that end up being a real highlight of the reception. Wedding cupcakes are a sweet, diminutive spin on traditional wedding cakes. And they can still be set up on your wedding dessert table in a towering formation that has the same wow factor as traditional wedding cakes.
Even if you love the idea of traditional wedding cakes, you can also use these carefully decorated wedding cupcakes as a solid addition to your wedding dessert table. Mini cheesecakes, fresh fruit and other wedding desserts are great ideas that can sometimes reduce the need for extra-large wedding cakes that can take a bigger chunk out of your budget. The bakery you choose will often be a solid source for wedding cupcakes and wedding dessert ideas that can replace—or supplement—even the most ornate and beautiful wedding cakes.
When Should You Choose a Wedding Cake?
Wedding cakes should generally be ordered three to four months before the date of your wedding reception. Because the lead-time required to source ingredients, present wedding cake ideas, sample wedding cake flavors and to create beautiful wedding cakes is fairly extensive, it is usually a good idea to begin the process of choosing a cake as soon as your venue and date have been confirmed.
At Carats & Cake, we know that finding the best wedding cakes can be challenging. Our expansive wedding cake gallery is packed with wedding cake ideas that you can use to create your own special event, and even go beyond inspiration to book the local wedding cake bakeries behind your favorite decorative wedding cakes.