The ultimate wedding cake cost guide
Although we see some couples foregoing the traditional wedding cake altogether in favor of unique alternatives, such as towers of cheese and cake stations, most weddings in the United States still include a wedding cake. The cake is one of the most traditional wedding traditions out there, right up there, with the dress, the venue, the ceremony, the flowers, etc. That said, figuring out which cake is right for you and your friends on budget is no easy task when there are many factors influencing wedding cake pricing.
Meet the expert
- Melissa Redell is the co-owner of The Solvang Bakery, a family bakery in Solvang, California.
- Jamaica Crist is the owner and pastry chef at Top Tier Treats in Los Angeles. She opened her business in 2005.
“The cake price is determined by the complexity of the finished design and the complexity of the cake taste (i.e. white cake with white buttercream filling and frosting compared to white cake with Bavarian cream and fresh strawberry filling and buttercream frosting, the latter is about 30 percent higher in price) and of course, how many levels (the more levels, the harder to transport and the more to decorate) and hand delivery to the venue, ”says Melissa Redell of The Solvang Bakery in Solvang, California.
Here’s a complete rundown of all of the elements that go into cake pricing so you can find out exactly which cake is right for your special day.
How much does the average wedding cake cost?
The average U.S. wedding cake costs around $ 350, according to Thumbtack, an online service that matches customers with local professionals. On the low end, couples spend roughly $ 125, and on the high end, they typically spend more than $ 700 – often over $ 1,000! – for her wedding cake.
Cake price factors
Just like calculating costs with all of your other wedding providers, wedding cake pricing depends on a variety of factors. Below is a breakdown of the costs.
- Ingredients (Exotic ingredients or cakes that are vegan or gluten-free usually cost more.)
- Size of the cake and number of layers
- Degree of complexity with designs, colors, and style (for example, if the cake has an edible gold leaf or ombre frosting, it can add up the price.)
- Type of frosting (Typically, fondant or gum paste cakes are more expensive than buttercream.)
- Delivery costs
- Add-ons like cake stands / toppers (you can buy or rent these!)
This is how you estimate the cost
To estimate the cost of wedding cakes, you first need to find out how many people and slices you will be serving. If you are doing a seated dinner with a dessert class and the wedding cake is the dessert you serve, you will need a slice for each and every guest. (This adds to the cost of your cake as it inevitably increases in size.) However, if you’re making an entire dessert station or family-style desserts, it’s safe to say that not every guest will have a piece that you will need less cake.
It is important to remember that most wedding cakes are priced off the slice. They typically cost between $ 2.50 and $ 8 apiece in the US, according to Bake My Day Baking in Dallas, but with some of the more labor-intensive designs and specialty ingredients, they often get closer to $ 12 a size.
“We have a minimum starting point and then add the price based on the time it takes to complete the design, not so much custom,” says Jamaica Crist of Top Tier Treats in Los Angeles. “A two-tier or larger cake averages between $ 7 and $ 9 each. Depending on the complexity, this can go far beyond that. ”
A good rule of thumb is: the more specialty the cake, the more expensive it will be. Think: crazy, elaborate shapes, custom sugar flower details, fondant frosting … all of these will drive the price up because they are either more labor intensive or require more expensive materials and ingredients, or both. For example, at the Solvang bakery, fondant designs cost about $ 10 per slice, while other frosting surfaces cost about $ 6.
This is how you estimate the right cake size
To help you figure out the right cake size for your big day, Thumbtack has published this helpful serving size breakdown for a classic round cake below.
- 5 inch round: 8 servings
- 6 inch round: 12 servings
- 7 inch round: 16 servings
- 8 inch round: 24 servings
- 9 inch round: 32 servings
- 10 inch round: 38 servings
- 11 inch round: 47 servings
- 12 inch round: 56 servings
- 13-inch round: 67 servings
- 14 inch round: 78 servings
- 15 inch round: 89 servings
What is included in cake pricing and what is additional
You should work directly with your wedding planner and cake designer to find out exactly what is included in your cake price as it will vary depending on the cake designer. In general, the price includes the following.
- A design consultation
- A cake tasting
- The actual cake (of course!)
- Set up
Things that may not be included in the estimate you will receive include items like a cake stand or display, cutting utensils, cake toppers, or an extra top tier (to save and eat on your 1 year anniversary, if that’s your thing is). Ask your venue / caterer if they will be able to provide the cake stand and cutting utensils to possibly help reduce costs.
You should discuss and clarify all of this with your cake designer before signing the contract and proposal to ensure that your budget is not expanded surprisingly and costly.
5 Ways To Cut Wedding Cake Costs According To Pro Bakers
If the dollar signs on wedding cakes are threatening your budget and you’re looking for ways to cut costs, there are plenty of ways to do so in the cake department.
- Serving half servings: A popular, simple solution is to serve half servings, that is, smaller pieces of cake. For example, if you are trying to serve 200 guests, you only need one cake for 100 people. The reality is that most people only have a bite to eat when they do!
- Do you have a “display” cake: This is a completely fake cake these days to be photographed and “cut” and then a separate sheet cake to be served to your guests (for comparison, sheet cake pieces from The Solvang Bakery, for example, cost about $ 2.75 per person.)
- Choose buttercream: When it comes to frosting, opt for something that is cheaper, like buttercream, instead of fondant, which is a more expensive frosting option. It could save several dollars a slice to make buttercream instead of fondant.
- Simplify the design: Instead of the tiered, sculptural gold foil cake you envisioned, go for a tier or two and more basic flavors like chocolate or vanilla instead of the Earl Gray with cream cheese.
- DIY the cake: If your venue / caterer allows, do it yourself. Either do it yourself if up to the challenge or have a friend who is strong in the cake department do it for you. You can order a simple cake from your favorite bakery and top it with beautiful fresh flowers and it will be stunning! Keep in mind that making your own wedding cake yourself can create an entirely different level of stress that you may not need on your big day, and it may not be worth the dollars saved.
Most importantly, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a delicious, gorgeous wedding cake. You can have your beautiful wedding cake and eat it too.