8 Essential Tips for Picking Your Wedding Cake

Sure, trying on gorgeous gown after gorgeous gown is fun. Viewing venues where you’ll finally say “I Do” isn’t bad either. What about all of the possible flower arrangements, too? Wedding planning is arguably a lot of fun — but no part of the process more so than picking out the wedding cake. What’s better than sampling a bunch of different flavors, frostings, and styles? (Hint: nothing).

That said, making a final decision is no easy feat. Figuring out the details can be complicated, and it’s certainly not easy trying to choose something that aims to please everyone. Luckily, the process doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. We’ve gathered everything you need to know about choosing a cake, along with tips for making the best decision. Happy tasting!

SEE MORE: How to Pick Your Wedding Colors

rustic wedding cake

Photography by Brianna Wilbur

First Thing’s First

Pick a Date

It may seem obvious that you’ll have picked a wedding date before you start shopping around for wedding cakes, but it’s important that you don’t get ahead of yourself. You wouldn’t want to choose a type of cake that easily melts if you’re having a summer wedding!

SEE MORE: 8 Fun Ways to Incorporate Velvet Into Your Wedding

Make Most of Your Style Decisions

Including the ultimate aesthetic: your venue. You’ll want to match the location, along with your colors, decor, and flowers, to your cake. This doesn’t mean you have to make every decision before you start taste testing, but it’s best to have a general idea so you don’t have to alter the order — or worse, end up with a seemingly random cake.

There’s also no standard time ahead of your wedding that you need to have your cake sorted, but it’s always best to work ahead. At the very least, you’ll want to have a contract with a baker 6 months before your wedding.

Do Research & Ask Questions

Look up cake bakers near you, read reviews, and plan to visit a few rather than choosing just one. Once you’re sitting down with someone, be prepared to ask questions like the following:

  • How many cakes do you make a year?
  • Do you have a portfolio of past cakes?
  • When would the cake actually be prepared?
  • Is a cake stand provided?
  • How will the cake be delivered?
  • Do you have any specialty flavors or styles?
  • Can you help with the design process?

Also ask if you have to choose options from a pre-set menu, like certain flavor combinations. Then, onto the tasting!

Determine a Budget

You don’t need to have an exact figure in mind, but to prevent yourself from overspending on add-ons, go into the process with some sort of budget. Speaking of money…

What to Know

Pricing & Sizing

The average cost of a wedding cake in the U.S. is approximately $500, but pricing really comes down to the number of slices and the difficulty of the design. Slices are typically around $5 each, though that number can easily rise to $30 due to things like personalized figurines, sugar flowers, filling, multiple flavors, and more.

To calculate how many servings you’ll need, A Practical Wedding recommends taking the guest count and subtracting 15 to 20 percent, since not everyone will eat cake. You can also use height to determine the size of your cake. If you have less than 100 guests, three tiers will suffice. However, you may to need at least five layers if the guest list is nearing or more than 200.

Styles

Traditional

wedding cake trends

Wedding cake by Chef Toni Roberts. Photos by Rachel Brown.

Classic cakes are typically white or cream, tiered in round or square shapes.

Modern

Cakes that take on a more contemporary look are easy to spot since they’re in an angled shape or feature avante-garde details like bright colors and additions.

Frostings

Buttercream

A combination of sugar and butter, buttercream is a popular choice for wedding cakes. It allows for easy styling while also keeping the cake’s interior moist. But if you’re having an outdoor wedding — especially in the summer, or somewhere warm — you might avoid this frosting since it melts quickly.

Fondant

rustic wedding cake

Wedding Cake by Caketini, Photography by Rachael Koscica Photography via The Perfect Palette

You won’t have that problem with fondant, though. Made of sugar and water, it can take the heat, and even the most complicated designs stay in place since fondant is easily moldable. The flavor isn’t quite as rich as other frostings, but some bakers solve this by layering buttercream.

Meringue

Back to the issue of melting — you definitely won’t have any problems with a meringue frosting. It’s smooth and creamy, but since it’s cooked, it still holds its shape. Be warned: it may run more expensive than, say, buttercream.

Ganache

This chocolate and cream combo is made to fill a cake or be poured over one. But if you opt for ganache, you won’t be able to change the dark color.

Naked

Rustic Wedding Ideas

This is a type of cake that foregoes frosting altogether. Naked cakes have grown in popularity in recent years, often featuring add-ons like fruits or flowers.

Flavors

The good thing about wedding cake flavors is that you have a lot of options. While you should keep your guests in mind, definitely do not try and please everyone. It’s impossible! If you opt for something a bit non-traditional, consider having two or more options — though this is also a good idea even if you end up going with a popular flavor.

fig wedding cakes

Photo by Onelove Photography

Popular Choices

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Red Velvet
  • Carrot
  • Lemon
  • Coconut
  • Champagne
  • Marble

Since there’s so many options, and even more combinations between the cake, filling, and frosting, your baker should work with you to come up with something that’s well-blended. If you’re looking for a starting point, here’s a good list of ideas from POPSUGAR:

In the grand scheme of things, your wedding cake may not be the most important part of your wedding, but it’s definitely a big one! Do your due diligence — especially when it comes to tastings.

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