How Much Does a Wedding Cake Really Cost?

wedding cake cost

The good news first: Your wedding cake will probably be one of the least expensive items in your wedding budget. But even though it’s generally considered one of the cheaper items you’ll have at your wedding (compared to wedding invitations, wedding venues, and wedding dresses), it can still amount to one of your bigger ticket items the fancier you go. The bad news? The average wedding cake cost is rising, just like that dough!

In fact, over the past few years we’ve seen it go up about 14%. The average cost of a wedding cake in 2021 was over $450. And that’s just the average. Depending on the type of design you choose and the size, a wedding cake could cost you more than $1,000.

So, how do you design your dream wedding cake while sticking to your budget? Read on to find out!

What is a Good Budget for a Wedding Cake?

When it comes to setting a budget for your wedding cake, the key is balance. A good rule of thumb is to allocate about 2-5% of your total wedding budget to the cake. For most couples, this means planning to spend anywhere from $300 to $700, depending on your overall budget. Remember, the final cost will depend on the design’s complexity, size, and baker’s expertise. It’s like picking out the perfect dress – you want it to be gorgeous but without putting a stressful dent in your wedding budget.

How to Figure Out Your Wedding Cake Pricing

Before you go wedding cake shopping, it’s important to know not only what kind of design you want (like our favorite rustic wedding cakes), but how much you’re willing to spend. To do that, you have to know just how wedding cakes are priced.

Below is a look at a sample wedding cake cost. While the price will definitely vary by bakery and design, this helpful illustration might help make sense of how the price of a wedding cake is calculated. Note that the wedding cake cost is calculated PER SLICE and not PER CAKE.

Pricing for a 3 tier wedding cake with buttercream frosting for 125 guests:

  • $3.00/slice for the base tier
  • +$0.75/slice for the 2nd tier
  • + $0.75/slice for the 3rd tier
  • =$4.50 per slice x 125


Note that most bakers will charge per slice, but some might have a minimum price that’s added to based on your design and how much work is involved (more on that below).

Also Read: The best wedding dance songs of the year.

How Much Wedding Cake Will You Need?

This simple graphic also shows you how many people a wedding cake tier will typically feed. As you can see, a 16″ tier can serve nearly 4x the amount an 8″ tier can.

  • 6″ tier: 12 slices
  • 8″ tier: 24 slices
  • 10″ tier: 38 slices
  • 12″ tier: 56 slices
  • 14″ tier: 78 slices
  • 16″ tier: 100 slices

How Much Wedding Cake Will I Need for 100 guests?

Now that you know how many slices to expect from various cake sizes, one of the most popular questions we get is how much cake you’ll need for 100 guests.

Generally, for 100 guests, a three-tier cake will be the sweet spot. Each tier can be a different size, typically ranging from 6, 8, to 10 or 12 inches. This setup not only looks elegant but also ensures everyone gets a slice of the celebration.

wedding cake serving sizes

6 Ways to Save on Your Wedding Cake

So, how can you bring down your average wedding cake cost but still get the design you want? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Go Easy on the Sugar Flowers

Most bakeries and cake decorators will charge by the amount of labor required for the cake design. Elaborate designs (such as those stacked with sugar flowers) will definitely provide the drama you’re after, but will also drive up the cost. If you’re looking to save money on your wedding cake, get a similar effect by simplifying the design. If there’s a ornate or difficult wedding cake design you’re lusting after, consider asking your baker to modify it to help reduce the price. For example, choosing one large statement flower as a focal point can really make an impact. Or, ask for a few larger flowers such as calla lilies or hydrangeas, which will be a less expensive alternative to smaller, time-consuming blooms. These require less work, and therefore less money!

2. Use a Kitchen Cake

If your guest count is in the hundreds, you may have thought you need to go all out and display a six-tier cake at the reception. However, remember that each tier requires more time and will add to the price per person. If you’re looking to cut back on costs, reducing the amount of tiers will definitely help your budget. Your best bet is to display a smaller version of your favorite cake design, and use that for the cake cutting. In the back, your caterers will have secret kitchen cakes prepared by your baker with all the same flavors, which can then be served to supplement the main cake. This works best with weddings with more than 150+, otherwise the cost savings isn’t really there.

WGM Says: You’ve probably heard of the term “sheet cake” when it comes to saving money on your wedding cake. However, a better option if you have the budget is a kitchen cake. Unlike a sheet cake (which is one layer), your cake baker can make a kitchen cake has the exact same number of layers, fillings, and even frosting, but aren’t decorated. Once they’re sliced, your guests will never know the difference!

Another way to save on your wedding cake is to opt for a display cake. A display cake is a partially or fully artificial cake, often with a real top tier for the cake cutting ceremony. The rest of the cake can be made of styrofoam and decorated to match your desired style. This approach allows for a more elaborate cake for photos and guests to see at a fraction of the cost. For serving guests, sheet cakes or kitchen cakes can be prepared in the kitchen and served discretely.

3. Use Buttercream Instead of Fondant

In the past, most bakeries preferred to use fondant (a thin, moldable paste) because it’s more pliable and produces a super smooth, elegant finish. However, it can often cost more than $0.75-$1.00/slice than buttercream. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Most skilled bakers have found ways to work with buttercream so you still have that perfectly refined look. Plus, most people agree buttercream tastes way better than fondant (and you have more flavor options), so you’ll not only save money, but your guests will enjoy a more delicious cake as well. A win-win!

4. Serve Smaller Portions

By the time your cake cutting rolls around, your guests may have already enjoyed a cocktail hour, first course, second course and entrée at your wedding reception. Plus, you may even have another plated dessert waiting at their seat. In other words, your wedding guests are NOT starving. Cut back on costs by serving portions one half or a third of the standard size. Many guests won’t even notice the difference, and they will still get a taste of those wedding cake flavors you spent so much time picking out.

WGM Says: A lot of venues and caterers will charge a cake cutting fee of $1.50-$2.00/slice if you’re bringing in an outside cake. This is one charge I always try to negotiate or have them remove if you have any bargaining power.

5. Dress it Up!

Picking up a plain white store-bought wedding cake might sound boring, but once you realize how many things you can do to dress it up, you might be running out to your nearest Kroger or Publix to buy one. By adding real or faux/dried flowers (such as lavender) or greenery to a plain white cake, you can make your wedding cake look way more expensive than it actually is. Just think of it like throwing on a sparkly top and heels with your favorite pair of jeans! This would be a perfect solution for a rustic barn wedding or even a dressy garden or estate wedding venue.

6. Fresh Talent, Sweet Deals

Consider collaborating with a local culinary school or an up-and-coming baker. Students and new professionals often offer lower prices as they build their portfolios. This can be a win-win situation where you get a beautiful, customized cake at a lower cost, and the baker gains valuable experience and exposure. Be sure to check their previous work and reviews to ensure their style aligns with your wedding theme.

You should also keep these budget tips in mind when it comes to your wedding cake:

  • When it comes to your wedding cake design, avoid weird shapes. Square and round are going to be your best bets.
  •  Exotic flavors and premium fillings can quickly escalate costs. Classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, or lemon are not only more affordable but also generally preferred by a wider range of guests. Similarly, opting for standard fillings like buttercream instead of gourmet fillings can help keep your cake within budget without compromising on taste.
  • High end design items like gold leafing can push your budget over the edge. Be sure to go over what’s contributing to your cake’s cost during your design consultation.
  • Groom’s cakes are great, but it’s an additional cost that can be avoided if you’re on a tight budget. If you can’t decide on a flavor together, consider doing a mix (IE: One tier is chocolate raspberry, the other is vanilla lemon!).
  • Dessert tables are great, but they’re not always a less expensive option. Those doughnuts, pies, cookies, pastries, cupcakes and cake pops can add up to over $10/pp!
  • It’s not just the cost of your wedding cake you’ll have factor in. There will be also be a delivery fee, plus the cost of cake stands (which you normally have to rent or buy), cake toppers, and serving utensils. Some bakers also charge for the cake tasting, which can run around $50, so be sure to ask any wedding cake bakers you visit what their fee is.

Need a humor break from all this cake talk? I found this hilarious video about ordering a regular cake vs. a wedding cake which seems like it could be totally true.

What kind of wedding cake are you going to have? What are you plans to save money on it?

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  1. Different factors, like the size, design, and ingredients, can significantly impact the final price. It’s essential for couples to have a clear idea of their preferences to make the right choice. Thanks for sharing this helpful breakdown!