Sure, cake pops, donut walls, and rustic pies might be making an entrance on Instagram these days, but 75% of couples still opt for a wedding cake. It’s a standout reception detail that also tends to be a significant item when budgeting—so how much is a wedding cake anyway? Before you say yes to a custom earl grey cake adorned with sugar flowers across its five tiers, let’s explore what factors are baked into wedding cake costs.
How Much Does the Average Wedding Cake Cost?
Couples spend anywhere from $300-$700 on average, but this amount can increase significantly if you’re looking for something particularly elaborate. Costs depend on a variety of factors from size and shape to flavors and decorations.
Average cost of wedding cake/dessert per year
Wedding spending attribution on cake/desert
Cake Pricing Factors and How to Estimate Costs
There are five main things that determine how expensive your cake will be:
- Cake Size: The larger the cake in dimension and the more tiers you have, the more expensive it gets.
- Cake Shape: Round or square cakes are less labor-intensive to make and therefore cheaper, but cakes in sculptural designs and unusual shapes (like ovals or extra tall rounds) require more labor or special baking equipment. Extra labor = extra money.
- Cake Frosting: The two most traditional wedding cake frosting options are buttercream and fondant. Buttercream frosting costs less and is often considered yummier; fondant costs more, but it’s more versatile to decorate with, and it won’t melt in warmer temperatures.
- Cake Ingredients: Liqueurs, special nuts, and spices, or out-of-season fruit can all increase your wedding cake cost—so can gluten-free options!
- Cake Details: One of the most important things that determine a wedding cake’s price is the amount of labor involved. The more detailed your cake is, involving handmade touches like fondant flowers, intricate icing, and edible gold leaf, the more it will cost.
Most wedding cakes are priced out by the slice, so to estimate your costs, you first have to figure out how many slices you need. For a seated dinner with a dessert course, you’ll need a slice for every person on your guest list, which means a bigger, pricier cake. But if you’re opting for a dessert station or going family-style, you can go a little smaller, since not every guest will have a slice.
Wedding cake slices can range from $2.50 to about $8.00 in the states, depending on the ingredients and design you choose, but slices can jump up to $12 each for specialty options.
How to Estimate the Right Cake Size
Here’s a helpful guideline to keep in mind as you consider your cake size:
- 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’s Included in Cake Pricing and What’s Additional?
Most often, your wedding cake baker will include the following:
- Design consultation
- Cake tasting
- The cake itself
- Delivery and setup
But remember that these things vary. Work with your wedding planner and cake designer to figure out what’s included, and keep in mind that cake stands, cutting utensils, and cake toppers are often not included. Your venue or caterer may be able to provide these things though—always ask!
Five Ways to Cut Wedding Cake Costs
- Opt for half servings. Most people only take a few bites of the wedding cake! Trim costs by going for smaller cake slices.
- Have a display cake. It’s not uncommon to use a totally fake cake for photos, then having a separate sheet cake to serve guests. Sheet cake slices can be significantly cheaper because your wedding cake baker doesn’t have to make a tiered cake or use much labor on it.
- Go simple. Sculptural and multi-tiered cakes are usually labor-intensive budget busters, custom flavors are sure to add costs, and all those sugar flowers and intricate icing designs add up. A simple vanilla cake with buttercream frosting could be the perfect solution—there’s nothing wrong with a classic!
- Consider DIY. Bake it yourself, or ask someone else to! We all have that one friend who is a wizard in the kitchen. You could also order a simple cake from your local bakery and do it up with fresh flowers or in-season fruit. Just check that your venue/caterer will allow you to bring in your own cake.
- Negotiate the cake cutting fee. Reception sites sometimes charge a per-slice cake cutting fee ranging from $1-$8 per slice—whether they’ve provided the cake or you’ve brought it in!