How Much Does a Wedding Cake Cost?

Most couples choose to have a wedding cake as a centerpiece on their special day. However, the cost of a cake can eat up a substantial part of the wedding budget, whether sticking to a more traditional design or getting more creative. On average, the cost of a wedding cake is between $3 and $8 per person or $300 to $800 per 100 to 150 guests.

Like other aspects of your wedding, it’s a good idea to obtain free estimates from various local wedding cake designers before settling on the best deal for you. Additionally, this article will help give you a better understanding of costing and what to bear in mind when planning this (tasty) centerpiece.

Pricing of Wedding Cakes

Generally, a three-tier wedding cake that can serve 100 to 150 guests will cost between $300 and $800. This means that, on average, a cake will cost $3 to $8 per guest.

Remember that prices will vary according to cake size, the number of tiers, the flavoring of the cake, the design, who is making the cake, the delivery, and the charge for setting it up at the venue. For example, you could find prices as low as $1.50 per slice if you opt for a basic design with simple, classic flavors. In contrast, a more elaborate, gourmet-style cake with multiple flavors, fillings, and intricate decorations can set you back $15 per slice.

Wedding Cake Cost Calculator

Let’s now look in more detail at some of the factors that affect wedding cake pricing.

1. Wedding cake pricing by tiers

Traditionally, a wedding cake will have three tiers: the bottom tier for eating at the ceremony, the second tier to give out after the wedding, and the top tier for the couple to save. Of course, it’s entirely up to the bride and groom to choose how many tiers they want! Also, you may want not to go down the traditional route; you can go for individual cakes or cupcakes placed on a tiered cake stand instead, meaning less cost as these options are generally less labor-intensive.

As you’d expect, the more tiers your cake has, the more expensive it’ll be, as the number of ingredients and time it takes to produce the cake will increase. The height of each tier will also impact pricing for these same reasons. Plus, if you and your new spouse want to take home an un-cut top tier, this will add around $20 to $60 to the total cost of the cake.

On average, a two-tier cake will be priced between $100 and $350 and can serve between 25 and 60 guests. A traditional three-tier cake will cost anywhere between $250 and $850 and can have between 75 and 175 servings.

Generally, tiered cakes will be made from either 6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, or 12-inch round cakes. Meanwhile, single-tiers can be as large as a 14-inch cake round and as tall as 10 inches.

In terms of wedding cake tier serving sizes, these tend to be 1-inch x 2-inch slices. However, when doing your calculations, remember that some slices will be cut larger than average, and some guests may help themselves to more than one slice! So, go for 5% to 10% more servings than you originally planned for.

You may find that your chosen wedding cake supplier will include some (or all) of the consultation and tasting costs in the overall price of the cake.

Note: Sometimes, the terms “tier” and “layer” are used interchangeably. In this article, “tier” refers to the individual cake made up of multiple layers of cake and held together by frosting or filling. Ensure that you and your wedding cake maker agree on the number of tiers you want and how many layers of cake to have within each tier.

2. Wedding cake supplier

The skill level, experience, and reputation of the particular baker you choose will impact the pricing of your wedding cake. If you want to cut down on costs, opt for a relatively new baker or order from a grocery store bakery.

3. Design and Labor

Creating a more complex, bespoke, custom-made wedding cake design will require more time and higher skill levels, and these factors will all increase the overall cost of the cake. Decorative flourishes such as sugar flowers, lacework, intricate icing, hand painting, elaborate fondant sculpting, and unusual shaping and sizing will all affect pricing.

Opting for a basic wedding cake design of vanilla or chocolate with a buttercream frosting can cost per slice between $1.50 and $4.50. Conversely, more extravagant designs may be priced from $9 to $15 per slice.

4. Ingredients and flavors

Cost-saving options are going for classic flavors such as vanilla or chocolate. You’ll find that wedding cake prices will increase when using the finest ingredients and gourmet flavors and fillings, and each specialty flavor or filling adds $0.25 to $1.00 per slice or more. And if you prefer to have a vegan or allergy-free cake specially made, this will also increase costs.

5. Icing and frosting

Simple icing and frosting will cost less than fondant or gum paste, and the latter options can add anything from $0.50 to $1.00 plus to the cost of each slice. Buttercream costs two to three times less than fondant icing.

The flavoring can also affect the price as well as the type of icing or frosting you go for. More complex flavors than simple chocolate or vanilla will bump up the cost per slice by as much as $0.25 to $1.00 plus.

6. Layers

Each tier of a wedding cake will usually have two to three cake layers with filling. However, this may vary according to the tier (e.g., the bottom tier may have fewer layers than the top) or personal preference. The more layers your cake has, the higher the cost.

Sticking to a small number of standard flavors and fillings in the layers within the tiers rather than a combination of different kinds will reduce the price of the overall cake.

7. Location of the bakery

As you’d expect, if you purchase your cake from bakeries or cake makers in larger cities such as Los Angeles or New York, you’ll be paying much more than you would in smaller towns. You can find that bakers in larger urban areas will charge as much as 25% more.

8. Equipment rental

Let’s not forget the cake stands and cutting utensils! You may need to factor in the rental of these items into your budget, as some bakers won’t include them in the overall price of the cake. Additionally, if you don’t want to keep the cake topper, this can also sometimes be rented.

9. Delivery and set-up charges

Most couples will arrange for the wedding cake maker to deliver and set up the cake at the venue. The cost of this (if not already included in the overall price) will depend on the distance between the bakery and the venue (and the area). The price will also depend on how much set-up is required (i.e., how complicated the assembly will be). Prices can therefore vary, but on average will be between $40 and $100 or more. And don’t forget to tip; it’s customary to give each delivery/set-up staff member between $5 and $25.

10. Cake cutting fees

Be aware that some venues will charge a fee for cutting a cake brought in by an outside bakery not affiliated with the venue itself, and fees can vary from $1 to $8 per slice cut.

Other Cake Options

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not compulsory to have a traditional, three-tier wedding cake on your special day. Nowadays, many couples opt for more cost-effective but equally visually appealing and tasty options.

1. Cupcakes and desserts

Decorative cupcakes make a cheaper (but no less stunning) alternative to a tiered wedding cake, especially when creatively arranged on a beautiful, tiered cake stand. On average, each cupcake will cost per guest between $2 and $6.

Another possibility is getting creative with various desserts, such as cake pops, brownies, donuts, cookies, pastries, and fruit tarts—the options are endless! If you choose a wedding dessert table, you can expect to pay per guest between $5 and $11.

2. Sheet cake

Another option is using a small, tiered cake for display purposes and photo-taking opportunities only alongside a simple wedding sheet cake. The latter will include the same flavors and frosting as the tiered cake and will be cut and served to guests. These sheet cakes typically cost per slice between $0.40 and $1.40 (around $70 to $180 per cake).

3. Mini or small wedding cakes

Single-serving cakes are another alternative to one large wedding cake and tend to be priced between $10 and $20 each. For a wedding with 150 guests, the average spending on mini wedding cakes will be $1,500 to $3,000. Although offering creative presentation possibilities, this option isn’t necessarily cheaper than one single-tiered wedding cake as the cost of extra baking and decorating of many small cakes adds up. Throw into the mix a potentially longer set-up time, and that will drive up the cost too.

Another way to wow your guests is by placing a small wedding cake (typically a 6-inch round cake with one tier) on each table at the wedding reception. These cakes tend to cost between $20 and $60 each. Using centerpiece cakes looks impressive and can also save on the cost of having to decorate the tables with extra adornments. But be aware that this may not be the best idea for weddings where there are small children! Placing the cakes under clear domes may help prevent them from wandering hands or damage.

Note: If these centerpiece cakes are different flavors, move them all to another table to cut and serve when the time comes. Doing this will allow guests to pick from their preferred flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a groom’s cake and how much do they cost?

A groom’s cake is a wedding cake that signifies the groom’s particular tastes and hobbies and is traditionally presented to him by his bride. These cakes tend to be very colorful and imaginatively decorated. Typically, one slice of a groom’s cake will cost between $1 and $8, depending on the overall design, size, and flavors used. Traditionally, each guest is given half a slice of the cake if it’s presented at the wedding or one slice if it’s given at the rehearsal dinner.

Why do wedding cakes cost so much?

Wedding cakes require more attention to detail as they traditionally play a central role in the wedding reception. Special care needs to be given to the quality of the ingredients, and there are particular skills involved in producing outstanding flavoring, decorative flourishes, shape, and design. Also, opting for a baker or business with a superior reputation will drive up the price of your wedding cake. But remember that if you’re on a tight budget, you can still get a simple wedding cake from a grocery store bakery.

Can I save money on my wedding cake?

We’ve already mentioned some of the factors that influence the price of a wedding cake. There are also various ways to have the wedding cake of your dreams but at a more affordable price. Some of these options are:

1. Opting for a “deconstructed” design

Rather than having a stacked-tier cake design, you can place each cake tier on a separate stand. This simple adjustment to the design of your cake can reduce the overall cost by as much as 25%.

2. Using fresh flowers

The skill, time, and ingredients that go into making handmade sugar flowers can cost anything from $5 to $25 per flower, therefore significantly driving up the price of your wedding cake. A cost-effective alternative is to use fresh flowers. Not only can these look just as stunning, but some florists will hand over leftover or unwanted flowers they didn’t need for your bouquet or the centerpieces for free.

3. Choosing your frosting wisely

Remember that fondant costs more than buttercream. Plus, nowadays, there is a trend for “naked” or “semi-naked” cakes, meaning cakes that use less frosting altogether. However! These types of cakes aren’t necessarily easy or less time-consuming to perfect, so their cost may not be significantly lower than fully frosted versions.

4. You can always negotiate

As we’ve mentioned, you may come up against the wedding venue’s cake cutting fee. Check your wedding venue’s event contract; you may be able to negotiate to remove or get a reduction in this fee.

5. Pick the cake up yourself

Part of the cost of your wedding cake will be the delivery fee that the bakery charges to take it to your venue. If you pick it up yourself, you can save between $40 and $100 (not to mention the tip!). However, this can be a risky option as you have to take extra special care to ensure it arrives at the venue intact and damage-free.

6. Go simple

The more elaborate and ornate the design and different elements of your cake (including frosting, adornments, and shaping) will increase the cost significantly. You could be paying up to $1.00 or more per slice to add on details and unique features. Keeping things classic—flavors, design, fewer tiers—will ensure you won’t be paying outrageous prices, but with no less beautiful results.

7. Provide smaller servings

Don’t think of it as being stingy; most guests don’t eat that much wedding cake, so providing half-servings rather than whole slices won’t break the bank or disappoint your guests.

Will having a faux or dummy cake save me money?

Faux or dummy cakes are made from Styrofoam. Some people opt to have one on display rather than an actual wedding cake (providing a more basic cake for guests to eat instead). However, you’ll find that the costs of decorating and the materials used for these types of “cakes” don’t significantly differ from having a “real” cake made.

Can I get a wedding cake from Walmart or Costco?

Walmart is a budget-friendly option for wedding cakes! Their options range from $30 to $165 depending on the style (round, sheet cake, number of tiers) or the size of wedding cake you want. Customizing the flavor and design is somewhat limited compared to specialty wedding cake makers, but you can still obtain attractive and tasty results. You can even order online up to 30 days in advance.

Unfortunately, Costco doesn’t specifically make wedding or multiple-tiered cakes. However, their sheet cakes can be imaginatively customized to suit your happy day. These sheet cakes start at $20, and with a little creativity, you can produce budget-friendly, multi-tiered wedding cakes, and your guests will be none the wiser!

When should I order my wedding cake?

Ideally, you should order your cake as soon as you’ve booked the venue, set the date, and got your approximate number of guests. All of this should be at least four to six months prior to your big day. Don’t worry; when you place your initial order, it’s usually just to secure the date—you won’t need to select the design or flavors there and then.

Will my wedding cake baker expect a tip?

You’re not required to tip the baker as the wedding cake is considered a product and not a service. Instead, a thank-you note or card and a favorable review online will be much appreciated. However, if you feel that your wedding cake maker has provided exceptional service and you’re feeling generous, by all means, feel free to give them a tip of 10% to 15% of the overall cost of the cake.

Remember that you are expected to tip the delivery staff. This tip can be anything from $5 per person for a straightforward journey and set-up to $25 per person for a more complicated and time-consuming process.

Hiring a Wedding Cake Bakery: Some Useful Tips

Here are some handy tips to bear in mind before choosing your wedding cake baker:

1. Schedule cake tastings with at least three to five different bakeries to find out what options are available regarding types of cake and flavors.

2. Have an idea of what kind of color and design you’d like. Go online (Instagram and Pinterest are good places to start) or browse through some wedding or bridal magazines.

3. Look at the websites of your local bakeries to get a better idea of their cake designs and styles.

4. When you have a shortlist of bakeries, check out their reviews (try Yelp and Google).

5. If you know any couples who have recently married, ask them for recommendations.

6. Before committing to a baker, know how many guests are coming. If you still don’t know the number in full, get an estimate by calculating 80% of the number you invited.

7. It’s a good idea to get at estimates from at least three different wedding cake suppliers.

8. Always read all the contract terms before signing anything or paying the total amount.

Questions to Ask Wedding Cake Bakers

So, you’ve set your wedding date, have the venue booked, and have a rough idea of the number of guests attending. Next on your to-do list is finding the wedding cake baker. You have a shortlist of local bakers—now what? Here are some questions that you should be asking potential wedding cake makers to help you pick the perfect one for you and your special day:

  • Are you available for my wedding day?
  • Do you schedule more than one cake delivery per day? If yes, roughly how many?
  • Do you charge per slice or per cake?
  • Do you have a minimum cost per cake?
  • What is your pricing for different flavors?
  • Are there any particular frostings and flavors you recommend?
  • Can I schedule a tasting? If yes, is this (and the consultation fee) applicable to the overall price of the cake order?
  • What is your experience (in years, etc.) of making wedding cakes?
  • Do you have photos of your recent wedding cake designs?
  • Do you provide vegan or allergy-free options?
  • Can you provide rental of equipment such as cake stands?
  • Do you offer other centerpiece options aside from a traditional wedding cake?
  • Is there a delivery charge? If yes, does that include the set-up fee?
  • What will you do if the cake is damaged during delivery to the venue?
  • How far in advance should I place my cake order?
  • Do I need to pay a deposit? If yes, how much is it, and when does it need to be paid?
  • What is and isn’t included in the quote?
  • Do you also decorate the cake table?
  • Do you charge any other fees that I haven’t mentioned?
  • When do you expect full payment?
  • What is your refund and cancelation policy?

We hope that this article has helped clear up any questions you may have had about the pricing of wedding cakes and what you can do to help make this aspect of planning your special day a little easier. Remember that no matter what your budget, you can have a beautiful and tasty centerpiece that will impress your guests and help create wonderful memories for years to come.

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