One of the main centerpieces of a wedding, both for decoration and appetite, is the traditional wedding cake. Some couples have recently been using fun alternatives to mix up the process, but the wedding cake still reigns supreme as the most popular dessert for newlyweds.
For people getting ready to tie the knot, figuring out how much to spend on a cake can be a bit stressful. There are many factors to consider when getting a custom cake, and even ordering a pre-made one should be carefully planned. But just how much does a wedding cake cost?
Learn the average wedding cake cost and the factors that influence wedding cakes pricing.
Wedding Cake Price Range
The average price in the U.S. for a wedding cake is $500. For the most part, it’s rare that couples spend less than $300 or more than $700. An extra complication to figuring out wedding cake costs is that most cakes are actually priced by the slice, not as an overall cake.
The usual price per slice can be anywhere from $1.50 to $12. This is an extremely wide range, but many factors influence just how expensive a wedding cake can be. It’s no wonder some couples opt to give their guests cookies instead.
What is Included in Wedding Cake Cost?
The total cost of your wedding cake includes a bit more than just the cake itself. When you’re paying for a wedding cake, you’re also paying for other elements of the baker’s time.
The average cost includes not only the cake itself, but also a consultation with your bakery of choice, and a cake tasting is usually included. You’re also paying for delivery and set up. Delivering a cake is no small task, as they must ensure that the cake travels safely and stays fresh.
Cakes are priced based on more than just the ingredients, so keep this in mind when considering costs.
An added cost to consider is a cake cutting fee – this is often overlooked because your venue may charge you, not your baker.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Wedding Cakes
The price range fluctuates so wildly because of what’s included in wedding cake prices. The average wedding cake cost has many factors, and surprisingly few of them have to do with what’s in the cake itself.
Ingredients and Flavors
Not every couple wants to go with the typical vanilla cake. Depending on the flavor and ingredients you both prefer, the overall price of your wedding cake can begin climbing rapidly.
Specialty cakes for certain diets are also going to raise the price per slice significantly. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a vegan or gluten-free cake, but you’ll have to pay extra for the change in ingredients and the baking process.
Time and Effort
Wedding cakes don’t bake and decorate themselves. The faster you need your cake, the more expensive it’s going to be to speed up the process for you.
There’s also the matter of labor costs. You aren’t just paying the cake designer, baker, and decorator to craft the cake for you, but you’re also paying to have the cake transported and delivered to the venue where it will be rebuilt. The more people involved, the higher the price.
To save money, try to find bakers that can offer the complete package all in one, from design to delivery.
Bakers have a much easier time creating traditional looking wedding cakes. If you want your cake to be uniquely shaped or deviate from the usual wedding cake style, then your price is going to rise to match how difficult it will be to bring your idea to life.
Designs, colors, and style are all going to be more expensive the more intricate you want them to be. Edible gold leaves aren’t cheap, but if you want them scattered across your cake, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket.
The same goes for fresh flowers on your cake. If you want real flowers atop your wedding cake, consider adding them yourself afterwards – just be careful not to mess up the frosting.
Consider whether you want a round cake or a sheet cake, or if you want a tiered cake. Extra tiers typically ups the cost with each added tier.
Many couples like to go with a fondant covered cake due to how nice and clean they look, but fondant and other similar products are much more expensive than the alternatives. Buttercream is the classic frosting and will bring down the price of the cake quite a bit.
Classic options like buttercream will still look gorgeous and neatly applied when done professionally. Choose the frosting that matches your tastes, but keep your budget in mind before getting carried away.
Naked wedding cakes with exposed layers are a new trend that cuts down on frosting, but they may still be pricey since it’s a custom feature.
Size is also an issue to consider. The more tiers you require, the more cake needs to be created. Upping the size isn’t too bad on its own, but if your ingredients or decorations are expensive, you’ll have to pay much more to cover the additional cake.
Some couples choose to save the most intricate decorations for the top tier of the cake only to save on costs.
The size is also a factor in terms of how many servings you need for guests. Consider the cost per person and per slice, as well as how many slices you’ll need to ensure that your guests are well fed.
Where you get your wedding cake will affect the bill. If you want a cake from a world class wedding cake baker or a famous bakery, you can expect to pay more.
Location also plays a role in this; a wedding cake baker in New York City will charge more than a bakery in rural Wisconsin.
While less expensive than some other factors, add-ons such as cake toppers or cake stands can add a bit to the baseline. Many of these can be rented, so you can avoid the fate of buying a nice or funny cake topper for single use.
How to Reduce the Cost of Your Wedding Cake
While all of these price increasing factors can be a bit daunting, there are still ways for you to have the wedding cake of your dreams without having to break the bank. If you’re able to cut down in certain areas, then you can have your cake decorated in any way you want.
Typically you want to order one slice for each guest you have. This can result in much larger cakes than you intended if your guest list gets too out of hand. One effective way to cut costs is to only buy a cake large enough to feed half your guest list.
This may sound stingy, but serving everyone a half slice is a smart move to make. Most of your guests will be full by the time dessert rolls around, and for the most part, guests tend not to finish the slices they are given. Half slices will be more than enough to serve everyone.
One option that some couples choose to go with is supplying a different dessert. These can range from anything to pies, cookies, ice cream, and even various pastries like donuts. This can cut down on your cake size significantly, and these other desserts are fairly cheap to acquire.
Surround your cake with other desserts to cut on the cost of the cake itself.
Getting your baker to create a smaller display cake for the cutting ceremony can cut your costs significantly. You can go all out decorating this smaller cake that all of your guests will be able to see, while the caterers have a larger sheet cake in the back that will be served to guests.
This option allows you to decorate the cake however you like while still providing guests with a delicious dessert. Choosing this option is great if you want your beautiful cake to truly feel like a work of art to be proudly displayed.
It’s common for wedding cakes to be cut into half servings for the wedding day. This can help your budget, as your price per person will be half of the price per slice if everyone gets one half serving.
You should still make sure there’s plenty in case people want seconds, but cutting the slices smaller allows you to buy a smaller wedding cake to serve more people.
At the end of the day, you and your partner should try to get a wedding cake that will make both of you happy. It’s not fun trying to make everything work on a budget, but there are plenty of creative solutions to getting a fantastic cake for a low cost.
It’s not bad to have extravagant taste, just do your research and consult your baker to make sure everything goes according to plan. The wedding cake is only a small part of your big day, so commit to your decisions and don’t let it worry you the day of.
Learn how to freeze your wedding cake so that you can save a piece for a special celebration!
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