Wedding Cake Overview

A wedding cake that tastes as good as it looks will make a sweet final impression. Find out everything you need to know with this handy guide.


In the past, wedding cakes often contributed more symbolic value than palate pleasure to the reception. Happily, the days of bland white cake and boring frosting are behind us, and today's wedding cakes can be both visual and culinary extravaganzas.

Statuesque wedding cakes with ornate decorations can make a big impact, but their price tags will usually reflect that. Most wedding cake designers determine the cost of the cake by charging you a per-person price. While a simple cake may start at $2 to $4 per person, more lavish creations from top-notch wedding cake bakers—especially whose with lifelike sugar flowers, fancy fillings, offset tiers or special iridescent dustings—may run around $8 to $10 per person.

Even if your weddingcake budget (or the skill level of bakers in your area) doesn't allow for immense creativity on the outside, you can still get fancy on the inside. No flavor or filling is considered off limits or too wild for a wedding cake anymore—many are constructed with a different flavor for each layer. You can also personalize your wedding cake by asking your baker about using fresh flowers to decorate it, or by hunting down a special wedding cake topper—the one your parents used, for example.

Try to decide what kind of look you want for your wedding cake, stacked or pillared layers, flower decorations or icing ornamentation, white or colored frosting, before you visit potential bakers, but it's best to stay open to their expert suggestions, too. Flip through the pages of bridal magazines and books for inspiration. And do taste around—sample the work of at least three cake bakers before you book one.

After you've looked at different designers" styles and chosen a baker for your wedding cake, she should be able to work with you in designing something you can afford. (Don't forget to ask if there's an additional fee for delivery, cutting, and boxing.) Be sure to bring swatches if you're planning to match the cake to your wedding colors.

Some couples save money by ordering a smaller cake for display, while a supplemental sheet cake in the same flavor (that the guests never see) helps to feed everyone. Or you can splurge: Some couples order individual wedding cakes for each guest (an option that can, depending on the baker, cost up to $25 per person), or slightly larger table cakes that double as centerpieces.