September 22, 2017

Study: Average Cost of a Wedding Cake

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The average wedding cake costs $582, with each slice costing between $1.50 and $12. Here's a closer look at how the costs stack up.

Wedding cakes cost a lot more than the cake from your local baker. Be prepared for it to eat up a good part of your wedding budget.

In this guide, you'll learn the decisions you have to make. You'll also see just how much one slice of cake can cost.

How Much Should You Budget?

You'll want plenty of room in your budget for a wedding cake. You'll likely make many more decisions about cake than you thought possible!

  1. What is the average cost of a wedding cake?
    The average wedding cake costs around $582. Of course, it depends on the chosen size, flavor, and design.

    Some bakers prefer to charge by the slice. Today, couples pay anywhere from $1.50 to $12 per slice. A wedding with 150 guests could cost you as much as $1,800!

  2. How do bakers price wedding cakes?
    Each bakery has its own pricing strategy. Commonly, though, bakers consider the following:

    • Size of cake
    • Number of tiers
    • Type of filling
    • Type of frosting
    • Amount of custom design
    • Difficulty of delivery based on your wedding reception location

  3. What's more expensive: buttercream or fondant frosting?
    Fondant far surpasses the cost of buttercream frosting. Granted, it makes beautiful and intricate wedding cake designs. But many people don't care for the taste of fondant.

  4. What is the average cost of delivery of a wedding cake?
    Some bakers don't include the cost of delivery in the wedding cake. This separate fee can be anywhere from $50 - $150.

    The amount charged depends on the distance from the bakery. It also depends on the obstacles they'll face at the venue. If they've been there before, they'll know what to expect. Not knowing what obstacles they may face may increase the price of delivery.

  5. What is the least expensive decoration on a wedding cake?
    Gorgeously created sugar flowers make a wedding cake look elegant. But they cost you a lot of money. Many hours of labor can go into creating just one flower.

    You can achieve a similar look with fresh flowers at a fraction of the price. Talk to your florist about snagging a few extra buds. You'll likely save quite a bit of money.

  6. How does the wedding cake design factor into the price?
    The more elaborate your design, the more expensive the cake. Standard tiered cakes will usually cost less than intricate designs. Bakers often charge more for the labor involved in creating intricate cakes.

  7. What is the average cake-cutting fee?
    Some venues charge couples a cake-cutting fee if you bring in an outside cake. The average cake-cutting fee is $1.50 per slice. Depending on where you have the wedding, though, it can cost as much as $4 per slice!

  8. How can you save money on a wedding cake?
    Wedding cakes can eat into your wedding budget. We researched ways to cut the costs without sacrificing too much. Following are a few of our favorites:

    • Only serve half-slices at the wedding so you can order half the cake (much less waste).
    • Keep decorations and customizations to a minimum.
    • Order a smaller cake for the "show" and have a cheaper sheet cake ready for serving.
    • Stick with chocolate or vanilla cake rather than a less common flavor that costs more.

Wedding Cake Etiquette

Yes, there's even etiquette for the wedding cake. We help you learn the ins and outs so you don't offend grandma and grandpa.

  1. Do you have to have a wedding cake?
    Traditionally, couples serve wedding cake at their wedding. There are always a few people who expect that sweet dessert.

    But you don't HAVE to have a cake. You should have some type of dessert "station," though. It should be something that makes a statement. Consider things like a chocolate fountain or cupcake bar.

  2. When is it proper to cut the cake at the reception?
    Traditionally, once the wedding cake is served, guests are free to leave. It's a sign that the formalities are complete and the party is about to begin. It's also a sign that it's acceptable to start taking over the dance floor.

    Many couples cut the cake right after eating dinner and before their first dance. This gives the staff enough time to cut and serve the cake. It also serves as a courteous gesture to older guests who might want to head home.

  3. What is the proper way for the bride and groom to cut the wedding cake?
    If you follow proper etiquette, you would cut the cake as follows:

    • The bride places her hand on the knife.
    • The groom places his hand over the bride's hand.
    • You gently make two cuts into the cake and place the piece on a plate.

    What happens next is up to you and the groom. Do you smash cake in each other's faces? Do you gently feed one another? We recommend having this discussion before your big day (if you know what's good for you!).

  4. Should you send your guests home with wedding cake?
    Traditionally, a slice of wedding cake served as the guests' wedding favor. Today, couples opt for other items as wedding favors. But they still often send guests home with cake. Chances are you will be left with quite a bit of cake. What better way to use it up than to send it home with your guests?

  5. Why do couples keep the top tier of their wedding cake?
    Couples traditionally saved the top tier of their wedding cake to celebrate the christening of their first-born. This was in the 19th century. Today, couples often wait much longer than the first year to have a baby.

    Now couples eat the top tier on their 1st anniversary. It's a sweet way to celebrate making it through that first year of marriage.

Keeping the Guests Happy

  1. How many wedding cake tiers does it take to feed 150 guests?
    Generally, 150 guests requires a 3-tier wedding cake. The tiers should measure 6", 10", and 16". If you prefer a taller cake, you can go with a 4-tier. Your tiers should measure 6", 8", 10", and 14".

  2. How many wedding cake tiers does it take to feed 300 guests?
    If you have 300 guests, you'll need at least a 4-tier cake. The tiers should measure 6", 10", 16", and 20". If you want a 5-tier cake, you'll need 6", 8", 10", 14", and 18".

  3. How many guests does a 3-tier cake feed?
    You can order a 3-tier wedding cake in a variety of sizes. Generally, a 3-tier cake feeds between 70 and 175 guests, though.

  4. What are the most popular wedding cake flavors?
    Chocolate and vanilla remain the traditional wedding cake flavors. But other popular flavors include lemon, red velvet, and carrot cake. You may even find white chocolate raspberry and pink champagne wedding cake flavors.

  5. What are alternatives to a wedding cake?
    The sky is the limit when it comes to serving dessert at your wedding. A few of the most popular options lately include:

    • Cake pops
    • Donut bar
    • Milk and cookies
    • Pastry bar
    • Ice cream sundaes

    As long as you serve some type of sweet treat, your guests will likely leave happy.

A Special Groom's Cake

  1. What is a groom's cake?
    The groom's cake might seem like a "millennial" thing, but it really is a tradition. In the past, couples would have a 2nd cake to serve to their guests. Some couples opted for the smaller wedding cake to save money. The second cake was one hidden away in a box, only taken out to serve to the guests.

    The single females at the wedding would take their cake home and place it under their pillow. It was thought that the single females would then dream of their future husband. This is where the name "groom's cake" originated.

    Fast forward to today and bakers have made the groom's cake more exciting. Brides get to surprise their groom with a cake that represents something they love. While everything else might be for the bride on the wedding day, the groom's cake is a great gift for the groom.

  2. What is the average price of a groom's cake?
    Just like anything else with a wedding, you can find very inexpensive and very costly groom's cakes. On average, though, couples spend another $200 on this symbolic cake.

  3. What are some fun ideas for a groom's cake?
    Your groom's cake should symbolize your groom. You can order a cake with his favorite theme. Things like baseball teams, old cars, video games, and fish themes are popular. But some brides choose a simple theme. They key is to order the cake flavor your groom loves.

    For example, if he loves blood orange-flavored cake, it might not be well received with most of the guests. However, as a groom's cake, it's perfectly acceptable. Plus, the groom gets what he wants on his day!

Ordering Your Wedding Cake

  1. How early should you order your wedding cake?
    You should order your wedding cake at least a few months before your special day. If, however, your wedding date is during the peak wedding season, allow more like six to eight months.

    June - October are the most popular months to get married. But you should always ask well ahead of time when your bakery prefers that you place your order.

  2. What is a wedding cake tasting?
    A fun part of the wedding tradition is the cake tasting. You'll literally spend a few hours tasting cake and frosting combinations.

    While it sounds delightful, it's still a time of decision. You'll have to nail down your favorite flavors as well as choose your design. The baker will discuss pricing options with you and throw a lot of information at you.

We encourage you to have fun with your wedding cake! Choose a fun design, but also keep your budget in mind. Be honest with your baker. Let him know the budget you have. Chances are they have options to make it possible to have your cake and eat it too.

Sources and References:

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