Of all the delectable treats in the world, none is so closely associated with celebrations than cake. We eat cake at nearly every celebration imaginable: birthday parties, retirement parties, baby showers, and the list goes on. But when you’re celebrating a wedding, a cake isn’t just a sweet dessert—it’s a display piece.
Wedding cakes are often carefully crafted and jaw-droppingly beautiful, covered in intricate details like piped-on lace and delicate sugar flowers. The level of artistry and craftsmanship that goes into your average wedding cake is downright incredible…which might be why this edible artwork can be so expensive. These days, the average wedding cake in the United States costs between $300 and $700!
Luckily, you don’t have to fork over (see what I did there?) a ton of cash to get the wedding cake of your dreams. With a little creativity and a few small swaps, you can get a beautiful cake for a much lower price! Here are a few suggestions to help save money on your wedding cake.
1. Keep it Small
Like most aspects of a wedding, the cost of a cake varies wildly from one couple to the next. Many things affect the final price: ingredients, variety of flavors, decorative flourishes, and, of course, size. A typical wedding cake is meant to feed your entire guest list, so a larger wedding will require a larger (and more costly) cake.
At first, it may seem like you can’t avoid paying for a large cake. After all, you need to make sure there’s enough for everyone! But here’s the thing: those massive sheet cakes from the grocery store are much cheaper—and, you have to admit, awfully tasty.
Instead of paying through the nose for a three-tier red velvet beauty, order a small cake from your favorite bakery. You can put this little cake on display at your dessert table, and even cut a piece of it during the reception for the classic cake smash photo opportunity. However, once it’s time to eat, offer your guests slices of the sheet cake you have in the kitchen. You’ll still get a beautiful, low-cost cake, and your guests will get a delicious dessert—everybody wins!
2. Use Fresh Flowers
Bakers spend hours decorating wedding cakes and making sure everything is perfect, down the very last detail. One common cake decoration is sugar flowers, which can connect the cake to the wedding bouquet and floral décor. While sugar flowers are stunning, they’re also very labor-intensive; it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours just to make a single blossom! Because of this, sugar flowers can be very expensive.
If your heart is set on having a cake covered in flowers, go for it—but before you call the baker, consider this cost-saving option. Fresh flowers are a wonderful alternative to the sugar variety! They’re cheaper, more durable (sugar flowers are very delicate), and they’ll perfectly match your bouquet! Ask your florist if he or she can provide a few flowers for the cake. Often, they’ll add them to your floral package for a nominal fee, saving you tons of money and saving your baker tons of time! Just make sure your florist knows to use pesticide-free, food-safe flowers.
3. Forget the Fondant
If you’ve ever watched cake baking shows like Cake Boss or How to Cake It, you’re probably familiar with fondant. This gelatin-infused icing is great for creating a smooth, finished look on a cake’s surface, which makes it a popular choice for wedding cakes. It also requires extra ingredients, is difficult to make and work with, and will probably raise the cost of your cake.
Don’t worry—there are other options that are more cost-effective! For example, a classic buttercream cake is typically cheaper than a fondant covered cake of the same price. Not only will you save some moolah, but your baker will also be able to add unique textures to the cake, adding dimension and flair to the finished product! Another option is a naked cake, where the frosting is very minimal and the individual cake layers are visible. This cake style has been very trendy for a while now, and it’s a great option if you’re not a huge fan of frosting.
4. Ask Your Caterer
Let’s say you’ve considered every avenue for a cost-effective cake. You’ve visited tons of bakeries, you’ve tweaked the design and style, you’ve scaled down the size, and you still feel like you’re spending too much. It’s time to try my final suggestion—one so simple that you won’t believe you never thought of it: have you asked your caterer if they do cakes?
You’re already paying your caterer to feed your wedding guests for the evening. If they have a baker on their team, they just might add a cake to your contract for a discount! Many caterers are happy to offer a full-service wedding feast (in fact, some insist on it), so you just might score a bargain on the dessert course. Remember, if you never ask, you’ll never know!