16 Smart Ways to Save on Your Wedding Cake

There’s nothing better than having a gorgeous cake on your special day, but we understand every budget has its constraints. Even if the cost per cake slice is a shocker for you, you don’t have to nix the sweet masterpiece. Instead, get creative and implement these tricks to save big on your wedding cake without giving up the sweetest details.

Top-Tier Tips

1. Keep it simple. Most of the wedding cake’s cost is determined by the effort and time spent creating, icing, and detailing. So nix the sugar-paste flowers or lacy fondant details that match your wedding dress. Instead, try using real lace or satin ribbon wrapped around each cake layer. It costs next nothing; just pin on the adornment for a lovely style. Or creatively scatter a few real flowers here and there for a flawless finish.

2. Cakes are priced per slice, and since not every single guest will indulge in your wedding cake, it’s safe to ask your baker to allow for 25 fewer slices for a wedding of 150 guests.

3. Negotiate the cake-cutting fee. Many reception venues will tack on a per-slice cake-cutting fee anywhere between $1 and $8 or more per slice. Some venues will add on this fee if you bring in a cake from an outside backer, while other sites will charge it even for a cake they’ve provided. Since this fee can be a hefty expense, you should always try to negotiate your contract to have the fee waived.

4. Create the illusion of a bigger cake. Achieve the effect of a large wedding cake by dividing each layer with thick decorated non-cake layers (like those made of Styrofoam squares wrapped in a beautiful fabric) to transform your three-tier cake into a six-tier wedding cake. You’ll create the look of a super expensive design for about half the cost.

5. Order a smaller display cake. Use a smaller cake with two to three tiers for your reception display and for cake-cutting purposes, and then have a non-decorated, non-stacked sheet cake in the kitchen to serve. This little trick can save you 50 percent.

6. Serve smaller pieces. If your caterer already includes a sweet course, consider being more conservative with slices. Let your caterer know they should cut tasting portions—three quarters the usual size—and plate the cake along with other tasty desserts.

7. Go with a wedding cupcake tower. The recent popularity of cupcakes has inspired couples to serve them at their receptions in lieu of a wedding cake. Cupcake towers are generally less expensive than lavishly iced tier cakes.

8. Add the wedding cake to your catering package. If your caterer includes wedding cakes in their packages, you may find the overall cost to be considerably lower. Many caterers even require that you use them for your cake, and may charge you a fee for bringing in another baker. So compare your costs, and jump on the best deal.

Cut costs on fillings, frostings and flavors

9. Use standard flavors. Unlike the more unusual premium cake flavors (e.g., red velvet cake with cream cheese icing), standard flavors (such as chocolate or vanilla cake with buttercream icing) will cost less.

10. Choose buttercream frostings over fondant coverings. The additional effort that goes into rolling out and applying fondant will jack up the overall price.

11. Choose standard flavors for the largest tiers, and premium flavors for smaller tiers to save 10 to 40 percent. Also, select only two flavors and fillings, as is often the standard. Many bakers will charge more if you order three cake flavors and fillings.

Cut costs on the design details

12. Make an impression for less with bigger sugar-paste flowers. It’s the complicated floral designs like stephanotis that hike up cost. On the other hand, limiting your cake to just 1~3 big dramatic sugar-paste flowers can reduce cost by 40-50 percent. Sugar-paste anemones and peonies are fashionable budget-friendly details.

13. Use real flower decorations. In place of sugar-paste flowers, adorn your cake with fresh flowers and lower your cake expenses by 40 percent.

14. Substitute pricey hand-piped lacy designs. Instead, ask your baker to create a lace-like damask or chevron effect with a roller pressed over fondant. Just make sure you skip the second step of cutouts—it will run you a lot more if your baker has to cut out hundreds of little pieces from a lace design.

15. Be practical with your cake display. It’s not necessary to go all out and buy or rent extravagant cake stands. Many bakers will include a decorated baseboard you can use for your cake. Once you have your cake display, focus on adding to the space around it with pretty linens, elegant candles, or several repurposed bridesmaid bouquets.

16. Go naked. Skipping the frosting altogether is another way to save money on your cake. Naked cakes are a popular and practical trend that are a lot less expensive since they use less buttercream and take less time to make.

Featured Cover Image: Gianny Campos

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