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4 Tips for Selecting Your Wedding Cake

When you hear the word “wedding”, one of the top things that comes to mind is likely going to be “cake!” Here are our top 4 tips for selecting your wedding cake, from the size to the design.

What we know as the modern wedding cake has been around since the late 19th century. While cake shapes and designs have changed throughout history, the tradition of icing and tiers has remained consistent. To help you with deciding on this important element of your reception, here are our best tips for selecting your wedding cake.

1. Estimate your cake size based on your guest list.

4 Tips for Selecting Your Wedding Cake

This is one of the best places to start because the size could significantly change the final output. For example, if you end up with a wedding cake with 4 tiers, that will be a different scenario to plan for than a single tier.

According to The Knot “When deciding what size cake to order, first look to your guest count. Generally, three tiers will serve 50 to 100 guests; you'll likely need five layers for 200 guests or more. If the reception is in a grand room with high ceilings, consider increasing the cake's stature with columns between the tiers. (A "stacked" cake is one with its layers stacked directly atop each other, with no separators.)”

Pro tip: To cut down on cost, opt for a smaller cake for your cake cutting and then have the bakery bake a sheet cake that can be sliced for the guests. Since a sheet cake won’t have to take design into account for each of the pieces (beyond color and type of icing), then it makes it more economic.

2. Settle on a taste.

The reason that taste comes before design is because the type of flavor that you choose could change the type of cake you select. For example, if you opt for a red velvet with cream cheese icing, then a design which leverages fondant would change the taste. Cake tasting is a fun activity that you can do with your spouse-to-be and is one of the least stressful wedding activities. Take your time, discuss your options, and then strive to find a tasty compromise that you both enjoy. (And if it seems impossible to align on just one, you can also try to have different flavors for different tiers. Or, choose the cake in one flavor and supplement with cupcakes in another.)

3. Begin to think about design.

Now it’s time to dream up what you think it can look like. Once you have a general sense of what your wedding theme and cake flavor will be, then you’ll be ready for the fun part---design! Design inspiration will be important so that you have a solid starting point. Most bakers will have a physical look book in-store, or social media channels which feature their work. For cake inspiration, we also recommend Pinterest (check out our board here.) You will want to think through desired shape, colors, patterns, and whether or not you want a cake topper or another accessory.

Pro tip: We recommend finding 2-3 designs that you like so that you can discuss the best option with your baker. They will likely have good ideas on how to blend your favorite design elements, too.

How to decide on your wedding cake size and design

4. Determine the display and how you’d like to serve it.

Now that you have a better idea of what you want, start to think about where it will be featured within the ceremony space.

For example, will it be on its own table? Will it be supplemented with other desserts, or a Grooms cake? Will you want servers to bring the cake out or for guests to serve themselves during a dance break?

By answering these questions, you’ll start to see the wedding cake as an element that gets woven into your reception experience.

Things You Might Not Know About Wedding Cake

As you begin to research dessert options for your big day, you may find that it’s more complex than you initially realized! But as the saying goes, with knowledge comes power, so it’s important to brush up on the basics before you make your decision.

Photos of wedding cakes by Joy Photo and Video
  • Cake is often charged for by individual slices. For example, $1.25 per slice. Like a headcount cost for a buffet or plated meal, cake will follow a similar pricing structure.

  • All of your guests won’t eat the cake. According to, “There are plenty of people who attend a wedding and never take a slice of cake, so you can usually get away with ordering enough cake for 77 to 85 percent of guests. And since your venue and baker may have different ideas about what constitutes a "slice," you may still have more than enough cake to go around.”

  • There are types of icing that do better in certain temperatures. For example, if you’re having an outdoor wedding, buttercream frosting will fare best. Because of its buttery base, it can handle sunlight and will be less likely to melt.

  • Saving the top tier to enjoy on your one-year anniversary is an option. While reviews on the taste are mixed, some couples freeze the top tier after the big day to enjoy a year later.

Wedding Cake Alternatives to Consider

Wedding cake alternatives ideas and inspiration

We can’t share the best tips for selecting your wedding cake without inspiring you with some other options!

Whether you opt out of cake entirely, or want to supplement with other desserts for your guests, here are a few alternative sweets to consider:

  • Cupcakes

  • Donuts

  • Churros

  • Cookies

  • Cake pops

  • Pies

  • Macarons

  • Candy bar

We hope that you benefited from our 4 best tips for selecting your wedding cake. Once you have your theme, venue, and cake decided upon, then the rest of the planning will come together nicely!

If you are planning a wedding this year or in 2024, we’d love to partner with you by providing photography and videography. Check out our pricing for combo packages and frequently asked questions.

Choose Joy,

The Joy Team


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