Your Complete Wedding Cake Checklist

Secure this sweet list before booking your confection.
Watercolor wedding cake with floral accents
Photo: Janey Pakpahan Photography, Cake: Teehan Cake Design
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by
Jacqueline Mann
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Jacqueline Mann
The Knot Contributor
  • Jacqueline writes articles for The Knot Worldwide that cover an array of wedding-related topics.
  • She previously worked as a marketing manager for a wedding venue where she learned the intricate details of wedding planning.
  • Jacqueline graduated from Bluefield University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications.
Updated Jan 17, 2024

Choosing a wedding cake is much more than selecting a design and cake flavors. As you search for the perfect cake baker near you, factor in costs, double-check your contract and decide on the right icing there's a lot to consider. With a helpful wedding cake checklist, you won't miss a thing and potentially avoid any cake mistakes too. For all the details you need for your wedding cake checklist, we consulted expert baker Betsy Thorleifson, owner and head baker at Nine Cakes in Hudson, New York. Use this handy checklist as you schedule cake tastings, pick out your cake shape, decide on flavors and more.

Every Detail for Your Wedding Cake Checklist: Printable Cheat Sheet | Professional Baker | Contract | Budget Considerations | Size | Flavors | Shapes | Designs | Accessories | Serving Details

Printable Wedding Cake Checklist

From finding your baker to designing an amazing wedding cake, reference this handy wedding cake checklist pdf every step of the way.

Printable Wedding Cake Checklist
Photo: Tiana Crispino

Wedding Cake Baker Checklist

The first step toward a great wedding cake is finding a baker who understands your needs and style. Follow our wedding cake checklist for hiring a talented wedding pro.

  • Search for pros online: The Knot Vendor Marketplace is a great place to search for a cake baker. View photos of their work and read reviews from other couples to decide if they're the right fit for you.
  • Make a list: Write down your top choices based on your research. Start with three to five bakers who made a great first impression online.
  • Check availability: Contact your top bakers and inquire about availability for your date or wedding season.
  • Set up a cake tasting: Schedule an initial meeting and cake tasting with bakers available for your wedding. Ask questions about their experience, budget, flavor options and logistics.
  • Hire your baker: Once you have all the info you need, talk with your partner and choose the best baker for your wedding.

Signing Your Wedding Cake Contract

Before signing a wedding cake contract, Thorleifson said, "Couples should be excited and confident about the person making their cake - they should have a good rapport, and be easy to communicate with. It's such a special cake that becomes a centerpiece for your wedding day, you want to feel confident that the cake will be absolutely delicious, designed as you discussed, and arrive on time."

  • Check basic information: Check and double-check all of the important information including your contact information, wedding date, delivery location and delivery time to make sure it's correct. Also, confirm the baker's contact information is included in the contract.
  • Description of the cake: Ensure the flavors, fillings, icing type, number of servings and cake design are all correct and listed in the contract.
  • Fees: Make note of any fees listed, which may include rental items and delivery costs.
  • Payment details: When are your deposit, payments and last payment due to the baker? Jot this down somewhere safe or set a digital reminder for any upcoming payments.
  • Cancellation policy: Look for the cancellation policy in the contract and pay attention to any fees or refund information listed.

Wedding Cake Budget Considerations

As you map out your budget, remember that your wedding cake cost will likely include a few additional fees. Thorleifson said beyond the cake price itself, which ranges based on decor, there is often a delivery and setup fee. Some venues also charge a cake-cutting fee.

  • Delivery fee: We highly recommend letting your baker deliver your cake to your wedding venue instead of asking a friend or doing it yourself. Not only does your wedding pro have the proper vehicle for this service, but if something happens to your cake in transit they can fix it once they arrive at the wedding site.
  • Setup fee: Depending on the complexity of the cake, your baker will finish setting up your confection once they arrive at the venue. This can include adding decorations and stacking tiers.
  • Transportation fee: You may pay a transportation fee if your baker is traveling outside of their regular service area to deliver your cake.
  • Cake-cutting fee: Some venues charge this fee if you bring in a cake from an outside bakery. The fee covers the cost of venue staff cutting and serving your cake to guests.
  • Taxes: Always inevitable are sales taxes added to the cost of your cake. Check with your baker to find out what tax percentage they charge.

Cake Sizes for a Wedding

"You can generally scale back on the number of cake servings in relation to the number of guests," Thorleifson said. "Some guests will keep dancing and not come back for cake, or if you're doing the cake cutting later in the evening perhaps some guests have already bid their farewells. For 150 guests, we normally make the cake for around 125 servings, for 200 guests anywhere from 150-175." Reference this wedding cake checklist to decide how many tiers you'll need. You may need to adjust this if you're planning to save the top tier of your wedding cake.

  • Up to 50 guests: Choose a two-tiered cake for a small wedding for up to 50 guests.
  • 100 guests: A three-tiered wedding cake works well for a group of 100 guests.
  • 150 to 200 guests: For a larger party, opt for a four or five-tiered cake depending on your cake shape.
  • 200 or more guests: Go all out with a grand, six-level confection, or order a smaller cake and serve guests a sheet cake of the same flavor.

Cake Icing, Flavors and Fillings

There are an abundance of cake flavors to consider for your wedding cake checklist. A few favorites from Thorleifson's Nine Cakes bakery include strawberry lemonade, raspberry cardamom, café au lait and chocolate decadence. "They will leave your guests wanting more and talking about your cake for years to come. We also love creating personal or seasonal requests that might not be on our menu: a fragrant almond cake with matcha buttercream, a chocolate chip cake with pumpkin cream cheese buttercream, or a cake inspired by the flavor profile of Italian rainbow cookies. Have fun with your cake. If it's a truly delicious cake, your guests will enjoy it too."

  • Buttercream icing: This popular wedding cake icing is creamy, sweet and a popular choice among couples. Keep it out of high heat and direct sunlight or it may start to melt.
  • Fondant icing: Fondant offers a smooth finish and is easy to decorate with edible paint, patterns and shapes. It isn't the best option when it comes to flavor. For this reason, some bakers add a layer of buttercream underneath.
  • Whipped cream icing: Whipped cream has a light and airy texture that's not too sweet and couples beautifully with fruit. It is sensitive to heat, so keep it out of direct sunlight during an outdoor wedding.
  • Ganache: Rich and creamy chocolate ganache is a decadent option for your wedding cake. Use it as an all-over frosting, as filling or add it using a drip effect.
  • Classic cake flavors: Opt for a classic flavor profile with a vanilla, almond, chocolate, marble, red velvet or angel food cake.
  • Bright and fruity cake: A refreshing and fruity cake pairs perfectly with a spring or summer wedding. Flavor options include lemon, strawberry, raspberry and orange.
  • Fall and winter flavors: Get cozy with comforting cake flavors of spiced pear, carrot cake and apple spice cake. These options are amazing topped with cream cheese frosting or a salted caramel drizzle.
  • Unique cake flavors: Think outside of the box with flavors including lavender, funfetti, champagne, chocolate chip, pistachio, Earl Grey, coriander and elderflower.
  • Filling options: Complement your cake with a noteworthy filling. Options include flavored buttercream, mousse, ganache, jam and fruit curd.

Wedding Cake Shapes

While many couples choose a traditional round cake, Thorleifson said it's also exciting to mix it up with other shapes. "We've had fun with the hexagon-shaped tiers, and square tiers lend a bit of a modern look," she said. "You can also include extra tall tiers for a dramatic look. The cake shape you choose should reflect the overall tone and design of the wedding, whether you want a more timeless look, or something more standout and modern."

  • Round: This shape creates a timeless design that's popular with many couples.
  • Square: Still classic, but with a modern edge is a symmetrical square wedding cake.
  • Hexagon: Make guests do a double take with this unique and modern cake shape.
  • Topsy-turvey: Whimsical and fun, a topsy-turvey wedding cake looks like it might topple over (but your baker will ensure that won't happen).
  • Heart-shaped: This romantic wedding cake shape works well for a single or two-tiered design.
  • Mixed-shaped: Change it up with a mixed-shape cake that's unique and sure to stand out.

Wedding Cake Designs

Work with your baker to come up with your dream cake design in any colors you can imagine. In addition to a classic white cake Thorleifson said they are also designing cakes in soft colors. "A glowing blush, peach, or warm taupe color all create a soft backdrop for the rest of the cake design. In candlelight, the cakes just glow and feel romantic," she said. Here are just a few designs to consider for your wedding cake checklist.

  • Traditional white wedding cake: A timeless white cake is an elegant choice for your wedding. Add lace designs and pearls to the classic motif.
  • Lots of texture: "We've been creating wedding cakes with lots of textural, tonal designs lately," Thorleifson said. "For example, little vines, leaves, and blossoms decorating the surface of the cake, then adorning the cake with sugar flowers. We'll often use the invitation design or dress design for inspiration."
  • Minimalist: Simple and sophisticated, a minimalist cake includes smooth lines, one color and modest details.
  • Romantic: Think soft pastels, flowers and delicate touches for this beautiful design.
  • Enchanting details: "One of my favorite elements to include are little whimsical touches made of sugar to include with the more traditional sugar flower arrangements - little mushrooms, a cluster of kumquats, a sliced open fig with a bumblebee, ripening strawberries, a little butterfly," Thorleifson said. "Nods to nature beyond the sugar flowers gives something that feels like a visual surprise once you get up close to look."
  • Glamorous: Bring on the glitz and glam with gold or silver details, contrasting black and white shades and dazzling bling.
  • Themed wedding cake: Design a cake around your hobbies, favorite places to travel or tell the story of how you met.

Wedding Cake Accessories Checklist

Don't forget the accessories for your big day including a cake topper and a chic serving set.

  • Cake topper: Adorn your confection with a cake topper that represents you and your partner. This could include a simple couple design, your names or initials, flowers or an heirloom topper from your family.
  • Cake serving set: When it comes to cutting your cake as a couple, a boring butter knife just won't do. Purchase a photo-worthy wedding cake serving set for your big day.
  • Other decorations: Additional accents make your cake stand out. This could include flowers, ribbons, fresh fruit, chocolate shavings or a fondant motif of your pet.

Wedding Day Cake Serving Checklist

Just as important as choosing your cake is knowing how you'll serve it on your wedding day. Don't forget to pick a cute cake-cutting song too.

  • Serving guests: Decide if your guests are enjoying slices straight from your main cake, or if you'll serve the same flavors in a different version. Some couples opt for a smaller cake, and serve cupcakes or a sheet cake version of their confection.
  • Cake-cutting song: Complete your cake-cutting moment with a sweet cake-cutting song. Pick something that matches your energy, whether it's quirky or romantic.
  • Saving the top tier: Many couples save the top tier of the wedding cake, freeze it, and eat a slice together on their one-year anniversary. Let your serving staff or baker know if you want to go this route. Alternatively, ask your cake baker to make a fresh cake for your anniversary with the same flavor combination and design.
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