The Average Wedding Cake Cost, According to Real Couples

Here's how much they spent on this classic dessert in 2023.
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
by
Samantha Iacia
  • Samantha writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in wedding decor, trends, and fashion
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Samantha was a features and weddings contributor for The Baltimore Sun
  • She is based in Washington, D.C. and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism
Updated Feb 23, 2024

Some of the biggest wedding traditions include cake, from cake smashes to freezing the top tier for your first anniversary. And while some traditions fall by the wayside, dessert remains a priority for many couples. So, how much do you need to budget? The average wedding cake cost has increased in line with the average cost of a wedding overall. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, which surveyed nearly 10,000 couples married in 2023, 80% of newlyweds hired a wedding cake baker or other dessert specialist last year. And we happen to know exactly how much they spent.

Below, get the scoop about this year's wedding cake prices and how your budget will be impacted depending on guest count, cake size, design and more. Need to start your search for a wedding cake baker? Check out The Knot Marketplace to read reviews and find local vendors.

In this article:

Average Wedding Cake Cost

In 2023, the average wedding cake cost was $540. Keep in mind that this number is a national average and the final price of your wedding cake depends on many factors, including the number of tiers needed, the ingredients used, the decorations and even your location.

The average cost of a wedding cake in 2023 was up almost 6% from the average cost in 2022, which was $510. It's safe to say that this could be tied to inflation, which the wedding industry hasn't been immune to. Average wedding cake prices have fluctuated over the years, and are currently similar to prices in 2017 and 2018, when the average cost was $550.

Since the actual cost varies based on several factors, your wedding cake baker should be your source of truth when it comes to the bottom line. But in general, keep in mind that wedding cake pricing is closely tied to the size and style of your wedding.

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Wedding Cake Sizing Cost

Whether you prefer vanilla sponge, red velvet, raspberry filling or a combination of flavors, wedding cake is generally priced by the slice and most bakeries have a minimum price for custom orders and/or deliveries. The average wedding cake cost can vary a lot per slice. There are a multitude of factors at play, so there's no one-size-fits-all number.

The bigger the cake, the more materials and ingredients that are needed to make it, which is reflected in the total cost. And remember: You're not only paying for a product, but also a service—you'll pay for the cake designer's talents, time and labor, as well as cake storage and a delivery fee.

Wedding Cake Cost By Guest Count

The biggest factor that affects wedding cake cost is the number of guests you'll need to serve. The more guests you're inviting = the more you'll spend on cake.

An average 8-inch round cake (imagine a birthday cake you'd typically find at the grocery store) serves about 15 people. In 2023, the average number of wedding guests was 115, which means you'll need a multi-tiered wedding cake if your guest count is similar, assuming that each guest has one slice of cake.

Looking for a cost-cutting option? Ask your baker about downsizing to a smaller cake and consider supplementing with other desserts like cookies or cupcakes instead. Dessert tables are a popular addition nowadays, with half of couples opting for one in 2023. If you have a guest list of 300, order a cake for 150 people and serve it in half-slices—some guests will likely leave slices half-eaten on the table anyway.

In 2023, 71% of couples incorporated the cake cutting tradition into their weddings. If the main reason you want to serve cake at the reception is for the cake cutting photo op, another alternative is to order a single-tier cutting cake that's decorated specifically for that moment. Your baker can provide undecorated cakes to keep in the back until it's time to serve dessert—they'll taste just as yummy but will help you cut down on total cost, especially if you're hosting several hundred guests.

Additional Wedding Cake Expenses

Wedding cakes aren't your everyday desserts (seriously, just check out these amazing wedding cake ideas and you'll see what we mean). They're elaborately decorated and constructed in ways that require special kitchen equipment and skills, so it's no surprise that their base cost is generally higher than the average party cake.

Along with the size of the cake, many wedding cake decorating techniques will also increase the overall price. In general, buttercream frosting costs slightly less, while fondant will yield a higher price tag. Details like handmade sugar flowers, intricate piping, edible gold leaf and other embellishments will also add to the total cost. Certain wedding cake flavors and fillings impact the cost too, especially if your baker is making something more time-intensive, such as a homemade fruit compote or a liquor-infused sponge.

Finally, don't forget to include decorative accents into your total wedding cake cost. Items like cake cutting sets, cake toppers and wedding cake stands are small but important details when it comes to displaying and serving the cake. If you don't want to buy your own, ask your venue, cake baker or catering company about their rental options.

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