This Is the Average Cost of a Wedding Cake

Here's how much to budget for your dessert finale.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
by
Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated Feb 23, 2022

Having a cake at your nuptials is one of the most popular wedding traditions to date. According to an internal study, 75 percent of couples who married last year served the dessert at their wedding. If you're wondering what the average wedding cake cost is, we surveyed over 15,000 couples who got married in 2021 to get the answer. Per our data, the average cost of a wedding cake is $500 (similar to what couples spent in 2019). Of course, this number is a national average, and the price of your wedding cake depends on many factors like the number of tiers, the type of cake, and the decorations.

It's no surprise wedding cakes typically aren't like regular desserts you can pick up at the grocery store. Rather, they're specially-made confections. We suggest working with a professional pastry chef or cake artist for your wedding, as they're experts at what they do. They can help advise you on things like the wedding cake flavor profiles and the amount of batter needed for your 150-person guest list. According to our study, 81 percent of couples hired a professional wedding cake baker to execute their dessert last year.

While your wedding cake is a sweet treat for your friends and family, it can also be a source of guest entertainment. Our study found that 77 percent of couples who exchanged vows in 2021 had a cake-cutting ceremony at their wedding reception. Your wedding cake can also be a unique piece of decor during your reception. One in five couples reported using specialty light projections on their wedding cakes, dance floors and walls, while two percent said they had 3-D wedding cake decorations. You can also purchase cute, personalized cake toppers to add an extra-special touch to the dessert.

Whether you prefer chocolate, red velvet, raspberry or almond, wedding cake is generally priced by the slice, and the average price of a wedding cake can be anywhere from $1.50 to $12 per slice (a wide range, we know), depending on a multitude of factors. You'll sort out the details with your baker, but know that fondant icing (rather than buttercream frosting), fancy filling flavors, elaborate molded shapes, vibrant colors and handmade sugar flower detailing will all raise the price of your dessert. And remember: You're not only paying for a product, but a service as well—you'll pay for the cake designer's time and labor, as well as a delivery fee.

The biggest factor that affects wedding cake cost? The number of guests you'll need to serve. According to our study, a wedding cake for 50 or fewer guests cost $319 on average, while a cake for over 100 guests costs averages at $600. The more guests you're inviting, the more you'll spend on cake.

Looking for a cost-cutting option? The secret to saving money is assuming guests will only need about half a slice—so if you have a guest list of 300, order a cake for 150 people and serve it in "half-servings." (Generally speaking, people will leave slices half-eaten on the table anyway.) That way, you can have the wedding cake of your dreams made on a smaller scale for a price you can comfortably afford.

While cake is a popular wedding dessert choice, there are other options for your own special day. In fact, 61% of couples who got married in 2021 provided guests with a dessert other than traditional wedding cake. The most popular non-cake choice was cookies, as 40% of couples included the sweet treat in their dessert bar. Four in 10 couples offered guests cupcakes, while 26% served pastries. Other creative dessert table ideas include doughnuts, ice cream sandwiches, s'mores, cake pops and cheesecake. No matter what you choose, we recommend working with a baking professional, as they can create delicious confections to your exact specifications (croquembouche or themed macarons included).

Don't know where to begin? Check out our roundup of unique wedding cake designs, or look through our Real Wedding pages (they contain wedding albums from real couples). Once you've settled on the big decisions (flavor, cake size, tiers, decorations), consult a professional to get a quote and work with them to create the wedding cake of your dreams (hello, cake tasting!). If you love to follow old-school wedding traditions, consider saving the top tier of your wedding cake to enjoy at a later time together too.

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