The Biggest Wedding Cake Mistakes Couples Make, According to Bakers

We asked top wedding cake bakers from across the country to give us the inside scoop on wedding cakes.
by The Knot

Believe it or not, a lot more goes into a wedding cake than eggs, flour and fondant icing. In fact, lots of couples end up in a sticky situation on their wedding day by making a few mistakes along the way. That's why we talked to real cake bakers to see what tips they have for couples—read their sweet advice, below. 

1. Not Thinking About Slice Size

"Ask your baker to show you how big their slices are. Sometimes you can save money by ordering a smaller cake as the bigger the slice the more people you can feed on a budget."—Karen Vazquez, Kakes by Karen, Naples, FL

2. Trying to Please Other People

"I think a bride should order the cake flavor and design her and her fiancé truly want. Just like every other aspect of their wedding, everyone will have an opinion on how they should do it. People tell them don't do chocolate cake, that's wrong—or don't do bright vibrant colors, that's wrong... Don't listen to them. If red velvet cake is your favorite cake, go for it! No one said a wedding cake had to be white cake."—Heather Luse, Delectable Delights, Centre Hall, PA

3. Not Making Sure Every Agreed Upon Detail Is in Writing

"When ordering a wedding cake, a bride should keep in mind that she is responsible for reviewing her contract thoroughly and making sure every last detail she and the designer agreed upon is in writing months (or at least weeks) prior to the event. This protects both the bride as well as the designer. Last-minute changes and add-ons can get costly."—Michelle Sauer, Sauer Cakes, Gahanna, OH

4. Forgetting to Bring a Budget

"Come with a budget in mind. The more intricate the design and customized the cake, the more labor will go into the overall cake, which will drive up the cost. Details such as hand painting in 23 karat gold will up the cost quite a bit. Opting for maybe a little bit here and there will add class to your cake without breaking the bank. An experienced designer will offer to help you stay within your budget the best they can." —Cynthia, Cynthia's Cakes, Edinburg, TX

5. Thinking Your Options Are Limited

"Often cakes come as part of a package offered by the venue. If you're not totally in love with what is available to you and would like to go to an outside designer whose work you just love, discuss your options with the venue. Often they will add a dessert, an upgrade or some other option that will give you the same value for your money, and still let you have the cake of your dreams."—Penny Stankiewicz, Sugar Couture LLC, New York, NY

6. Feeling Restrained by Your Budget

"Don't let cost be the first thing you think of. Most cake decorators are willing to help assist in keeping costs low if you ask. Start your search by finding someone whom you can communicate with easily, who has great ideas but is also a great listener, and has a good sense of what you want for your cake design."—Chef Janan Juliff, The Cake Diva, Minneapolis, MN

7. Thinking Too Big

"Five-tiered cakes, fondant-covered cakes, cakes with a million tiny handmade flowers, cakes with gum-paste flower bouquets, sculpted cakes and so on, are expensive! A lot of cake magazines and shows feature the really ornate or funky cakes that look awesome but are very time-consuming, which translates to a lot of money. Be willing to do a smaller version of that cake with a sheet cake on the side, or pick the parts you really like about it and use it as an accent on a less ornate cake."—Pamela, Pamela's Bakery, Eagle, ID

8. Choosing the Wrong Baker

"If you're not warm and fuzzy inside when you meet the baker, then leave! Make sure they want to be part of your special day, instead of just wanting your money. They need to feel like this is their wedding. No matter how many cakes they make, they should feel like this is their cake that they will be seeing on their special day. If you get that feeling from them, then they will understand how important this is to you. They should be excited as well. It is more than a piece of cake—it is the centerpiece of your new beginning."—C.C.Martinez, SilverSpoon Bakery, Portsmouth, VA

9. Not Considering the Weather

"Be realistic about the temperature on the day of your wedding. Buttercream and chocolate icings tend to melt in high temperatures, while a fondant coating will stay resilient no matter how hot it gets. The fondant coating can be peeled off to reveal the cake and interior icing and filling for those who don't like fondant."—Chef Paula Harper, The Yummy Tummy Cafe, Atlanta, GA

10. Forgetting About Display

"Couples, when deciding on cupcakes, should of course consider flavors, quantity and budget, but more importantly—what they expect from the appearance of those cupcakes in their wedding photos. The display of the cupcakes will be in the photo album forever, and working with their baker to create the most elegant display possible will insure delight for many years to come. The little details, like stand decoration, become so much more important when the long view is taken."—April, Cupid Cupcakery, Cleveland, OH

11. Thinking You Have to Stick to One Flavor

"Think of each tier as a separate cake inside. Instead of getting one flavor, get a different flavor for each tier. This way, you can get lots of flavors, and your guests will have lots to choose from! If budget is a concern, make the smaller tiers the more exotic flavors, and the larger tiers the more common such as vanilla. There's no reason to decide on just one flavor of cake, when there are so many to choose from!"—Lauren Cortesi, Bella's, Honey Brook, PA

12. Not Asking for a Sketch in Advance

"Ask for a detailed sketch of the cake you design with your baker. Make notes of colors (providing color swatches is really helpful) and important details ensuring that the baker will know exactly what they are making for you months after your tasting. A nice sketch is also a wonderful keepsake after the big day."—Elizabeth Marek, Artisan Cake Company, Keizer, OR

13. Not Coming With a Vision (aka Pictures)

"The more pictures and sample of colors you have the better the designer will understand what you want. And call two weeks in advance to make sure everything is still clear and no one has lost your order. Believe it or not, that has happened at some bakeries and we end up getting the orders!"—Roberta Pearson, Emerald Event Center, Greensboro, NC

14. Having Unrealistic Expectations

"My advice to brides and grooms is to know that cake is food. A lot of the pictures in magazines of wedding cakes are not real and touched up. We always let them know that colors can't be matched exactly and cakes can't be copied exactly. A wedding cake is a piece of art and every artist is different in their work."—Paul, Key West Cakes, Key West, FL

Find a wedding cake baker in your area, here.

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