Insider Wedding Cake Tips from the Experts!

We asked top cake bakers from across the country to give us the inside scoop on wedding cakes. From how to ensure you get the cake you want to simple words of wisdom, here's what they said.
by Anja Winikka

"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

"I think that a bride should order the cake flavor and design her and her fiance truly want. Just like every other aspect of their wedding, someone has 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

"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

"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 23K 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

"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

"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 of which you can communicate 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

"Five-tiered cakes, fondant-covered cakes, cakes with a million tiny handmade flowers, cakes with gum-paste flower bouquets, sculpted cakes, etc., are expensive! A lot of the cake magazines and shows feature the really ornate or funky cakes that look awesome but they're 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

"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 again. 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

"Wedding cakes usually have a 'starting out price,' which may include a certain amount of detail or decorative elements. Don't assume that a design you liked is too pricy for your budget without asking for a price. By going with a plain cake with a ribbon you might be selling yourself short." -- Karen Matamoros, Enchanting Creations, Miami Shores, FL

"We suggest to couples looking for a couture cake on a budget to ask their cake designer to make their cake with the bottom tier real, and the rest of the tiers faux. No one will know the top tiers are Styrofoam and it's a great way to save a little money, but still have a stylish cake. It also allows a smaller wedding to go a little bigger on the cake without breaking the bank." --Amy Berman, Vanilla Bake Shop, Santa Monica, CA

"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

"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

"Make sure to put a beautiful cloth on your cake table. Add a cake plateau to give the cake some lift. Think of the cake plateau as you would a charger for your dinner plate, it gives the cake more pop. Put a pin spot on your cake to accent its beauty. Your guests want to see three things...the bride, the ambience, and THE CAKE!" -- Dana "Sugardaddy" Herbert, Desserts By Dana, Bear, DE

"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

"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

"My best tip I give my clients is not to save your complimentary topper. There is no way to preserve cake in the freezer for a full year. I believe the frozen food industry suggests three months max. The advice I give them is to serve it if you need the extra servings that night at your reception. Usually it will yield an additional 10. You could also: Take it on your honeymoon with you; have a family member put it in your refrigerator so you can relive the reception night all over again when you get back from your honeymoon; or cut it into thirds and enjoy it on your anniversary date for the first three months." -- Mark Brickman, Baker's Man Inc., Alpharetta, GA

"When you find that cake design you love in a magazine or on the internet, be prepared to be shocked at the price a baker quotes you for it. Most magazine designs are more upscale and done in fondant, which is very expensive. Many bakers, including myself, are able to recreate most designs in buttercream and still give the bride a nice smooth look and can still incorporate some fondant appliques that go along with a design, but will end up saving the bride some money because the labor will be less expensive. Have an open mind and just because you see the cake people on TV create masterpieces in a 30 minutes time-slot, most of their cakes take from 5 to 20 hours to create, which is expensive." -- Melonie, For Goodness Cakes, Norcross, GA

"Picking your cake flavors is a great time to get the groom involved and make them feel like they are an important part to the wedding planning. They love tasting the cakes and being a part of the cake selection. I think it's probably one the most wonderful times you will share together in planning your wedding." -- Jasmine Clouser, Sprinkles & Swirls, Harrisburg, PA

"My advice is to not always assume that 'preferred vendor' recommendations are the best choice. Some venues require their preferred vendors to pay to be on their 'preferred vendor' list." -- Brian Hotopp, Short North Piece of Cake, Columbus, OH

"My number on tip is to NOT make each tier a different flavor. Either your waiter has to offer and explain each flavor when serving (and it slows down the process or they don't do it) or the entire cake has to be cut up and laid out on a buffet table with place cards stating the flavors. When this is done, guests have 'cruise ship buffet mentality' and get at least two pieces. My solution is to choose three complimentary flavors in each tier. If you offer three fruit flavors, like lemon, lime and orange, you will surprise your guests with the presentation and yummy flavors." -- Jennifer White, Cup A Dee Cakes, Turnhill, GA

"Don't pick up your own cake! Your wedding cake is the most important cake you will ever purchase (and the most expensive.) It takes special skill to carry a three-tiered cake. Leave the responsibility to the bakery to make sure it's delivered in one piece, and your day remains intact." -- Diane Eenigenburg, La Petite Sweet, Westmont, IL

"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

"Quite a few brides are serving the cake as a dessert station -- it's great to give guests the chance to help themselves to cake when they are ready for it, a station allows for multiple flavors to select from and enjoy (use a menu card so guests can tell which flavor is which) and the cake is available to the guests for a longer time than if it were served at the table. I always suggest to couples that if they use this type of service, to make sure the band leader or DJ announces that cake and coffee is being served and where. This gives guests the chance to have dessert, or not -- as their choice instead of missing out because they couldn't find where the dessert station is set up." -- I Dream of Jeanne Cakes, Billerica, MA

"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

"Lighting, lighting, lighting! When you're planning where your cake will be at the reception, take lighting into consideration. If there is no spotlight lighting on your cake, when the ballroom lights are dimmed, your cake will be lost in the room! Sometimes we will spend a considerable time making a beautiful shade of pink (ie: to match the bridesmaids' dresses) and then the ballroom lights are dimmed and what was pink, now looks beige! You want your cake to stand out the whole evening!" -- Nadine Moon, Who Made The Cake, Houston, TX

"It's YOUR day -- not the cake designer's. Don't let anyone pressure you into a cake that doesn't quite fit you, your fiance or the reception. If you just want a simple tiered cake instead of an edible 6-foot rotating replica of the groom's dog, don't be afraid to say so." --Jennifer Bunce, Hudson Cakery, Jersey City, NJ

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