26 Semi-Naked Wedding Cakes With Barely-There Frosting

These half-iced confections are just the right amount of sweet.
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
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 Oct 13, 2022

Cake is the most traditional wedding dessert of all, but it's also one of the easiest details to personalize when you're planning your wedding day. If you're looking for ideas about how to make your cake stand out from others you've seen, consider a semi-naked wedding cake. This wedding cake trend has kept its popularity over the years for several reasons: the slightly frosted design creates a distinctive look, but on top of that, it's a perfect compromise for couples who actually don't want a lot of frosting on their cake. And the best part is that just like fully frosted cakes, there are so many different ways to decorate a semi-naked cake, from fresh flowers or candied fruits, to drip icing, wedding cake toppers and more. Keep reading about this unique wedding cake option so that you're ready to share your ideas with a professional baker when the time comes.

What Is a Semi-Naked Wedding Cake?

You can think of a semi-naked cake as a sort of peekaboo cake. The sponge cake layers and filling are left slightly unfrosted, leaving them to "peek" randomly throughout the wedding cake design. This cake style is achieved by spreading a thinner amount of buttercream or frosting than would normally be used—it's similar to a crumb coat, which is a cake decorating technique used by bakers to quickly coat the cake with frosting before adding a smoother, more thorough layer. In this case, the crumb coat acts as the final and only layer of frosting. Semi-naked cakes are different from naked wedding cakes, which don't have any frosting at all (unless it's part of the cake filling).

Semi-Naked Wedding Cake Ideas

Ready to start imagining how you actually want your dessert table to look? Check out some of these beautiful wedding cake ideas from real couples.

1. Semi-Naked Chocolate Cake with Roses

three tier semi naked wedding cake with blush roes and white ranunculus
Danielle Bennink
Petit Sweets

Blush pink roses accented this sweet, three-tiered cake with chocolate sponge peeking through, creating a faux bois effect that feels rustic yet chic.

2. Whimsical Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

If a boho wedding theme is more your style, top off your cake with a playful bunting banner with macrame tassels and fresh eucalyptus.

3. Four-Tier Semi-Naked Wedding Cake with Fresh Fruit

We love fresh fruit as a wedding cake garnish, not only because of how it looks, but because you can eat it too, so nothing goes to waste. Use a variety of berries, grapes, apples and citrus fruits to bring in all the color.

4. Three-Tiered Wedding Cake with Geometric Design

You don't have to decorate all of the tiers on your cake with semi-naked frosting. Cover the bottom tier with fondant and a bold design, like these geometric shapes, to create an eye-catching base.

5. Pink Macaron Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

two tier semi naked wedding cake decorated with pink macarons and greenery sprigs
Van Daele & Russell

Give your semi-naked cake a hint of Parisian flair by adding macarons or meringues as decorations. The best part? Your cake baker can customize them in any color to match your wedding decor.

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6. Unique Semi-Naked Wedding Cake with Tilted Tiers

The tilted tiers of this cake instantly add a unique, whimsical element to the design. Fresh flowers in between each tier bring in color and texture.

7. Two-Tier Drip Wedding Cake with Apple Slices

two tier semi naked wedding cake with caramel drip icing and sliced red apples on top tier
Awake Photography,
Root Cellar Catering Co.

Whether you're in search of a fall wedding cake or simply love the combination of apples and caramel, this two-tier cake is a tasty choice. The drip glaze adds more flavor and detail to the half-frosted design.

8. Pink and White Rose-Covered Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

four tier semi naked wedding cake with chocolate sponge, pink and ivory roses and queen anne's lace
Amber Marie Photography
Cake Ambition

If you're not relying on traditional frosting to decorate your wedding cake, you can use a cascade of flowers instead. Clusters of cream, white and blush garden roses wrap around the front of this cake, giving it an elegant, romantic look.

9. Tropical Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

White buttercream is the perfect base for brightly colored flowers, like the orchids, anthurium and greenery on this tropical-inspired stack.

10. Classic Three-Tier Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

classic three tier semi naked wedding cake with white roses and votive candles
Fred Marcus Studio
Lulu's Bakery

While half-naked cakes are often thought of as being super trendy, you can make them classic with the right approach. Decorated with timeless white roses and votive candles, this three-tier cake is sophisticated and chic.

11. Semi-Naked Cake Idea for Winter Wedding

three tier semi naked wedding cake with blackberries, raspberries and white roses
Kristen Nicole Photography
Earth to Oven Bakery

Raspberries, blackberries and mint leaves evoke a festive, wintry look when paired together on your wedding cake. An optional dusting of powdered sugar is an easy way to finish the design with a snow-inspired detail.

12. Modern Boho Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

Bleached ferns, blush roses, mismatched candlesticks and a whitewashed wooden table all contribute to this dessert station's boho, shabby chic vibe.

13. Semi-Naked Cake with Sliced Figs

Figs are a go-to ingredient for autumn and winter cuisine, and they just so happen to look lovely on wedding cakes too. Keep them whole and use a few as a seasonal cake topper, or slice them and place them around the edge of each tier.

14. Colorful Pink and Orange Semi-Naked Wedding Cake

Offset the formal vibes of a silver wedding cake stand by adding roses in vibrant hues, like this fuchsia, orange and pink combination.

15. Two-Tier Wedding Cake with White Chocolate

simple two tier semi naked wedding cake with vanilla sponge, white chocolate drip icing and white roses
Britt Latz
Pink Apron Pastry

We love the modern, chic look of this all-white wedding cake, from the sponge to the drip icing and even the flowers. The wooden stand adds a slightly rustic finish, but you could easily swap it out with a porcelain or glass stand depending on your style.

16. Four-Tier Buttercream Cake with Cake Topper

Vivid red roses are widely considered as some of the most romantic wedding flowers. Pair them with blush and ivory spray roses, along with a gold calligraphy cake topper, for a classic fairytale look.

17. Fall Wedding Cake with Berries

Accented with orange zinnias, this grape, raspberry and strawberry-adorned cake is a perfect transitional option for a late summer or early fall wedding.

18. Semi-Naked Wedding Cake Wrapped with Fresh Flowers

Petite spray roses trickled down the front of this four-tier cake atop a pewter stand. The burgundy, peach and ivory hues can be swapped out for other colors that match your own palette.

19. Rustic Wedding Cake with Wildflowers

Use wildflowers, like these daisies, blue thistle, lavender and astrantia, to achieve a laid-back, rustic design.

20. Simple Two-Tier Wedding Cake with Greenery

Love a hint of shimmer? Pieces of edible gold leaf will bring a bit of glamour to a semi-frosted cake.

21. Semi-Naked Vanilla Cake with Pink and Red Roses

The cake stand you choose can have as much of an impact as the cake itself. A gold geometric stand is the perfect base for an attention-grabbing cake, like this four-tier masterpiece decorated with pink roses, peonies, succulents and amaranthus.

22. All-White Wedding Cake with Pampas Grass

Dark-colored cake flavors, like chocolate, will naturally bring more contrast to the thin layer of buttercream. Play up the brown tones by adding earthy accents, like pampas grass, a wooden cake stand and a gauzy table runner.

23. Three-Tier Wedding Cake with Fall Foliage

Don't just think outside of the box when it comes to frosting your wedding cake—get creative with the garnishes too. For a fall wedding, colorful autumn leaves are a great way to tap into the season (just ask your florist to help you source clean, food-safe options).

24. Semi-Naked Wedding Cake with Fondant Tier

If you can't choose between a semi-naked cake and a more traditional approach, why not do both? Add smooth buttercream to a single tier at the bottom, middle or top of the cake depending on your preference.

25. Summer Wedding Cake with White Flowers

two tier vanilla semi naked wedding cake decorated with white flowers and greenery
Valeria Duque
Ideas Dulces

This vanilla sponge cake features a very thin layer of buttercream, making it perfect for a summer wedding (read: less icing that could potentially melt in the heat). Clusters of white buds and greenery finished the sweet and simple confection.

26. Semi-Naked Wedding Cake with Edible Gold Leaf

It's hard to go wrong with a rich color palette of burgundy, green and ivory. With gold leaf adorning the top tier, this jewel tone palette looks elegant whether you choose a vanilla or chocolate wedding cake.

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