The 12 Most Common Wedding Cake Mistakes—And How to Avoid Them
Designing your wedding cake is one of the best parts of wedding planning (hello, cake tasting appointment), but if you don't plan accordingly, the cake is also easily prone to accidents or overlooked details. There are some common wedding cake mistakes that can throw a not-so-sweet wrench in your plans, which is why we're outlining exactly what not to do when you're at this stage of wedding planning. We consulted with pro wedding cake bakers for their advice on how to avoid these dreaded wedding cake failures.
1. Not Hiring a Pro Wedding Cake Baker
We love homemade baked goods as much as the next aspiring contestant on The Great British Bake Off, but creating a full-scale wedding cake requires a whole new level of skill, which is why it's always best to leave this job to the pros. Wedding cakes often feature multiple layers, stacked tiers and other tricky components—things that could literally come tumbling down if not done correctly. A professional baker will know exactly what to do to make your wedding cake not only look amazing, but be strong enough to withstand several hours of being on display before it's cut and served. Instead of dealing with the stress of a last-minute DIY baking disaster, it's worth the investment to hire someone who has it down to a science. You can find hundreds of vetted pros on The Knot Vendor Marketplace by searching for cake bakers in your area and filtering the results based on your desired style, budget and dietary restrictions.
Wedding Baker's Tips: The best piece of advice for couples is to find a cake designer they love, who makes the most delicious cakes, and let them create you a masterpiece," says Betsy Thorleifson, owner and head baker of Nine Cakes, a custom wedding cake bakery in Hudson, New York. "Bring your cake inspiration and overall wedding design, communicate the design elements you love and don't love, and let your cake maker run wild with your ideas."
2. Waiting Too Long to Book Your Vendor
Depending on the length of your engagement, we recommend booking your cake baker at least six months in advance, or even sooner if you have your basic wedding details finalized. Avoid this wedding cake fail by reaching out to cake bakers once you've locked in your wedding date, budget, wedding venue, guest count and overall style or aesthetic.
Wedding Baker's Tips: "If you have a particular cake designer you'd like to work with, book an appointment with them sooner than later," says Thorleifson. "There's usually a limit to how many cakes they can take on, so better to get on their calendar early in the process."
3. Ordering the Wrong Amount of Cake
Your wedding cake should be so good that your guests request second slices, but you also don't want to be left with dozens of slices to pack up (or worse, throw away) at the end of the reception. When you meet with your cake baker, they'll be able to advise you on how big of a cake you'll need, depending on the general size of the wedding. And if you plan to follow the tradition of saving the top tier of the wedding cake, be sure to mention that during your consultation.
Wedding Baker's Tips: "To minimize waste, and keep to your budget, you can scale back on the number of servings you order for your cake," Thorleifson says. "While we're huge cake fans, not everyone has a slice of cake at the wedding and some people are having too much fun out on the dance floor. You can generally order cake for 75 to 80% of your guests."
4. Forgetting to Decorate the Cake Table
Your beautiful cake is an edible work of art, and we think it deserves to be displayed as such on your wedding day. A decorative wedding cake stand is a good start—if you don't want to purchase your own, ask your cake baker, caterer or wedding venue if they're able to provide one. Other ideas include decorating the cake table with flower arrangements, adding a coordinating tablecloth or creating an entire dessert spread to entice guests.
Wedding Baker's Tips: Meg Walker, CEO and executive chef at Made by Meg Catering in Redondo Beach, California, advises placing your wedding cake in front of an amazing photo backdrop so your photographer can snap some beautiful wedding photos. "Consider the angle and table placement before the day begins so it's a seamless shot," she says.
5. Skipping Personal Touches or Customizations
From the wedding cake flavor to the decorative elements, the cake is a chance for you and your partner to show off your personalities and tap into your wedding theme. It doesn't need to be anything totally over-the-top—details like cake toppers, fondant colors and handmade sugar embellishments can all be a reflection of your personal style.
Wedding Baker's Tips: "Cake is fun, delicious, and a great way to insert a little personality," says Thorleifson. "You can also incorporate flavors that are special to you as a couple, or to your family or heritage. If you find someone who makes delicious cake, then your guests will also likely think it's delicious no matter the flavor. If you choose something a bit more unique, guests will enjoy their experience and talk about how delicious it was for years to come."
6. Not Designating Someone to Cut Your Cake
You might be cutting the first ceremonial slice of cake with your partner, but after that, the cake will need to be cut and plated for guests to easily enjoy. It's important to decide who's responsible for this in advance, whether it's your caterer or someone on your cake baker's team. Depending on the vendor, you may also need to provide the cake cutting set and confirm ahead of time that there are enough plates to serve everyone.
Wedding Editor's Tips: It's also important to make sure that the individual slices are sized juuust right so that you don't run out of cake (or alternatively, are left with too many small slices at the end of the night). Your cake baker will be able to tell you how big the slices should be in order to serve all of your guests—and they might even be able to provide a visual guide to share with whoever is cutting the cake.
7. Ignoring the Weather and Venue Setting
We have our fingers crossed that you'll have perfect weather on your wedding day. But one common wedding cake mistake is not taking your venue setting and the average seasonal temperature into account when planning the cake design and flavors. These are things that your cake baker is probably already thinking about, but it's good to have on your radar too—especially if you have your heart set on a specific type of cake. Stay open-minded to their recommendations and experience when it comes to choosing the best frosting type, flavor and design for your specific day.
Wedding Baker's Tips: "Ordering a frosted buttercream cake in the middle of the hottest month of the year is a recipe for disaster," says Walker. "Ask your baker what will hold up best and still be delicious given the time of year for your wedding."
Also, double-check with your venue and caterer ahead of time that you'll have enough refrigerator space available for the cake once it's delivered on the wedding day. "There is always a fridge, but no one is likely planning on putting a whole wedding cake in it," Walker adds.
8. Getting Too Caught Up on Trends
With so many wedding cake trends floating around on social media, it can be hard not to get caught up in the latest viral videos. We're all for following trends in moderation, but the key is to choose cake ideas that you genuinely love—not just because they're trendy (that's just a bonus!). Overly busy and super-trendy cakes don't always age well in photographs, so try to balance any trendy elements with more simplistic details for good measure.
Wedding Editor's Tips: Trendy cakes are a great starting point for inspiration, but try not to focus on recreating the exact look. Pick one element or detail that you really love, and let your cake baker use that as a jumping off point to design their own creation based on your specific wedding theme and budget.
9. Not Coordinating Delivery Details in Advance
Usually, it's your cake baker's responsibility to safely deliver your cake to the wedding venue, although it may be a small added cost depending on the distance. Your main responsibility is deciding who's going to be on-site to accept the cake at the venue, keeping in mind that there may be a final invoice to sign and a tip envelope that needs to be given to the delivery staff. Chances are, you'll be too busy getting ready or taking photos when the cake arrives, so it's important to delegate this to someone else, like your wedding planner or a trusted friend who's willing to help out.
Wedding Baker's Tips: "We've all seen a baking challenge show where the cake goes tumbling, and those are usually only transported a few feet," says Tara Allison, owner of Sweets Bakehouse in Bradenton, Florida. "Driving a tiered cake is a science. It has to have a well-made structure inside and be chilled properly for transport."
TL;DR: When in doubt, hire a professional with lots of experience to make sure your costly confection arrives safely and avoid a potential wedding cake disaster.
10. Having Too Many Flavors in One Cake
You and your partner might not have the exact same preferences when it comes to wedding cake flavors, and that's okay. But you'll want to avoid overwhelming the cake with too many cake flavors, frostings or other toppings, which can sometimes backfire and affect the overall taste.
Wedding Editor's Tips: Work with your baker to decide on a single cake frosting flavor that you both like (IMHO: you can't ever go wrong with classic vanilla buttercream). On the inside of the cake, you can alternate sponge cake flavors if you can't agree on one—for example, a tier of red velvet cake paired with a tier of funfetti, and a simple filling in between. This gives your guests a few options without overcomplicating the cake. Another alternative? Instead of one big wedding cake, ask your baker to make two or three mini cakes, each with their own distinct combination of flavors.
11. Forgetting to Ask for Extra Frosting and Supplies
Be prepared for any accidents that might happen after the cake is dropped off at the venue. The florist might accidentally smudge the buttercream while decorating the cake with flowers, or the frosting might need to be touched up after melting in warm temperatures. Either way, it's worth asking your cake baker if they can include some emergency supplies with the delivery just in case.
Wedding Baker's Tips: Walker recommends having your baker include a little extra frosting when they drop off your cake in the event that it needs repairs once the bakery team has left. "I can't tell you how many cakes I've had to repair because little hands have put their fingerprints on the cake or bugs landed on it," she says.
12. Not Eating a Slice (Or Two) on the Wedding Day
Last but not least, the biggest wedding cake mistake of all might be not taking time to actually enjoy your own cake. We know that the wedding reception is jam-packed with things to do, but eating a full meal and snagging at least one slice of cake should be at the top of your list.
Wedding Editor's Tips: Before the reception kicks off, ask your wedding caterer or planner to box up some food (including your wedding cake!) for you and your partner. Even if you run out of time for a bite to eat during the reception, you'll have the food ready to go at the end of the night.
Lauren Dana Ellman contributed to the reporting of this article.