5 Wedding Cake Secrets Bakers Want You to Know

From budgeting to buttercream, these cake pros share expert tips all to-be-weds should know.
by Maggie Seaver

Think choosing your wedding cake is hard? Try sketching, designing, baking, decorating and transporting it (oh, and it has to taste delicious too!). Your cake baker is one of the instrumental behind-the-scenes heroes of your day—who else could create the showstopping confection of your dreams? So we went to five bakers for their expert pointers and sweetest secrets, from budget tips to common mistakes and misconceptions. Here’s what the pros wish you knew.

  1. 1. Cakes Cost What They Cost for Reason

    “The price may seem high to many people as they think it’s ‘just cake,’ but cakes take a lot of labor and love. Bakers often work 12- to 15-hour days right before a wedding cake is due to ensure it’s fresh. The [cost of a] cake depends on size, flavors, fillings and, most importantly, design and decoration. The more intricate the design, the more time it will take and more money it will cost. [If you’re on a tight budget], don’t try to negotiate the cost of the cake down. Instead, I would advise couples to set a cake budget for about $10 per guest, including delivery and set-up, and see if they can simplify the design."

    —Carissa Berbrick of Chic & Sweet Artisan Cakes in Boca Raton, Florida

  2. 2. Give Your Baker Enough Time to Work Their Magic

    “Good work takes time. When you choose a customized dessert, your specific order requires time to complete, from a sketch months before your wedding day to [designing] handmade sugar work, coordinating with other vendors, obtaining the right supplies or tools and, of course, making the cake itself. As soon as you know where you're having your reception and what you want it to look like, start thinking about [the cake that will] fit your day.” 

    —Jerri Montillo of Jerri’s Custom Cakery​ in Speonk, New York

  3. 3. Know the Difference Between Fondant and Buttercream

    ​“I often hear [clients say], ‘I only want a buttercream cake,’ but when they send concept pictures of the cake they want, they’re ornate cakes with quilting, hand painting or other embellishments that can only be achieved with fondant. My advice is to ask your baker if your cake concept is best made with fondant or buttercream, and to be open minded about the design. [If you have budget restrictions], a simple buttercream cake will be less expensive. Any cake can look glamorous and expensive with inexpensive fresh flowers, which can be purchased from grocery stores or organic markets.” 

    —Kelly Keith of Kelly’s Cakes Atlanta​ in Atlanta, Georgia

  4. 4. Think Beyond Vanilla

    “One misconception is that your wedding cake flavor should be vanilla of some sort, but don’t be afraid to be different when it comes to the taste or design. I tell couples to choose any flavor they like. We’ve made peanut butter pound cakes, and many chocolate cake wedding cakes. Although traditional wedding cakes are often vanilla, it’s important to choose a flavor that’s pleasing to you (and guests will enjoy having [a unique] flavor too).”

    —Amy Recinos of Amy’s Creative Cakes​ in Quakertown, Pennsylvania

  5. 5. Balance Budget With Inspiration

    “Quite often, we see couples coming in with no concept of a budget. When couples turn to Pinterest for their dream cake, they never see the price of the cake they’re lusting over. So when they bring it to us, they find out it’s double, triple or sometimes quadruple their budget. We always recommend coming in with at least a ballpark idea of what they want to spend.” 

    —Tatiyana Baukovic of Urban Icing​ in Chicago, Illinois

  6. Ready for cake? Let's find wedding cake bakers near you.

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