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Wedding Cake Guide: From Sizes To Day-Of Details

Written by Shutterfly Community Last Updated: Oct 15, 2019

Finding your perfect wedding cake is much like finding the perfect partner—one size doesn’t fit all. Once you decide on your wedding date, venue, and guest list, it’s time to think about the cake. There is no shortage of wedding cake ideas—but to find the perfect cake, first consider your budget, number of guests, and favorite cake flavor.

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The perfect cake can make a beautiful focal point at your reception for guests to admire before you cut, enjoy and smash it in your partner’s face. In our guide, we outline every detail for you, so you can make an informed decision before ordering your dream wedding cake.

Wedding Cake Sizes Chart

Once you know how many guests are attending your wedding, you can choose the right sized cake. A standard rule is that 10-20% of guests will not attend, so keep this in mind to help estimate your cake size and amount before receiving your RSVPs.

All wedding cakes are measured in inches and described in tiers. When deciding on cake size, we’ve outlined general sizes below based on the number of guests. Keep in mind that not every baker offers different standard cake sizes and combinations, so check with them beforehand. Not all guests will eat the cake either, so you may have extra in the end!

Number Of Guests Tiers Size (Width of Tiers)
30 or less 1 10 in
30-60 2 8 in x 10 in
60-120 3 6 in x 10 in x 14 in
120-200 4 6 in x 8 in x 10 in x 12 in
200 or more 5 8 in x 10 in x 12 in x 14 in x 16 in

When ordering, square wedding cakes naturally provide more slices than round wedding cakes. Consider our cake serving guide below for a general breakdown of serving amounts.

A typical wedding cake slice is 1 inch wide, 2 inches long, and 4 inches tall, but serving sizes will vary based on your cake maker and how your wedding venue cuts the cake. Check with both parties to be sure you’ll have enough to go around.

How Much Does A Wedding Cake Cost?

On average, a wedding cake costs between $350-$400, but expect to budget anywhere from $2-$12 per slice. This cost varies based on the size of the cake, the number of guests, the type of frosting or flavor, and the complexity of the design.

Remember to calculate in the delivery and cake cutting costs since nearly every venue charges to cut and serve your cake. Don’t forget personalized wedding napkins when you order your invites.

When setting a wedding budget, the cake costs can quickly add up. Luckily, there are ways around this with a little planning. Here are a few of our favorite tips:

  • Make it yourself or have a friend or family member make it for you.
  • Add “fake cake” layers. This increases the number of cake tiers without increasing the cost.
  • Have a smaller “ceremony” cake and have flat cake sheets made to serve guests.
  • Change from fondant to buttercream frosting. Buttercream typically costs around $1 less per slice.
  • Skip the cake. Have an alternative dessert bar with mini bundt cakes, s’mores table, or donut wall.

Who Pays For The Wedding Cake?

Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding cake. But lately, anything goes. It could be the groom’s family or simply the bride and groom who cover these costs. Talk with your partner to see what option makes sense with your budget and unique situation.

When To Order Wedding Cake

6 Months to 1 Year: Find A Baker And Choose a Cake

The best time to start deciding on a cake is six months to one year before the wedding. This will give you plenty of time to decide on the perfect look (and flavors) of your cake. Work with a baker who has good reviews and lots of experience.

You’ll also want to leave time for taste testing to decide on the flavors you prefer. There are hundreds of combinations to choose from, and who doesn’t want to try them all? It makes for a fun outing for you and the hubby.

2 To 4 Hours Before The Ceremony: Delivery

The cake pick up and/or delivery time will differ depending on the baker. Some require several months’ notice, others up to a year. Regardless, you should make sure they guarantee the cake will be ready to arrive at the ceremony at least two hours prior to the big event.

Wedding Cake Flavors + Styles

One decision that requires some taste-testing is picking your cake flavor. Luckily, there are thousands of creative flavors to choose from. Simple vanilla, chocolate ganache, red velvet, raspberry, lemon chiffon, or carrot cake are just a few options.

If you’re having multiple cakes made, you can even choose different flavors for each one. Don’t forget menu cards for dinner, and make sure you include the type of dessert.

Next, you’ll need to decide on a flavor of frosting. Options range from buttercream frosting, royal icing, fondant or marzipan. There’s always the option to have a naked wedding cake, with no frosting at all. Keep in mind that the type of frosting and cake style you choose will affect your overall budget. Typically, buttercream is the most budget-friendly choice.

Decide On A Wedding Cake Display

The cake table is key to the design, and like all great things, the options are endless in how to dress up and display the cake. Things you’ll want to consider are the table itself, the wedding cake stand(s), and your cake toppers.

Wedding cake stands may be as simple as a round plastic stand to a “fake cake” bottom. The type of cake display you order will depend on the shape of your cake. Let creativity guide you, and don’t be afraid to try something new, like adorning your cake with bright blooms or greenery. Your cake display and dessert table are only limited by your imagination.

How To Cut A Wedding Cake

While not every couple chooses to have a wedding cake, those that do will need to know how to make that important first cut. Here are a few important reminders:

  1. Wedding etiquette says that cake shouldn’t be smashed into faces, but that’s, of course, up to you. If you go this route, make sure you have plenty of napkins available.
  2. Talk to the baker about where on the cake you’ll make the first cut, and know that it will almost always be from the bottom tier.
  3. Remember to use the knife rather than the server for the cleanest cut.
  4. You’ll only need two bites for the bride and groom, so keep it small.
  5. Consider picking out a cake cutting song that’s as sweet as your dessert!
  6. This is also an important photo opp, so be sure to coordinate with your photographer beforehand.

How To Transport A Wedding Cake

Transporting a wedding cake can be a risky business. If possible, talk to your bakery or cake maker about delivering the cake so you have fewer worries on the big day.

Transporting a tiered cake can even be more challenging. If you do have a tiered wedding cake, make sure the cake is unassembled before delivery and that there’s plenty of time to reassemble before the ceremony.

If you’re having a friend pick up the cake, make sure they check that it’s packaged correctly. Use boxes on a foam mat, which you can then place safely in a box or enclosed area, so the cake doesn’t shift. Choose a vehicle with AC and enough space for your baker or planner to safely remove it from the car. After everything, remind your photographer to get lots of photos of your cake before it’s cut.

Your wedding day will fly by, so try and make sure to enjoy the moment—that means, enjoy a piece of cake with your guests! If you don’t have time during the event, ask your caterer to save you a piece for later.

We cover everything you need to know to find the perfect wedding cake from cake sizes to costs and delivery on the big day.

Wedding Cake Guide

Use this chart as a guide when baking wedding cake tiers. Fill pans 1/2 to 2/3 full; 3 in. deep pans should be filled only 1/2 full. Batter amounts for the 2 in. cakes on the chart are for pans 2/3 full of batter. An average 2-layer cake mix yields 4 to 5 1/2 cups of batter. For large cakes, always check for doneness after they have baked for one hour. For pans 11 inches and larger, we recommend using a heating core to insure even baking. Icing amounts are very general and will vary with consistency, thickness applied and tips used. These amounts allow for top and bottom borders. Number of servings are intended as a guide only.

2″ Deep Pans
Pan Shape Pan Size Servings 2 layer Cups Batter for 1 layer Baking Temps. Baking Time Minutes Approx. Cups Icing to Frost & Decorate2 Layer Cake
Oval 7 3/4″ x
5 3/8″
13 2 1/2 350 25-30 3
10 3/4″ x
7 7/8″
26 5 350 35-40 4
13 1/2″ x
9 7/8″
45 8 350 35-40 5 1/2
16 1/2″ x
12 3/8″
70 11 325 40-45 8
Round 6″ 12 2 350 25-30 3
8″ 24 3 350 30-35 4
9″ 32 5 1/3 350 30-35 4 1/2
10″ 38 6 350 35-40 5
12″ 56 7 1/2 350 35-40 6
14″ 78 10 325 50-55 8
16″ 100 15 325 55-60 9
Petal 6″ 8 1 1/2 350 25-30 3
9″ 18 3 1/2 350 35-40 4
12″ 40 7 350 35-40 6
15″ 64 11 325 50-55 8
Hexagon 6″ 11 1 3/4 350 30-35 3
9″ 26 3 1/2 350 35-40 4
12″ 40 6 350 40-45 6
15″ 70 11 1/2 325 50-55 8
Heart 6″ 14 1 1/2 350 25-30 3 1/2
8″ 22 3 1/2 350 30-35 4 1/2
9″ 28 3 1/2 350 30-35 6
10″ 38 5 350 30-35 8 1/2
12″ 56 8 325 45-50 9
14″ 72 10 325 45-50 10
15″ 74 10 325 40-45 11
16″ 94 11 325 40-45 12
8″ 32 4 350 35-40 4 1/2
10″ 50 6 350 35-40 6
12″ 72 10 350 40-45 7 1/2
14″ 98 13 1/2 325 45-50 9 1/2
16″ 128 15 1/2 325 45-50 11
18″ 162 18 325 50-55 12

3″ Deep Pans
Pan Shape Pan Size Servings
1 layer
Cups Batter for 1 layer Baking Temps. Baking Time Minutes Approx. Cups Icing to Frost & Decorate2 Layer Cake
Round 6″ 12 3 350 35-40 3
8″ 24 5 350 55-60 4
10″ 38 8 325 65-75 5
12″ 56 11 325 75-85 6
14″ 78 15 325 75-85 8
16″ 100 18 325 75-85 9
18″ Half Round 2″ layer 130* 9** 325 60-65 10 1/2
3″ layer 130* 12** 325 60-65 10 1/2
Square 8″ 32 6 1/2 350 60-65 4 1/2
10″ 50 9 350 65-75 6
12″ 72 14 350 65-75 7 1/2
14″ 98 19 325 65-75 9 1/2
Contour 7″ 11 3 1/2 350 45-50 2
9″ 17 5 1/2 350 45-50 2 1/2
11″ 24 8 350 55-60 3
13″ 39 13 325 75-85 4
15″ 48 16 325 75-85 5

Other Pan Depths
Pan Shape Pan Size Servings
1 layer
Cups Batter for 1 layer Baking Temps. Baking Time Minutes Approx. Cups Icing to Frost & Decorate2 Layer Cake
2 1/2 deep Beveled 8″ 9 3 350 35-40 2
10″ 15 5 350 40-45 2 1/2
12″ 21 7 350 45-50 3 1/2
1 1/4 Deep Beveled 14″ 18 7 325 45-50 4
16″ 24 8 325 45-50 5

* Two half rounds

** For each half round pan

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