Cake, cake, cake! It’s one of the longest reining wedding traditions of all time. My couples might forgo the grand march or bouquet toss, but they’re not passing on featuring wedding cake. And thank god for that!
I’d like for you to believe that I researched and wrote this cake report while tasting decadent frostings and fillings…but I didn’t. It has been mostly cashews, actually. Nevertheless, here’s my 2019 wedding cake & dessert report; fillings include: average costs, cost factors & booking your cake baker – all topped with dessert quantity guides. Dig in!
How much do wedding cakes cost?
Just like wedding flower averages, these prices vary and are directly impacted by multiple factors (size, flavor, design, etc.). That being said, the average cost of a wedding cake in Wisconsin is $550, with most couples spending between $350 and $850.
Which factors impact cake prices?
The wedding cake’s size, flavor and design all impact its price. Naturally, the bigger the cake, the higher the cost. If you have 100 mouths to feed, you’ll be paying less than someone with 200+ wedding guests.
In addition to cake size, the flavor may impact the cost. For example, some bakers charge extra for wedding cake flavors outside of their basic options. A lavender-flavored wedding cake may cost more than just chocolate or vanilla.
With custom cake flavoring, may come custom cake designs, i.e. fondant, unique shapes or sugar flowers. These specific design elements may also impact cake pricing because of the time and skill it takes to achieve them.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at common wedding treats and their average costs:
wedding cakes: $3.00-$7.00 per serving (slice)
mini desserts (cheesecakes, truffles, tarts, etc.): $1.75-$4.00ea
cupcakes: $2.50-$3.75ea (regular sized cupcakes)
French macarons: $2.00-$2.50ea
decorated cookies (royal icing): $2.50-$3.50ea
regular cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, etc.): $1.00-$2.00ea
What are some cake alternatives?
Although I don’t understand them, I’ve had couples that ‘aren’t cake people.’ Obviously, I encourage them not to succumb to tradition. If you’re not cake people, don’t have cake at your wedding! Easy as pie (pun). There are many cake alternatives that you can feature at your wedding, and guests will be just as happy. Most bakers are open to, if not specialize in, offering alternative wedding desserts. These options may include cupcakes, cookies, pies, pastries, doughnuts, etc. And just over 50% of couples are choosing to serve their guests these alternatives rather than the traditional, multi-tiered wedding cakes.
The cutting cake
The cutting cake was invented for the couples who don’t want to completely eliminate the cake cutting tradition, but who may not care for cake and/or are serving a different dessert to their guests. These cakes are usually 6 or 8 inches, may even be two-tiered, and are only consumed by the couple after their photo-op. Cutting cakes costs vary, but most bakers in Wisconsin sell them for $55-$200.
Cake and dessert quantities
The thought of running out of food is always scary. When it comes to the size of your wedding cake or dessert quantities, defer to the professionals. Tell you baker how many wedding guests you’re expecting. From there, the conversation should get you to a comfortable, accurate number. With that, here’s a general wedding cake serving list:
Cake size, feeds
4-inch round, 8
6-inch round, 12
8-inch round, 24
9-inch round, 32
10-inch round, 38
12-inch round, 56
14-inch round, 78
16-inch round, 100
Dessert (cupcakes, cookies, pastries) quantities can be more difficult to predict, but you’ll typically be safe by multiplying the amount of guests expected by 2.5 to determine the number of desserts you’ll need. If you’re lying out a lush dessert display with cute take-home bags (and your budget allows), multiply your guest count by 3.5 for an accurate number of desserts to order. Again, following guides like these will only get you so far. Always rely on the professional quantity suggestions from your baker.
Booking your cake/dessert baker
I recommend researching and scheduling cake tastings as early as 9-12 months out. From there, I suggest hiring your baker at least 6 months out. This process may look like:
Schedule and attend tastings with more than one baker, and make sure to try a variety of flavors and styles. Be prepared, some bakers charge a small tasting fee.
Let your belly settle after all of your tastings and then move forward with hiring the favorite. And don’ feel bad if you’ve made your decision early on! Unless the baker has some rule about booking far ahead of time, I would think that that’s welcomed.
Touch base with your baker 2-3 months out to chat through details. Sometimes new trends, flavors or ideas change and your baker will need that updated information.
Discuss cake delivery - confirm time & location.
So there's the gist. And now you know who to call for a cake tasting plus-one!