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A Comprehensive Guide To Wedding Cakes For Beginners

When you are planning your wedding, there are lots of different things that you need to consider. One of the biggest aspects of your special day is your wedding cake.

Wedding cakes have a rich history, and have been a tradition for many years. While they have been in existence for a long time, wedding cakes actually haven’t changed as much as you might expect.

A Comprehensive Guide To Wedding Cakes For Beginners

Especially in recent years as many couples still opt for the classic 3-tier design that has become synonymous with wedding cakes.

But the reality is that there is a lot of room for flexibility when it comes to your wedding cake.

No matter whether you want a simple design to complement your minimalistic wedding, or a chocolate wedding cake to satisfy your sweet tooth, there is a wedding cake design out there for you.

And if you’re struggling to find a bakery that can bake your dream cake, you could always make your own.

To help you understand all the different aspects of your wedding cake, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to wedding cakes for beginners.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to choose the wedding cake that is perfect for you!

But before we dive in, we just want to extend a warm welcome to our readers joining us from We’ve recently acquired the website and we’re really excited to welcome more cake lovers into the fold!

What Is A Wedding Cake?

Well, when it comes to wedding cake, what it is is all in the name. Wedding cake is cake that is enjoyed on your wedding day, and it plays a huge part in your big day.

The wedding cake is often a focal point for the wedding reception, and the cutting of the cake is a huge part in traditional weddings.

Traditionally, wedding cakes would have fruit cake at their center. The cake would be made up of 3 tiers stacked upon each other, with a large cake at the bottom, and the cakes getting progressively smaller as you move up the tiers.

The fruitcake center would be neatly decorated with white icing to create the showstopper for your wedding reception.

However, over the years, the longevity of the fruit cake has been overlooked for the simplicity of the sponge cake. Many people now opt for a delicious vanilla sponge cake instead.

But on the whole, most people still opt for a classy tiered cake for their special day.

In the wedding reception, the cake will be cut by the newly-weds, and this is a big part of the day. Often the cake that is cut is not the one that will be served to wedding guests.

Instead, a tray bake or half sheet cake will be baked separately and cut up into individual portions ready to be served to guests after the official cutting of the cake. We’ll take a look at this in more detail a little later on.

How Is A Wedding Cake Made?

While the flavors and styles of wedding cake may have changed over the years, now-a-days, a lot of people opt for a similar style of wedding cake. Most people will still opt for a tiered cake, decorated traditionally.

Even if the flavor of the cake inside is a little different. So how are wedding cakes made?

Well, the making of most wedding cakes comes in stages. There is the baking of the cake, the storing of the cake and then the decoration and stacking of the cake.

The majority of wedding cakes are made in advance, with only the decoration left until close to the big day.


The baking of the cake will differ depending on the type of wedding cake that you have decided to have at the heart of your cake. Different types of cake will require different preparation times and different baking times too.

If you opt for a classic fruit cake then the fruit will need to soak before you can bake it with the other ingredients for the cake. Whereas if you opt for a sponge cake, then baking can start immediately.

When you book your wedding cake with a bakery, they will schedule all the different stages to ensure that your cake is ready for your special day.


Between the baking of the wedding cake and the stacking/decoration of the cake, the cake will need to be stored.

It is pretty common for cakes to be stored for a couple of days before they are stacked, and storage will differ depending on the type of cake.

Some cakes are hardier than others, and as a result they will be stored in different environments. In some scenarios, bakers choose to prepare the wedding cake a couple of weeks in advance and then freeze it.

They can then defrost the cake closer to the big day, ready for decorating. It can reduce the stress, and you will never be able to tell that the cake was frozen. This is a lot more common for hobby bakers rather than professionals.

But no matter the cake, most cakes will need to be stored before they are decorated, this is an important stage of making a wedding cake.


Depending on the style of wedding cake that you have selected, decoration could happen before or after the cakes are stacked.

Often the cakes will be iced before they are stacked, but any detailing will be added once the cakes have been stacked upon each other. In addition to icing to cover the spots where the cakes have been connected.

Decorating can vary hugely depending on the style of cake that you go for. Traditionally large amounts of icing will be added to the exterior of the cake to give it a solid white appearance.

However, alternative decorations for wedding cakes are becoming increasingly popular. For example, BoHo and rustic wedding cakes are often decorated with minimal icing, so the decoration of these cakes will not take too long.

Finishing touches will be added to the cake once it’s been decorated. Traditionally this would include figurines of the bride and groom, but now-a-days a lot of people opt for flowers, fruit and other decorative touches.

Then the cake is ready for your big day.

The Difference Between Wedding Cake And Regular Cake

If you are looking at the options for your wedding cake, you might find yourself wondering what the difference is between a wedding cake and a regular cake. In reality, the difference between these two types of cakes isn’t actually that great.

Basically, the only difference between the two is that the wedding cake is served on your wedding day.

For many years, people believed that wedding cake had to be a specific type of cake. But in reality, your wedding cake can be whatever you choose.

If you love chocolate cake, then you definitely can have a chocolate cake at the center of your wedding cake. Likewise, if you want to stick with the traditional fruit cake then that is perfectly fine too.

There really isn’t much of a difference between wedding cake and regular cake, other than the fact that wedding cake will only be served at a wedding.

Different Flavors Of Wedding Cake

Different Flavors Of Wedding Cake

As we have just said, now-a-days, you really can have any wedding cake that you want.

There are a huge number of different flavors that you could opt for, and depending on your personal preferences and budget, you will likely make different choices for your cake.

Here are just some of the examples of different flavors that you could have in your wedding cake.


Chocolate cake is incredibly popular, and it is becoming a lot more common for people to have chocolate-flavored wedding cakes. You could have a dark chocolate cake, milk chocolate cake, or a white chocolate cake.

No matter what you choose, we’re sure you’ll love your chocolate wedding cake.


Vanilla cake is very popular for wedding cakes. Vanilla is a great sponge cake, and it works really well with a variety of different fillings.

Many people opt for a strawberry jam and butter cream filling, but the options for fillings really are endless with a vanilla sponge.

Cookies And Cream

Cookies and cream is another great option for your wedding cake, and one that has become more popular following the huge variety of hit TV baking shows that have aired in recent years.

This could be done using a vanilla sponge with a cookie and cream filling, or a sponge that has biscuits crushed into the sponge. We’re sure your wedding guests will adore this cake.


Fruit is the classic wedding cake flavor, and it is one that many people still choose. Fruit cake lasts for much longer than sponge cake, and this is why it was traditionally used for wedding cake.

With a fruit cake filling in your wedding cake, you actually stand a chance of eating all the cake. Whereas sponge cake will typically go out of date by the time you finish the sponge.

As well as opting for traditional fruit cake, you could opt for a variety of other flavors. Lemon and poppy seed is a very popular flavor combination, as is banana and poppy seed too. So a fruit flavored cake could be a good option for you.

Strawberries And Cream

Another very popular choice for wedding cakes is strawberries and cream.

This could consist of a vanilla sponge with strawberries and cream filling, or a cake that actually has strawberries in the sponge with cream to sandwich the cakes together.

This flavor combination is incredibly popular because of the decoration opportunities for these cakes. After all, there really is no better topping for a strawberries and cream sponge than fresh strawberries and other berries.

Salted Caramel

Or, for something really sweet, a lot of people have started to opt for a salted caramel sponge. This sponge has a little more flavor than a vanilla sponge, but isn’t at all offensive like some other bold flavors.

It is one that your guests will likely love, while also allowing you to choose a sponge flavor that you love.

Different Shapes And Styles Of Wedding Cake

Different Shapes And Styles Of Wedding Cake

In addition to the wide variety of flavors that are available to you, you also have a huge amount of freedom when it comes to the shape and style of your wedding cake.

While a lot of people still opt for a tiered wedding cake, you can tailor your wedding cake to your exact wants and needs.

There are tons of different shapes that you could choose for your wedding cake, and a lot of different styles to choose from as well. You may go for traditional decor, or decor that matches your wedding theme.

If you are going for an understated wedding, you may opt for a smaller cake. Alternatively, you could opt for a wedding cake covered in flowers that match your wedding flowers.

The choice is entirely yours, but here are some examples of wedding cake shapes and styles that people often choose.

Three Tier Cakes

The most traditional option for your wedding cake is a three tier cake. This style of cake is incredibly popular, and you can typically put your own spin on a three tier cake.

This elegantly sized cake can give you a huge amount of options when it comes to decorating. You could cover it in flowers, opt for colored icing, or even choose a naked cake if you would rather.

No matter how you decorate it, a three tier cake is guaranteed to be a showstopper.

Two Tier Cakes

If a three tier cake is a little too large, then a two tier cake might be a better choice. These cakes are just as impressive as a three tier cake, except they are on a slightly smaller scale.

If you have a smaller budget or have a smaller wedding party, then a two tier cake could be the perfect choice for your special day.

Small Wedding Cakes

For an understated look, you could simply choose a small wedding cake. This style of wedding cake is becoming increasingly popular.

When decorated effectively, these wedding cakes can look incredibly impressive, and they’re a great choice if you don’t want to break the bank on your wedding cake.

Rustic Wedding Cakes

Rustic wedding cakes are becoming increasingly popular. This style of wedding cake is a great choice because it will complement a lot of different wedding themes.

Rustic wedding cakes often manage to achieve the effortless look while actually requiring a lot of effort. They are incredibly impressive and a great choice for your big day.

Elegant Wedding Cakes

If you can’t be a little extra on your wedding day, when can you? And this is the thought process that encourages a lot of people to choose an elegant wedding cake for their special day.

An elegant wedding cake could include square shaped cakes, large amounts of icing, or very detailed piping on the cake. There are lots of ways that a baker could make very elegant wedding cakes.

On the flip side, you could choose a simple wedding cake if this is something that you’d prefer.

Seasonal Wedding Cakes

Setting the date for your wedding is a huge step in planning your big day.

Choosing a wedding date that suits you and your special person isn’t always easy, but one thing that might influence your choice is the season in which you want to get married.

Some people choose a winter wedding because they dream of snow fall, others choose a summer wedding because they want the guarantee of good weather. Many people opt for a fall wedding because of the true beauty that fall offers.

If this is the case for you, you could opt for a fall themed wedding cake. No matter what time of the year you want to marry, you could easily tailor your wedding cake to match that season.

Can I Make My Own Wedding Cake?

There is no denying that your wedding cake will take up a hefty chunk of your wedding budget.

Wedding cakes are not cheap, and depending on the bakery that you choose and the design that you want for your big day, the cost of your wedding cake could become quite expensive.

If you’re a particularly gifted baker, then you might be wondering if you can make your own wedding cake. For many people, baking your own wedding cake might be an absolute nightmare.

But for some people, baking your own wedding cake is a great way to cut costs and allow you to assign money from your wedding budget to other parts of the wedding day.

So if you want to, yes, you absolutely can make your own wedding cake. It is a lot of work, and you might want to have a few trial runs. But, you absolutely can make your own wedding cake.

There are a number of stages to making your own wedding cake, so let’s take a look at what they are.



Officially, the first stage in making your own baking cake is baking it. But in reality, there is a lot of work that comes before this.

Before you start baking, you will need to think about flavors and designs as this is the only way to ensure that you make enough cake batter to create all the cakes that you need for your design.

For this reason exactly, many people will use trial and error in the process of designing their wedding cake.

Once you have chosen your final design and flavor, you will need to bake your wedding cake. Generally, this will take place no more than 3 days before the day of your wedding, as this ensures that the cake will be fresh.

Of course, there is some room for flexibility depending on the flavor of your cake. In order to bake a professional wedding cake, planning is key. So make sure you schedule baking into your preparation for the big day.


With the different tiers for your wedding cake baked, you will need to store them until closer to the big day. Even if you are baking them the day before you are planning to decorate, you will still need to store your wedding cake.

Storing the cake at this stage is fairly simple, ensure that the cake is covered and stored in a cool and dry environment until you are ready to decorate.

Storing your wedding cake once it has been decorated isn’t always as easy. Ideally, you should refrigerate the cake once it has been decorated, so be sure to make space in your refrigerator ready for when it is finished.

The last thing that you need is a disaster with your wedding cake, so again, preparation is key.


Decorating your wedding cake is the next step. In an ideal world, this would be done on the day of your wedding, but most of the time it will actually take place the day before the wedding.

As we mentioned earlier, the decorating process will sometimes take place before the cakes are stacked, and other times it will take place after. Often, the icing stage of the cake will take place before the cakes are stacked.

This will include fully iced wedding cakes, and wedding cakes with a rustic theme which are naked or semi-naked.


Once the cake is made, it is time for the biggest and often most daunting step – stacking the cake.

Of course, if you have opted for a single tier, small cake (like many people who bake their own cake do), then you can simply skip over this step.

Stacking your cake is by no means simple, and that is why it is definitely worth practicing this step before you are doing it with your actual wedding cake.

After you have done it a couple of times, this step will be a lot simpler, but it will still be quite scary. Especially when you are doing it with the cake that you will be serving on your big day. But once this is over, you will be able to breathe easily.

Finishing Touches

With your cakes stacked, it is time for the finishing touches. This might include additional piped icing, it could include decorative touches such as flowers or berries, or it could include a topper for your wedding cake.

If you want to, you could reduce costs further by making your own wedding topper using a Cricut.

This could be little figurines of yourself and your partner, in the same style as traditional wedding toppers, or it could be something entirely different.

The finishing touches of your wedding cake can make a huge difference to the end result, so this is a very important part of the design.


After your big day is over, you might find yourself wanting to preserve the leftovers of your wedding cake for future use.

If you have made your own wedding cake, then your cake will need to be eaten pretty promptly if you want it to taste nice.

That is unless you decide to freeze it.

Freezing your wedding cake isn’t that rare. In fact, a lot of people have been freezing their wedding cakes for many years. At one point, it was considered tradition to freeze the smallest tier of your wedding cake, instead of eating it.

This frozen tier of the wedding cake would then be defrosted and eaten on one of two occasions: your one-year anniversary, or the christening of your first child.

Over the years, the traditions behind this practice have become a lot less common with many people not having children immediately after marrying, as was once common.

However, freezing your leftover wedding cake for future use is a great way to preserve your wedding cake, allowing you to simply defrost it and enjoy it at some point in the future.

How Much Cake Do I Need?

How Much Cake Do I Need?

No matter whether you are making your own wedding cake, or having your wedding cake made for you, something that you will need to think about is how much cake you need for the job.

It is important that you have enough cake to serve all your guests. So how do you calculate how much cake you need?

Typically, a standard 12-inch wedding cake will serve between 40 and 60 people depending on how large you cut the cake. However, a lot of people are actually opting for not serving their actual wedding cake on their big day.

Instead, they will simply cut their cake as is tradition, and then serve a separate half sheet cake to their guests.

This is a great way to ensure that you have plenty of cake for your big day, and allows you to avoid the hassle associated with chopping a large wedding cake into individual slices on your big day.

Cutting The Cake

The main purpose of having a wedding cake on your special day is to complete the tradition of cutting the cake.

Cutting the cake is a big occasion, and generally guests will gather around to watch the newly-weds cut into their cake for the first time.

There is a certain amount of pressure associated with cutting the cake. Especially when you realize that there is a correct method for cutting the cake. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to cut the cake.

How To Cut The Cake

How you should cut the cake will differ depending on the style of the cake. If the cake is heavily decorated, then cutting into it can be quite daunting.

Equally, if you are used to cutting up a round cake, cutting a square cake can be very intimidating.

Most of the time, wedding cakes will be round in shape, so let’s take a look at how to cut a round wedding cake.

In order to do this, you will need a knife with a large blade. We would typically recommend a blade measuring between 8 and 10 inches in length.

For the initial cut of the cake, you can simply both take hold of the handle and cut straight into one of the tiers. Typically either the second or third tier will be cut into when the official cutting of the cake takes place.

After this is done, to actually cut the cake into slices to offer to your guests, each tier of the cake should be removed.

Then begin to cut this cake into wedges, rotate the cake 90 degrees after each cut, and then cut each slice in half or into three, depending on the size of each slice. This will leave you with wedges of wedding cake suitable for your guests.

What Is A Cake Cutting Fee?

When you are booking your wedding venue, you may be offered an additional service known as cake cutting. Typically this will add a cake cutting fee to your bill, so you might find yourself wondering what this means.

A cake cutting fee basically is a fee that is added to the bill if the venue cuts your cake for you. This fee will essentially cover the cost of cutting up the cake, plating it up, and serving it to your guests.

For some, this might seem like a ridiculous fee, but it will save you the hassle of cutting up your wedding cake on your special day.

Wedding Cake Alternatives

It has become a lot more common for people to choose wedding cake alternatives on their special day now-a-days.

Traditional wedding cakes are still popular, but a lot of people have started to choose alternatives to make their special day a little easier.

We’ve mentioned it a couple of times in this guide, but one way that many people are doing this is by opting for a half sheet cake to serve their guests, rather than having to chop up their actual wedding cake on the day.

Some people have even taken this a step further by only having one real wedding cake (in the form of a sheet cake), and then using an icing-covered polystyrene “cake” as the showstopper for their wedding day.

Not only is this a way for many people to reduce costs, but it’s also a great way to reduce waste while making life easier when it comes to cutting the cake into bite size wedges.

Alternatively, some people have decided to opt for cupcakes instead of a large wedding cake.

There are lots of ways that you can stack cupcakes to form a beautiful design, and these alone can form the showstopper that you want for your special day.

If you are happy to skip the tradition of cutting the cake, then this could be the perfect option for you.


Through all the information that we have included in this guide, we’re sure that you are now feeling a lot more confident when it comes to decisions about your wedding cake.

No longer are you a beginner when it comes to wedding cakes, you now have all the information you need to choose the wedding cake that is perfect for you!