Updated: Sep 14
This comprehensive guide to wedding cake sizes will help you understand wedding cake portions and what size wedding cakes serve how many guests. Look out for my wedding cake size calculator coming here soon to determine how much cake to serve at your upcoming wedding.
Wedding cake portion guide
It is important to choose the right size wedding cake for your wedding day. You want to make sure you have enough cake for your wedding guests but also that as little cake is wasted. And, do you want to have some additional cake or a whole tier to take home, freeze and enjoy at a later date? Here are the key factors you need to consider:
Understanding standard wedding cake portions
Traditional wedding cake serving size
Traditional wedding cake tiers are round and approximately 3 - 4 inches tall. You will find that most wedding cake serve guides available online reflect this traditional style of cake. However, wedding cake sizes and styles have changed in the last 5-10 years with some modern wedding cakes having much taller tier heights. It follows that a change in tier heights affects how the serve size is then calculated.
Here I have set out serve sizes for traditional height wedding cake tiers and taller height cake tiers, and how many finger portions you achieve from each.
Finger slices and dessert cake slices
There are two types of wedding cake slices: Finger portions and dessert portions.
Finger portions are typically 1 x1 x 4 inches made up of three layers of cake with filling and considered to be a delicious sample of your cake to be enjoyed casually - typically later in the evening.
Dessert portions are larger at 2 x 1 x 4 inches and double the size of a finger portion. As the name suggests they are often served as dessert at the wedding breakfast.
Types of wedding cakes and their servings
Single tier wedding cakes
Single-tier wedding cakes are a popular choice for smaller, more intimate weddings and can serve between 10 - 30 guests finger portions. They provide an elegant and beautiful focal point for a smaller celebration. You can be as creative and unique with a single tier cake including intricate or minimalist designs, personalised decorations, flowers, or hand-painted details that reflect your style and themes of your wedding day.
Multi tier wedding cakes
Multi-tiered cakes are for larger weddings and you can choose from two tiers up to seven plus tiers depending on your wedding guest numbers and skills of your cake designer (a seven tier cake is no easy feat!).
Here is a guide to what sized cake you will need by your number of guests.
Two tier wedding cake for 40-60 guests
Three tier wedding cake for 70 - 90 guests
Four tier wedding cake for 100 - 150 guests
Five tier wedding cake for 170 - 210 guests
Six and seven tier wedding cake fro 220 + guests
Square vs. round wedding cakes: how portions differ
Wedding cakes come in varying shapes, round, square and even hexagonal. Each shape serves a different number of portions.
Round wedding cakes
Many couples prefer round cakes for their classic and timeless appearance. They are often seen as the traditional choice for wedding cakes.
Round cakes are typically cut into equal, uniform slices. This makes it easier to ensure that each guest receives a consistent portion. There will be some portions that are cut from the edge of the cake so may be extra icing on fondant on those cut from the middle..
The number of portions you can get from a round cake depends on the diameter and height of the cake. But as a a guide round cake sizes with a height of 4 inches approximate portion yields are as follows:
6-inch round cake: About 10-12 portions
8-inch round cake: About 20-24 portions
10-inch round cake: About 30-38 portions
12-inch round cake: About 40-50 portions
Square Wedding Cakes
Square cakes are often chosen for their modern and clean look. They can be a stylish choice for contemporary wedding themes. They are also versatile when it comes to portion sizes. They can be cut into various sizes, allowing you to serve larger or smaller portions as needed.
Similar to round cakes, the number of portions you can get from a square cake depends on the size of the cake. You can achieve more portions from square cake sizes and approximate portion yields are as follows:
6-inch square cake: About 12-18 portions
8-inch square cake: About 32-40 portions
10-inch square cake: About 50-60 portions
12-inch square cake: About 72-96 portions
Sheet wedding cakes as an addition for larger weddings
If you are having a large wedding party but don’t want such a large cake you can choose to have sheet cakes which are kept in the catering kitchen to slice and serve. These cakes are typically rectangular and, as they are not part of the main wedding cake, involve less intricate stacking and decoration work. When thinking about your wedding cake size, consider if you want sheet cakes and for how many these might serve. When using my wedding cake size calculator do not include the numbers of guests to serve if choosing to cater a certain number of people with sheet cake.
Factors affecting wedding cake portions
Number of wedding guests
The number of guests at your wedding is the most important factor when determining the size of your wedding cake. I would recommend you cater for 90% of your total guest count to ensure the majority of people receive a slice (not all will want some) but that also you reduce any wastage. For example, you have a guest list of 80 so would want a three tiered cake to cater for around 70 guests.
It follows that the smaller the number of guests the smaller your wedding cake might be. However, this is not always the case. You might want a more statement cake in which case dummy tiers or separators (see image) can be used to create a larger cake design. Discuss with your wedding cake designer this option if you want a large cake but only have a small number of guests to serve.
When you decide to serve the wedding cake - daytime and evening guests
Think about when you are planning on serving your wedding cake. Will your cake be served to your guests as a dessert, alongside dessert or in the evening after your wedding breakfast?
Depending on what time you serve your wedding cake will determine the number of guests you serve plus size of the slice you will want to provide. Typically you would choose dessert portions (1x2x4”) for dessert and finger portions (1x1x4”) if serving your wedding cake in the evening. For dessert you will want to cater for 100% of your guests, taking into consideration any dietary requirements. For the evening you would only want to cater for around 90% of your guests as not every one will get around to having a slice.
The majority of couples choose to serve their wedding cake in the evening after the cake cutting and once the wedding breakfast and speeches have taken place. Make sure you take into account if there will be more guests invited to the evening event than are present during the day. When the dancing starts and evening rolls on people will enjoy a slice of sweet cake as a late night snack.
Whether there will be other desserts apart from your wedding cake
Are you accompanying your wedding cake with additional sweet treats, such as brownies, cupcakes, macarons etc? Dessert tables which include a cake and additional items mean your wedding cake might not need to serve as many guests as you think.
Dietary restrictions and special wedding cake options (e.g., gluten-free, vegan).
Do you have a proportion of guests who will not be able to eat your cake due to dietary restrictions? It is advised that these guests are removed from your serve count and provided an alternative sweet option that meets their needs. Many cake makers offer vegan and gluten free options, such as cupcakes for these guests.
Wedding cake cutting - achieving the right number of serves
Your wedding cake designer will provide the catering team at your wedding with a cutting and serve guide to ensure the cake is cut to the correct size, whether finger or dessert portions. The cutting instructions will differ for round, square and hexagonal cakes. Most catering team will be experienced in cutting cakes but do check with your wedding cake designer that information on serve sizes will be provided to them on the day when your cake is delivered.
Tips for determining the right wedding cake size
Consideration for guests who might not eat wedding cake
Do you know that some of your guests just might not eat cake; are there some you know don’t have a sweet tooth or aren’t cake lovers, maybe they have dietary restrictions that prevent them from eating it? Take these people into account when thinking about your numbers to serve, especially if choosing dessert portions.
The pros and cons of having leftover wedding cake
Think about if you want some cake leftover to enjoy the following day. Maybe you are having a family gathering and want to serve cake with tea or would like to take some home to freeze and enjoy at your leisure in the future. There is a good chance that if you get the correct serve size for your wedding day then there will be no cake left over at all.
Talk to your cake designer about whether you would like to have some cake leftover and how many portions. This can then be factored into the final wedding cake size.
If planning on saving the wedding cake top tier for the first anniversary
Traditionally the top tier of a wedding cake was saved for the first wedding anniversary or birth of the first child. This tradition held when couples predominantly had fruit cake which kept well for long periods of time. Fruit cakes have fallen out of favour with couples preferring lighter sponge cakes in numerous flavour options.. These sponge cakes freeze very well and can be kept for months in the freezer should you wish to have some for a special event in the future. Read my how to freeze and store your wedding cake guide here.
Alternatives to a wedding cake and add-ons
Cupcake wedding cake or donut towers and portion planning
When it comes to portion sizes for a wedding featuring both a cupcake tower and a single-tier wedding cake, consideration must be given to ensuring you have enough cake for your guests you want to serve. Cupcakes or donuts, with their individual servings, offer a delightful variety of flavours and a pretty alternative presentation to a tall tiered cake. Typically, allow for at least one cupcake or donut per guest as good starting point, with extra cupcakes for those who might want to sample more than one flavour. The single-tier wedding cake, on the other hand, should then be sized to meet the total guest count. Think also about how many tiers of cupcakes or donuts you might like as this can determine the number of additional treats you might need to achieve a certain height on the cupcake/donut tower.
Mini wedding cakes or dessert tables
Dessert tables at weddings have become increasingly popular, offering a delightful array of sweet treats for your wedding celebration. When planning a dessert table, it's essential to consider both the variety of desserts and appropriate serving sizes to ensure that every guest can enjoy these yummy offerings.
A well-curated dessert table should feature a diverse selection of treats to cater to various tastes and dietary preferences. Common choices include mini cakes, donuts, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, macarons, petit fours, fruit tarts, and dessert pots. Additionally, consider incorporating your wedding cake as the centrepiece, serving slices or mini versions to complement the other offerings. Offering both classic favourites and unique, personalised treats can make the dessert table even more memorable. For example you could personalise some cookies or shortbread biscuits with your initials.
Determining the serving sizes for a dessert table can be a bit tricky, as it depends on the number of guests and the variety of desserts offered. Here are some general guidelines:
Mini Cakes. cupcakes and donuts: These are typically served per guest, allowing for easy portion control. One mini cake or cupcake per person is usually sufficient.
Cookies, brownies, and bars: For bite-sized treats like cookies and brownies, plan for at least two pieces per guest. If you have larger bars, one per guest should be enough.
Macarons and petit fours: These elegant treats are usually served in quantities of two to three per guest, given their smaller size.
Fruit tarts and dessert pots: Offer these in single-serving portions. One per guest is a good rule of thumb.
Wedding cake: If you're also serving a wedding cake, plan for a finger slice or a mini cake for each guest. Keep in mind that some guests may opt for both a slice of cake and other desserts.
Remember that guests may have varying appetites, so it's a good idea to slightly overestimate the quantities to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy their favourite treats. Additionally, if you're providing a wide variety of options, you can reduce the serving size of each dessert slightly.
To make your dessert table even more visually appealing, use decorative platters, stands, and signage that match your wedding theme and style. Properly curated and portioned, a dessert table can be a sweet highlight of your wedding, allowing guests to indulge in a delightful assortment of treats.
Additional cakes for the wedding / catering for a birthday on your wedding day
It’s not uncommon for one or more of your guests to be celebrating their birthday on your wedding day. It can be a lovely moment during your wedding day to mark this occasion during or after your wedding breakfast by presenting them with a small wedding cake and singing happy birthday. It’s likely that the person will take this cake home with them, given they are being catered for with dessert and cake at your wedding. Think about how many people they live with or are in their family and speak to your wedding cake designer about including a mini cake in your order.
Frequently asked questions
What if my guest list increases or decreases after ordering?
Most couples will secure a cake maker at least 9-12 months prior to their wedding day. At this stage the guest list can still be uncertain meaning the number of actual serves is not yet known. You will find that most cake makers are flexible with alterations to the size of your cake within at least two months prior to your wedding day, given this is not a significant decrease or increase in the size of the cake. Discuss with your cake designer about expected numbers of guests and if the cake size needs to be adjusted should your guest list rise or fall significantly.
Is it better to have more wedding cake than needed?
It is always best to have more cake than less cake for several reasons. You want to make sure the majority of your guests get to try your wedding cake as well as yourselves without running out. If you are concerned about waste any cake can be either enjoyed the next day, boxed up for your guests to take away or cut and stored in a freezer for a later date.
How to cater for children and their portions?
Most children will not say no to a slice of cake. Finger portions will be an adequate size for children. I anticipate the children at the wedding will be very excited about eating the pretty wedding cake once it’s cut! You might want to think about ensuring that the wedding cake is cut and served to children before they get too tired and go to bed.
When considering the size of your wedding cake, think about many of the key factors outlined above - particularly the number of guests you plan on having and when you will serve the cake. Think about if you would like to take some home for a later date and the number of your guests that might not eat the cake due to dietary restrictions.
Most importantly remember to talk all these factors over with your wedding cake designer, as they are the expert and will provide you with advice on the right size cake.. This will result in you getting the perfect sized wedding cake on your wedding day for you and your guest to enjoy.
Why not download this article as a pdf and take along to your wedding cake consultation to discuss with your wedding cake maker.
I hope this article has helped you determine what size wedding cake you might need for your guests as well as options for different cake sizes and any add-ons you may choose. Please share any thoughts in the comments below.
You can take a look at my wedding cake portfolio here which includes my bespoke cake designs. Should you be looking for a wedding cake designed in the South East of England please don’t hesitate to contact me. Birch House Bakery Cake Design is based in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, UK.
Who is Erin - Wedding Cake Maker in Haywards Heath, West Sussex
Hi, I'm Erin and I started my wedding and celebration cakes business Birch House Bakery in 2016. With 8 years of cake making and design experience I am passionate about creating beautiful, stylish cakes that celebrate you. I strive to adopt an ethos of sustainability in my work by sourcing ingredients from local and British suppliers and using biodegradable products. Please do get in touch to discuss any upcoming cake orders and your requirements. Birch House Bakery is based in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, UK.
Find out more about Erin.