Updated: Nov 9
So, how much does a wedding cake cost? This must be the most asked question about wedding cakes hands down. And, as much as I'd like to give you a simple answer, as you might expect the cost of a wedding cake can vary enormously depending on the size of your wedding cake and the design of your cake.
In this article I'll explain more about wedding cake pricing, what makes it vary including a guide to how a wedding cake price is calculated; as well as some wedding cake options for every wedding budget. Topics I will cover are:
How much is a wedding cake?
How is cost of a wedding cake calculated?
Supermarket wedding cakes
Budget wedding cakes
Designer wedding cakes
How much is a wedding cake?
Wedding cakes can be priced from as little as £150 to well into the £1,000s.
The average wedding cake cost in 2022 according to the website Hitched was around £350. This figure however needs to be viewed cautiously as it takes into account DIY wedding cakes (ones made by family and friends) meaning the average spend was much closer to £650 for a professional wedding cake.
The cost of a wedding cake depends on a number of different factors including:
How many guests you will have at your wedding
The wedding cake flavours
The wedding cake size, including the number of cake tiers
The design details on the wedding cake
Your specific cake maker
The delivery of the wedding cake
It helps to think of the wedding cake cost a little like fashion. You can go to any number of shops to buy a dress - from Primark to Zara to Whistles to Burberry. Ultimately a combination of your style preference, quality and budget will determine which shop you choose to go to. Likewise, these factors will determine which wedding cake maker you choose - whether this be from a high street supermarket to a bespoke wedding cake from a luxury award winning cake designer.
Typically, most couples choose to commission a wedding cake designer to create them a bespoke cake. So, let's start here by looking at how bespoke wedding cake costs are calculated to give you a better idea of what goes into designing and making a wedding cake.
How is the cost of a wedding cake calculated?
It is a common misconception that bespoke wedding cakes are expensive. Many people say 'Why is a wedding cakes so expensive?' "Wow, that's expensive!' and so on. Believe me I've heard them all!
The truth is they are not. Here is where I show you why by setting out in some detail about how a wedding cake cost is calculated, including the time and effort involved in wedding cakes outside of the actual making of the cake. Wedding cake design is a craft that requires skill, expertise and an artistic vision.
Wedding Cake Serve / Slice
Primarily the cost of a wedding cake is determined by its size. This is calculated by the number of people you wish to serve on the day. Many cake makers work by a price per serve or slice cost (from £4 per serve upwards depending on the designer or where you are located in the UK), or provide guides on cake size and number of servings. You can see my wedding cake serve guide here as an example of size vs cost.
My cake serving guide infographic here shows how many serves you get per tier on a wedding cake based on an standard wedding cake serving of 1" x 1" x 4". Your can choose either standard sized tiers (between 4 - 5" in height) or tall cake tiers (up to 10" in height). What you choose for your tier sizes will influenced by the design and overall look of your wedding cake. Having tiers of different sizes is a popular contemporary choice in wedding cake design, such as a taller base tier and shorter middle tier. The image below shows how you can combine different tier sizes to create a modern cake design.
The size of your wedding cake is normally costed by the ingredients it takes to make each tier, the time involved in baking, icing and constructing each tier and any utility costs associated in this process, such as gas and electricity.
Your Wedding Cake Design and Cake Designer
While the size of your wedding cake will largely determine the overall price of your cake the next major thing that will have the most influence is the wedding cake design. Semi naked wedding cakes with minimal design considerations, for example, are cheaper than a fondant covered cake with intricate and unique design details.
The design of your wedding cake will reflect your day and you as a couple and most people spend time researching their favourite styles online before approaching their cake designer with ideas. Intricate designs such as wafer paper or sugar flowers can take many hours of work and skill and therefore can increase the wedding cake price significantly. Cake designers will often have a formula for working out the cost of different design elements on your wedding cake, such as adding gold leaf, stencilling and working with wafer paper and sugar flowers.
Cake designers across the country vary in their experience, specialist skills and design style. Typically cake designers who adopt fine art techniques or work with sugar and wafer paper flowers are generally more costly than buttercream cake designers. It is important to remember your cake baker is likely to have many years of experience and skills in cake making and decorating which should be valued and comes at a cost.
Wedding Cake Flavour
Another factor that influences the cost of your wedding cake is the cake flavours. This is simply because some cakes are more expensive to make than others - requiring more expensive ingredients and/or time taken to bake and construct. For example, chocolate wedding cakes will be more expensive than sponge-based wedding cakes to make as the ingredient costs of chocolate are higher.
It is typical for couples to choose different cake flavours for each tier of their wedding cake, providing their guests with several flavour options to choose from. The most popular wedding cake flavours are vanilla and raspberry and chocolate and vanilla buttercream frosting. However, there are many delicious flavours to choose from when deciding on your wedding cake flavour. You can see my selection of classic and unique wedding cake flavours here.
A wedding cake tasting is the ideal way to decide on your cake flavours, and to try out new and exciting flavour combinations you may have never tasted before. It's often cited as the most exciting part of wedding cake planning - who doesn't love cake! Typically cake makers in the UK have set times of the year when wedding cake tasting is available.
Consultation & communication
When you commission a wedding cake designer to design and make your cake there will typically be several hours of communication from the moment you make an initial enquiry to the day your wedding cake is delivered.
Most cake designers prefer to communicate via email to understand all the wedding day details and will then hold face-to-face consultations online or in person to come up with a design for your cake.
Your cake designer will also be in touch with your wedding venue and wedding supplier to arrange delivery times and any other necessary details of the day. They will also liaise with your florist (if you choose fresh flowers on your cake) to discuss the floral selection and meeting on the morning of your wedding to finish the cake. If you have a wedding planner there also maybe many emails and calls between the two to arrange tastings, consultations, delivery and so on.
This administration takes time and therefore is a cost that is factored into all wedding cakes. Typically, this is calculated as a set fee for each wedding cake regardless of size and determined by an average hourly rate it takes for communication and consultation.
Research and design
Once you have found your wedding cake designer and shared your preferences for how you would like your cake to look your designer will go away and spend time on the design. Typically, this is time spent on researching the design elements and coming up with the final look. Most cake designers will then sketch up your design for you (either by hand or digitally) to approve and then make any necessary changes at your request. Again, this is time and expertise involved which will be costed into your wedding cake. At Birch House Bakery part of our wedding cake design service includes a digital sketch of your cake. Below demonstrated the cake sketch vs wedding cake on the day.
Purchasing and ingredients
Whilst the ingredients costs of your wedding cake will be calculated by your wedding cake tier flavour and size, there is still time taken over sourcing ingredients and time taken to go out and get them from suppliers.
Likewise should a couple request a cake topper or additional design elements for their cake there is time and cost involved in researching and purchasing these. A typical wedding cake topper can cost from £20 upwards depending on how bespoke this needs to be.
Packaging and equipment
Each cake tier is supported by cake boards, dowels and is finally boxed up for delivery on your wedding day. Each of these cake and packaging items have a cost associated with them which, while nominal, will make up the cost of your wedding cake.
Cake designers will also have to use and source many different types of equipment for making and designing a cake. Whether this is a monthly subscription to a digital design platform to sketch up your cake design, professional membership or purchasing the latest cake making equipment - all of these items contribute to the cost of running a business successfully and proving a first class service and product.
Delivery and follow up
An additional cost associated with your wedding cake is the delivery and set up at the venue. On the day of your wedding your cake designer will have a booked time for delivery to the venue and will need to prep the cake and cake box that morning. Your cake designers time is involved in taking the cake to the venue and setting up the cake. Petrol costs to and from the venue will also need to be factored into your cake cost.
After your wedding cake is delivered and you have enjoyed it on your day your cake designer will typically follow up with you to check to see how your day went and if your guests enjoyed the cake. There may also be work involved in picking up a cake stand or display items from the venue if you hired these out for your day.
Business running costs
It's also really important to be aware of the costs associated with running a wedding cake business like any small business - often driven by one person working solo.
There are significant overhead costs incurred by rent, utilities, insurance, tax and national insurance, purchasing of equipment and materials, learning and development, marketing spend, website development, time spent on social media. And not forgetting a reasonable hourly wage (based on experience and skills) and some profit built into the business model. Cake making and design is far more than just making a cake!
Wedding Cake Budget Options
High Street Wedding Cakes
Up until very recently there were a couple of high street retailers supplying wedding cakes online. However, both Waitrose and Marks and Spencers have since ceased selling wedding cakes.
These cakes were generally a selection of very simple tiered designs available in a range of classic cake flavours. Typically, you'd collect them from the store several days before your wedding day, and may then need to assemble the cake yourself. They come with a set of instructions on how to do this, and all the tools you need to stack a wedding cake.
As supermarket wedding cakes are very plain you had the choice to decorate the cake yourself with fresh florals or other items such as personalised cake toppers. High street wedding cakes are a good option for couples on a tight budget who are happy to go with a simple design without tasting the cake beforehand. The taste may be compromised on these cakes - as with all mass processed foods these cakes are not individually handmade, but baked in a factory environment not necessarily using the highest quality ingredients. Below are several high street retailers who up until recently offered budget online wedding cakes - it's worth checking online regularly as these supermarkets may well introduce them back onto the market.
Supermarket Wedding Cakes
Waitrose Wedding Cakes
Waitrose wedding cakes were the main supplier of supermarket wedding cakes and cost anything between £85 to £250. They are pre-order wedding cakes and range from two tier to four tier wedding cakes and come in the choice of white fondant coating or naked sponge cake. The fondant coated cakes are all white and very simple with a plain smooth finish. You can then decorate this simple design in your own style. Keep a look out online as it's likely they will come back soon!
Marks and Spencer Wedding Cakes
Marks and Spencer have also recently ceased to supply wedding cakes but keep an eye out as these may come back also. They do currently however offer a range of pre-made cakes ideal for the smaller wedding to serve up to 24 guests (small slices). These cakes are a real money saver at around £45 making them only £1.90 per slice. This cake here is an option for a budget wedding cake.
Budget Wedding Cakes
If you are looking for a simple wedding cake on a budget you may be able to source a cake maker locally who offers 'off the shelf' pre-made designs. You can expect to pay anything between £150 & £500 for budget wedding cakes.
These are set tiered wedding cake designs that are relatively simple in design and come in a limited selection of favours. You will not have the option to alter these designs with the cake maker or determine how your cake will look when purchasing these off the shelf cakes. The reasons they are a cheaper alternative is because the cake baker does not need to take the time involved in research and design and will have the ingredients and supply in house creating these cakes at speed with less effort.
Like the high street wedding cakes off the shelf cakes from a cake maker can also be self-decorated - assuming you have the time or someone to help you with this on the day. They will, however, be stacked for you, and to keep costs down you can pick the cake up yourself the day before your wedding.
Semi-naked wedding cakes
Another option for a budget wedding cake is to choose a semi-naked wedding cake. These tend to be a cheaper alternative as they don't require the cake maker to second coat the cake in either buttercream, ganache or fondant. There is also often little design detail on a semi-naked wedding cake which keeps the cost down. Typically, a semi-naked cake will be decorated with florals and fruits or simply kept natural or rustic looking.
Choosing to have wedding cupcakes for your wedding dessert rather than a stacked tiered cake can often be a budget alternative. While the actual pricing will depend on your cake maker of choice, cupcakes don't typically require much decorating time or design consideration, so you'll be saving on labour for your wedding dessert.
You will need to factor in the cost of the cake stand to present your wedding cupcakes on as well as any decoration surrounding the cupcakes. At Birch House Bakery we offer vegan and gluten free cupcakes to cater for your guests with allergens and to compliment to your wedding cake. Take a look at our wedding cupcake prices here, as well as other sweet treats for your dessert table.
Bespoke Wedding Cake
Choosing a professional wedding cake designer is the preferred route for many couples. Sourcing your wedding cake is often one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process as you browse beautiful cakes online for inspiration, sample cakes to select your cake flavours and work with a professional cake maker to design the perfect centrepiece for your day. There is a huge range of wedding cake designers across the UK all with different styles to suit your look. Likewise, there is a price range across wedding cake makers as well as depending on where you are located in the UK. Some are award winning and others just starting out so you will find variation in prices depending on experience too.
Working with a wedding cake designer you will have the opportunity to discuss in detail how you want your cake to look on the day making it completely unique to you. You can expect to pay upwards of £400 for a bespoke cake design.
I hope this article has enlighted you a little and you now understand more about what it takes to make a bespoke wedding cake - and how many cake makers cost their work. Do you still think they are expensive? I'd love to hear your comments below!
You can take a look at my wedding cake portfolio here which includes bespoke cake designs. Should you want a wedding cake designed for you, don’t hesitate to contact me and I'll be happy to create a stunning cake for you. Birch House Bakery Cake Design is based in Balcombe, West Sussex, UK.
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, using biodegradable products and planting a tree for every £100 spent with MoreTrees. Please do get in touch to discuss any upcoming cake orders and your requirements. Birch House Bakery is based in West Sussex, UK.
Find out more about Erin.