How to Save Money on a Wedding Cake

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make people happy, it’s cake. We have cake during so many of life’s special times, like birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. We don’t even really need an excuse – we Brits love afternoon tea, which is just one big excuse to eat cake in the sun. So, we really don’t need a reason to enjoy a nice cake.

That being said, there is one occasion when cake plays a pretty central role in a celebration – your wedding. Your guests will be on the lookout for your cake and will crowd around you just to watch you make that inaugural cut. They’ll also love helping themselves to a slice, too.

But, because a wedding cake plays such a central part in many weddings, this is reflected in the cost. In the UK, the average amount spent on a wedding cake is between £300 – £400. This can be tough to swallow when you consider that the average overall amount spent on a wedding is £19,184.

However, the good news is that there are ways to save money on your wedding cake. In this post, we’re going to dive into the many ways you can save a bob or two while making sure your guests can have their cake and eat it too.

Why are wedding cakes so expensive?

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Cakes may be mainly sugar, eggs and flour, but so much skill, time and effort goes into making a wedding cake. They’re often far more extravagant and luxurious than the types of cake you might expect at other celebrations and can take several days to plan, design and bake. Not to mention a lot of wedding cakes are absolutely huge, with three being the traditional number of tiers.

So, while you may look at the price of a wedding cake and wince, bear in mind that a lot goes into one to ensure it looks so magical and inviting for your big day:

  • Customisation and design
  • Quality ingredients
  • Skill and expertise
  • Baking and decorating time
  • Delivery and setup time
  • Tools and equipment

And of course, the reputation of the cake maker will determine how much they can charge, with professionals with long and respected careers able to charge more than those new to the industry.

Do you need a cake at your wedding?

Photo © Edible Essence Couture Cake Co. | See their Bridebook profile

We may have already pointed out that many of your guests will be on the lookout for your cake, but, the truth is you don’t need a cake at your wedding at all. If you have a tight budget, nothing is stopping you from saying crumbs to the cake and using that portion of your budget elsewhere. Weddings are usually jam-packed with traditions, so even though you won’t get to cut a cake, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to do some of the more traditional stuff, like the toasts, the first dance and throwing the bouquet.

But, if you’re big on traditions and you can’t bear the thought of not having that fabulous photo opportunity that doubles up as a dessert, there are still plenty of ways to do so on a budget.

13 ways to save money on a wedding cake

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If a wedding cake is a must-have on your big day but you don’t want to pay prices anywhere near the average, then there are ways to do just that. Below are 13 ways (a bakers’ dozen) you can save money on your wedding cake.

1. Have multiple mini cakes

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Let them eat cake! Or cupcakes. Or doughnuts. Or brownies. Or maybe even sweets? Instead of having a big central cake, which can be expensive, you could always treat yourself (and your guests) to a dessert table full of your favourite sweet treats. Stack your delicacy of choice in a scrumptious and artistic display and encourage your guests to help themselves. Not only will your guests get cake, but they’ll have a wider variety of choices, too. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money at the same time.

2. Slice conservatively

Photo © La Belle Cake Company | See their Bridebook profile

There will be plenty of guests at your wedding who are hungry for a slice of cake, but remember, after a three- or four-course breakfast and a pile of buffet food, will they even be that hungry when the time comes for a slice of cake? Ask your caterers to not be too generous when it comes to slicing your cake. This will help a smaller cake go a lot further. And if the odd guest wants seconds, they can just help themselves.

3. Choose a simple design 

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A cake with loads of intricate details and delicate sugar work is going to be expensive. So, if you keep your design simple, all the baker’s efforts will go into making a moist and delicious cake rather than how it looks.

Depending on the style of the cake, you may even be able to do some decorations yourself. Instead of sugar work petals, go for real flowers artfully placed around the edge. Instead of painstakingly cut iced ribbons, go for real ones. You may not have the skill, knowledge or experience to pull off intricate latticework, but there’s nothing etched in stone to say a wedding cake has to be complex. Artistic vision is a must-have, but it requires you to be brave. The DIY look is great, but there’s a difference between a cake decorated with rustic blooms and a cake that has flowers thrown on top of it.

4. Have dummy cake layers

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Realistically, not everyone at your wedding will want a slice of cake, and our hearts break to see any cake go to waste. If you still want a tall, multi-tier cake, substitute some of the layers with dummy layers, which are usually lumps of carved polystyrene. These can be decorated in the exact same style as the real layers, but you save on the cost of the cake ingredients and the time spent baking it. It will look just as majestic and yummy, but none of it will go to waste and you’ll save some dough.

5. Ask friends or family

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It may seem obvious but that doesn’t make it any less useful – if you have a future Great British Bake Off contestant in the family who’d love to contribute to your big day, ask them if they’d be happy to make your cake. Or if you have a collection of relatives and friends who all have a signature dish, why not ask everyone to bake their favourite and bring them in on a nice dish, which you can then collate to make a super tasty dessert table out of?

6. Have a shop-bought cake

Photo © Red Velvet Bakery | See their Bridebook profile

It might not seem like an obvious choice for a wedding, but a shop-bought cake can be affordable and delicious. All you have to do is get a little creative with the decorations and your guests will never know you took it right from a supermarket shelf. There’s a wide range of shapes, sizes and flavours to choose from, and if you pick up some pillars you can even create a multi-tiered cake for next to nothing.

For something trendy yet traditional, M&S sells a two-tiered naked cake that looks the part and costs just £45. Or, for something a little more unique that will be tasty and get your guests laughing, M&S also offer a personalised Colin the Caterpillar cake, which you can pair with a personalised Connie the Caterpillar cake to have matching couple cakes. Each cake serves 40, and is priced at just £50, so even if you buy both, that’s cake for 80 guests for just £100, making them a fraction of the typical cost of a traditional bespoke tiered design. 

7. Choose a naked cake

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If you choose to hire a professional cake maker to design your wedding cake, why not ask them for a naked cake? Not only will you still get a premium cake, but naked cakes are really in fashion right now with a rustic but elegant look. Plus, they’re far cheaper because they use fewer ingredients and don’t take loads of time to decorate.

8. Only have half the cake decorated

Photo © Sugared Saffron Cake Company | See their Bridebook profile

Looking for a complex and intricate design but don’t have a huge budget? One option is to work with your cake maker to design a cake that is only decorated down one side. By having a sugar work design cascading down one half of your cake you still get the wow factor but will only have to pay half the decorating costs. Remember, one half of your cake is more than likely going to face the wall anyway, so it makes perfect sense.

9. Buy a local cake

Photo © Bakes From A Hackney Kitchen | See their Bridebook profile

When searching for a wedding cake designer or bakery, try to keep your search as local as possible. Wedding cake delivery can be pricey and the further a cake has to travel the riskier it is – so, if you choose a local professional, it’ll keep delivery and setup costs down. Or, you could even consider collecting your cake a day or so before the big day, which is easier to do if you choose a simple design.

10. Hire a more inexperienced cake maker

Photo © My Little Cakery | See their Bridebook profile

The more experience a baker has, the more likely they are to have a solid portfolio and reputation. As a result, they’re also more likely to charge higher prices. Instead, consider hiring a cake maker who is relatively new to the industry. They’ll still be able to make a fabulous and delicious cake, but won’t charge nearly as much. Just remember to see examples of a few other cakes they’ve designed before you hire them – you don’t want a complete novice taking charge of your wedding cake.

11. Bake your own cake

Photo © Terre et Lune Cake Design | See their Bridebook profile

If you’re a keen baker and don’t mind adding an extra responsibility to your ever-growing list, you could just bake your wedding cake yourself. You could even bake the cake a couple of months in advance, then thaw it a few days before your wedding so it’s ready for some homemade decorations. This will save you a ton of money, but will be a fair bit of work, so be prepared.

12. Choose your flavours wisely

Photo © Two Little Cats Bakery | See their Bridebook profile

Vanilla and chocolate are safe, crowd-pleasing flavours that don’t cost too much. If you’ve chosen a multi-tiered cake, you may want one tier to be a traditional fruit cake – but, be prepared to pay a little extra if that’s the case.

Most of your guests won’t be too fussed if you don’t have fruit cake, and a simple vanilla sponge is affordable and tasty.

13. Ditch the dessert after the meal 

Photo © Claire Arscott Cake Design | See their Bridebook profile

Have you planned out the menu you plan to serve your guests at the wedding breakfast? We bet part of that meal will be a delicious-sounding dessert, too. Well, instead of doubling up on desserts, why not simply serve your guests a slice of wedding cake, instead?  If this doesn’t suit your timings and you want your dessert before the cake-cutting commences, why not have a smaller, decorated one-tier cake as your main cake for the ceremonial cutting, and have a plain, un-decorated version pre-cut and served as dessert for the beforehand?

To make your cake a little more desserty and wedding breakfast worthy, why not pair it with a scoop of ice cream or a quenelle of cream for that extra touch of luxury?

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