What Size Wedding Cake Should You Buy?

By November 8, 2021Advice
CoupleCutting Wedding Cake with knife and Cake

Cutting your wedding cake will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable moments at your reception. And it should be – you put a lot of effort into picking the perfect one. All those flavors, frostings, decorations, and the bride and groom figurines to sit on top – you have quite a lot of choices. But what size wedding cake should you buy?

We’ve prepared a guide to help you choose and avoid a portion of the pre-wedding stress. Read and enjoy!

What’s the Typical Wedding Cake Size in the U.S.?

Wedding Cake Small Size on Plate with Leaves

Besides your dress, of course, your wedding cake will be in the spotlight at the party. You may have more than one cake, but the one you cut with your newly wedded groom will receive most of the attention and compliments.

But did you know that at some weddings guests don’t even get to try the cake? It’s only for display.

But if you’re wondering what size wedding cake you should buy, you’re probably planning to serve it to your guests. And you want to be sure that everyone gets a slice.

So the wedding cake dimensions mostly depend on the number of people you’ve invited.

A typical U.S. wedding party has around 130 guests, according to a survey from 2019. The number used to be higher – for example, it was 150 only 13 years ago. However, there’s been a decline since then.

Prices of Wedding Cakes

Bride and Groom Cutting a Massive Wedding Cake

Since the average number of wedding guests hovers around 130, you can calculate the average wedding cake size based on the number of slices you’ll need. Some bakeries calculate the price of the whole cake based on slices anyway.

The standard wedding cake slice is two inches long, four inches tall, and one inch wide. However, the slice size can vary depending on the following factors:

  • Cake recipe
  • The shape of the cake
  • Buttercream between layers
  • Height of layers
  • Number of layers

Let’s say your cake can be cut into the standard-sized slices.

According to a standard wedding cake size chart, a three-tier cake is enough for up to 100 guests. A three-tier fruit cake is also considered traditional. So a typical wedding cake size is three tiers and around 100 servings.

The average price of a standard wedding cake is around $500.

If you’ve invited more than 100 people, you’ll probably need a bigger cake. Your options are either to add more tiers or to increase them in size. For a wedding party with 200 or more guests, five layers should suffice.

One more thing to remember – we haven’t included the top tier. You’ve probably heard of the tradition of eating the top layer of your wedding cake on your first anniversary. Some other traditions say you should eat it on the day of your first child’s christening.

It might not be the best idea unless you keep the tier in the freezer, but you may decide not to serve it to your guests. You could have it on your first-month anniversary instead!

Wedding Cake Size Chart

Couple Cutting Wedding Cake with knife and Cake

We’ll give you a few concrete examples of different cake sizes and numbers of servings to help you form a better image of what you might need.

#1 A three-tier cake with six-inch, ten-inch, and twelve-inch tiers

This one is suitable for a smaller wedding. The bottom tier can cover 45-56 servings, the middle one 30-38 servings, while the top one includes 10 servings. In total, 85-104 servings, if you don’t want to keep the top layer for the anniversary.

#2 A four-tier cake with six-inch, eight-inch, ten-inch, and twelve-inch tiers

This one can cover 20-24 servings more than the first cake. It’ll do for an average-sized wedding, and it can also be converted into a three-tier cake if you make the tiers larger.

#3 A two-tier cake with six or eight-inch and ten-inch tiers

This size of a wedding cake is excellent for small, intimate ceremonies. It’s typically 40-60 slices, which is perfect if you’re celebrating your day with your closest family and friends.

#4 A four or five-tier cakes with the top tier of at least eight inches

These wedding cakes are bigger than average. They’re suitable for your wedding if you’re planning 150-200 guests.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what size wedding cake is appropriate for your wedding.

Don’t forget that you can ask the baker or the server about the slice size. You can decide together how big the slice is going to be. In many luxurious venues, the cake slice is pretty thin. However, the crucial thing is to make sure that the person serving the cake knows precisely how thick the slices should be. It would also be great to decide if you’d like to offer seconds or not.

Should the Cake Size Match the Venue?

Wedding Cake with Venue Backdrop matching guests

Choosing a wedding cake should be one of the last decisions you make about your wedding. After people confirm that they’re coming, you’ll know the final number of guests so you can decide what size wedding cake you’ll need.

Other than that, after you pick a wedding dress, a venue, and decoration, you’ll know what kind of frosting, topping, and other ornaments you want for your cake. It should match different elements of your wedding when it comes to style.

Some brides also pay attention to matching the cake with the size of the space where the wedding reception is held. If you’re renting a big ballroom, you likely have many guests. Therefore, you’ll need a large wedding cake anyway, but you may want to make sure it doesn’t look tiny compared to the venue.

If you don’t need more tiers on the cake or if you’re on budget, there’s a way to make the wedding cake look bigger. If you add columns between the cake tiers, it will be higher. Some couples opt for a Styrofoam tier that looks real and also adds to the cake height, making it fit the space better.

Should I Have More Than One Wedding Cake?

Two Wedding Cakes at WEdding

There’s only one central wedding cake that you’ll cut with your husband in front of the guests. However, another smaller cake could help you stay on budget, as you’ll see in the next section.

But there’s another reason why you may want to have another cake. Do any of your friends or family members have allergies? Are there going to be small kids at the reception? Is anyone from the guest list vegan?

Having a cake specially made for them may be a beautiful gesture if it fits in with your plans. It may not work out if you’re having a big celebration with a long guest list, but you can give it a shot.

Tips to Save Money on the Wedding Cake

Cheap WEdding Cake Idea with White Frosting

Money can be a concern when choosing what size wedding cake you need for your special day. The price of the cake can also depend on multiple factors. The general rule is “the bigger, the more expensive,” but it’s not always the case. You may pay less for a simple, round-shaped vanilla cake without too much decoration, even if it’s bigger than average.

If you’re on a budget, but want to have a beautiful wedding cake that you can serve to all your guests, here are a few tips.

1. Half-Servings

You can buy a smaller cake if you opt for half-servings rather than full-size slices. By the time you serve the cake, the guests have already eaten and started dancing, so most of them don’t take more than a few bites.

If you choose to serve smaller wedding cake portions, you can still have the cake you’ve always dreamed of and stay within budget.

There’s another option of having your dream cake and serving it too. You can ask the baker to make an additional cake with the same flavors but without tiers and decoration. Then you can use it to cover the number of servings for guests while keeping the display wedding cake small.

2. Buttercream Rather Than Fondant

Fondant is an excellent choice for cake decoration, but it’s specific. Not everyone likes its taste. It’s also more expensive than buttercream, for example.

If you replace fondant with buttercream, not only will your guests enjoy the taste of the cake, but you’ll also pay less for it. However, don’t risk it if you’re having an outdoor summer wedding. Fondant holds up better than whipped cream or buttercream and doesn’t melt at high temperatures.

Bear in mind that multiple flavors in a cake also mean a higher price. For example, choosing two flavors will keep you within the budget and make sure everyone finds a slice they like.

3. Make It Simple

Unusual and complicated decoration can make the cake more expensive. Of course, you shouldn’t give up on your dream wedding cake, but think of cheaper options first. It may allow you to keep the normal wedding cake size if you go with more affordable ornaments.

Maybe you already have some kind of non-edible decoration that will make your wedding cake shine. Perhaps you’d like to create DIY ornaments. What about fresh fruits or flowers? It will look spectacular, and you can experiment with colors.

These ideas will be cheaper than lacelike fondant, for example, but they’re just as beautiful.

Final Word

Couple Sitting on Wedding Cake

It may not seem so simple at first. However, answering what size wedding cake you should buy doesn’t require too much math. You should consider the number of guests, your wedding venue, and your budget. If you bear in mind that many bakeries charge by the slice, you’ll easily calculate how big your wedding cake should be and how much it will cost.

It’s one of your wedding’s essential elements, as much as your wedding dress, the music, and the ceremony. It will be the cherry on top of the ballroom décor, and it will look beautiful in the photos.

But in the end, don’t sweat too much about wedding cake sizes and portions. What most of your friends and family will remember is how much they enjoyed celebrating the journey you’ve just started with your significant other.