How to save money on your wedding cake: 12 tips to sweeten the cake cost
by Stephanie

 Photo by  Pen/Carlson

Photo by Pen/Carlson

Ah, the cake. Having a gorgeous and sweet treat to celebrate your wedding day is one of those quintessential things that most brides and grooms are excited about. That is, until they figure out how much a wedding cake actually costs.

I'm not going to be around the bush here: a traditional wedding cake is expensive. For a multi-tiered cake from a professional wedding cake baker, you're looking at prices being $2000 and up. I don't know about you, but for me, that's kind of a crazy amount of money to pay for cake (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE cake).

Well brides and grooms, if you're with me in thinking that $2k is too much to spend on a wedding cake, it's time to get smart and find those tiny hacks and secrets to cut costs. Today, I'm going to walk you through how to save money on your wedding cake with these 12 awesome tips. Ready for more budget-friendly knowledge? Read on!

1. Smaller cake + sheet cake in the back

This is perhaps one of the easiest wedding cake hacks out there, and is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Instead of creating a single extravagant cake that can feed all of your guests, have your baker create a smaller cake, which is meant to be for the cake-cutting & feeding a few guests. Then, have your baker create a simpler sheet cake which is hidden in the kitchen and cut up by the catering staff afterwards for all your wedding guests to enjoy.

It sounds simple, but this simple budget option can save you a huge chunk (sometimes even up to 50%) on your wedding cake.

2. Fake foam tiers

If nothing but a giant, tiered wedding cake will do for you, there's still hope for your bank account! Many bakeries can help you achieve the look of a multi-tiered wedding cake for less by substituting in decorated foam sheets in between real layers of cake.

 Photo by  Crystal Stokes

This creates the same visual effect of a tiered wedding cake, while eliminating a lot of labor for the bakery and saving you a hefty amount.

3. A deconstructed cake

Another option if you're looking to cut costs would be to allow the bakery to create a deconstructed wedding cake for you. Instead of stacking tiers on top of tiers for your wedding cake (which can be very time and labor intensive), your baker can just create each individual layer and skip stacking them, so each cake layer will be displayed as it's own mini-cake.

This can create the fun visual effect of a few different cakes on your wedding dessert table, instead of the traditional cake tower.

4. Look in unexpected places -- your local bakery, a supermarket, or an ethnic bakery

Just like anything with wedding planning, you don't need to go the traditional route and look at speciality bakeries that only do wedding cakes. If your vision for a wedding cake isn't completely extravagant, your local bakery down the street, speciality supermarket or even an ethnic bakery can do a beautiful job for you at a fraction of a wedding vendor's cost.

I know it might sound like a stretch, but don't be afraid to branch out! These people are also cake-baking experts, and your guests aren't going to check and make sure that your cake came from a wedding cake specialist.

5. Ditch fondant and go with buttercream

This might not work if your wedding day is going to be HOT. But if you're not having an outdoor wedding in the middle of the summer, using buttercream frosting on your wedding cake instead of fondant is an easy way to trim costs. Not only is it easier and less expensive for your baker to make, but it has the added bonus of tasting wayyy better than fondant. Plus, you'll get a nicer textured look instead of that weird plastic look many fondant wedding cakes have.

6. Decorate with real (in-season) flowers instead of sugar flowers

More labor for your baker means more cash coming out of your wallet. That means if you're looking for fancy sugar-spun creations decorating your cake, you're out of luck on the budget front. However, if you're a little more flexible with your wedding cake decor, consider using real flowers instead of having your baker make them from frosting.

Not only does this look more stunning (in my humble opinion), it eliminates the guests' experience of having a weird mouthful of chalky frosting in their mouths when they take a bite of cake. Just make sure you're decorating with in-season flowers!

7. Choose simple flavors

Specialty cake flavors and frostings might seem to only add a nominal cost per slice, but trust me -- it can add up quickly! Keep costs low by opting for your baker's simpler flavors for your wedding cake, and limiting it to only 1-2 cake/frosting tastes.

If you must have that seasonal cake flavor your baker is offering, have them use it just for a smaller tier of the cake. That way, you'll still be able to enjoy it, but it won't eat up your cake budget.

8. Choose a simple pattern

I already mentioned this, but the more work your cake will take, the more you'll be paying. There are certainly ways to have a stunning cake while opting for simpler patterns. Think of going with small frosting dots or solid colored tiers instead of intricate frosted lace patterns.

9. DIY your cake topper

 Photo by  Sarah McKenzie

Okay, so your bakery probably won't provide you with a cake topper, but it's still a cost that's associated with your wedding cake! Keep it simple by DIYing your cake topper -- there are some super cute tutorials out there for brides, like this one or this one.

10. DIY part (or all!) of your dessert table

If you've got a friend or family member that's a wicked baker and enjoys making sweets, use them! This is a great option for budget brides, as it gives you more flexibility in choosing flavors and what your cakes/cupcakes/desserts will look like. Chances are, your friend will also love helping out. Just make sure you give them enough warning and a nice thank-you gift when all is said and done!

11. Do double duty: your wedding desserts could ALSO be guest favors!

Okay, so this isn't quite about saving money on your wedding cake, but it does help to eliminate the cost of your wedding favors! I'm a strong believer in the idea of not giving your guests junk (read: kitschy wedding favors) just because you feel like you have to. Giving your guests the option of taking a slice of cake or a bag of candy home is the perfect way to not only give them something sweet (literally!) at the end of the night, it ensures your dessert table will be entirely eaten at the end of the evening!

12. Ditch the cake altogether

Maybe you're not a cake person. Or, maybe you decide wedding cakes just aren't worth it after shopping around for the right price. Well, you're in luck because there's no wedding rule book that says you MUST have cake. I'm sure you've seen this on Pinterest already, but brides and grooms everywhere are getting creative and finding sweet treats for cake substitutes. Consider getting cupcakes, donuts, pies, or even less traditional sweets like pancakes for your wedding cake. Seeing as these aren't wedding speciality items, you'll probably be able to pick up enough sweets to feed your guests at a fraction of a wedding cake's cost.

For example a dozen donuts might set you back by about $15 -- if you're getting enough for your entire reception of 150 people, that'll set you back a little less than $200. Now that's a steal!

So there you have it brides -- the sweet, sweet ways you can save on that irritatingly expensive wedding cake. I'm lucky enough to have wonderful family members who volunteered to bake the majority of the sweet treats, and just have to worry about getting a small cake to cut for the reception.

What are you doing for your wedding desserts? Did you have any tricks for saving dollar bills on your wedding cake? Let us know in the comments!