How Much Will Your Wedding Cake Cost in 2018?

Wedding cakes with buttercream flourishes and adorned with detailed icing and beautiful ribbons and blossoms are what brides dream about, but the fact is these Instagram worthy confections will definitely command a higher price than one provided by your friendly neighborhood bakery. While it’s generally considered one of the least expensive items you’ll have at your wedding,the costs can quickly escalate the fancier you go. Also, with the popularity of shows like Cake Boss and fabulous ideas available on Pinterest and available online, it is no doubt that wedding cake costs are rising.

According to the many quotes provided by bakeries and cake designers nationwide within the last 12 months, couples in the United States can expect to pay an average of $598 for their wedding cake in 2018, which is roughly and average of 1.9% of their total wedding budget. Keep in mind that areas like Miami, Napa California, and New York City cakes can run well over $1000. In terms of cost, thisgenerally ranks number 13 in terms of cost behind limousine rentals and ahead of buying wedding invitations. A complete breakdown of average wedding costs for all services in your area can be reviewed here.

Factors that can affect how much you will pay can include what city you live in, the demand for that cake designer’s service, how many slices you will need, and what kind of design you want. Don’t worry, shown below are lots of ways to slice your costs so that you can still get your dream wedding cake without breaking the bank!

2018 City and State Averages

Depending on the city or state you live will very much affect how much a couple will expect to pay for their wedding cake. Shown below are the average costs for wedding cakesin select cities and across every state over the past 9-12 months. How does your area compare?*NOTE: The amounts appearing below are updated throughout the year.

The Average Cost of Wedding Cakes by State

StatesAverage Cost
District of Columbia$701
New Hampshire$631
New Jersey$785
New Mexico$475
New York$709
North Carolina$530
North Dakota$481
Rhode Island$654
South Carolina$549
South Dakota$454
West Virginia$486

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What is Included?

As you beginimagining your cake, you should always remember is that the majority of the cost will be taken up by the labor involved in making the cake (such as all the time involved in designing, baking, assembling, frosting, icing, and most of all adding the details) and not the cost of the ingredients. The final shape and size will also impact the bottom line in cost.

Before you visit your selected bakeries and cake designers, you should already have a good sense of both what your budget will be as well as the type of design you are interested in. Note that the cost for a wedding cake is calculated PER SLICE and not PER CAKE. Each bakery has its own pricing strategy, although bakers will usually consider the following when pricing out your order:

  • The size of the cake

  • How many tiers

  • What kind of filling

  • What kind of frosting

  • How much custom design is needed

  • Challenges included in delivery

As all wedding cakes are not created equal, you will need to determine what is important to you that also fits within your budget. Remember that much of the cost involves the cake designer’s time and labor.

  • Ingredients: Bakeries that bake from scratch and use high quality local organic ingredients will be more expensive. For cakes that do not source organic ingredients, prices are much lower per person. Usually, lower pricing can also be associated with buttercream frosting and a more basic style cake that has piping.Fondant icing is generally more expensive than buttercream.

  • Complexity of cake design: Couples that opt for a more elaborate cake can also expect to pay much more. There is no such thing as being off limits as far as cake designs go; some have elaborate molded shapes,vibrant watercolordesigns, elaborate sugar flower detailing, and extensive amount of dècor.

  • Experience: Established cake artists that are experienced in baking, constructing and delivering tiered cakes in cooled vans to all the local venues will cost more than Costco, a local discount baker, or the bakery at your grocery store.

Key Points to remember:

  • In 2018, the average cost for a wedding cake is 1.9% of a couple’s total budget, which is currently around $598 for the average US couple.

  • Final cost is dependent on what city you live in, how complex your cake design is, the level of demand for your selected bakery or cake artist, their experience, the quality of ingredients used in making the wedding cake, and more.

  • Pricing is always determined by the number of slices needed, not by type of cake.

  • Remember that there will also likely be a delivery charge added to the final cost, depending on distance, the time needed to make the delivery, lack of parking, challenges with moving inside venue itself, etc.

Tips on Saving Money on Your Wedding Cake

Now that you know what is involved with wedding cake costs, here are some great tips on how you can save money and stay within your budget but still get the awesome design you want:

  • Unusual shapes will cost more, so stick with square and round shapes. A square cake will also usually feed more guests, since it’s easier to cut it in a grid pattern and get a larger number of servings from each tier.

  • Sheet cakes are a great way to enhance the number of cake servings. Have a smaller wedding cake for display and to feed the bride, groom, and wedding party, then have sheet cake to feed the guests. Sheet cakes are made by the same bakery as your wedding cake, but without the elaborate frosting and decorations. They are kept in the kitchen and are brought out to the guests by the catering staff. As there is minimal labor involved in creating a sheet cake, they cost much less per serving then a tiered cake.

  • Buttercream frostings will likely cost up to 30% less than fondant because of the additional labor involved in preparing and working with fondant.

  • Decorations make a big difference in the per-slice cost. Fresh flowers, chocolate covered berries and lavender are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to decorate a cake.

  • Chocolate, vanilla, and lemon cakes will usually cost less than flavors such as red velvet. Also, vanilla or raspberry buttercream costs less than cream cheese or chocolate hazelnut cream.

  • As guests usually leave slices half eaten anyways, try ordering a smaller wedding cake and serving ‘half-servings’ to your guests.

  • To eliminate cake cutting and delivery fees, check to see whether your caterer can also serve as your cake baker. You might be able to also negotiate a discount by doing this.

  • If you don’t have the budget for a multi-tiered wedding cake but still love how impressive it looks, simply request your cake designer to make a single tier of cake and place it on the top of fake tiers covered with icing. You will cut the real tier for the picturesthen have the staff cut and serve sheet cake to the guests.

  • If you are on a strict budget, try looking for a wedding cake baker that is new to the business or needs a great recommendation in exchange for a price break.

  • You can opt out of having a traditional wedding cake in favor of dessert bars or even a pie station.

  • Statistically, it’s safe to assume that around twenty percent of your guests are going to pass on eating your wedding cake, so make less slices instead of throwing it away.

  • Save around 10 percent by having guests get their cake from a cake-slicing station instead of serving it to them.

  • Create a deconstructed cake. Since many bakers charge a fee for stacking cake layers, displaying each tier side by side on multiple pedestals will remove the cost of your baker assembling a single tiered cake and decorating it.

  • Negotiate with your caterer or reception site to remove the cake cutting fee from your agreement. This can save you between $1 and $7 PER SLICE.

  • Cover your cake with inexpensive and easy to apply icing dots, which are easy to apply. Done properly, it will look like strings of elegant pearls adorning your cake.

  • If you opt for sugar paste flowers, remember that larger ones will cost less AND look more impressive. Smaller and more detailed designs such as stephanotis will cost more.

  • It only takes a moment for your baker to use ribbon as a decoration to encircle the layers of your cake. You can also affix a crystal brooch to the front of a ribbon wrap for sparkle.

Remember that both you and your selected cake designer are invested in the process and want the best possible result for your big day. Respect their time and artistry while negotiating for the best possible price that you both can live with, and remember to leave them a great review after your wedding to help them gain future clients!

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