During the early stages of wedding planning, you’ll probably set at least a ballpark budget for each element of your wedding. Even if you’re just starting to plan, you’ll definitely have an idea in your head of how much you’d be willing to spend. But how much does a wedding cake cost, and what can you expect for your budget?
Well, the wedding cake cost can vary significantly, depending on so many different factors. Although you might think that the number of servings will play a large part, realistically, adding an extra tier of cake or switching to the next size up will only add a proportionately small additional cost. The biggest differences affecting the wedding cake cost will come from different bakers, their ingredient costs, skill level, location relative to venue, running costs and most importantly, your design. I thought it would be helpful to compare some of the different budget ranges when it comes to wedding cakes, and see what you can get for them. Although there’s no ‘standard’ cake size, let’s assume you need to serve about 80-100 people, with 1” x 1” slices (if using a professional baker), with the cake being delivered up to 15 minutes to the venue.
Lowest Wedding Cake Cost: £75
There are two quite different options in the lowest budget range: using standard supermarket/high street celebration cakes and making your own wedding cake (or having a family member do it).
1. Using the supermarket’s ‘best quality’ sponge cakes, designed for afternoon tea with your friends, you could serve 100 guests for under £50. It doesn’t compare to a homemade cake by any stretch, and is filled with preservatives and additives, but if that’s not a concern to you, it’s a really cost effective way of feeding lots of guests with a tasty cake. As each cake only serves about 6 people, you could also go really wild with flavours, and mix and match from the different options they have (vanilla, chocolate, lemon, coffee, carrot). Even with their off-the-shelf party cake options, you could feed everyone for under £75, and have a fun themed cake to match your personality and wedding (roses, rainbows, animals, superheroes). If you’re really looking to save on your wedding cake cost, cupcakes are the cheapest option from the supermarket, and you can still have a larger cake to cut.
2. The other option in the under £75 range is to have a homemade cake. Either made yourself or by a family member. This definitely isn’t the cheapest option, despite most people’s assumptions, but it often lends a really personal touch for couples. Once you’ve purchased all of the ingredients, fillings and boards that you’ll need to make the cake, as well as some decorations, the wedding cake cost will start mounting up. Another thing to think about is that although this option is cheapest in terms of money you have to pay out, it can be quite a stressful job for you or other family members leading up to and on the big day, and it’s quite a big favour to ask someone. But if someone has offered and you trust them to do it, it will be a really special part of the wedding.
Lowest Mid Wedding Cake Cost: £75 – £300
In this budget range, there’s actually quite a few different options, from supermarkets to hobby and professional bakers. This category is also still below Bridebook’s average wedding cake cost for 2019, with most couples spending £331.
1. A made-to-order, luxury supermarket wedding cake. Although these vary across almost the entire budget range, this means you have lots of flexibility on wedding cake cost. At the lower end is a very famous his and hers chocolate caterpillar cake, stretching to a more heavily decorated luxury white cake at the higher end. With multiple flavour choices and the reliability of a trusted high street brand, these are a really good option. However, they are not without their problems, and there have been a few stories of brides let down by stores. The only guaranteed downside is that you have to deliver them yourself, and often you need to stack them too. So just think about whether you need the added stress on your wedding day. Or even better, maybe it’s a job that you can delegate to a member of the wedding party or family?
2. Wedding cake from a ‘hobby’ baker or someone starting out. A ‘hobby baker’ (as I see it) is someone who is registered with the council (i.e. has a food hygiene rating) and follows all appropriate laws regarding food hygiene and selling their services (i.e. registers their income with HMRC). They may not make many cakes every year, and do not charge as much as professional bakers (although some of them certainly should!). This does not include bakers who are not registered and don’t log their income with HMRC – I definitely don’t advocate someone who operates like this (friends and family don’t fall into this group). Hobby and new bakers often just take on cakes they feel confident making or would enjoy making, so they tend to charge less. Like everything else, have a really good chat with them, get to know them, taste their cake and look at their work, and if you’re happy, agree on a price with them. You can’t expect a cake that will rival some of the most expensive London bakers, but you can expect a cake that has been lovingly made and looks good, but maybe with a few slight imperfections. They’re perfectly imperfect.
3. Cupcakes from a professional baker is the final option in this category, falling at the higher end of the price budget. They might be at the higher end, but there are so many reasons why they are worth the extra wedding cake cost. They will be baked, just for you, in the flavours of your choice (often more than is available from hobby bakers or supermarkets, and they will be beautifully decorated, in whatever design you choose. On the day, they will be delivered to the venue and set up, with no effort required from you. This is arguably the most cost effective way to get a professional quality wedding cake.
Higher Mid Wedding Cake Cost: £300 – £750
I did say that the wedding cake cost can vary significantly! Within the middle bracket are professional cake makers, ranging from very good to phenomenal. You are almost guaranteed a very well finished cake, that is structurally sound, delivered to the venue and set up for you, with no hassle. These cake makers will come recommended by venues who have worked with them in the past, who know they are reliable and will leave couples and guests happy. At the lower end of the price range, you often find buttercream cakes, followed closely by naked or semi-naked cakes, costing in the £300-500 bracket. Fondant cakes are much more expensive because they take so much work, stretching up to approx. the £750 mark. In this category, you’ll also find some off-the-shelf options from some of the well-known, higher end cake studios. They won’t be very customisable, if at all, but they should be every bit perfect and flavourful.
High End Wedding Cake Cost: £750 – £10,000+
Finally, you will know of some of the most luxurious wedding cake makers in the UK from royal weddings and trending cake styles. Although every studio will price differently, these are the kind of places where you don’t worry about the wedding cake cost, but know they will create a masterpiece that you could never have dreamt of in your wildest dreams. From 3 tier flower adorned simple beauties to 10 tier heavily decorated masterpieces, the journey and final cake from a luxury cake studio should be phenomenal.
When it comes down to wedding cake cost, there is no right or wrong budget that you should set. It’s completely up to you and your partner. How important is the cake to you? Do you want a cake that will be delicious, and wow guests because it’s been beautifully made and suits you and your wedding perfectly? If so, you’re probably going to have to invest a bit more money in the budget. If you and your partner just want something sweet for your guests to enjoy on the day, and it’s not important that it matches your theme or is a particular flavour, then you can definitely make some ‘smart swaps’ and find an option at the lower end of the scale. Whatever you choose, I hope you and your guests love it!
Good luck and happy planning!