A cheap wedding cake by no means has to look bad, taste bad, or be a disappointment to your guests. You can have the wedding of your dreams and save money on your wedding cake. It will still taste great, look beautiful, and be a stunning sight on your big day.
Transform a Boring Store Bought Cake into a Showstopper
Set a Budget
Before you start dreaming of your fairytale wedding cake, take a minute to look at your overall wedding budget, and decide how much you want to spend on the cake.
The average wedding cake costs $500 but considering that it's one of the biggest wedding money wasters, there's absolutely no reason that you need to spend that much.
Once you've decided how much you can spend on a wedding cake, take that amount and divide it by the number of your guests you expect. This will give you the price per slice dollar amount which is how much a slice of cake will cost you. Your goal is to not go over that amount.
One of the most important ways you can save money on a wedding cake is to find a great bakery that understands what you want and respects your budget. You'll want to ask lots of questions, find out the price per slice, and of course—one of the most fun wedding tasks you'll come across—taste all those cake options.
Try out several different bakeries so you can find which one you like best. Don't count out grocery store bakeries either, some do a wonderful job with wedding cakes and no one will know that you didn't go to a high-priced cake boutique.
Keep It Small
Most of the time, you'll be charged by the slice for wedding cakes, so it makes sense that getting a smaller cake with fewer slices is going to save you money.
Buying a smaller cake is easy if you're having an intimate wedding, but may be a problem if you're having a lot of guests. A great way to solve this is to have a small wedding cake on display and used for the cake cutting. Get inexpensive sheet cakes that can be kept behind the table or in the kitchen and then cut for your guests. If you're sneaky enough about it, no one will be the wiser.
The complexity of your wedding cake will send the price of it skyrocketing. Time-consuming tasks for the baker such as hand painting, edible gold, sugar flowers, and other intricate details will increase the cost of the cake.
Keeping your wedding cake simple will really help you keep the cost down. Simple cakes can be very elegant and lend themselves to go with just about every style. Consider a modern, clean-lined cake with different layers or the trendy naked cake. Both these styles really impress but don't cost a lot to create.
Fondant frosting on a wedding cake gives a smooth and neat appearance but increases the cost of the cake. Buttercream frosting isn't quite as smooth but it can still look polished if done right. Ask your bakery for photos of examples so you can see what the difference looks like coming from your baker. Buttercream frosting also tastes much better than fondant, which all the guests will appreciate.
Add Real Flowers
Forgo all the sugar flowers, and choose to add some of your wedding flowers instead. A simple cake design lends itself to being decorated with fresh flowers or even faux flowers if you choose. It looks modern, elegant, and goes with any style of wedding.
Making sugar flowers takes the baker time to make and you can get real flowers for cheaper than the extra cost for the cake.
Serve Smaller Slices
Another way to save money on a wedding cake is to serve smaller slices than usual. More casual weddings tend to serve cake slices that are about 2" thick but higher-end weddings serve thin slices, about 1" thick. Take it from the experts that a smaller piece of cake may actually look more impressive.
If you're worried about guests complaining about small slices of cake, serve some other desserts alongside, so guests have more options for sweets.
Also, be sure that whoever is cutting the cake knows how to do it to get the number of slices you need. Wilton has a cake cutting guide with all the details.
Forget About the Groom's Cake
If a groom's cake is a tradition where you live, don't be afraid to just forgo it. A whole other cake is an extra cost that probably no one will miss. If the groom really wants a cake of his own, consider having a talented friend or family member make a cake and serve it at the rehearsal.
Consider an Alternative
It's more common now than ever to serve something sweet that's not a wedding cake. Cupcake cakes have been very popular lately, like this one from Aisle Society, and the growing trend is to have something more unique, such as a dessert bar featuring pies, cookies, donuts, and just about anything else you can think of.
The guests will be so delighted by something they haven't seen before, they won't even notice that the cake is missing.