Wedding cakes don't need to be expensive or extravagant to look amazing and taste great. In fact, having a cheap wedding cake can free up money to use elsewhere in the budget.
How Much Is a Cheap Wedding Cake?
The price of a wedding cake depends on a number of factors, from your location, to flavor, to design choice. Additionally, what one person considers "cheap" may still be expensive to another. A good average cost, depending on how you're pricing the cake itself, is about $530 for a whole cake or just under $4 a slice. Therefore, anything below those numbers is a good deal -- and anything around half of that would likely be considered cheap by most people.
Where to Get Budget-Friendly Wedding Cakes
Don't sacrifice the cake if you truly want one just to save a few dollars. Instead, consider ideas for finding one that go beyond the boutique bakery and designer decorator.
Homemade Cake From Family or Friends
A "homemade" cake is usually made by a friend or family member of the bride or groom and provided in lieu of a wedding gift. Homemade cakes can be risky business unless the baker is a professional decorator, but you can't beat the price of a free cake. The amount of design and flavor input you'll have with a homemade cake can vary widely, depending on experience and skill level. To guard against any last-minute cake-baking catastrophes, have a backup dessert option ready to go if necessary and ask to taste samples of the cake and frosting recipes ahead of time.
DIY Wedding Cake
If you think you're up for making your own wedding cake, give it a try. The added responsibility of putting together and decorating a cake right before the big event actually helps some people stay calm and focus on the task at hand rather than feeling stress because of everything else that's happening. An even easier DIY option is buying a pre-made wedding cake from a big-box retailer or large grocery store, like cakes from Walmart, and embellishing the cake yourself. Add balls of white buttercream frosting, rose petals, edible flowers, homemade toppers, or fresh fruit.
Grocery Store Cakes
If you want to find a cheap wedding cake near you, the easiest place to look is your local grocery store. Grocery store wedding cakes may have limited flavors and designs, but what they lack in originality will be more than made up for in their savings. They generally taste good, and you can select from a select number of design options for a low cost.
Design and Size Matter
The bigger your cake, the more likely it is to cost more. Similarly, the more elaborate the wedding cake design, the more likely it is that you'll pay higher prices. Keep your designs simple and the size manageable to make the most of your cake budget.
Simple Cake Decorations and Flavors
It follows that the more special requests and details a cake has, the more expensive that cake will be. Therefore, keeping decorations simple can shave hundreds of dollars off a cake's final cost. In general, buttercream costs less than fondant or ganache, and basic flavors such as vanilla and chocolate cost less than fancier options. A tiered cake with vanilla buttercream and fresh flowers or simple frosting accents and borders won't take a decorator nearly as much time to complete as a custom design, so it will be far more affordable.
Multi-level tiered cakes almost always cost more than flat sheet cakes. Although they may not be as pretty to look at, sheet cakes can feed just as many people as taller cakes, and they can also feature many of the same decorations for a fraction of the cost. If you're having a large wedding and can't stand the thought of displaying a sheet cake at your reception, consider ordering a small, simple tiered cake for presentation purposes and for the wedding party. For the rest of the guests, ask the baker to make a sheet cake or two from the same recipe. Most guests won't care that they're not eating the tiered cake as long as their slice tastes the same.
Small Cakes or Cupcakes
While the price for one large cake can be staggering, the quote for cupcakes or a group of small wedding cakes is usually much friendlier. Using small cakes at a reception can actually be more advantageous than serving slices of a huge wedding cake because it allows couples a chance to experiment with more flavors and decoration styles. Wedding cupcakes also have a leg up over the competition because they're self-serve, eliminating any potential plating, cutting, or serving fees.
How to Save Even More Money on Your Cake
Flavor, size, baker skill, and design all factor into the cost of your cake. Save even more with these ideas:
- Buy a plain cake from a bakery and add your own wedding cake topper.
- Slice cake into smaller sizes than recommended to stretch the cake serving numbers.
- Consider buying a cake from a licensed home baker rather than a traditional bake shop.
- Purchase a simple cake through your catering service rather than outsourcing to a designer bakery.
- Look for a baker whose "secret ingredient" is boxed cake mixes; s/he will likely charge far less than cakes made from scratch.
- Skip buying or renting a wedding cake stand; instead, borrow from family or friends.
- Pick up the cake yourself and see if you can save on delivery and set up fees.
- Decorate the cake display table rather than spending money on extravagant cake designs.
- If plating and serving are included in your catering, have the kitchen slice and serve one piece to each guest, eliminating waste.
Pretty Yet Inexpensive Wedding Cakes
Cutting cake costs can help keep the overall wedding budget in line while still providing a traditional dessert for the bridal party and guests. With a little imagination, you can have a lovely cake and still stay within your wedding budget.