The significance of having a wedding cake stretches far beyond the visual and culinary aspects. It is a cherished symbol in the tapestry of your wedding day celebrations. As you come together as newlyweds to cut the cake, it marks the inception of a shared journey, your first official act as a couple.
Beyond its symbolic meaning, the wedding cake also serves as the centrepiece of your wedding reception and is often the inviting segway between the evening's formalities and the dancefloor. Furthermore, the wedding cake provides a canvas for artistic expression, reflecting your unique style and personality.
Deciding how much to spend on your wedding cake, and this important moment of your special day, can be difficult. Ultimately it depends on your personal preferences, priorities, and budget. While a wedding cake holds significance in the celebration, it's essential to strike a healthy balance between its importance and your overall wedding expenses. To guide you in curating a budget for your wedding cake, we have enlisted the assistance of experienced cake artisan Jill-i-cious Cakes, and provided helpful tips for ensuring you choose the right wedding cake style for you.
So how much do wedding cakes cost in Australia in 2023?
10 key factors can influence the cost of a wedding cake:
The size of the cake, usually determined by the number of servings needed, will significantly impact the cost. Larger cakes with more tiers and servings will generally cost more.
Design and Complexity
Intricate and elaborate designs or decorations will require more time and skill to create, which can increase the cost. Custom designs, sugar flowers, hand-painted details, and other complex elements will add to the price.
The type and quality of ingredients used in the cake can affect the cost. Cakes made with premium ingredients, such as organic or locally sourced items, may be more expensive.
Cake Flavor and Fillings
Different flavours and fillings may have varying costs. Specialised or exotic flavours may cost more than standard options.
Special Dietary Requirements
If you have guests with specific dietary needs, like gluten-free, vegan, or nut-free, accommodating those requirements might add to the overall cost.
Season and Availability
Some ingredients or decorations may be more expensive or harder to find depending on the season or their availability.
Delivery and Set-Up:
If the cake needs to be delivered to the wedding venue and set up by the baker, there may be additional charges for transportation and labour.
Reputation and Experience of the Cake artisan
Well-established and highly reputed cake designers or bakeries might charge more for their expertise and experience.
The location of the bakery or cake designer can impact the cost, as prices may vary depending on the local cost of living and business overheads.
If you need the cake on short notice or during peak wedding seasons, rush orders may incur additional costs. Discussing your budget and preferences with the cake designer or bakery is essential to ensure you get a cake that aligns with your needs and fits within your budget. Requesting quotes from multiple vendors can also help you compare prices and make an informed decision.
The average price of a single-tier wedding cake in 2023
Size matters when it comes to pricing
The size of your wedding cake plays a significant role in determining its pricing. Larger cakes with more tiers and servings require more ingredients, time, and effort from the baker, leading to higher costs. Additionally, intricate designs or custom decorations on a larger cake may also add to the overall expense. Carefully consider your guest count and budget when deciding on the cake size. Balancing your desired design, the number of servings needed, and financial considerations will ensure a beautiful and appropriately sized wedding cake that fits your budget.
It’s the icing on the cake… literally!
Choosing between fondant and buttercream for your wedding cake is a decision that hinges on taste, aesthetics, and budget. Fondant offers a flawless, polished appearance, making it ideal for intricate designs and sharp edges. However, buttercream is favoured for its delectable taste, smooth texture, and guest-friendly appeal. Buttercream also tends to be more budget-friendly compared to fondant. Consider the wedding theme, weather conditions, and dietary preferences when choosing. Ultimately, both options can create a beautiful and delicious wedding cake; it boils down to your personal preferences and the overall vision for your special day.
A pricing guide for buttercream wedding cakes
Not fond of fondant? The five major advantages of Buttercream:
Buttercream has a rich, creamy, and smooth texture that adds a delightful taste to the cake. It can be flavoured in various ways, allowing couples to choose from options such as vanilla, chocolate, lemon, raspberry, and more.
Buttercream is incredibly versatile in terms of design and decoration. It can be easily coloured, piped, or smoothed to create different patterns, textures, and styles, making it suitable for various wedding themes and aesthetics.
Buttercream provides a soft and smooth texture, which many people find enjoyable. It pairs well with different cake types and can create a light and airy filling between cake layers.
Complements Cake Flavors
Buttercream enhances the flavour of the cake without overpowering it, allowing the cake's natural taste to shine through. This is particularly beneficial if you've chosen a delicious cake flavour that you want to be the show's star.
Rustic and Natural Look
For couples who prefer a more organic or rustic appearance, buttercream provides a natural and inviting look to the cake, especially when it's adorned with fresh flowers or other natural decorations.
Keep this in mind when choosing a buttercream cake:
Less Smooth Finish
Buttercream does not provide the same smooth and flawless finish as fondant. It may have visible imperfections, especially if not applied perfectly, which could be a concern for couples seeking a more polished look.
Buttercream is sensitive to temperature changes. In hot and humid weather, buttercream can soften and lose its shape, potentially causing the cake to look less appealing. It may also be challenging to keep buttercream cakes stable during outdoor summer weddings.
Limited Design Options
While buttercream is versatile, it may not be as suitable for extremely intricate or elaborate designs compared to fondant. Achieving intricate details or sharp edges may be more challenging with buttercream.
Smudging and Smearing
Due to its soft texture, buttercream can easily smudge or smear if touched, bumped, or brushed against, which could be a concern during cake transport and setup.
Shorter Shelf Life
Buttercream cakes generally have a shorter shelf life than fondant-covered cakes. They are best consumed within a few days of being made, whereas fondant-covered cakes can last longer.
A pricing guide for fondant wedding cakes
The five major, undeniable advantages of fondant
Smooth and Flawless Finish
Fondant provides a smooth and flawless finish to the cake, giving it a polished and elegant appearance. It creates a clean canvas for intricate designs and decorations.
Versatility in Design
Fondant allows for a wide range of design possibilities. It can be easily shaped, molded, and draped to create intricate patterns, 3D decorations, and lifelike sugar flowers. This versatility makes it suitable for various wedding themes and styles.
Fondant-covered cakes can achieve sharp, clean edges that are difficult to replicate with buttercream. This clean finish enhances the overall look of the cake.
Fondant is more temperature resistant than buttercream. It holds up well in different weather conditions, making it a suitable choice for both indoor and outdoor weddings, especially in hot and humid climates.
Easy to Paint and Add Details
Fondant provides a smooth surface that makes it easy to add intricate details, hand-painted designs, and metallic accents, allowing for a customized and artistic touch.
Before choosing a fondant cake, consider the following five things:
1. Taste and Texture
Fondant is made primarily from sugar and can have a sweet, sometimes artificial taste that not everyone enjoys. Some people find the texture of fondant to be too chewy or dense.
Fondant-covered cakes tend to be more expensive than buttercream cakes. The extra work and skill required to apply fondant increases its price. Using fondant requires skill and experience. It may result in an uneven or lumpy appearance if not appropriately applied, affecting the cake's overall presentation.
3. Limited Flavor Options
Fondant's sweet taste can overpower the cake's flavours, and it may not complement all types of cake equally well. Some couples may prefer a cake with a more pronounced flavour profile.
4. Cracking or Tearing
Fondant can be prone to cracking or tearing if not applied correctly or if the cake experiences any bumps or jolts during transport or setup.
Creating intricate fondant designs and decorations can be time-consuming. If you have a tight schedule or a last-minute request, there may be better options than fondant cakes.
Sheet cakes and how they can help stretch your budget:
A sheet cake at a wedding is a large, rectangular or square cake baked in a sheet pan and served alongside the main wedding cake. It is a practical and cost-effective option for providing additional servings to accommodate all guests without compromising the main wedding cake's overall design and presentation.
The five benefits of using a sheet cake on your wedding day:
Sheet cakes are generally more cost-effective compared to elaborate tiered wedding cakes. They are easier and quicker for bakers to assemble, requiring less intricate design work and decoration, which can help save on expenses.
2. Guest Count Flexibility
Sheet cakes can be easily adjusted to accommodate varying guest counts. If you have a large number of guests attending the wedding, sheet cakes allow you to provide enough servings without having to invest in a massive tiered cake.
3. Various Flavors
With sheet cakes, you can offer a variety of flavors and fillings for your guests to choose from. Instead of being limited to just one or two flavors in a tiered cake, you can have multiple flavor options to cater to different tastes.
4. Simple Serving
Cutting and serving sheet cakes is straightforward, making it easier for the catering staff to distribute slices efficiently among the guests.
5. Dietary Restrictions
If you have guests with specific dietary requirements (e.g., gluten-free, vegan), having separate sheet cakes can allow you to provide options that cater to their needs while still offering traditional cake options for others.
Can I have cupcakes instead of a wedding cake?
An alternative to a traditional wedding cake, these individual mini cakes can bring a charming and whimsical touch to your celebration, offering guests a personalized treat. Cupcakes are versatile, allowing various flavours to cater to diverse palates. They eliminate the need for cake cutting and serving, streamlining the process and minimizing waste. Additionally, cupcakes can be beautifully displayed on tiered stands or arranged in creative formations, enhancing the visual appeal of the dessert table. Their convenience, aesthetic appeal, and ability to accommodate varying dietary preferences are making cupcakes increasingly popular.
Good to know: If you are substituting your cupcakes for a wedding cake, cake artisans usually require a minimum spend or minimum amount of cupcakes.
Will the flavour affect my pricing?
The flavour of the wedding cake can affect the pricing. Generally, standard cake flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, or lemon are more cost-effective since they use more common ingredients and are easier to prepare. However, the cost may increase if you opt for more exotic or premium flavours, such as gourmet fruit fillings, custom-flavoured buttercreams, or speciality ingredients. These unique flavours often require more expensive components and additional preparation time, increasing pricing.
Five essential questions you need at ask your cake artisan before committing to a cake creation:
- How long have you been baking cakes, have you baked wedding cakes before?
- Have you experience working with my venue or other vendors (florist)?
- What is the cost of delivery to my venue?
- Do you have any reviews from past couples?
- Can you cater for my guests with dietary restrictions?
Details that matter, helpful answers to the ten most frequently asked questions when choosing a cake:
Should I sample the flavours of my cake before the wedding day?
Absolutely! Sampling the flavour of your wedding cake beforehand is essential. It allows you to ensure that you and your partner love the taste and helps avoid unwanted surprises on your special day. Don't leave it to chance; try before you buy to make your wedding cake experience memorable and delightful.
Will I need to provide a cake stand?
Cake artisans typically prefer to supply their own cake stand to ensure it complements the cake's design and size and can support the cake's weight. However, policies can vary, so discussing options with your chosen cake maker is essential to accommodate your preferences and budget.
Budgeting tip: Wedding cake-makers do not provide a cake knife or the table that the cake sits on, ensure your wedding venue will supply these items and avoid additional costs.
I want flowers on my cake, who will provide these?
If using fresh flowers, you will need to arrange for your florist to provide these. Your cake artisan will then arrange and wrap the stems in parafilm, if needed, before being mounted in your cake. Ensure you organise for ‘cake florals’ to be added to your florist's quotation, do not rely on there just being ‘extras’ or spares on the day.
What are some of the hidden costs I may need to be aware of?
Costs that are not included may be the purchase of unique stencils, specialised ingredients or specialist stands. Once you have finalised your vision ensure that your final quotation accounts for all the stages of production and all the elements required.
What is the biggest factor that could increase the price of my cake?
The time and intricacy of a cake design heavily influence its price. Intricate designs demand more skill, effort, and attention to detail, leading to longer production hours. As a result, cakes with complex decorations and structures are typically priced higher to reflect the increased labour and craftsmanship required.
When do I need to place my order for my wedding cake?
To secure your preferred cake artisan it is advisable to book up to 18 months in advance for peak days of the week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and seasons (Spring). For other days and times of the year between 9 -12 months is typically sufficient.
Where is my cake stored on my wedding day?
It is essential that your cake drop-off time and cake storage is coordinated by your venue to ensure that there is an adequate storage room in a cold room if required, or the reception space is set at an ambient temperature.
Can I keep the top tier of my wedding cake?
Keeping the top tier of your wedding cake is a tradition for some couples. If you choose to save your top-tier for a celebration down the track you will need to ensure it is a mudcake variety.
Is a faux wedding cake an option? Will it be much cheaper?
Using a faux wedding cake can be a practical option if you want an elaborate display without the cost of an entirely edible cake. However, consider guests' expectations and the traditional cake-cutting experience. If you choose a faux cake, have a separate sheet cake for serving guests. It depends on your priorities, budget, and the importance of the traditional cake-cutting experience.
Does my wedding cake have to be round? Can I have other shapes?
No, your wedding cake does not have to be round. There are various cake shapes to choose from, including square, rectangular, hexagonal, and even heart-shaped. Non-traditional shapes like ovals or petal-inspired designs are also options. The choice of shape depends on your preference and wedding theme. Bear in mind that cakes with angular shapes such as squares require more precision when icing and as a result can be more expensive.
Glossary of terms
Sweet sugary paste rolled out in large pieces which can be intricately shaped or placed over the entirety of the cake for a seamless finish. Due to its sugary nature fondant is often paired with a less sweet cake and is a great warmer weather option as it will hold its form for 6-10 hours without refrigeration.
Often suited to elegant or rustic designs buttercream frosting is made up of butter, powdered sugar and milk or cream. A more affordable option than fondant, it is also suited to indoor and outdoor receptions.
Swiss meringue buttercream
While more suited to cooler weather or indoor receptions Swiss Meringue Buttercream is not as sweet and is lighter than regular buttercream. It lends itself to smooth and glossy exterior finishes.
Cream cheese frosting
Creamy and smooth frosting often paired with spiced cakes or citrus cakes.
Equal parts of cream and chocolate (milk, dark or white) blended to make a rich and decadent frosting. Best suited to controlled temperature conditions. For a deluxe ganache insist on the best quality, Belgium chocolate being used.