Wedding Planning Guide

wedding cake ideas

Everything you need to know to get the wedding cake of your dreams.

When it comes to wedding planning, few decisions will be as fun (and delicious!) as choosing your wedding cake. After all, what’s better than spending the afternoon with your fiancé sampling slice after slice of cake? But before you pick up your fork, first things first: Check out our roundup of beautiful wedding cake ideas to get inspired for your own confection. Then, follow our guide below to make sure you get the wedding cake of your dreams.


Looking for some unique wedding cake ideas and inspiration? You've come to the right place. We've rounded up our favorite wedding confections, from simple wedding cake ideas that are elegant and understated to floral wedding cakes that would complement any wedding style.

If you're planning a rustic wedding, we love the idea of drawing inspiration for your dessert from your setting. One of our favorite rustic cakes is decorated with fondant icing to resemble the couple's initials carved into a tree (such a unique wedding cake design!). We've also got some all-white wedding cake ideas if you prefer a more minimal look, as well as a few non-cake ideas (wheels of cheese, anyone?) if you're just not a fan of cake! Keep reading for more unique wedding cake designs below.

1. Botanical Inspired

This elegant confection was inspired by a Minted wedding invitation, believe it or not. The invite, Botanical Name Plate" by Shiny Penny Studio, features a sprig of greenery and berries on the design, which was recreated entirely from sugar by the bakery Nine Cakes.

Photo: Judy Pak | Cake: Nine Cakes

2. Buttercream Flowers

The beautiful hand-piped buttercream flowers are designed to resemble embroidery or brocade.

Photo: Shannon Moffit
Cake: Buttercream Bake Shop

3. Cookie Cake

Not a fan of cake? Buck tradition and opt for a stack of your favorite cookies, instead. Seperate the cookies with layers of frosting for a tasty finish.

Photo: Natalie Bray
Cookie cake: Great Dane Bakery

4. Simple & Minimalist

If your wedding style is clean and minimalist, we love this chic confection featuring square cake tiers on Lucite boxes filled with white tulips.

5. Pretty Pastels

The Impressionist-inspired cake tiers are decorated with buttercream in a delicate, soft-blue hue. A pretty cascade of fresh ranunculuses, anemones, tweedia, and greenery completes the look.

6. Citrus Splash

This colorful wedding cake is a pocketful of sunshine, inspired by Minted's "Spring Blooms" wedding invitation by Susan Moyal. The wafer-paper sugar flowers and gumpaste lemons make this confection perfect for a spring or summer celebration.

Photo: Judy Pak | Cake: Nine Cakes

7. White Ruffles

This is such an elegant wedding cake, with its crisp-white fondant tiers decorated with delicate fondant ruffles edged in gold.

8. Sugar Flower Spray

The extra-tall bottom tier is a modern take on a stacked wedding cake. And the vibrant spray of flowers, berries, and greenery? They're almost too pretty to eat!

Photo: Molly Carr | Cake: Sweet Fix

9. Classic & Timeless

If you're looking for wedding cake inspiration that won't look dated, look no further than this elegant three-tier confection with a simple sprig of sugar flowers and greenery, finished with a chic silk bow.

10. Dark and Dramatic

For a more dramatic wedding dessert, go dark. This modern, square-shaped confection was inspired by Minted's "Starcrossed" wedding invitation by Ashley Hegarty. The sleek, charcoal-grey fondant tiers are decorated with criss-cross lines to match the invitation design.

Photo: Judy Pak | Cake: Nine Cakes

11. Gilded Blooms

We're loving this creative take on a floral wedding cake, with the blooms outlined in gold icing.

12. Pressed Flowers

Hand-pressed flowers are arranged in a beautiful cascade across this frosted, three-tier wedding cake.

13. Simple Greenery

This all-white wedding cake is simply decorated with a few delicate trails of fresh jasmine vines.

Photo: Judy Pak | Cake: Nine Cakes

14. Pops of Pink

The cluster of bright-pink sugar flowers, inspired by the bright blooms on a floral Minted invitation ("Enchanting Plum" by Phrosne Ras), really pop against the moody, plum-grey fondant-covered tiers.

Photo: Judy Pak | Cake: Nine Cakes

15. Partially Frosted

Part of the charm of a "naked" wedding cake is the more casual, homespun look of the partially frosted tiers. It's as if you baked the dessert at home and decorated it with greenery you picked in the backyard. This wedding cake idea is a great fit if you have a more rustic or boho-themed wedding.

Photo: Teneil Kable | Cake: The Cake & I

16. Modern & Square

This wedding cake may be simple but it has some major wow factor. The crisp, square cake tiers are edged in copper and topped with a cluster of sugar leaves and lunaria.

Photo: Tiarra Sorte | Cake: Baked Seattle

17. Black & White Minimalist

Instead of a single cake, why not opt for two? This delicious duo, inspired by Minted's "Someone Like You" invitation by Design Lotus, features the couple's wedding vows in icing on the tiers.

Photo: Minted | Cake: Knead to Make

18. Vintage Florals

Rosy, copper-colored cake tiers are an elegant alternative to white, while the beautiful sugar appliques are designed to resemble an antique brooch.

19. Winter Wonder

Having a winter wedding? Work with your cake designer to create a confection that captures the magical wintry setting, complete with mountain peaks, flora, and fauna all fashioned from chocolate.

Photo: Miss Gen | Cake: Lucie Bennett

20. Floral Monogram

Elegant and intricate, these hand-painted peonies resemble blue-and-white porcelain. Topping it off is an elegant monogrammed crest with the newlyweds' married monogram.

21. Faux Bois

This adorable confection is designed to look like a tree with the two lovebirds' initials carved into the trunk.

Photo: The Grovers
Cake: Cake Sensations

22. Agate-Inspired

Look to nature for your wedding cake inspiration. Case in point: this geology-themed confection, modeled after this "Simple Agate" wedding invitation by Petra Kern. As far as wedding cake ideas go, matching your cake design with your wedding invitation can have a very dramatic and memorable effect.

Photo: Minted | Cake: Knead to Make

23. All-White and Asymmetrical

This three-tier, right-aligned wedding confection is frosted in Italian buttercream and decorated with simple beads of white icing.

24. Hand-painted Florals

Pretty, hand-painted florals are paired with the couple monogram to create a charming wedding dessert.

25. Cheese "Cake"

Skip the dessert course entirely and serve wheels of your favorite cheese, instead. Pair the cheeses with assorted crackers and fruit for a delicious final course.

26. Modern Marble

We love a chic mix-and-match look. These marble, hexagon-shaped tiers combine beautifully with a single jet-black tier decorated with a gilded geometric pattern.

27. Cherry Blossoms

The perfect confection for a spring wedding, featuring a stunning cascade of sugar cherry blossoms affixed to pale-pink tiers. This would be a unique wedding cake design if you were getting married in Washington DC or Japan during their popular cherry blossom festivals.


1. Book your baker at least six months in advance.

Ideally, you should order the cake at least six months before the wedding, even earlier if you want to book an in-demand pro. Some bakers’ schedules start filling up a year in advance. Keep in mind, though, that it is best to start thinking about your wedding cake after you’ve chosen your reception venue and decided on the overall style of your wedding. Details like the venue’s architecture or the lace details on your wedding dress can help inform the design of your wedding confection.

2. Hire the right cake pro.

Where do you begin your baker search? Word of mouth is always the most effective route. Ask recently married friends and family members for recommendations. Your wedding vendors (planners, venue managers, caterers, photographers) will likely have favorites, as well. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few potential bakers, browse their online portfolios as well as their social media channels to get an idea of their design style. Some bakeries specialize in elaborately decorated fondant-covered confections while others focus on simpler, more rustic wedding cakes. One isn’t better than the other; you just want to choose a baker whose style matches your overall wedding vision.

3. Collect inspiration photos.

Start a Pinterest board and begin saving cake inspiration photos. Think about how the cake design will complement the aesthetic of your celebration. Is your wedding formal? You might want a confection that’s similarly impressive and grand. Hosting your reception in an outdoor garden? A cake decorated with flowers (either fresh blooms or ones sculpted from sugar) would complement the setting nicely. Once you’ve gathered some favorite inspiration photos, discuss your ideas with your cake designer. He or she will be able to tell you what’s realistic and within your budget. They may be able to recommend some simple wedding cake ideas you may not have originally considered.

4. Choose your flavors.

Besides being an eye-catching focal point at the reception, your cake should taste amazing too. Schedule a tasting session with your baker to sample cake and filling flavors, and don’t be afraid to stray from chocolate and vanilla. Decide on two flavors—three, max. Any more can be confusing for servers and guests.

5. Put it in writing.

Once you've decided on the design and flavors, make sure everything is detailed in the contract along with the fee for the cake. Like caterers, bakers typically charge per person. Catering halls may charge their own per-slice cake-cutting fee if the cake does not come from them. It’s also important to discuss delivery details and coordination. For example, if you want to decorate your cake with fresh flowers, find out if the cake designer will coordinate with your florist, or if you are responsible for the blooms. If the florist agrees to take care of it, will she place them on the cake once the dessert is delivered? Or does the cake designer prefer to do that? Get those details ironed out and in writing.


Though there are a myriad of cake-decoration techniques and icing options (meringue, ganache, and marzipan, to name a few), for the most part, there are three types of wedding cakes that are the most popular. They each feature a different frosting technique, which we’ve outlined below.

1. Fondant Wedding Cakes

Rolled out and draped over cake tiers, fondant (a pliable Play-Doh-like icing) has a super smooth surface that makes it a perfect canvas for a variety of cake decorations and techniques, such as stenciling, appliques, and hand-painting. An added bonus is that the stable consistency means it stands up to warm weather conditions. Fondant gets a bad rap because it’s sometimes overly sweet and can have a chewy texture causing some people to simply peel off the fondant and just eat the cake underneath. But you can have the best of both worlds by frosting the cake in buttercream first and then adding a layer of fondant over the entire confection.

2. Buttercream Wedding Cakes

Buttercream is made from combining sugar and butter to create a softer, more spreadable frosting. Buttercream keeps the cake layers moist and can be piped or spread smoothly, though the frosting will not look as smooth or finished as fondant. Also, buttercream is prone to melting in warm weather, so if you’re planning an outdoor reception in the summer, then consider displaying the buttercream-frosted cake indoors or opt for fondant instead.

3. "Naked" (a.k.a "Partially Frosted") Wedding Cakes

A "naked" cake refers to an unfrosted or partially frosted wedding cake, where multiple cake layers are sandwiched between buttercream and then stacked without fondant or frosting on the exterior. This leaves the cake layers exposed, which gives the wedding dessert a delicious, more homespun look. Finish it off by adding fresh flowers, greenery, or even fresh fruit to the tiers. Naked wedding cakes are a unique, casual alternative to a traditional wedding cake, especially for those looking for a more unfussy option for the final course.

Photo: Jemma Keech


How much does the average wedding cake cost?

Most cake designers and bakeries price wedding cakes by the slice/serving. The price-per-slice range varies widely and can be anywhere from $1.50 to $15 a slice. That price is usually determined by the complexity of the cake design and the amount of labor required to bake, construct, and decorate the confection. So, the larger and more elaborate a wedding cake is, the higher the cost. Your flavor choices likely won't have an impact on your wedding cake's price. However, some bakeries might charge an additional fee for custom flavors.

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What are popular wedding cake flavors?

It's important that your cake tastes as good as it looks. Here are some delicious and most popular wedding cake flavors to consider:

Tried-and-true flavor combinations:

  • Vanilla cake + vanilla buttercream
  • Vanilla cake + raspberry filling + pastry cream
  • Chocolate cake + chocolate fudge buttercream
  • Funfetti
  • Lemon cake + raspberry mousse
  • Almond cake + raspberry filling
  • Vanilla and chocolate cake + salted caramel buttercream + raspberry ganache filling
  • Cinnamon spice cake + maple buttercream
  • Carrot cake + pineapple & coconut cream cheese frosting
  • Vanilla and chocolate cake + cappuccino mousse + chocolate ganache
  • Red velvet cake + cream cheese frosting
  • Almond cake + chocolate hazelnut buttercream + toasted almonds

Out-of-the-box flavor combinations:

  • Almond cardamom cake + strawberry ginger buttercream
  • Banana cake + peanut butter filling + chocolate ganache
  • Vanilla cake + passion fruit filling + coconut cream cheese frosting
  • Chocolate cake + toasted marshmallow filling + graham cracker buttercream
  • Gingerbread cake + lemon curd + cream cheese frosting
  • Toasted pistachio butter cake + vanilla buttercream + honey
  • Vanilla cake + strawberry preserves + peanut butter buttercream

What do you write on a wedding cake?

Wedding cakes don’t usually have writing on them but you could work with your cake designer to incorporate one of these creative ideas:

  • Your names
  • Monogram
  • Wedding date
  • Favorite quote
  • Brief excerpt from your wedding vows

What are some wedding cake traditions?

The last course of the night comes with a lot of age-old traditions. Here are the most popular wedding cake traditions that you and your partner can include in your celebration.

  • Cutting the cake: These days, it's traditional for both partners to share in the cake-cutting ritual. They will typically joins hands around the cake knife and cut the first slice together.
  • Feeding the cake: Some couples embrace the tradition of smashing the first bite of cake in each other's faces. Others prefer to simply feed their partner a bite of cake on a fork, sometimes interlocking arms for a sweet photo opp. Whatever you choose, be sure to have some extra napkins on hand, just in case someone decides to go rogue with a surprise cake smash.
  • Saving the top tier: This tradition dates back to the 19th century, when couples saved the top tier of the wedding cake to celebrate the christening of their first child. These days, couples save the top tier or just a slice to enjoy on their first wedding anniversary. Pro tip: The cake will last for about one year in the freezer. Be sure to remove all flowers, leaves, and other cake decorations, first. Then wrap it tightly in plastic cling wrap and store the cake in an airtight container to avoid freezer burn. Or, plan a return visit to your cake baker and have them make a small cake with the same flavors to enjoy on your first anniversary.

What are some cake topper ideas?

Top off your wedding dessert with a beautiful and festive cake topper. Here are some of our favorite cake topper ideas:

  • Fresh flowers
  • Sugar flowers
  • Topper with your names, initials, or monogram
  • Topper with your wedding date
  • Figurines in your likenesses
  • Figurines of your pets
  • Pair of shells or sea stars for a beach wedding
  • Pair of pine cones
  • Polaroid photos of each of you
  • Topper with a sweet phrase like "Best day ever!" or "Love is sweet"

40 Wedding Cake Topper Ideas