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A Guide to Wedding Cakes


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You have no doubt gone through all of the wedding magazines you could get your hands on.  You’ve looked at hundreds of pictures of cakes.  Now, what is it going to cost you?  Well that depends on how elaborate you would like to get.  You must realize that many hours can go into creating the fantastic cakes you will see on ‘WETV” and that costs money.  The cost of your cake will be determined by the type of icing, how the cake is decorated, and the size of the cake.  The number of servings will determine the number of tiers you’ll need.

Before you run around like a maniac, you should by now know whether your reception venue provides a cake.  If so, then this is one thing you may not have to worry about.

ADVICE:  Make sure you taste the cake from your reception vendor if they provide it.

Why? What if you don’t like it?  If you don’t want their cake, see if they will give you a credit on the cake and find your own.

Make sure you will not be charged an extra cake cutting fee though. I hate that fee.

Also, if you are providing the cake to a reception hall venue, for example at a hotel, they may require that the person making the cake holds a State Food license. Make sure you check on that, you would hate the day of the wedding to find out and not be able to serve your cake.

Let’s talk Cake.

Icing – Frosting, what is the difference?  Is there a difference?  What is fondant anyway?  Ganache, what’s a ganache?

There is no difference.  Icing and frosting are two words used for the same thing, it just depends on what part of the country you are in.  In the South, they call it icing.  No one “frosts” their cakes down south; they “ice” them.  We northerners “frost” our cakes.
  1. Frosting/Icing The more labor intensive the more expensive it will be.

You will have the choice of: fondant, marzipan, royal frosting (icing for you southerners), chocolate ganache, and flavored buttercream.

  • Fondant is a paste made of sugar and water. This paste is rolled and flattened then placed on top of a cake previously frosted in order for the fondant to “glue” itself to it. Fondant is a thick chewy form of frosting.
  • Fondant and marzipan are the most expensive, because of the labor involved in rolling it to a perfectly smooth surface.
  • Marzipan is an almond and sugar paste used to ice cakes and other pastries or sculpted into a variety of shapes.  It can also be eaten as candy as well as used for cake decorations.
  • Royal icing is a hard white frosting, made from softly beaten egg whites, powdered sugar, and sometimes lemon or lime juice.  It can be used either as a smooth covering or it can be used to create decorative flowers or other decor.  Royal icing can be piped into shapes which are then allowed to harden.  They can then be arranged to create edible decor on your cake.
  • Ganache is a rich mixture of chocolate and cream which can be used as a frosting or filling.  Depending on the intended use, different ratios of chocolate to cream are used, to create anything from a light glaze to a creamier frosting consistency.  It is very rich.
  • Buttercream is the simplest type of frosting.  It is made by creaming butter with powdered sugar, although other fats can be used, such as margarine, shortening, or lard.   It is then flavored with a variety of options. CAUTION:  Outside wedding in August?  Buttercream melts so be careful.

2. Cake Decorating  The more labor intensive, the more expensive it will be.

  • Your cake decorations will depend on the type of frosting you pick.  Rolled fondant allows for amazing decorating because the surface is smooth.
  • Buttercream, the best choice for decorations of fresh or silk flowers.  When you use buttercream the cake is decorated with patterns or swirls.  You will often see decorative satin ribbons around each tier.  Caution:  buttercream is delicious (my favorite) but it melts.  Ask me about the tent wedding in July and the cake melting incident.  I felt so bad for the girl delivering that cake.  Buttercream will not stand the heat.

Things you should ask the Baker:

  1. Will you do a custom wedding cake, or are there a set number of designs for us to choose from?’
  2. How adaptable are wedding cake designs, especially due to budget concerns?
  3. Do you have or can you rent items like cake toppers, stands, tiers, fountains, and cutters?  Will we be billed extra?
  4. If I want to use fresh flowers on my cake, will you coordinate with my florist, or will I have to manage getting the flowers to you?
  5. What ingredients do you typically use?  What kind of icing do you use?
    (Better ingredients will cost more, but will make the cake taste better)
  6. How long before our wedding are the cakes prepared?  How long does it take to make a cake?
    (The closer to your wedding that the cake is prepared, the better it will taste. BUT, anyone who tells you that they can bake a wedding cake in a day is not telling you the truth, or isn’t being realistic.  Due to the complicated nature of wedding cakes, they usually take between three and five days. )
  7. Are your wedding cakes priced by the slice?  Is there an extra cost for special fillings or details?  Will you charge extra for my design?  Is there a price list I can take home with me to study?
  8. Can you give me a written proposal I can take home?
  9. Do you do deliver?  How much does it cost?  Will the delivery person be able to make emergency frosting or decoration repairs and arrange the cake table?
    (For anything even slightly complicated, getting them to deliver is best. You won’t want to be stuck with 150 ruined pieces of wedding cake at $8 per slice, much less on the morning of your wedding.)  You can find these questions on


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How much will I need?

Approximate Wedding Cake serving for finger size portions for a Round tiered Wedding Cake

Servings Round Tier Cake Approx Prices
up to 30 people 5 and 8″ (2 tier) $2.25/slice – $5.50/slice on up
up to 50 people 6 and 10″ (2 tier)
up to 75 people 5, 8 and 10″ (3 tier)
up to 100 people 6, 9 and 12″ (3 tier)
up to 125 people 6, 9 and 14″ (3 tier)
up to 150 people 6, 10 and 16″ (3 tier)
up to 175 people 7, 12 and 16″ (3 tier)
up to 200 people 5, 8, 12 and 16″ (4 tier)
up to 225 people 5, 9, 12 and 18″ (4 tier)
up to 250 people 6, 10, 14 and 18″ (4 tier)
up to 300 people 5, 9, 12, 14 and 18″ (5 tier)
up to 350 people 6, 9, 12, 16 and 20″ (5 tier)
Approximate Wedding Cake serving for finger size portions for a Square tiered Wedding Cake
Servings Square Tier Cake Approx Prices
up to 25 people 5 and 8″ (2 tier) $2.25/slice – $5.50/slice and up
up to 50 people 6 and 10″ (2 tier)
up to 75 people 8 and 12″ (2 tier)
up to 125 people 6, 9 and 12″ (3 tier)
up to 250 people 6, 8, 12 and 16″ (4 tier)

Prices may fluctuate from region to region.*


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At Tiers Designer Cakes in Bloomington, Jessica does amazing cakes!  Obviously you can see the pictures.

At MadHouse Cakes you’ll love Erin and her cakes are fantastic!  Check her out

At Cake Artist Studio in Champaign I love Ashlee’s cakes!  She does this Brown Sugar cake that is to die for!

Janet’s Cakes.   If you are from Bloomington, you know Janet’s cakes.  Janet’s Cakes & Catering has been serving the Bloomington-Normal area for over 20 years.  They don’t have a website but they will take the time you need to pick out the perfect cake for your wedding day.  Many of the reception venues here in Bloomington use Janet’s as their cake provider.

Sugar Art

Kamra is a trip, you will love her sense of humor and her daughter is so sweet.  Kamra Pierce has been designing cakes and preparing food for over 30 years.  In 2004, she parlayed that experience into Sugar Art Cakes & Catering, and the business has grown quickly.  By providing the best service possible and consistently meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations, Sugar Art has become one of the most popular cake and catering services in Bloomington/Normal and the surrounding areas.


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2012 Margaret Moore,
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