Can wedding cakes wreck the budget?

Annabel is just starting to look at wedding cakes. It’s over a year to go till she gets married and she has no idea how much to budget for the cake or what style to choose. Follow her conversations with Leigh as she finds out more.

Annabel: Hi, Leigh. I’ve been trying to plan my budget and I’m not sure how much to allow for the wedding cake as I've no idea how much they cost. Can you help me?

Leigh: Hi Annabel, I’m glad you asked that question, it’s the one that many people have asked me over the years that I’ve been creating wedding cakes. For people who don't bake or decorate cakes, I completely understand why you’d ask - if I went to a fashion designer I'd be asking "How much does a dress cost?

Annabel: My mum thinks the wedding cake will be really expensive - is she right?

Leigh: If you want an individually designed cake, they do cost more than supermarket or high street store cakes. Your cake designer’s job is to help you marry the kind of look you would like with your budget so you end up with a cake you love for an affordable price.

Annabel: That sounds reassuring. What would be a realistic starting price for a custom designed wedding cake?

Leigh: Based on the type of cakes I make, a starting price for a three-tier wedding cake, which would give you upwards of 80 generous portions, would be around £250. You may find, of course, that a hobby baker who's a friend or relative would charge you less, and a high end cake designer with a shop in an expensive part of a big city like Glasgow or London would charge more.

Annabel: What kind of cake would I get for that price?

Leigh: The price of a wedding cake depends largely on the type of decoration, rather than the cake's ingredients. For £250, the decoration would be fairly simple but at the same time, ‘simple’ can also mean a very elegant, classy look like this design here.

Annabel: And if I were to budget for more than £250, what type of decoration might that include, can you show me any examples?

Leigh: Sugar flowers are a beautiful way of decorating your cake, and you can keep them afterwards. You can match them with any colours you might have as a theme. They can be seasonal flowers in keeping with the time of year, or ‘fantasy’ flowers if you want a really stunning look like this one with teal-coloured roses.

Another type of decoration you might want to consider, which brides sometimes choose to reflect the style of their dress, is 'cake lace'. Here’s an example with a romantic, vintage feel.

Annabel: Why do those types of cakes cost more?

Leigh: Both these examples involve hand-made decoration which can take hours to do, and they also use specialist materials. Both those factors affect the final price.

Annabel: I’m not sure if flowers or lace are my thing. What else is possible?

Leigh: There’s no end to the way a wedding cake can be decorated nowadays. If I were you, I’d buy a few specialist wedding cake magazines, you'll find them in some supermarkets and W H Smith. The internet is also a brilliant source of wedding cake pictures. Do you have a Pinterest account?

Annabel: I've not signed up for Pinterest yet, but a friend recommended I take a look. Where do I find it?

Leigh: You can sign up here. I’ve created some pin boards of wedding cake pictures that I’ve collected online to help inspire wedding couples. You can view my Pinterest boards here. Each board has a different theme - rustic, black and white, floral etc.

Annabel: Do wedding cake pictures on the internet display prices?

Leigh: They often don’t, unfortunately, that’s a good question. You’ll find that some cake websites and magazines publish prices but many don’t. However, before you book a wedding cake consultation, it helps if you supply links or photos of any designs you like. This helps a lot when you meet your cake designer so they can come up with ways to incorporate things you like into final design in a way that keeps you within your budget.

Annabel: That’s great. I’ll go and take a look at the budget with my partner and we can start researching cake pictures to see what look we both like.

Leigh: As you’re working to a budget, I recommend having a ballpark figure in your head before deciding on a design. You don’t want to set your heart on a specific look and then find out that it’s way above your price range.

Annabel: Thanks for that. I like the idea of something simple and elegant so you’ve given me food for thought. Is there anything else I need to bear in mind just now?

Leigh: Let me know when you’ve settled on a price range you're comfortable with and I'll give you some tips on how to prepare for a cake consultation

Annabel: Thanks, Leigh. I’ll get that Pinterest account set up. I’m sure I could use it for other aspects of the wedding as well, great tip!


If you have any questions related to wedding cake prices or anything else related to wedding or celebration cakes, please email me at I'll reply back to you and you may even find your question is featured in a future blog.

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