How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Cake for Your Special Day

We spoke to a cake expert about her dos and don'ts for choosing the wedding day confection of your dreams.

A buttercream wedding cake with peonies and roses.

Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography; Cake by Enjoy Cupcakes; Florals by Toast Santa Barbara

When the time comes to choose a wedding cake, there is a lot to consider: The size of your cake, the flavor (or combinations!), the type of icing, the fillings, the toppers, the décor—it's a lot! So how do you pick a cake that feels like the best wedding cake for you and your wedding style?

To help us understand how to choose the perfect wedding cake ahead of your big day, we speak with Nicole Redd-McIntosh, a cake designer and the owner of Nicole Bakes Cakes, about her dos and don'ts when picking your ideal confection. Her first piece of advice? "Have fun! This is one of the favorite items to check off your wedding list. Who doesn't love to taste cake?"

Meet the Expert

Nicole Redd-McIntosh is a cake designer and the owner of Nicole Bakes Cakes, a boutique online bakery based in Southern California.

Do Consider Your Budget

Like most wedding elements, your wedding cake budget should be one of the first conversations you have, before you decide exactly what kind of cake you want. You want to understand what you can afford before you get your sights set on a specific cake. "I know from photos it's hard to tell how much a certain cake costs, but even a simple cake to you might be super intricate for the designer," explains Redd-McIntosh. "Having a base budget in mind is important. I would have a cost range that you want to stick to and let your designer know in the first email so they can gauge what they can offer you in your budget."

Do Look for Reputable Bakers Before Choosing a Style

It may sound surprising to look for a cake designer or baker before deciding the type of cake you want, but Redd-McIntosh advises that this is a great way to determine the style of your perfect wedding cake. "Rather than trying to decide what wedding cake you want, I would decide which cake artist you are drawn to, and what cake style they do," she says. "That will help narrow down the wedding cake style that fits you and your wedding based on the cake artist you love."

And when it comes to figuring out the baker who is best for you and your cake design, aside from looking at photos of past cakes they've designed, do some research to see how other clients enjoyed their experience. Some bakers may be very talented when it comes to non-wedding confections, so you want to make sure that wedding cakes, specifically, are their expertise.

Do Think About Your Guests

When you begin to think about the size of your wedding cake, you might look at your guest count and assume you need to account for a cake size that will feed everyone. However, Redd-McIntosh says that you can for only 50 to 75 percent of guests to have cake—especially if you also plan to have a dessert table. "

Don't Bring Too Many Inspiration Photos

Another important component of the initial meeting with your chosen cake designer is bringing photos for inspiration—but Redd-McIntosh warns against bringing too many. "Try to stick to having two or three photos that speak to your wedding vibes," she suggests. Otherwise, it may be difficult to really narrow things down.

Do Have a List of Questions Prepared for Your Designer

When you do settle on a cake designer or baker, make sure you come to the meeting prepared with a list of questions so that you can go over as many details as possible right off the bat. "Do they work with buttercream? Fondant? Ganache? It's helpful to know because certain designs work best with different mediums," explains Redd-McIntosh. Other questions to consider: "What is their delivery and setup process? Does your cake designer like to deliver before the ceremony or at cocktail hour?" These, she advises, are the types of questions to ask when you first meet to chat through what you have in mind.  

Don't Underestimate Choosing a Flavor

While the design and look of the cake is very important (we know the photos are a big part of the cake process!) don't forget to think about the wedding cake flavor. Tasting lots of cakes is the fun part! If you feel torn, make a point to talk to your designer about all the flavors that you're drawn to—and use them as a resource for guidance. Many designers use multiple flavors in one cake!

Do Decide on a Cake Design Based on Your Wedding Style

Similar to planning for decorations and other wedding design elements, you definitely want your wedding cake to seamlessly fit in with the overarching theme and color palette of the wedding. Make sure you come to your designer with information about the décor, the colors, the venue—this will be a huge help for them when designing your perfect wedding cake. "If a couple's wedding style is sleek, clean, and modern it lets me know that they will probably want a sleek, clean, and modern cake design," Redd-McIntosh explains. "Same if you have a boho style or your venue is boho, then I know to show you cake styles that fit. Your wedding style sets the tone!"

Related Stories