What, Exactly, Is A Cake-Cutting Fee?

While most people are probably familiar with the corkage fee, which is the cost the staff charges for opening the bottle of wine that you brought to their restaurant, far fewer are acquainted with the "cakeage" fee, which is — you guessed it — the cost to cut and serve the cake you brought to an establishment. While San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen used the term in jest 32 years ago, it's since proved to be a real thing.

These cakeage fees extend beyond restaurants, with wedding and reception venues also charging cake-cutting fees for wedding parties that choose to bring in a cake instead of using the in-house baker for the location. Along with not ordering a cake large enough for all the guests or not ordering early enough, not asking if there will be a cake-cutting fee can be added to the list of common wedding cake mistakes.

According to The Knot, the average cake-cutting fee is $1.50 per person. If you are planning on having 100 people at your wedding, it may be worthwhile to inquire about the wedding venue's cakes before shelling out $150 — or more — to bring your own.

Wedding parties have gotten creative to avoid the cakeage fee

The debate over the fairness of cakeage fees has been raging for years. According to the New York Times, restaurants argue that they are losing revenue because guests aren't ordering the establishment's desserts, and are using a table that could seat other paying customers. Hospitality owners claim the fee makes sense once you also take into account the time to cut and serve the cake, use the establishment's dishes, and wash those plates and utensils afterward. 

Regardless, many still don't want to pay the fee. To avoid it, some couples have started skipping the cake altogether and serving cupcakes to guests. On a Wedding Wire forum, one person gave this recommendation to another bride-to-be, noting that the cake-cutting fee at her own wedding ended up costing more than the actual cake. 

The Bridal Association of America reports that the average combined cost of a wedding cake plus a cutting fee is $543, which is why recent years have also seen many couples forego a traditional cake in favor of something more affordable. Some even choose to have a fake wedding cake as a display to use for the sake of taking photos and having a cake-cutting ceremony, and then use sheet cakes for the actual eating. You may be saving money by not ordering a multi-tiered, elaborately designed wedding cake, but unless you or a family member are cutting the sheet cakes, you're still probably going to have to pay the cakeage fee.