Don't Make These Common Wedding Cake Mistakes

There's a lot that goes into planning a wedding, from the venue and the menu to the music and the apparel. But, one of the biggest decisions that must be made is the wedding cake. It's one of the big highlights of the event, a time when the bride and groom cut their first slice together (and traditionally, might smash it in each others' faces). It's the time of the reception that often marks the end of the meal and the start of the real party, you know, the mass exodus to the dance floor. While wedding cakes come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and varieties, some of the most popular flavors include classics like vanilla, chocolate, lemon, Funfetti, and almond (via Martha Stewart).

Many brides opt to order the wedding cake from a bakery or caterer to remove some of the work and pressure from themselves. However, if you do plan to leave it in the hands of the professionals, there are some common wedding cake mistakes you should be aware of, according to an expert baker. Here's what most people do wrong when it comes to the dessert for their big day. Hint: It's all about when and how you order it.

Make sure to order the cake on time

Wedding cakes aren't cheap, a survey by The Knot found that the average wedding cake in 2021 costs around $500, so you want to make sure you get it right the first time. According to Elizabeth Nelson, Test Kitchen Director at Wilton, the biggest mistake most people make with their wedding cake is that they don't order it early enough. She cautions that one of the most important things you can do is make sure you order your cake with more than enough time to spare. "People don't realize how far in advance bakeries need to be booked for wedding cakes," she told Mashed. "Especially with the return of larger weddings, it's important to give the bakery plenty of notice." 

A good rule of thumb is to order your cake about six months before your wedding date (via Martha Stewart). However, that could vary based on the size and complexity of your order, along with your specific bakery's requirements. Sugar Bakers Cakes in Baltimore, for instance, asks that brides order their cakes up to a year in advance — to be safe.

Speaking of requirements, here's what a pastry chef wants you to know before ordering your wedding cake.

Make sure you order a cake large enough to feed your guests

Your guests are as excited to dig into a piece of delicious cake as they are to watch the bride and groom do the honorary cutting. If your chosen wedding cake has one of the most popular flavors, then it would be a major disappointment if some guests weren't able to snag a slice. A big mistake Nelson sees brides make when ordering their wedding cake is choosing one that's too small. "Be sure to order enough cake, especially if you plan to keep and freeze the top layer," she recommends. "Your bakery should be able to help you figure out how much cake to order." 

Wedding cakes typically come in 6- to 12-inch tiers. The Cake Decorist explains that wedding cake slices are often thinner than birthday cake slices, so you can feed more people with less. The baking site says that an 8-inch cake should serve 20 to 24 people, while a 10-inch cake should serve 30 to 38 people. No one wants to be shorted a slice of the good stuff. As the saying goes, let them eat cake!

Consider dietary restrictions when ordering your cake

The only thing worse than not having enough cake is having a cake that a bunch of your guests can't enjoy, whether it's because they have food allergies or follow a particular diet. Because of this, Nelson recommends taking all dietary restrictions into consideration when ordering the cake and, importantly, ensuring that the bakery can accommodate those needs so there are no issues on the day of the wedding. "It's important to take time to talk to the bakery about their capabilities and how those line up with your needs for the wedding day," she explains. Maybe you need a cake that's dairy-free for your vegan family members or one sans peanuts for your best friend who is allergic.

If you only have a few guests whose dessert needs you'd have to accommodate — or if you're unsure of your guests' dietary restrictions and/or preferences — there's an easy workaround, according to BRIDES. It's totally acceptable (and even encouraged) to offer additional sweet treats, like gluten-free cupcakes or vegan cookies, if guests want something other than cake. 

Of course, there's always the Martha Stewart way of dealing with guests who have food allergies – not at all.