A guide to wedding cake serves

It stands proudly as the eye-catching masterpiece at your reception and is often the thing most guests gravitate towards as soon as the doors open, if it is already on display. It is your wedding cake! Here’s a guide on wedding cake serves for those who aren’t sure how many wedding cake serves they will need for their wedding:

While you may have put a lot of time and effort into dreaming up the perfect look and design for your wedding cake, even gone through a few tastings to make sure it tastes just right, one of the most important factors you should plan for when buying a wedding cake is how many people will be able to enjoy it with you.

Too much, and you will be eating cake for the next six months. Too little, and some guests will have to resort to wistful glances and experiencing the wedding cake delight vicariously through the person who snagged the last slice.

Cupcakes and doughnuts are a walk in the park. One of those equals one serving for one person. The math is as simple as it gets.

But things get tricky with you look at wedding cakes. Round cakes produce fewer pieces than square cakes, slices sizes depend on whether you are using your cake as the dessert, or as a post-dessert accompaniment with tea and coffee.

While your cake maker will be well-versed on all of this and be able to provide an accurate estimate of how much cake you will need based on your number of guests, here’s a little guide to help you navigate your way through the complex world of wedding cake serves.

How many serves should you have per person?

Cupcakes are an easy way to allocate one serve for each person. Image: Sugar Avenue Cakes

Cupcakes are an easy way to allocate one serve for each person. Image: Sugar Avenue Cakes

Unless you have a large budget for an extravagant wedding cake, it is acceptable to allow for one serve per guest. Your cake maker might advise that you include a couple of extra serves to ensure that nobody misses out, as even the best-laid plans can fall apart if the person ultimately responsible for cutting your cake gets a little carried away with how big the slices are.

If your reception is at a catered venue, the cake cutting will most likely fall to one of the staff, who will no doubt have had experience with, and know the importance of, sticking to the unspoken rules of portion sizes.

What is the difference between coffee and dessert serves?

There are two main questions your cake maker will ask you the first time you connect with them – how many guests are you expecting? and will your cake be your dessert?

Both of these answers will determine the size of the cake you will need in order for everyone to get a slice of the action.

Generally speaking, a coffee size portion of cake will be 2.5cm wide and the height of one layer of the cake (note, one layer, not one tier, see next point).

A dessert sized portion is twice the size, around 5cm wide and the height of one layer of the cake.

How can a three-tier cake contain enough for six tiers?

Taller tiers means more layers of cake underneath. Image: Vindya

Taller tiers means more layers of cake underneath. Image: Vindya

It comes down to the height of the tiers. Those ultra-modern cakes that have unnaturally long tiers are actually built up with multiple layers underneath the flawless frosting.

What this means is that while you have a three-tier cake, you will have enough to feed twice the amount of people.


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How can I ensure I get the maximum number of serves from one cake if it’s for dessert?

The person tasked with doing the cutting will get more serves of cake from a square shaped one than a circular cake. However, some cake makers recommend not serving the corner pieces as they are heavy on icing and low on cake (not that those with a sweet-tooth would complain about this!)

Your best bet to ensure maximum efficiency is to hand over the cake cutting to the professionals – your caterer or the kitchen staff at your venue.

How can I save money when needing a cake for hundreds of people?

Your cake maker will have many ideas of ways you can modify the design and look of your cake in order to accommodate the budget you have planned for.

But there is one great industry trick that will allow you to have the look you want without having to make it super-sized in order to accommodate for the number of guests – it is called a kitchen cake.

Basically, this is a cake that is iced, but has no other fancy decorations and its sole purpose is to fill the bellies of your guests. It is usually hidden away in the kitchen, so when the beautifully decorated cake is cut up, staff can bring plates with slices of the ‘kitchen cake’ out at the same time.

Most guests won’t know the difference – but your hip pocket certainly will!

Should you have extra to save the top tier?

Square cakes will give you the greatest number of serves. Image: You Had Me At Cake

Square cakes will give you the greatest number of serves. Image: You Had Me At Cake

It is a long-standing tradition for the couple to keep the top tier of their cake and freeze it for their first anniversary. It is a delicious custom, but not a necessary one.

Of course, if this is something you’d like to do, you will need to mention this to your cake maker, so they can factor it in when working out the proportions of your cake.


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