Whether you dream of decorating your own budget one-tier wonder or you want a towering masterpiece created for your wedding reception, it’s time to find out how much wedding cake you actually need. Here’s everything you need to know about wedding cake tiers, sizes and servings…

Bride and Groom Cutting Cake - Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know
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Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

What’s the History Behind Wedding Cake Tiers?

The stacked wedding cake tier delicacy originated in a medieval tradition whereby individual cakes were stacked up as high as possible, and the bride and groom were asked to kiss over the top of it.

A successful kiss – without the cakes tumbling down – meant a happy marriage.

Cake Topper - Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

How Many Tiers for a Traditional Wedding Cake? 

A traditional wedding cake has three tiers and each tier of a wedding cake has its own significance.

Continue reading below…

Tradition has it that the bottom tier is for eating at the ceremony, the middle tier for distributing after the event, and the top tier was saved.

As the traditional recipe is a fruit cake, which has a long shelf life, it’s quite safe to tuck into a slice a few years after the big day.

Three-Tiered Wedding Cake - Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

What is the Tradition for the top Tier of a Wedding Cake?

Traditionally, the top tier of the wedding cake was saved until the first child’s christening.

But when couples began to wait longer before starting a family, the significance of the top tier changed and is now known to be saved for the bride and groom’s first wedding anniversary.

Can you Have More or Less Than Three Tiers of a Wedding Cake?

Weddings are not a one-size-fits-all occasion and more couples than ever are choosing to ditch the three-tier wedding cake tradition in favour of a single-tier alternative simply because of their budget.

You will also want to make sure you have enough cake to go around and feed all of your guests. On the other hand, you don’t want to be left with more cake than you know what to do with at the end of the day either, especially if you’re soon to be jetting off on honeymoon and the left-behind cake would be wasted.

Single Tier Wedding Cake - Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

How Much Wedding Cake is Actually Needed for Guests?

Much like the making of a cake itself, it’s about striking the perfect balance between the different ingredients involved – so, in this case, your budget, number of guests, and aesthetic preferences.

If you find yourself going wide-eyed at cakes with height, you may feel that a stack of at least four tiers is essential, but the reality is that it could just be far too much cake and money! Luckily for you, though, cake makers have devised many creative solutions…

Rather than ordering additional, unnecessary tiers, why not request taller, slimmer cakes for each tier? These are very much en vogue right now, so most bakers will be happy to oblige, giving you the extra height without extra cake.

Alternative Wedding Cake 0 Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

What are Dummy Tiers on a Wedding Cake?

Formed from a polystyrene base covered in icing and decorated to match the rest of the cake, dummy tiers can reduce waste, make your cake taller and slightly bring down the cost.

Do remember though that this tier will still take the same amount of time to decorate, so it won’t slice a huge chunk off the price! Often seen at wedding fairs, your guests will never guess that dummy tiers aren’t the real thing.

Wedding Cake Servings and Sizes

This easy-to-you guide below makes sizing up your tiers a piece of (wedding) cake, with the size and amount of tiers matched to the number of guests…

Wedding cake serving size guide - Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

How Many People Will Your Wedding Cake Tiers Serve?

Wedding Cake Serving Sizes - Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

Where can I buy a Vegan Wedding Cake?

Want to ensure those guests with allergy or dietary restrictions aren’t left out? Whether you’re vegan or not, vegan wedding cakes are a great way to go about making sure everyone is included. Plus, they’re good for the environment, too!

If you’re whipping up your own edible showstopper, try this tasty vegan vanilla and berry layer cake recipe for a summery, naked cake design. Or, if you want to offer guests a vegan dessert table, these vegan recipes from BBC Good Food are loaded with ideas.


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As for bakeries and cake shops, it’s worth checking out Ruby’s of London, where the cakes are 100% plant based, as well as Heart of CakeLola’s Cupcakes, and Pearl & Groove.

London-based cake shop Flavourtown Bakery has its own vegan range using premium plant-based ingredients, including Valrhona cocoa powder and the finest organic flours.

Bee’s Bakery now offers vegan wedding cakes, too, with all its designs now available as gluten-free and dairy-free.

Wedding Cake Trends


Just as wedding dress styles come in and out of fashion, wedding cake trends can rise and fall in popularity. We scoured instagram, snooped the food blogs and taste tested some of the best cakes around to come up with a handy list of the most popular wedding cake trends for 2020. 


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Jennifer Read-Dominguez is the Digital Editor of Wedding Ideas magazine, heading up the website and covering all things lifestyle and beauty – from the best hen weekend destinations and luxury honeymoon hotspots, to the perfect hair extensions for your wedding day. When not on her soapbox about her home renovations and commuting troubles, she's known around the office for her love of Millwall FC and MasterChef. Despite telling the world she was about to get engaged underneath a spectacular show of the Northern Lights in Finland last year, Jennifer is still waiting for her boyfriend Ashton to propose...