How Do I Know Cake Tier Sizes To Offer To A Bride And Groom?

Decorating By Pearl645 Updated 1 Apr 2014 , 4:55pm by CupcakeK8

Pearl645 Posted 14 Jan 2011 , 8:56pm
post #1 of 21

Hi everyone,

I have a 5 tier wedding cake to do for December this year. The bride and groom want 4 round top tiers and the 5th bottom tier as a hexagon cake. All cake tiers are fruit cake with marzipan and fondant.

300 guests at wedding

How do I know the sizes that will look aesthetically good for the wedding cake?

I have seen these recommendations online:

7", 9",12",16" and 20"

Should I design a wedding cake that has increments of 2",3" or 4"?

I really am accustomed to only doing 3 tier wedding cakes in increments of 4" but a 5 tier is my first time.

Would love to hear from any of you who have done 5 tier wedding cakes and can give suggestions.

Their budget is $900USD. Of course, I will give them my price for a 5 tier cake which is what they asked for and then offer them a 3 tier cake for that budget. A budget of $900USD doesn't even cover my cake costs and decorating / labour fee!!

So I ask again

Should I design a wedding cake that has increments of 2",3" or 4"?

20 replies
playingwithsugar Posted 14 Jan 2011 , 9:12pm
post #2 of 21

Are you in the US, doing a UK-style cake, or are you in the UK, with American clients?

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:16am
post #3 of 21

Neither. Why? Was hoping to get some more helpful posts. Will check back later.

playingwithsugar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:20am
post #4 of 21

Because I usually see marzipan and fondant mentioned in threads about UK style cakes.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:31am
post #5 of 21

Oh. Well I am from the Caribbean. I use marzipan on all my fruit cakes. Isn't that what everyone uses? To me the it has such great benefits from the pure almond flavour, a firm base and sharp edges for fondant application, prevents the fondant from getting stained from the liquid in the fruit cake and keeps the cake moist.

What do others use on fruit cake under fondant?

Still hoping to get some helpful posts on my initial question from you guys out there icon_smile.gif

leah_s Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:32am
post #6 of 21

Maybe if you'd tell us where you are, you'd get more helpful answers. Sometimes geography does influence style.

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:40am
post #7 of 21

I live in Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean. Hot,humid climate. Most of my clients bring photos from US cake decorating sites such as pink cake box, martha stewart wedding cakes and more. Sometimes, they bring UK photos. It varies. In this case, the couple wants
Tiers 1,3 and 5 to have diamond embossing on ivory fondant with silved balls at each joining diamond point and tiers 2 and 4 to have red floral stenciling on ivory fondant. Top toer to have a long bride and groom topper with deep red sugar roses.

Does this help? I am trying to select the best cake tier sizes for this wedding cake so that I can give them their dream wedding cake. Most couples leave cake sizes up to me.

playingwithsugar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:42am
post #8 of 21

Pearl, if you are talking about black cake, I'm on my way! I Love the stuff!

Which servings chart are you using?

There was a discussion, a long time ago, regarding how to serve a fruitcake, but it was regular, brown with dried glace fruits and nuts type cake. There's about 4 different ways to serve it. I think the serves are smaller than an American-style cake, because the cake is so dense and rich.

If you are styling this according to UK method, I think they also use the 4 inch tins for their fruitcake wedding cakes.

It's very early in the morning over there, so hopefully, someone will chime in that can further help you.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:47am
post #9 of 21

Oh, I love people from Trinidad. We had an influx of Trinidadians move here about 20 years ago. They were some of my best customers, and then my best friends, when I worked in a retail store in the commercial section of town.

What size is the standard serving size there? That will determine what height tins you need to use.

Here in the US, where we make the standard sponge cakes, our serving size is 1"thick, by 2" long, by 4" tall.

That size piece would be an awful lot of fruitcake to eat, because of it's density and texture.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:51am
post #10 of 21

Hi, yes we're talking about the same thing. We call it Black cake or Traditional Caribbean Fruit cake or just Fruit cake for short.

For Fruit cake slices for wedding cake boxes as take-home for guests I use 1"x2.5" as a cake slice size. I have found 1"x2" too small and almost insulting! Ha! I've heard people throw out cake slices that small saying it was barely anything to eat. I am a little more generous. I don't really follow standard US or UK cake serving slices though.

Well, I will wait for the time difference to even out and hear from more decorators out there on their recommendations for cake sizes for a 5 tier wedding cake.

Just to note - this couple is ordering 300 fruit cake slices in addition to their 5 tier cake! That's a whole lot of cake!!

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:55am
post #11 of 21

What a lovely coincidence you met Trinis. Which state are you hailing from? The standard is to have 4" deep cakes - sponge and fruit cake.

playingwithsugar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 5:14am
post #12 of 21

I live in Pennsylvania.

If your standard is also 4" tall, then go with it.

Looking at Earlene's cake cutting chart

You could also use a 6" round for the top tier, instead of the 7. It's only 2 less servings.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

pmarks0 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 5:16am
post #13 of 21

Five tiers of black cake PLUS black cake pieces for 300? Oh my , that's a lot of fruit to put up. icon_smile.gif I'd have to find jars to soak the fruit, and my goodness, the amount of alcohol you'd need. $900US is definitely NOT enough to cover costs and labour. I can't even fathom how much fruit you need for that. LOL.

For the 300 pieces, you'd probably need three 15x18's to get the 1x2.5" pieces you need. And yes, I agree 2.5" is better than 2"'. I had to do something similar for my FIL's 70th birthday a few years ago, and my own wedding a number of years ago. The most time consuming was the cutting, wrapping and boxing of the pieces of cake. Do they want the 300 pieces boxed for the guests or is it being served? Is that to be included in your budget?

As for your 5 tier, I've never made one that big, but I would probably go with a 3" separation on the upper tiers, and maybe the 4" for the bottom tier. And you may want to consider making the lower tiers a little taller than the upper tiers for proportion. Again, I've never made one this big, so someone else could probably speak better on this. But I think your 6/9/12/16/20 would be good. Lots of cake though if it's in addition to the 300 pieces. Would they consider dummy cakes as part of the construction?

Good luck!

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 11:14am
post #14 of 21

The bride and groom want all their wedding cake tiers to be Fruit cake. The option for styrofoam went out the door. I would have to make all these cakes PLUS slice, wrap and box 300 fruit cake slices...

It's a whole lot of work right? Especially to bake,apply marzipan, fondant and decorate the cakes. I have another cake decorator on board to work with me on this.

I think I will go with the 7",9",12",16" and 20" cake sizes.

playingwithsugar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:09pm
post #15 of 21

Pearl -

I don't know how much dried fruits cost in Trinidad, but 900USD would not be nearly enough for their order here. And then, to put all that work into it - soaking fruit, baking and decorating 300 serves, then baking and boxing another 300 - that would be about 6000USD here.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

KHalstead Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:27pm
post #16 of 21

900US dollars wouldn't be enough to make a 5 tiered cake and 300 to go slices out of regular cake let alone FRUIT cake! Especially a fruit cake that actually tastes good!

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:31pm
post #17 of 21

Hi you're very correct. I sent them a price for the 5 tier cake with 6",9",12",16" and 20" all as fruit cake with marzipan and fondant. It's my experience in this business that most brides and grooms don't know what cake sizes they want for their wedding cake because a lot of them ask for cake slices separate to the main cake. So for instance, I would ask "how many people would you like to serve from your wedding cake?" And they say they are having 300 persons at their wedding but still want cake slices for guests to take home on the day. it seems quite excessive. That is a whole lot of cake and money! Some clients take dummy cakes but this most recent client says she must have all fruit cake with marzipan.

Pearl645 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:42pm
post #18 of 21

Our cake prices are not on par with international prices. For instance, decorators charge around $500US for a 3 tier wedding cake (fruit cake or sponge). It's sort of like the standard price here which is very outdated. Also, our cupcakes are sold by home decorators for $1USD versus $2.50US and up to $3.75US which I have seen for cupcake prices at US cupcake stores. I believe our cake prices are below international prices due to a lot of home decorators not being skilled at proper costing and I mean people who calculate their profits based on sales revenue - cost of goods sold. Also, minimum wage here is equivalent to $2USD an hour and in general, salaries are on the lowest bracket compared to the rest of the world. It is the biggest challenge I face as a full-time cake decorator and baker that people do not wish to pay proper prices. It also has a lot to do with them watching Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss but those shows don't tell the viewers how much each of the cakes are priced at. Also, it's not common to sell cakes here based on per serving price. There are a lot of discrepancies and I struggle with a cake market that has prices that are too low and vary too much. There is no real link between quality and price here.

playingwithsugar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 4:46pm
post #19 of 21
Originally Posted by KHalstead

Especially a fruit cake that actually tastes good!

If you've never had black cake, you don't know what you're missing. It's not like what we consider a traditional fruit cake. Caribbean fruit cake is moist and delicious.

The cake part is literally black.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

dizzaloo Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 7:56pm
post #20 of 21

I have done a 5 tier cake but it was all square and every tier on pillars. I went with 6,8,10,12 and14 the top tier was 6" high the rest were 4" high. The proportions looked right but they weren't sitting on top of each other.
I have dummy cakes in all shapes and sizes and always stack them up so that the bride can see exactly what size and proportions her cake will be.
Uk cakes tend to be smaller than US and Australian cakes and people bring photos of 'TV' cakes and don't understand the difference in sizes.
I don't know if this helps you at all.

CupcakeK8 Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 4:55pm
post #21 of 21

Hi everyone,


I've just come across this post, I make a lot of cakes for friends and family and recently came across a site called bakingit. Might be worth having a look here as it's really helped me when working out tier sizes for larger cakes. 

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