The first question a couple asks at their tasting often centers around how much cake they need. To answer this question, I'll point out a few things to consider when determining the number of servings to order. I've provided my own serving guidelines below for reference, but I'll also explain why you may receive slightly different answers from different bakers.
How many guests do you think this size cake would serve? (Answer at bottom)
1. Assume One Slice Per Person
I find that my clients' tiered wedding cakes are typically served to guests by the wait staff (as opposed to buffet style). The waiter-served method doesn't allow guests to help themselves to second servings. That's good for the accuracy of your dessert estimate as well as your budget! In these cases, I always suggest one slice per guest. There will always be a few people who don't eat cake, but a little extra is usually welcome.
2. Count the Top Tier in Your Servings
You may have heard of this odd tradition that states newlyweds are supposed to save the top tier of their wedding cake, freeze it, and eat it on their one-year anniversary. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that year-old freezer-burned cake doesn't sound too appealing! That's why Enticing Icing couples ordering 3+ tier cakes receive a fresh-baked tier to celebrate their first year of marriage. Fresh is just better! Plus, I like having a reason to reconnect with my clients :)
Anniversary tiers are becoming popular among boutique studios; however, I'm not sure how common this trend is among bakeries. Be sure to ask your baker whether they're counting the top tier in their calculations.
3. Ask Your Designer
Ultimately, the work of determining how many tiers and what sizes you need will fall on your designer. Each studio or bakery may suggest a different answer on what size cake you need due to 2 main variables: the height of their tiers and the cutting charts they use.
Most bakeries build tiers of 4" tall, meaning a 3 tier cake would be a foot tall (3 tiers x 4" tall each = 12" total height). Since 4" tall tiers are industry standard, a typical slice of wedding cake is 1" x 2" x 4" (8 cubic inches of cake).
Enticing Icing cakes; however, are 5" tall. To maintain the standard wedding cake slice, I use a different cutting chart that allows for taller, narrower slices. Thus, our tiers yield slightly more servings than average.
I love tall tiers because they look so much more elegant than a short, squished cake. Tall cakes have a more commanding presence, they can be seen from further distances at the your reception, and they just give more of a "wow!" factor. The mock ups below really show the difference. Each of these 3-tier cakes are identical in size except for height of the tiers. Which look do you prefer?
Tiered Cake Servings
Keep in mind that these are the guidelines I've chosen to promote for Enticing Icing based on my tier heights, cutting charts, and design eye. Your baker may have different suggestions, and there's really no right or wrong answer here. It's just a matter of preference!
Single tiers - serve up to 50
2 tiers - serve up to 75
3 tiers - serve up to 150
4 tiers - serve up to 250
5 tiers - serve 250+
The only thing you may want to confirm is that your baker is calculating servings comparable to the 8 cubic inch standard. If you're working with someone who typically designs celebration cakes, for example, it's likely they'll automatically use larger "party servings," and you could end up with more cake than you need.
Answer to the Question at the Top of the Page
This cake serves up to 180 and is generally the smallest 4 tier cake I would offer.
Is that greater or fewer servings than you expected?