Does Having a Fake Wedding Cake—and Serving Your Guests Sheet Cake Instead—Actually Save Money?

Our expert weighs in.



You may have heard about this little trick we have in the wedding industry where rather than having a real multi-tiered cake to serve to your guests, a fully decorated fake cake—usually tiers of Styrofoam, with maybe one edible bottom tier for cutting into—is made just to have on display at the reception … while everyone eats slices of sheet cake instead. It’s a clever idea, and we’ve heard of couples inquiring with their bakers about it as a way to save a few bucks.

That got us thinking about whether or not a fake cake—and a sheet-cake companion—really is more cost-efficient than the real thing. So we called up our friends at Bredenbeck’s Bakery in Chestnut Hill to see what they had to say, and as it turns out, having a fake cake won’t always save you money: Prices are determined by ingredients, design and labor, and since they’d still be decorating and stacking a faux cake and baking sheet cakes, the cost always doesn’t differ much from your average real cake.

There are, though, a handful of circumstances that make ordering a fake cake the more worthwhile option. Bredenbeck’s owner Karen Boyd broke it down for us:

Get a fake cake if: 

  • You have a small guest list but you want the cake to be a certain number of tiers (i.e. more tiers than you’d actually need to feed everyone).
  • Or, on the other hand, if you only want to display a small two-tiered cake—but you’ve got 200 guests to feed.
  • You have a truly large guest list—think hundreds and hundreds of guests—but only want to have a “normal,” smaller-sized wedding cake.
  • You want an ice cream cake or a filling that needs to be refrigerated, such as whipped cream (this is key for summer weddings). Those types cannot be left out on your pretty display table.
  • You’re having a large sweets table but still want to follow the tradition of having a wedding cake on display, even if you don’t care to hack into it.
Stick with a real cake if:
  • You’re having a big wedding and you want a big cake.
  • You want a naked cake! That’s not possible in faux-cake form.
  • None of the above matters to you and you just want to deal with one cake—one wedding cake appropriately sized to feed the guests that you have.

In the end, if you do decide to go with a fake cake, Boyd suggests having at least one real tier to ceremoniously cut into in front of your guests, get the photos—and freeze and eat on your anniversary! Then, the sheet cakes hiding away in the kitchen can be the same flavor and iced to match.

Have any of you done the faux cake/sheet cake thing? Any of you planning on doing it for your wedding? 

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