Happy cutting of the cake. spring wedding cake with handpainted wrap details, good trim, and spring sugar flowers as seen through an archway of flowers Sussex

decoding the delicacy: determining the perfect number of Wedding Cake portions.

One of the first elements you need to narrow down when planning your wedding cake is how many portions of cake you’ll need and how big your cake will need to be. This isn’t as straightforward as you might think. There are surprisingly quite a few elements you need to take into consideration.  I’ll aim to help you narrow these down and hopefully make what can be quite a minefield into an action plan to make your unique wedding cake portion guide.

  • have you been reading up?
    If you’ve been reading those wedding magazines and ‘helpful’ wedding to-do lists, you might have read that all you have to do is work out how many guests you’ve invited, and cater for 60% of them. This was certainly the case back in the day when everyone had traditional wedding fruit cake. But if we are being honest, not a lot of folk like it and a lot would be wasted.  I must say, this doesn’t include me, I love it! But when catering for the masses, it’s not what I would describe as a ‘crowd pleaser’ any more. If the wedding is for a slightly older couple this may not be the case though. The vast majority of the over 60’s are more than happy to tuck into those juicy brandy soaked fruits. As for the younger generations, it’s not going to be as popular as many other flavour options. 
Sugar flower detail autumn wedding cake dusky pink and autumn tones Sussex
Slice of carrot cake, best wedding cake flavours Sussex
Will flavours make a difference?

You may find particularly if you are choosing more than one favour of cake, that several of your guests may even go up for seconds, or more! I had a report than a guest at one of the weddings I was the cake supplier for last year went up for a slice of all five flavours!  Yes, of course there may well be folk who don’t have any, but you’ll probably find that the numbers will balance out.



what else are you serving?

What you do need to factor in, is how much other food is going to be available.  If you are planning on a doughnut wall, a sweet cart, the cupcakes your Auntie Lucy is making at your mum’s the day before so she can feel like she helped when she lives in New Zealand and is otherwise no help at all, and a pizza van during the evening celebration, then you are not going to need to need a to cater a slice of cake for everyone. They will be just too full and you’ll be eating cake for the next week.  (For help with freezing your cake if this does happen, please see my blog post here.)

If however you are planning on a simple finger food buffet for the evening, and not much in the way of sweet treats, then I’d go as far as to suggest you cater for everyone. As a general rule though, I suggest you aim for around 80-90% of your guests.

coffee or dessert:

The other main factor you need to consider is how and when you are planning on serving your cake.  In recent years many have chosen to serve the cake as the main dessert after the wedding breakfast, thus saving money on another course, and making sure all the cake gets eaten. If you are choosing to do this then you’ll need larger slices for your guests than the standard finger, or coffee sized slice.  As a general rule, assume a standard coffee sized slice is 1”x1” and a dessert sized slice is 2”x1”.  Basically you’ll need twice as much cake if you are planning on serving it as dessert.  

Slice of red velvet wedding cake flavours Sussex
check with everyone first:

At this point, if you were planning on this course as a money saving method, do check that you are actually going to be saving money. This will of course be dependant on the prices both of your caterer and your cake maker. On that subject, do check with both the catering team and your venue that you can actually do this, as they may also have opinions on the subject.

when should you serve your wedding cake, and to how many?

If you are planning on serving your cake as part on an evening buffet or similar, please make sure that your catering team bring out the cake at the same time as the rest of your buffet food. Otherwise you may find everyone will fill up on your other offerings, and not leave any room for cake, and the majority of it will go uneaten. Generally speaking this all happens once your evening guests have arrived, so do take these guests into account when working out your numbers.

think about height:

The final, slightly smaller element you may not be able to determine until you have designed your cake, is the height of the tiers.  As varying height tiers have become more popular, its become slightly more tricky to determine the portions per tier.  Taller or even double height tiers may cater up to twice as many portions per tier than one of the standard height, which is usually somewhere between 4-6 inches, depending on your cake maker.



don’t get too exact:

Every cake designer will have a different way they suggest their cakes are cut in order to get the most of the shape and depth of the cake, and they’ll be able to advise on the best size for you. It is important to keep in mind that in order to create the perfect cake for your wedding, this will likely mean that it isn’t possible to cater for an exact number.

Even just changing the diameter of one tier by one inch can add up to 12 portions. Try not to fall into the trap of assuming you’ve reached the number of 78 guests, and you don’t want to pay for another single portion more. You may need to round up or down, and be a little flexible on the portions. Please don’t contact your cake designer six weeks before the wedding and inform then that eight guests are no longer able to come, so can you reduce the size of the cake to match please? It’s not likely to be possible to be that exact.

Cutting the cake at Highley Manor Bridgerton wedding monogram wedding cake sugar flowers dusky blue wedding cake Sussex

deciding your wedding cake portions: what next?

Now that you know a few of the considerations to take with you on the first stages of your wedding cake planning journey, it’s time to give you a bit more of an exact number.  The exact portions per tier will vary from cake designer to cake designer, but to get you started, my starting wedding cake portion guide and size cake you’ll likely need is here.


Four tier wedding cake with square bottom tier. Grey and turquoise with geometric pattern and sugar flowers

I hope this is a helpful guide to the portions you’ll need for your wedding cake. If you’d like to know more about the sizes you’ll need for your cake, or you have any other questions, please do get in touch via the contact form using the link below. I’d be happy to help answer any queries.