How I Made My Own Wedding Cake

It’s been about two weeks since our wedding, and I couldn’t be happier that I made my own wedding cake. However, this isn’t the right decision for everyone. There’s a lot you should think about before you decide to make your own wedding cake.

photo of stephen frankola and chelsey White wedding

In retrospect, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’d been day dreaming about our wedding cake since Stephen and I got engaged. In my mind, I pictured something simple, elegant, and decorated with fresh flowers.

I wanted a manageable design, that wouldn’t add additional stress to my life the week of my wedding. But I also wanted to be proud of our cake when we cut into it in front of our friends and family.

Somehow I managed to make our cake ahead of time, deliver it to the venue the morning of our wedding, and had the time of my life on our wedding day.

image of wedding cake with fresh white and green florals

I want to share the process I went through while making our wedding cake, and share my tips…just in case you’re as crazy as me, and plan to do the same thing.

Plan Ahead And Do A Little Math

My husband (still getting used to saying that!) and I both love funfetti cake, so I used my funfetti cake recipe to make our entire wedding cake. We expected to have about 110 guests, so I needed to make a cake big enough to feed all our guests!

I used my cake portion guide to consider my options, and ended up picking a combination of tier sizes that would give us some extra servings! Our wedding cake was made with 12 inch, 10 inch, 8 inch, and 6 inch tiers. Each tier had 3 cake layers that were about 1 inch tall.

photo of wedding cake sketch

This size of cake feeds about 134 people. I didn’t want to worry about running out of cake (my slices tend to be on the large side), and thought it might be nice to have some extras in case anyone wanted seconds πŸ˜›

It took some math to figure out how many batches of cake batter I needed to make. I used my cake batter calculator to figure out that I needed to make 6 batches of cake batter.

photo of calculating how much batter I need for my wedding cake

In my initial calculation I thought I’d use 4 layers per tier, but I changed my mind to 3 the morning of! This meant I only had to make 6 batches instead of 7.

Knowing this ahead of time allowed me to get the right amount of ingredients, and get everything ready to go before I started baking. A little planning goes a long way!!

photo of ingredients to make a 4 tiered wedding cake

Make Your Cake Layers In Advance

People always seem to get creeped out when they think about freezing cake layers, or baking layers several days in advance. I think people imagine dry, crumbly, freezer-burned cake and get scared.

We ate our wedding cake on Sunday, and I baked our cake layers on Tuesday. I would’ve made them further in advance (properly wrapped cakes stay good in the freezer for weeks!), but I was busy with cake lessons and didn’t have a chance to make them any earlier.

photos of my funfetti wedding cake layers

Properly sealed cake layers are anything but dry! In fact, frozen cake layers actually taste better, and are more moist in my opinion! I wrap and freeze my cake layers when they’re still a tiny bit warm, so the steam gets locked in with the cake layer.

The result is an incredibly delicious and moist cake layer. The key to making cake layers in advance is properly wrapping them, to lock in all the good stuff and protect them from your freezer.

There are different ways you can wrap your cake layers, and they all work well. This blog post walks through the best ways to freeze cake layers, and all my tips on making cakes in advance.

Make Your Frosting Ahead of Time Too!!

The whole “make ahead of time” concept doesn’t just apply to cake layers! Your frosting can be made in advance too. I made our frosting the Tuesday before our wedding. It sounds excessive, but I made seven batches of my American buttercream for our cake.

My rule of thumb when it comes to wedding cakes is that you need about 1 batch of frosting per batch of cake batter.

sharing how long buttercream last in the fridge and freezer, and how to store it properly

In real life, I usually use about 1.25 – 1.5 batches of frosting on my 7 or 8 inch layer cakes. However, these cakes are made with 4 cake layers, and usually have additional frosting decorations (like fun swirls on top!).

When you think about a wedding cake, it’s usually 2 or three layers, and doesn’t usually have any additional frosting decorations. It doesn’t use quite as much frosting as a fancy, tall layer cake.

I ended up having about half a batch of frosting left over, which I placed into piping bags. This was great to have on hand, to help fill in gaps once the tiers were assembled. I also brought a bag with me to the venue, for any last minute touch ups.

Adding Supports Into Your Tiers

Whenever you make a tiered cake, it’s important that the cake is properly supported! I added bubble tea straws into my tiers, to make sure it survived the 10 hours it had to sit at room temperature before we cut into it.

It’s crucial that the cake is built with supports in each tier. This helps ensure your wedding cake can support its own weight, and keep its shape the day of your wedding.

Some people use wooden dowels as supports, others use bubble tea straws. I know it sounds crazy, but they actually work very well! I prefer to use bubble tea straws, because they’re easier to cut.

Wedding cakes also should have a thick central wooden dowel, which helps keep the tiers centered. It acts as a guide as you stack the tiers on top of one another, and keeps your tiers stable during transportation.

photo of a sharpened central dowel for a wedding cake

I’ve learned overtime is that it’s a lot easier to slide your cakes onto the central dowel if it’s sharpened.

When I first head about this I was shocked, and had no idea how I could sharpen my own dowels. You can’t buy sharpened wooden dowels on amazon. Trust me, I’ve looked!!

I live in Manhattan in a tiny apartment, and I don’t have any power tools. When I thought about changing the shape of a wooden dowel, it seemed like a daunting task. Most wooden dowels have flat ends. How could I turn that into a point?!

Luckily most central dowels are made from bamboo, which is a very soft wood. With a good piece of sand paper, you can shape it into a point. Trust me. I know it seems like a lot of work, but after a few minutes of sanding, you’ll have a nice little point on your dowel.

Assembling Your Cake

I’ve found that assembling the cake before transporting it to the venue is less stressful. As long as a cake is properly supported, it should be easy enough to transport!

I assembled our cake on Thursday, and cleaned out my entire fridge to fit the 16 inch cake board that I built the cake on.

photo of wedding cake in normal fridge with 16 inch base

I had to remove all our shelves, and pretty much everything in our fridge. Luckily for us, we don’t really cook. I mostly just removed beer and seltzer from our fridge πŸ˜›

Another reason I like to assemble the cake at home is because it allows me to fill in any gaps between the tiers on a spinning cake stand with a bit of extra frosting.

Having a spinning cake stand makes this process so much easier. It also allows you to do all the hard work before getting the venue, or in my case before my wedding.

image of assembling a tiered cake and filling in the gaps

Assembling my cake earlier in the week made my life so much easier, and allowed me to enjoy time with my family and friends before our wedding. All that was left to do was add some fresh flowers the morning of our wedding!

The Finishing Touch: Fresh Flowers

One thing that simply can’t be done ahead of time is adding fresh flowers to a cake. You can buy them the day before and keep them in water, but you really shouldn’t add them to a cake until the morning of the event.

photo of 4 tier wedding cake decorated with fresh flowers

If you add them earlier, they will wilt.  Flowers need water to prevent them from wilting. If they’re added to cake more than a day before an event, they can really lose their luster.

While this makes life a bit more challenging, you have to trust me on this one. If you add them the day before, you will regret it.

My mom and I picked up some flowers the day before my wedding from our local flower shop. I left them in water overnight, and then trimmed the flowers I planned to use to have a 1 inch stem the morning of my wedding.

photo of chelsey white with her wedding cake

I wrapped the stem of each flower with floral tape, to prevent any flower stem fluid from leaching into the cake. These fluids can result in a bitter taste, and wrapping the stems protects the cake.

To secure the flowers into the sides of the cake, I used clear bubble tea straws. Bubble tea straws are thick, plastic straws that work wonders when it comes to adding flowers to a cake.

They create a perfect opening for a flower stem, and allow you to place flowers into the cake at different angles. This helps keep them in place without completely marring the sides of your cake. Flower stems are difficult to press into a frosted cake on their own!

Transporting The Cake To The Venue

Some people may disagree with the “build before transportation” viewpoint, but I almost always assemble before transporting. It all comes down to your preference, and your means of transportation. 

An important part of cake transportation is a cake box!! I’ve said this before, but moving boxes from Home Depot make the best wedding cake boxes.

They come in a variety of size, are sturdy, and are so cheap! They’re less than $2, and can support the weight of a wedding cake. I like to tape the box into place, then cut a flap on one side with an x-acto knife to allow me to slide the cake into the box. I then tape up the flap, and am ready to go!!

image of delivering wedding cake in an uber

My cake was tall, but still easily fit in an Uber XL. However, it was INSANELY heavy!! Or at least for my little arms to carry. I was lucky enough to have the help of two of my closest friends, who helped me get into the Uber and the venue.

Whenever I’m transporting a wedding cake, I like to hold the cake in my lap, so I can keep it safe during the trip.

Every Uber driver thinks I’m crazy and tries to tell me to put it in the back, but I refuse. I shift the weight of the cake during the drip, to help counter the various pot holes and sudden stops that are inevitable on any car ride in NYC.

Of course, I insisted on carrying our wedding cake myself. I had to carry it down a flight of wet stairs into our venue, which was by far the scariest part of my wedding day.

I was shaking once I got it down the stairs, and had the biggest adrenaline rush once I got the cake to the table where it would stay for the rest of the day.

Letting The Cake Sit

I dropped my cake off as early as our venue would let us, which was 10am the day of our wedding. I couldn’t have dropped it off the night before because I had to add the fresh flowers that morning! We didn’t end up cutting into the cake until 8pm that night.

photo of chelsey white-frankola cutting into her wedding cake

It might seem scary to let a cake sit a room temperature for that long, but if the cake is properly supported, it should be fine! Our cake held its shape just fine, and looked perfect when we cut into it.

We haven’t gotten our photos from our wedding photographer yet, but I’ll be sure to add the ones of us cutting into our cake once we get them! πŸ™‚

My Final Tips

While the photos look great and I’m so happy I made our cake, it was exhausting! In the end, it took about 18 hours to make. This timeline is a bit long because we have a mini oven (24 inches…gotta love NYC), and I’m not able to bake many layers at a time.

After baking the layers and prepping everything, I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. It was one of the worst baking hangovers (as I like to call them) I’ve had in a while. Luckily this hit on Thursday, and was gone by the start of our wedding festivities.

If you chose to make your own wedding cake, PLEASE plan appropriately, make as much as you can ahead of time, and do a practice run before the real thing. Most importantly, only do if it it will bring you joy on your wedding day!!

You can have your cake and eat it too, as long as you plan ahead πŸ™‚

64 thoughts on “How I Made My Own Wedding Cake

  1. Fabulous commentary, with answers to all the questions I had. Thank you for sharing your experience with your e-students … especially the reminder to clean out that entire refrigerator, including the shelves, so you will have room for the cake πŸ˜‰ !!!

    1. I did! It’s important to do that, as well as use supports between the tiers, so that the cake can support its weight and keep its shape!

  2. It’s so amazing that you were able to make your own cake and funfetti at that! Congratulations on your wedding and the successful transportation of your cake. ? I would’ve been a crazy person trying to get it there. Love your site! Keep it up.

    1. Haha thanks Christina! The transportation was definitely a bit stressful, but we got it there in one piece!! I appreciate the kind words <3

  3. Thank you for so much information! Can you make a video on how you insert flowers into the cake? You use straws but doesn’t that create really big holes throughout the cake layers? Thanks:)

    1. As long as the straws aren’t too long, it doesn’t really cut into the cake layer much! An alternative is to stick wires through the stems, then wrap them and stick them into the cake. The best method to use can really vary based on where you want to place the flowers on the cake, and how many you plan to use!

  4. All I can saw is wow!!! I’m a girl that loves details & instructions and you hit the mark on both. Everything you do leaves me in awe. Congrats on everything!!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that Wendy πŸ™‚ I really put a lot of effort into this post and tried to be as thorough as I could! Love that you appreciate it!! Thank you, happy baking <3

  5. Beautifull cake!!
    You assembled the cake on thursday and cut it on sunday? Will the cake be good for that long?

    1. Haha of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it that early πŸ˜› Once a cake is fully frosted, it can sit in the fridge for up to a week, as long as it’s fully frosted! The frosting locks in all the moisture, so the cake stay delicious and fresh!

  6. Absolutely stunning! One question, how to you tier the cake without smudging the icing…. since you actually are touching the whole thing?

    1. Hi Sushma! I chilled the tiers in my fridge and freezer overnight, so the buttercream was firm and had crusted before I went to assemble the cakes! I also have pretty cold hands, which makes handling cakes a bit easier!

  7. It is beautiful! You are an amazing woman to be able to do it all. You also made alot of helpful points and tips about baking, assembly, and transport. I love watching your videos and hearing the audio and look forward to seeing your pictures. Congratulations!

  8. Not only did you do a beautiful job on your own cake but you saved a fortune by not buying or ordering a wedding cake done by someone else. Congratulations!

  9. Congratulations. I love watching your videos. I will tey your stacking technique as a coworker wants me to do a wedding cake for her ??

    1. Thanks Kiya!! And yes, stacking the tiers with supports is definitely the way to go! Best of luck with your coworker’s wedding cake <3

  10. Beautiful cake! You are so brave to have made your own. I’m a pro baker and didn’t even do mine, lol

    One tip, just sharpen your dowels with a pencil sharpener! Much easier and pointier.

    Great story! Congrats!

    1. Thanks Hel!! That’s a great tip!! I don’t know if I’ve seen a pencil sharpener that wide though! I’ll have to get one for the next wedding cake I make πŸ™‚

      1. I crayon sharpener is sharp enough for a wooden dowel?! I never would have thought of that! I need to go out and get one!!

    1. Hi Victoria!

      Thanks πŸ™‚ Haha making a wedding cake definitely isn’t cheap! It can vary a lot based on what equipment you already have, and how much your ingredients cost! I already had pretty much everything I needed, but groceries in Manhattan aren’t cheap!! πŸ˜›

  11. Hi, Chelsea. Congrats on your wedding! I have been trying to ask about your cake layers and simple syrup. I have seen you using simple syrup in some of your cakes. When do you suggest to use it? Also, if I make your vanilla cake, would I use the simple syrup before freezing or after thawing? Thanks in advance.

  12. Hi, Chelsea. Congrats to the newlyweds. I have been trying to figure out why sometimes you put simple syrup over your cakes. How do I know when to use it? If I freeze the cake layers, should I put the simple syrup before freezing ir after thawing?

    1. Thanks Alba! I usually only use simple syrup on large, tiered cakes! the layers have to sit for a while as I assemble the cake, and I also am usually making it in advance. Most of my cake recipes don’t need simple syrup, and if a cake recipe does, it usually includes it in the ingredients / instructions! I include it in my recipe when I use it πŸ™‚

      It shouldn’t be added to the layers until after they’re thawed. Hope that helps!!

  13. Hey there, gorgeous cake! two questions if you don’t mind. Was there a cardboard beneath each cake? Were the cakes frozen before you placed them, as i see you hold them in your hands?

    1. Thanks Stefania! There are cardboard rounds beneath each cake! you need that, otherwise the supports in each tier would just poke through the next tier. The cakes were chilled overnight in a cold fridge (on the highest cold setting), and also the buttercream had crusted! I find that as long as they can chill for about 8 hours, they’re ok to handle briefly/gently. Hope that helps!

  14. love this blog! i do have another question, after frosting and stacking do you cover it while storing it in the fridge? Or will the buttercream and cake be okay uncovered?

    1. Hi Jazmin! Thank you!!

      I leave mine the fridge uncovered all the time, for up to a week! As long as your fridge doesn’t have lots of fish or onions (or anything with a super fragrant smell that the buttercream could absorb), it’s fine to leave it uncovered πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much! I cut my own wedding cake during our wedding, so sadly I didn’t get a photo of it!! I was having to much fun in the moment <3

  15. So pretty!!! I’m making a wedding cake for a friend today! She wants the semi-nude cake look. Do you think a semi-nude frosted cake will be ok sitting in the fridge for a day or two?

    1. As long as you add lots of simple syrup to the layers, it should be fine overnight! I get nervous letting semi naked cakes sit for a while in the fridge, just because they aren’t fully frosted. Hope that helps, and that the cake turns out great Katie!! <3

  16. Congratulations Chelsea!
    Beautiful cake and excellent post.
    Question: how were you able to use a butter only buttercream frosting in summer? Did you use hi ratio shortening at all? Were you concerned about melting?
    Thank you for all your videos. If I’m ever in NYC, I’m going to book a cake lesson with you.

    1. My wedding reception was indoors, so the cake stayed cool! I just used regular buttercream πŸ™‚

      Cakes should never really sit out in heat (even if it is a summer wedding!), the sun or humidity just destroys them. Shortening can help a bit, but the frosting will still melt if left out in the heat. A lot of brides have this vision of their wedding cake sitting out at an outdoor wedding, but it’s a terrible idea!!

      Our cake stayed inside at our venue from 10am until we cut into it at 7pm, and it kept its shape perfectly!! <3

    1. Thanks Daily! It depends how full you fill them, but I filled mine about 1 inch high with batter and used two flower nails, and they baked for about 40 minutes! The flower nails help the cake layers bake so much more quickly!!

  17. Lovely cake and great efforts… I normally prepare the cake and cream ahead of time but have never frosted and refrigerated it… do we need to cover it before dropping in the fridge??

    1. Hi Simmi! Thanks!! I usually wrap my layers and cover my buttercream with plastic wrap if I’m putting them in the fridge or freezer before assembling the cake <3

  18. Hi Chelsea, your cake looks really amazing and you have inspired me in so many ways! I am wondering how big is your rotating cake table if your largest cake is 12 inches? thank you

    1. My cake stand is only 12 inches, so when I stacked my tiered cake on a 14 inch cake drum, there def was a bit of overhang! But the cake stand is super strong, and it works just fine when larger cake boards are placed on top of it πŸ™‚

  19. How many batches of cake went into each tier? My wedding is in 10 days and I’m definitely going to use your recipes for mine! You’re an inspiration! ??

  20. Would this timeline approach still be adequate if the cake was more of a “naked” icing style? I worry with less icing, it won’t hold up as well in the fridge and the day of the event at room temperature. Also, if the cake was fun fetti, do you think a smeared naked icing would hide the color of the sprinkles?? Thanks for sharing!

    1. No! The cake would hold up fine, but it can dry out because the cake layers aren’t fully covered with frosting! I don’t think frosting a funfetti cake for a semi-naked look would cover the sprinkles! I think some of the color would still pop through. You can still bake the layers in advance and freeze them, and make the frosting ahead of time, but I’d recommend assembling the night before or the morning of. It won’t take as long to make, which is the nice part of picking that look πŸ™‚ Hope that helps!

  21. hey gal! I have you to thank for my attempt at my first layer cake last April..and now i’m baking my friends wedding cake next month! I’m wondering where you get your cake drums..i’m on the hunt for smooth white..i couldn’t tell if that was what you were using..

    1. Congrats Dawn, that is awesome! I usually just order my drums on amazon, and get them in either a 1 pack or 6 pack! Here is a link to the 12 inch drums I get. The main things I look for when ordering them is making sure they’re 1/2 inch thick, and that they’re grease proof. If your cake is super heavy, you can also place two drums under the cake (and tape/glue them together), to ensure the cake is properly supported and easy to move. Hope that helps, best of luck!!

      https://amzn.to/310y4R1

    1. Hi Melissa! It varies based on the height of your tiers, and how many tiers you do! But at least tall enough to reach through the top tier <3

  22. Hello!! This is amazing!! Your baking has inspired me so much to where I want to bake my own wedding cake in January. What did you use under the entire cake? What was strong enough to hold the cake? could you send a link please?? I know its 16 inc cake board but I just want to know what you used exactly.

    1. Hi Jessica!! That is so wonderful to hear πŸ™‚ I used two thick cake drums, that I tapped together! I like to have my cake boards be at least 2 inches larger than my bottom tier (i.e. a 14in cake board for a 12 inch tier), to make the cake easier to transport and assemble. I glued together 2 cake drums that were 1/2 inch thick. You could probably use one, but I was paranoid, and my cake was SO heavy! Using 2 gave me piece of mind. Here is the link to them, I got mine on amazon: https://amzn.to/2LrlO6A

      Hope that helps, and best of luck with your wedding cake this January! If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I’m always here to help <3

Let me know what you think!