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 daydreaming 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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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 leftover, 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.

Itโ€™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 theyโ€™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 sandpaper, 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

Iโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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 theyโ€™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 maring 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

110 thoughts on “How I Made My Own Wedding Cake

  1. Aloha,
    Thanks for sharing your skills with us. I am a self taught baker and love it! I was just asked to make my first wedding cake and I am a bit nervous. I have already done a test run, but eating it fresh compared to making it in advance is totally different. Im worried about it drying out, or the frosting not holding up. After making the cake in advance, I need to wrap it tight and freeze right? Then after crumb coating each layer, can it go in the fridge without wrap? And my last question, after fully frosting and assembling the entire cake (with buttercream- butter and powdered sugar) can it stay out over night until delivery the next day or should I leave it in the fridge covered or uncovered?

    Mahalo for you help in advance,
    Kyla

    1. Hi Kyla! some cake recipes freeze better than others, but for the most part if you double wrap them they should taste the same! Adding simple syrup before frosting the cake also helps ensure the cake layers will be moist.

      After fully frosting each tier, they can sit in the fridge! You can chill the crumb coat, but I’d recommend fully frosting the cake before letting it sit in the fridge overnight.

      once the cake is assembled, definitely put it in the fridge overnight!! It needs to chill before it’s transported to help it stay stable.

      I hope that helps, happy baking Kyla!! <3

  2. Hi! Iโ€™m planning on making a wedding cake for a family friend in August, and was just wondering about how the bubble straws affected the slices. I know you put many dowels in there, so did you have to pull them out one by one as you sliced? Also, this cake is amazing!! Originally I was unsure if I could make a wedding cake, but your blog posts and YouTube videos are super helpful(:

    1. Hi Sarah,

      That’s awesome! And I love that you’re planning ahead and doing your research now ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s half the battle.

      I actually don’t pull the bubble tea straws out, but more so just cut around them! As you cut the slices, you just cut right up against the straw, and then it pops out quite easily. It sounds weird, but it doesn’t seem so crazy when you’re actually cutting the cake ๐Ÿ˜› I cut my own wedding cake, but if your event has caterers, they usually know how to cut around dowels / bubble tea straws and are great at it.

      Hope that helps, please let me know if you have any other questions along the way, I’m happy to help!! <3

    1. Hi Aisha,

      Surprisingly yes! It used just about all of my arm strength though, and I had to remove all my shelves from my fridge to fit it!! It was definitely not easy, but it is doable ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Tanya,

      So happy to hear that! I definitely place a cake board under each tier for support!! It’s really important to do that, so that the supports (i like to use bubble tea straws) in each tier have a firm bottom and top to rest against ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thank you so much for this blog and IG post ! I found you on YouTube ( I think ). I was searching ways to make my own wedding cake . My husband and I decided to get married earlier than we planned Oct 2019 . We eloped and had a small wedding with family. But we are still planning our big wedding & ceremony for Aug. 2019. We priced one cake for 150 ppl. It came out to $600 and then $150 for the travel fee. This didnโ€™t include my grooms cake. I used to bake & I cook ALL THE TIME. I decide to re-create your wedding cake and receipt ( vanilla ) for our big day in August . I had one question – how much did all the ingredients cost ? Iโ€™m considering Costco ( bc they have tremendous savings on everything from food, to trips, honeymoon , travel , cooking appliances ) …. I want to save . But Iโ€™m making my cake because I enjoy baking as well .

    1. Of course! I’m always happy to share what I learn along the way ๐Ÿ™‚

      I honestly have no idea how much my cake cost to make, but also groceries here in manhattan are insanely expensive! I think getting your ingredients at costco is a great idea. I think you’ll save a lot of money, and enjoy making your cake since you love to bake <3 I hope your wedding cake turns out great!

  4. Great tutorial! You came up on you tube and I started watching your videos. I watched this video over and over. I then used your chocolate, marble, and yellow cake recipes. I also used the chocolate buttercream frosting and made my daughter a 4 tier wedding cake. It turned out beautiful. I had help from my 11 year old daughter baking the cakes one night and then making frosting the next day. A wonderful cousin of my husband also helped assembling the cake. It turned out better than I imagined. Thank you so much for all the information and video’s. You are great for sharing all you have learned through trial and error

    1. That is so awesome to hear Stacey!! Hearing stories like this absolutely make my day, thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚ It sounds like one delicious wedding cake, you have a very lucky daughter!

  5. Exactly the kind of straightforward advice I was looking for, thank you! I will be adding fondant to a layer cake I am doing for my sister’s wedding. How far in advance can I take the cake out of the freezer and decorate it before the cake dries up? Should I defrost, add buttercream and fondant the day before the wedding or two days before? Thank you x

    1. So happy to hear that Samantha! You can make the cake layers weeks in advance as long as they’re wrapped properly (like this: https://chelsweets.com/2018/10/28/how-to-make-cake-layers-in-advance/). I let my frozen cake layers thaw for 30 minutes before frosting them / assembling a cake.

      If it’s not too stressful I’d say adding the buttercream and fondant the day before the wedding could be great! but you could do it two days before too. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  6. so your cake boards have a central hole to accommodate the central dowel? All my boards are solid–do they make them with a hole? BTW, this was the best video for showing all aspects of putting together a tiered cake. Thanks!

    1. Hi Ellen,

      Yup!! It’s hard to tell when you order them on amazon, but all the grease-proof boards made by Wilton have holes cutes in the center!! They make life so much easier. Here’s the link to the ones I use: https://amzn.to/2vhHRqA

      And thank you!! I hope that helps, happy baking!

      1. FYI–just clicked on link and in the answered questions area it specifically says no center hole ๐Ÿ™ I’ll keep looking, I guess…

  7. Thanks for that. Weird how the pics don’t show the hole…glad to hear they exist. My one and only tiered cake fell over–disaster…and I haven’t had the nerve to try again!

    1. Np! And I know, it’s so odd! you’d think that would be a selling point they’d want to highlight!! I’m sure with the right supports, boards, and central dowel your next tiered cake will be a success ๐Ÿ™‚

      I believe in you, best of luck Ellen!

  8. Thank you for all your tips! I am hoping to make my sisters wedding cake in September and wondered if you would recommend buttercream and fondant icing so I can assemble a couple of days before? I also want to use paints and buttercream to decorate

    1. Hi Renea,

      I’m so happy you found this post helpful! I have never covered a wedding cake in fondant, but I made and assembled my own wedding cake several days in advance and it was just covered with buttercream ๐Ÿ™‚ It kept great!!

      You can definitely paint on a chilled buttercream cake with a mixture of gel food coloring and liquor (I share how I like to do that here: https://chelsweets.com/2018/08/21/how-to-paint-on-a-buttercream-cake/), and use additional frosting to decorate it.

      If you plan to use buttercream to add decorations on the cake, I would recommend not adding fondant around the cake.

      Hope that helps, and that your sister’s wedding cake turns out wonderfully ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world!!! I have to make a wedding cake the same size as yours but it will be red velvet cake w/cream cheese. My plan is to use the same amount of batches as your wedding cake. My question is if they want to have a richer cream cheese taste would I add an additional cup of cream cheese to each batch?? Thank you for your response in advance!

    1. You’re too sweet Quiana!! That’s awesome, I hope your wedding turns out wonderfully! When you say you want to frosting to have richer cream cheese taste, do you mean less sweet? or more intense cream cheese taste? You can add an additional cup of cream cheese frosting per batch, but it will make the frosting a bit less thick.

      The frosting should still work great as long as the tiers are properly supported, but it may be slightly harder to smooth. I recommend making a test batch of frosting with the extra cream cheese, and see how it tastes and works decorating. I’m not sure how you plan to decorate the cake, and some designs / patterns are more forgiving than others.

      Please let me know how it turns out!!

  10. Hey! how many batches of your funfetti recipe for just the 3 layers of 12 inch rounds? As well, how much batter in each layer did you use? Using your โ€œcake batter calculatorโ€ Iโ€™m seeing 7.3 for 1 inch butter cake recipe just wanted to check thatโ€™s what you used. Making your recipe for a layer of my wedding cake, have done a couple practices and everyone has loved them, thank you so much for your tutorials.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      That’s so wonderful to hear! I calculate you need about 2.2 batches of batter to make 3, 12-inch cake layers. Or for each pan you need about 7.3 cups of batter. Hope that helps, happy baking! <3

    1. Hi Scherie,

      That’s awesome, how exciting! The central dowl is just slightly shorter than the entire cake stacked. You don’t want to poke through the top, but it should go a decent way into the top tier. I like mine to be a couple inches shorter than to full height of the cake. Hope that helps, and best of luck! Please let me know if you have any other questions along the way, I’m here to help!

Let me know what you think!