Types of Wedding Cakes: The Definitive Guide

Types of Wedding Cakes: The Definitive Guide

There are seemingly endless types of wedding cakes. From shape all the way down to frosting style, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and not know where to even begin. That’s why we created this guide, which will walk you through everything you need to know about finding the right combination for your big day. Keep reading to discover the 31 different types of wedding cakes you will need to know before you ever step foot into a tasting.

But before getting started, it’s important to note that finding a combination is about more than simply wanting chocolate or vanilla. In fact, picking a flavor may just be the easiest part. Before you can get to the filling, you first need to nail down what you want the cake to look like. The good news? The options are endless, and there’s no right or wrong answer! The choice is completely yours.

Besides the flavor, there are three main characteristics of a wedding cake: Shape, size, and style. We take a deep dive into those three categories — which can be combined in thousands of different ways to make the cake of your dreams — below.

Types of wedding cakes by shape

1. Round

Round cakes are circle-shaped and come in one or more tiers. They’re a classic shape that symbolizes unity, most likely because it’s reminiscent of a wedding ring. Some couples choose to have a small round cake reserved for their own cake cutting while they serve guests from a larger version.

2. Oval 

Oval wedding cakes are elliptical-shaped, as the name implies. Their soft edges provide an interesting visual twist on the traditional round-shaped cakes. Layers may be stacked centered or off-centered. 

3. Square

Square wedding cakes are box-shaped and usually come in multiple tiers. Like the rectangular and sheet versions below, the square wedding cake typically incorporates other “traditional” wedding decorations in order to differentiate itself from a birthday cake style. 

4. Sheet

Sheet cakes are made in a flat, rectangular pan. They’re fairly large and tend to be served as a single layer rather than multi-tiered. Some couples opt to have a “sheet cake in the back.” That means they’ll have a smaller, more intricately-decorated one for cutting and photos and serve guests from the larger, more cost-effective sheet cake instead. 

5. Rectangular

Longer than a square but sometimes not as big as a sheet, a rectangular wedding cake is a classy option served as a single or multi-tiered treat. If tiered, the layers may be centered or off-centered depending on the design. Some couples choose to have multiple single-layered rectangular cakes to separate dietary restrictions and/or flavors. 

6. Hexagon

Hexagon wedding cakes are six-sided cakes served in a single or multi-layer fashion. If you like corners, this is the type of wedding cake for you. 

7. Mixed shape

Mixed shape wedding cakes typically have multiple layers of differently-shaped cakes. They may be alternating (round, square, round) or entirely unique (rectangular, round, square, heart). 

8. Unusual shape

Anything that doesn’t fall into one of the geometric categories above would probably be considered unusual. This includes spherical cakes, cakes that look like the bottoms of dresses, comma-shaped cakes, and so on.

9. Petal

A petal wedding cake may also be referred to as a flower cake. It typically has five or six half-circles surrounding the circumference of a circle-shaped cake. Petal cakes are found as single-tier, multi-tier, and in many mixed-shape cakes in combination with round or hexagon-shaped layers. 

10. Staircase

Staircase-shaped wedding cakes use multiple stacked layers that look like an actual staircase when put together. Staircase cakes can be made from stacking square or rectangular layers, but some designers will add a staircase spiraling up the side of a multi-tiered round cake. 

11. Sculptural

Sculptural wedding cakes are works of art that are typically hand-carved from various other cake shapes on this list. You can work closely with your baker to create a design you love which may or may not include other wedding cake shapes seen above. 

Types of wedding cakes by size

12. Miniature

Mini cakes are a unique alternative to traditional tiered cakes and sheet cakes. Use one for cutting and taking photos, then serve a larger version to guests. Some vendors may consider cupcakes to be miniature wedding cakes. 

13. Single-tier

Single-tier wedding cakes are great for small weddings or if you’re only planning to serve cake to your immediate wedding party. They can be crafted to look just as elegant as their multi-tiered counterparts. 

14. Two-tier

Two-tier wedding cakes offer the best of both worlds between single-tier and multiple-tier options. Small enough to serve fewer people yet layered enough to provide extra room for creative cake decorations, it’s no surprise why this is a popular option.

15. Three-tier

Traditionally, couples will have a three-tier wedding cake because each layer serves a different purpose. The bottom is for serving, the middle is for people to take home, and the top is to freeze and save for a later date (like your first wedding anniversary).

16. Multi-tier

Multi-tiered cakes are more dramatic and interesting than their smaller counterparts. They are also taller with more canvas space for designs.

17. Stacked

Stacked cakes represent a type of wedding cake layering technique for desserts with more than one tier. Each layer is placed directly on top of another without additional support from pillars. 

18. Pillar

Like stacked cakes, pillar cakes are also made up of more than one cake layer. The difference between them, however, is that pillar cakes use wooden or plastic dowels in between rather than setting layers on top of one another. This is a style choice, but it’s also functional for easier cutting and flavor separation should anyone have dietary restrictions. 

19. Double barrel

A double-barrel wedding cake is made up of a combination of two or more cakes stacked on top of one another. The average double barrel cake has four layers and can sometimes look like a top hat. 

Types of wedding cakes by style

20. Traditional white

Of all the different types of wedding cakes, the traditional white is probably the one that comes to mind first. When the traditional white wedding cake — which is white on the inside and out — was first conceived in the 16th century, white frosting was highly desired because it represented money and social importance.

21. Modern

Modern cakes are usually made with creamy textures and are enriched with fresh fruit and chocolate. They come in various shapes and sizes, and they may follow traditional modern design aesthetics (black and white, straight edges, etc.) or lean more contemporary (as long as it’s not traditional, then anything goes). 

22. Naked

The naked cake is a type of wedding cake that omits the most common frosting. Instead, its layers are stacked with layers of filling that are topped with a layer of butter and moisture.

23. Black

Typically decorated with fondant, a black wedding cake turns the traditional white version upside down with this striking outer color. The inside may be any other color and decorations are sometimes used. Black wedding cakes are popular for Halloween or dark-themed weddings

24. Monochrome

A monochrome wedding cake is typically all one color. It may have multiple layers in different hues, or it may have a variety of decorative features all in the same shade to create an interesting texture. 

25. Minimalist

Like any minimalist style, less is more. For wedding cakes, that often looks like naked frosting or frosting between layers with a single tier or same flavor in multiple tiers. Natural decorative elements such as real flowers are often used to accentuate the cake's simplicity. 

26. Maximalist

More is more with the maximalist wedding cake. Think multiple tiers, dramatic colors, and tons of fun decorative elements. These may be shaped into storytelling landscapes such as mountains for a rock-climbing couple. Or they may be so elegant that they represent the focal point of the reception decor. 

27. Floral 

Floral wedding cakes are any wedding cake that use real or fake flowers as the design focal point. They can be customized to fit any wedding theme depending on which types of flowers you choose. You can even match your floral wedding cake to your bouquet to create a pleasing design through-line. 

28. Textured

Textured wedding cakes often involve waves, ruffles, lace, or decorative objects that make the surface of the icing anything but smooth. Embossing is also a type of cake texturing. It’s different from a traditional icing technique because it relies on subtler designs than the standard star-piping dots, flowers, and lines. 

29. Painted

The painted wedding cake is the latest addition to the watercolor cake trend. The biggest difference is they go beyond the usual pale colors and textures to include museum-worthy designs. They’ll often feature artistic patterns or full-out portraits and require a baker with this skill set to make. 

30. Gradient

This statement-piece wedding cake style uses an ombre effect with cake tiers and/or colors to take one hue from dark to light. Some cake artists may blend multiple playful colors or add an entire rainbow of blended stripes. 

31. Glamorous

Glamorous wedding cakes are also known as luxury wedding cakes. These are often defined by their cost, exclusive and high-quality ingredients, and the artist creating them. Edible gold is a great example of what you may find on a glamorous wedding cake. 

Now you know all about the different types of wedding cakes!

Now that you’re familiar with all the different types of wedding cakes, you can take an informed look at these inspiring wedding cake ideas and know exactly what to ask your caterer for. 

Want to skip the cake entirely? Check out these 30 unique wedding dessert ideas instead.

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