15 Small Wedding Cake Ideas That Are Big on Style


When it comes to cakes, size really doesn't matter

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

Turn Down For What Cake Topper via Host & Toast Studio

A few years ago, I got really into making fancy cakes. Or at least, I got really into the idea of making fancy cakes. I had a cousin who was sidelining as a semi-pro baker, and I’d watched her work just enough to convince myself I could totally do it. I even made some for an event that APW hosted. However, after a few epic fails in the kitchen that involved me sobbing into a pile of confectioners’ sugar at three o’clock in the morning, I learned something important: making cakes look pretty versus making cakes tasty and structurally sound (and also pretty) are two totally different beasts. Also I’m officially not allowed to attempt anything more ambitious than Betty Crocker anymore (it’s for my own good).

If you’re DIYing your wedding cake to save money, the best advice I can give you is to make sure that your plan is actually going to save you money. My cake efforts were ambitious, to say the least, and I’m pretty sure I spent more on supplies than I would have if I’d bought a modest yet pretty cake for whatever occasion I was baking for. But, you know, bragging rights. If you just want to save a few dollars and have a pretty wedding cake, then here’s my advice: buy or make or ask a friend to make an inexpensive (but tasty) small cake, and then decorate the heck out of it. (Assuming you want a wedding cake to begin with. Obviously it is not required.) The best part? If you do a small cake for a symbolic cutting, then you can feed your guests tasty sheet cake and no one will be any the wiser. So with that, here are fifteen wedding cake ideas that give small cakes a big dose of pretty:

Put a Flower On It

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

1. One of the easiest ways to take a simple cake from boring to wedding is with edible flowers. You can buy them fresh or dried. (Styled by Healthfully Ever After; photo by Bit of Ivory Photography via Swooned Magazine.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

2. Or if you’re not planning on serving your cake (that’s what sheet cake is for, right?) you can always ask whoever is helping with your flowers (which could be… yourself) to make a little something extra just for the top, like the above. (Cake by Earth and Sugar, photo by Jessica Lorren via Snippet and Ink.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

3. Or to hell with flowers. Use herbs to decorate the sides of your cake. (Photo by Amanda Berens via Toertchenzeit.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

4. Sometimes less is more. There’s a great tutorial for a DIY naked cake made from grocery store cakes right here and you can get a flat icing spatula for less than $10 right here. (Photo and cake recipe via Tú Eres El Chef.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

5. I never liked any of the beach-themed wedding ideas we found when planning our beach wedding, but I would make an exception for this. Mussels are the flowers of the sea, no? (Styling by Joy Thigpen; photo by Erich McVey via OnceWed.)

Sweeten the Deal

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

6. Flowers aren’t your only edible decor options. Add dried or candied fruit for a colorful cake topper (which you can make or buy). Also, it goes without saying that white cakes are not the only cakes deserving of the wedding cake title. Chocolate cake is delicious(Cake by Heritage Organic Cakes; photo by Michelle Able Photography via The School of Styling.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

7. Or whole fruit. Which you can then eat. (Cake by Sweet Haus; photo by Rachel May via 100 Layer Cake.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

8. Or combine fruit and flowers. Bam. (Cake by Kuchen mit Stil; photo by Thomas Steibl via Wedding Chicks.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

9. P.S. Florals and fruits can mean big ass coconuts and tropical flowers. Just saying. (Cake by Heritage Organic Cakesflorals by Forêt Design Studiophoto by Ruth Eileen Photography via The School Of Styling.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

10. Who said edible cake decor has to exist in nature? Arrange other confections artfully on top of your cake to make it double the dessert. You can even buy ready-made heart-shaped macarons right here, and as you can see here, regular macarons would also work just fine. (Photo and macaron cake recipe via Raspberri Cupcakes.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

11. Or live out my childhood dreams and create an ombre effect using rock candy. You can buy rock candy at most candy stores and online, or make it yourself using this recipe(Cake by Sweet and Saucy Shop; photo by Erin Hearts Court via 100 Layercakelet.)

Top it Off

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

12. You can give a short cake some extra height with a tall cake topper, like this geometric design from Host & Toast Studio. (Geometric cake topper via Host & Toast Studio; also available in teal, pink, gold, and silver.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

13. Or if you prefer something a little more nature inspired, Etsy is filled with cool customizable twig cake toppers, or you can make the featured above using these instructions. (Styling by Megan Forbes; photo by Christina Hussey via Gold Mine.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

14. Make a statement with tiny Mylar balloons. These look surprisingly easy to make, and the DIY is right here. (DIY Mylar balloon cake topper via A Joyful Riot.)

Small Wedding Cake Ideas | A Practical Wedding

15. Or just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. (DIY naked cake recipe by Cake Walk Bake Shopflamingo cake topper by BHLDN; photo by April Ann Photography via 100 Layer Cake.)

P.S. If traditional cake expectations have you stressed out, read this post by Meg and it will make you feel better.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • emilyg25

    If you really want a tiered cake, I highly recommend the book Wedding Cakes You Can Make. It walks you through the whole process from planning to storing the leftovers.

    • Alison M

      I’m making mine from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Also highly recommended. I’ve done several successful test cakes and a wedding cake for a friend from it so far.

  • JDrives

    Filing that mini-foil-balloon tutorial away for all future parties. SO CUTE AND SO TINY

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I KNOW. I need it. For everything.

  • MaryElise

    I love a small cake! I’ve noticed that the majority of my clients are getting just a small cake for themselves and then tons of different desserts for their guests. A while back I did a series of how-to’s for styling small cakes…including taking two store bought cakes and tiering them yourself (I would only advise doing two tiers…anything else may need more structure added to it) and a naked rice krispie cake! http://www.maryeliserees.com/blog/2015/4/12/wedding-cake-hacks

  • EF

    my partner made our cake! but he’s the son of a baker and an avid baker himself. we also got a couple of other cakes from a local cafe we really like. this is the one we cut; it was chocolate and bailey’s, and it was the only time he’s ever made chocolate ganache where it came out clumpy AT ALL. so even if you’re used to making cakes, sometimes these things just get away from you? it was delicious though. topped with homemade cake bunting, which is all the rage in britain right now.

    • uyee9kohpoh

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    • we love those pennants <3 <3 <3

  • heather_kaye

    I’m getting a dozen or so normal-sized coconut cakes (plus some bar desserts made by my wonderful aunt), and I have three stands/toppers to elevate some things on the table. COMMERCIAL: two of the toppers were made by Bee3DGifts on Etsy – a custom piece and one they had listed in their store. The couple was wonderful and accommodating and things were *not* super expensive. I have a lot of detail things that I’m doing for the reception, but the dessert table is absolutely what I’m most excited to see! (Though I might need some of those flamingos…just to have, ya know?)

  • Erica

    I -love- this post!
    We are making decisions that cut our costs on cake, and ended up with three small (-ish, 13″) cakes. We will be able to serve our 80 guests using 3 13-in round chocolate (!) cakes from Costco ($18 each). We then designed cake toppers to fit our theme (fantasy authors and worlds), using crests and sigils (“flags”) from the peoples of Narnia, Hogwarts houses, game of thrones houses, and lord of the rings. The largest central topper is our family crest (last name “flagg”). It’s just so perfect for us, and was VERY cheap, as well as tasty (we even had the budget to buy 3 different Costco cakes just to do an at-home tasting). I’ve also asked the florist to reserve some loose flowers to embellish the cakes. The sigils are so pretty and colorful and thematic, I’ve every confidence it will look extra-fabulous.

  • This is the cutest small wedding cake we’ve ever seen :)

  • Annabel

    Wedding cake

  • Riot

    That pansy cake is the sweetest thing ever.

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