If you’ve never coordinated a large-scale event (or any event) before, wedding planning has a way of serving you up a nice, healthy slice of reality a la mode—whether you ordered it or not. Just days into the process, you’ll quickly start to realize there is a ton (and we mean a ton) to consider in order to plan and execute a seamless and stunning soirée. From strategic seating charts to budget-balancing, weddings aren’t all garden roses and ballgowns—it takes some serious brainpower to figure out even the most mundane details. Today, then, we’re tackling one of the most common questions brides and grooms ask when planning their wedding: how much dessert do we need? To help you on your planning journey, we’ve gathered our team of seasoned wedding planners to talk about the stats behind sweets. Read on (preferably with a glass of milk nearby).
If you’re opting for a traditional wedding cake, you’ll typically use tiers to figure out how many guests your cake can feed. Use the chart below to see approximately how much each round tier will feed. Then, depending on the design and style of your cake, you can calculate how many/what size tiers you’ll need to feed your expected number of wedding guests. If you’re opting for a low-profile, single-tier cake and have 90 guests, for example, you can go for a simple 16-inch round, which typically feeds 100. If you’re going for a more traditional tiered cake, for 75 guests, you’d want to use a 3-tiered cake using 6-, 8- and 10-inch tiers. For 125 guests, you’d want to go with a 4-tiered cake using 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-inch tiers. For 200 guests, you can opt for a 4-tiered cake using 8-, 10-, 12- and 14-inch tiers--or could even opt for a 3-tiered cake using 12-, 14- and 16-inch tiers.
Cake Size & Servings
4-inch round = 8 servings
6-inch round = 12 servings
8-inch round = 24 servings
9-inch round = 32 servings
10-inch round = 38 servings
12-inch round = 56 servings
14-inch round = 78 servings
16-inch round = 100 servings
The popularity of dessert stations at weddings is on the rise, but making sure you have enough sweet treats for every guest to indulge in can be tricky. A simple trick: if you’re working with small, individual desserts (cookies, cupcakes, petit fours, donuts, etc.) in lieu of a typical tiered wedding cake, multiply the number of guests expected by 2.5 to determine the number of desserts you’ll need. If your budget allows (and if there will be a number of different desserts for guests to choose from, which comes with the expectation that people might want to try one of everything), you can up that formula to 3.5 desserts per person and can include take-home boxes or brown paper bags (stamped with your initials or other fun wedding design) near the dessert table as an added take-home bonus for your guests.
Late-Night Sweet Treats
Some couples opt to have another round of sweets brought out for the late-night guests, and this can be a huge hit with partygoers—but it definitely makes the calculation a bit tricky. If you’re having a typical cake or dessert bar and then, later in the evening are bringing out, say, a s’mores-around-firepits option (yes, please), our recommendation is to plan to serve ¾ of the number of total wedding guests. By the time a late-night donut cart or s’mores bar rolls around, at least 25% of your guests will have already departed (if not more), so, by planning to serve 75% of your guests, you should have plenty for all of those dirty-dancing, moon-howling, late-night friends and family.
Overall, it’s always better to have too much dessert than not enough. Keep in mind, we always recommend talking to your baker or caterer and working directly with a professional wedding planner to ensure your calculations are right. Chances are, both have done countless weddings before and will be able to tell you just how much dessert you’ll need to satisfy every single sweet tooth at your soirée.
Hero photo courtesy of Charla Storey