Whether you’re planning the perfect, elaborate white wedding at the family farm or planning a destination wedding, if you ask any friends and family to gather, you will eventually have to consider how you will feed all of your guests. And you can’t forget the centerpiece of the dinner table and perhaps of the main event itself: the wedding cake, to be sliced into generous pieces and carefully sealed, only to be pulled out later, thawed and shared with your partner on your anniversary.
Even if you’re planning on traditionally celebrating your love, it doesn’t mean your cake has to be vanilla too! Many modern young lovebirds think about ways they can infuse more fun and creativity into their big day; that is, many opt for cupcakes rather than cake catering services.
You may be thinking: How many cupcakes should I order for my wedding? What are the best ways to choose a baker for our special day? Am I going to go for mini cupcakes, regular cupcakes or a mix of the two? Are cupcakes a more affordable option than cake?
When it comes to cupcakes (and weddings, for that matter), it’s important to be thoughtful but with an emphasis on how to have the most fun wedding ever. In this article, we will delve wholeheartedly into everything you should consider about a cupcake wedding — from how many flavors of cupcakes to offer to what quality cupcake catering costs for a big group of loved ones. Read on to learn how you can have the most inspired and delicious wedding cupcakes ever!
Why Order Cupcakes for a Wedding Rather Than Cake?
Who doesn’t love miniature versions of things they love? Teacup piglets, miniature poodles, traditional macchiatos and twinkle lights during the holidays come to mind. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not also bring up the delightfully tiny and perfectly bite-sized treat: the mini cupcake.
Even if you opt for the full-sized cupcake, there’s a lot to love about opting for a wedding cupcake service rather than a traditional sheet cake or a massive, multi-tiered wedding cake. Here are the top five reasons to cater your wedding with cupcakes rather than regular cake:
1. Cupcakes are ineffably fun
Yes, a slice of cake is and always will be enticing — especially when shared at a wedding celebration. However, cupcakes allow bakers to play with their presentation and make for a playful reception with flavor combinations, decorative toppings and even wrappers. Plus, presenting a table laden with cupcakes lends a sense of abundance to the festivities that sometimes is missed when seeking the glamour of a traditional, high-end wedding cake.
2. Cupcakes make a unique statement
How many weddings have you been to where they offered cupcakes, macarons, cookies or some other sweet treat instead of the usual dessert we’ve come to expect? Cake is delicious but can also be heavy, saccharine and unsurprising at a wedding. Cupcakes offer guests the chance to have their cake on the go — maybe munching as they wander from the beverage station to the dance floor. This offers a slightly more intimate, casual vibe that can be a welcome reprieve from a starched, traditional reception.
3. Sweethearts can choose flavor variety
Can’t decide on the best cake flavor? Maybe you and your hunny have opposite palates, which is why you work. Cupcakes offer the chance for everyone to get what they want — or as close to it as possible. Red velvet can match carrot cake, German chocolate cake, white coconut cake, marbled cupcakes or maple bacon cupcakes. The opportunities are endless. You can take your time chatting with the baker about the menu you wish to provide your guests. Those with experience in the field may have valuable input!
4. Cupcakes are more affordable than traditional wedding desserts
If budgeting is important to your planning, you understand how imperative it can be to shave off extra dollars here and there and pinch every penny. Everywhere you can find a deal, it is advisable to take it. This adds more padding in your budget in the event of an emergency, and anything left over at the end of the night can provide a few extra days at the couples’ spa honeymoon retreat.
This may make you question whether a wedding cupcake catering service is cheaper than a traditional grandiose wedding cake. In response to this, most bakers will quote you at a lower rate for cupcakes over a traditional wedding cake, which requires elaborate layering techniques, painstaking decorations and nail-biting transport to your venue. While cake can cost around $2.50 a slice on average, cupcakes can cost closer to $1. What’s more, cupcakes do not require the cake-cutting fee associated with a traditional cake.
5. Cupcakes can be zero waste
Even if a baker opts for the cheap and mindless old-school cupcake wrapper made of special paper, these can be composted at the end of the night. You could also add silicone cupcake wrappers into your budget or even convince the baker to invest in them as a marketing maneuver moving forward. If wrappers are the least of your concern, then let’s think about food waste.
Even if you don’t have access to compost, uneaten cupcakes at the end of the evening can still be preserved and enjoyed later. Dump peeled cupcakes of like flavors into a stand mixer, blend into a sweet mush, roll into truffles and chill. These can easily combine into a sealable, freezer-proof bag and provide delightful “thank you” gifts to guests or can line the freezer of sweets-loving couples for three to five months.
How Many Cupcakes Should I Order for My Wedding?
No, seriously. How many cupcakes per person at a wedding? This is important to consider, given that cupcakes offer variety and variety can often lead to additional indulgence — and we wouldn’t want any guests to miss the opportunity to satiate their sweet tooth. Having “enough” is a large factor in any celebration, so ultimately, only the bride can decide how frugal they will choose to be.
However, it is common for most to order one cupcake per person or two mini cupcakes per person; if you have room in the budget and aren’t afraid of leftover cupcakes, consider pushing the numbers to two full cupcakes per person and three minis. As we already covered, cupcakes can easily be repurposed, shared and loved well into the future.
In short, if you have a guest list of 100, you could conceivably get away with ordering a variety of 100 cupcakes from your favorite baker — though this will not offer as much variety as three mini cupcakes apiece for a total of 300 minis!
How Many Flavors Should I Order?
At a bare minimum, with cupcake wedding catering, you ought to offer at least two flavors — and more, especially if you’re ordering mini cupcakes. Between three and five flavors is recommended or whatever number makes sense in terms of being divisible by your total head count for RSVPers. However, when considering flavoring options, it’s important to remember all guests’ dietary needs. Read on for how to accommodate dietary restrictions.
How can I present cupcakes at my wedding?
Just because you’re opting for no wedding cake doesn’t take away your ability to play around with the décor when presenting your cupcakes. Here are a few creative ways to play around with your décor;
Use a cupcake stand to create a tower.
There’s no harm in borrowing from the classic by using a cupcake stand to create a cake tower that mimics the traditional tiered cake. If you’re feeling experimental, you can even add a cake topper at the very top for old-time’s sake. Fortunately, these stands are incredibly affordable and come in a variety of colors that can be worked into your wedding theme.
If you intend on serving multiple different flavors, you can cut back on your workload by simply presenting each flavor on a different platter. It saves you from the task of creating a tower and your guest from having to figure out which flavor is where.
Use a cupcake wheel
All DIY queens are welcome to add a personal touch by creating a little cupcake wheel that will take center stage at your dessert table
How Do I Do Dessert Wedding Catering for Dietary Restrictions?
Got some gluten-intolerant folks in the bunch? Try gluten-free flour mixes, honey almond cakes or macarons. Vegans? Look for a baker who can make a truly enticing vegan cupcake using completely plant-based materials. What about gluten-free vegans? You can kill two birds with one stone by offering a flavor that is a hybrid of both of these.
If all else fails, providing a spread of seasonal fruit (and maybe milk-free dark chocolate or dairy-free truffles) is a simple way of providing a refreshing and satisfactory dessert for those who process foods a little differently.
Top Tips for Ordering Cupcakes for a Wedding
It would not feel like a whole truth to say that there is a way to order a cupcake incorrectly — unless, of course, you ordered a sweet treat with an ingredient to which you were deathly allergic or one that didn’t spark joy. Fortunately, as the lucky couple, you and you alone can decide who will cater your big day. Here are some things to think about when considering cupcake caterers for weddings:
1. Generally, It’s Better to Order Slightly More Than You Think You’ll Need
We know. We just said some brides could get away with one cupcake per guest. But it’s a gamble to think that every friend who abstains from a cupcake will be perfectly balanced by another who indulges in two. A safe bet is two cupcakes per person (or three minis per person), knowing that any remaining sweets at the end of the night can be preserved for future enjoyment, as we mentioned previously.
2. Offer a Mix of Classic and Adventurous Flavors
Of course, you’ll want to offer flavors guests will expect and feel comforted to eat — like vanilla bean, chocolate or red velvet; but don’t be afraid to push the boundaries a little bit and offer flavor combinations that are maybe a little less common. How about a vegan mango puree cupcake with coconut cream frosting, for example?
There is a wide world of flavor options — from bacon-dusted maple-frosted chocolate cupcakes to black forest cherry to Funfetti, the list goes on. Start talking with your chosen baker as soon as possible to discuss what will work best for your group and budget!
3. Look to Local Bakers First
We all know it can sometimes be significantly cheaper to order cupcakes in bulk from a mass-producing bakery where they will come in a plastic clamshell. However, if there was ever a time to invest in your local artisan baker, this is it. Not only will you get to support your local economy and local craft experts, but you will also have more flavor variety, likely less waste and you will be able to infuse a lot more personality and intrigue into your sweet offerings than the average bulk-baking service.
4. Get Multiple Quotes
Chances are you’ve got more than one baker in the town housing your venue — whether it is abroad or closer to home. Play the field a little bit before deciding on the one. Ask them about service inclusions, expectations, costs, flavor combinations, delivery and if they will consider offering you a discount if you allow them to market their baked goods on your dessert table.
5. Look for Experienced Wedding Service Bakers
One problem with frosting is that, especially if you’re getting married in a warm area, it can turn rather mushy and unpleasant fast if you are not in a climate-controlled venue. Ask your baker if they offer staffed catering services to distribute cupcakes, keep them at a chilled and desirable temperature and explain different flavor options to guests.
6. Is it a replacement for the wedding cake or simply an addition?
How many cupcakes to get depends largely on whether you are serving them as part of the dessert cart or they’re standing in for the traditional wedding cake. If you want to scrap the wedding cake and have just cupcakes at your wedding, the one cupcake per person with a few extras estimate stands. However, if you’re simply adding cupcakes to give more dessert options then you can consider the size of your cake.
There’s no such thing as too much cake but why have the excess when you can plan accordingly? Take into account how many people your cake serves and order more cupcakes to cater to the people who may miss out on the wedding cake.
7. Your guests matter
Although your local baker would be willing to give you a quote depending on the number of guests you are having, it’s important to remember that no two guest lists are identical. Some crowds would thrive with just one cupcake per person while crowds with children would need a little more than a cupcake per person. You and your partner know your guests better than any professional could and you should take advantage of this information to cater to your guests.
8. Stay within your budget
It’s easy to get carried away with wedding expenses and as much as we adore magical weddings, we also vouch for spending within your budget. If you can’t afford to have both a wedding cake and cupcakes, it’s okay to have one over the other.
If you’re looking into cupcakes because you’re trying to completely avoid the costs of a wedding cake, then planning for one cupcake per head and a few minis for those who would like some more is practical. Don’t go too crazy with the cakes only to be left with a lot of waste when you could have saved a buck.
Is Wedding Cupcake Service Worth It?
Of course, only you can decide what is “worth it” for your big day. But if you’re into saving money and offering a diversity of flavor and dietary needs options, opting for cupcakes at your wedding (or better yet, mini cupcakes) can pack a wallop in terms of delivering a unique and memorable wedding dessert service.
At a fraction of the cost for a full-service wedding cake for a large number of guests — in addition to the cake-cutting fee — many brides find the choice to opt for cupcakes rather than one massive centerpiece cake to be a fun, budget-friendly way to go.
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