How to Preserve the Top Tier of a Wedding Cake

Wondering how to preserve the top tier of a wedding cake? Zola has got you covered! Read on to find out now.

By Jane Chertoff

couple cutting cake
Photo by Daniel Neal Photography

Preserving the top tier of your wedding cake to eat on your first anniversary is a centuries-old tradition. In fact, it dates all the way back to weddings in Victorian England. Couples back then often served alcohol-soaked fruitcake, which held up quite well for a year, even without electricity or freezers.

If you’re interested in trying to preserve wedding cake, follow the guidelines below for freezing and conserving it properly. While it won’t taste exactly as it did on your wedding night, it’s still a nice treat that you and your partner can dig into together, while reminiscing about your wedding.

Here’s how to preserve the top tier of a wedding cake so that it survives until the first anniversary.

Is My Wedding Cake Freezable?

Some wedding cakes keep better than others. If you’ve chosen a delicate cake that contains lemon curd or custard filling; one with cream cheese, whipped cream, or another type of frosting; or one topped with fresh fruit, it might not keep as well. When reviewing different wedding cake ideas, make sure to choose a sturdier cake, if you intend on saving the top layer.

Some cakes that may freeze better include:

  • Chocolate
  • Carrot (but avoid cream cheese frosting)
  • Fruitcake (not fresh fruit, think dry/alcohol-soaked fruits)
  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut or almond
  • Champagne
  • Black Forest

Be sure to remove all flowers or other non-edible decorations before you start to freeze your top tier.

How to Preserve The Top Tier of a Wedding Cake

Photo Credit // BG Productions

How to Preserve Your Wedding Cake Step-by-Step

After you cut the cake at your reception, it’s important to get the top tier into the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible. You can ask your wedding planner or a designated point person to help make sure that this task is properly executed.

  • “Pre-freeze” your cake. If a freezer isn’t available at your venue, be sure to get the top tier into the freezer as soon as you get home to “pre-freeze,” or harden it, before taking steps to preserve the cake. You can cover it with a single layer of plastic wrap for this step.

  • Wrap the cake in plastic wrap. After it’s pre-frozen (this could take up to 12 hours) remove the cake from the freezer. If it’s on cardboard or another hard surface, you’ll want to wrap that piece in aluminum foil. Then wrap the cake itself with several layers of plastic wrap. Work carefully around the entire tier of cake to avoid missing any spots. Make sure that there are no air bubbles, either. Aim for three or four layers of wrap. This will help preserve it for longer, and make sure that you don’t end up with dreaded freezer burn.

  • Use a cake box. After sealing your cake, ideally, you’ll place it in a cake box. You can request one from the bakery who made your cake. If you didn’t ask for one ahead of time, you can also use Tupperware or another airtight container. You’ll want to wrap the box or other container in several layers of aluminum foil and possibly a large Ziploc bag, too, before sticking the entire wrapped tier into the freezer.

You may want to label it with a permanent marker or sticker. That way, someone won’t accidentally toss it when you are cleaning out your freezer.

How to Defrost Your Cake on Your First Anniversary

Congratulations, you made it through the ups and downs of the first year of marriage! Now it’s time to celebrate with some wedding cake that you worked so hard to preserve.

When you’re ready to enjoy your cake again, move the cake (still wrapped up) from your freezer to your refrigerator. Do this a full 24 hours before your first anniversary.

When you’re ready to eat the cake, unwrap it and let it get to room temperature. It won’t taste like fresh cake (it’s been in the freezer for a year, after all), but it’s still a fun tradition to experience.

How to Preserve The Top Tier of a Wedding Cake Photo Credit // Rebecca Denton Photography

Alternative Ideas to Saving Your Wedding Cake

If the idea of saving your cake doesn’t appeal to you or you aren’t able to (i.e. if you are having a destination wedding and can’t bring it home with you, or your venue is outdoors and you’re having a cake that you don’t think will hold up well) you can still enjoy cake on your first anniversary.

A fun alternative idea for your first wedding anniversary is to have your bakery create a fresh, mini replica of the original wedding cake. If you don’t live anywhere near the baker who made your wedding cake, you can still ask your local bakery to make the same flavor of cake or cupcakes.

Want to really reminisce about your wedding day? Watch your wedding video and relive the whole day all over again.