According to fictional bakery owner, Fran Weston from Gilmore Girls, cake isn’t just a delicious dessert you get to eat after you’re married, "Cake is the glue of the wedding."
She’s not wrong about the importance of a wedding cake! Choosing your wedding cake flavor (along with your wedding cake budget!) is an important decision in the wedding planning process (that’s what cake tasting is for!). But with so many flavor combinations to choose from—not to mention ganache (should I go with chocolate or white chocolate ganache?), icings (Italian meringue or Swiss buttercream?), fillings (something fruity, like berries and cream, or more tart and tangy, like lemon curd?), and cake design and decorations (should I keep the design simple or go more elaborate?)—you might be overwhelmed with the confectionary possibilities for your big day.
If you’re looking for wedding cake ideas to help you choose, this guide will show you the most popular cakes of the last 60 years, the up-and-coming flavor favorites, and daring delectables of wedding cake flavors. You’ll also learn a bit about other taste profiles that will suit each cake flavor to spark cake creativity. By the time you’re done with this guide, you’ll be ready to dig into a piece of wedding cake (and give a serious tip to your wedding baker!).
What are you waiting for? Dig in!
Below, explore the most popular wedding cake flavors, or jump straight to the section you’re most interested in:
The Fantastic Four: Vanilla, Chocolate, Yellow Cake, Red Velvet
The Up-and-Comers: Funfetti, Lemon, Spice Cakes, Almond, Pink Champagne
The Mavericks: Cognac, Coffee and Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, Coconut
Since the 1960s, the most popular cake flavors for weddings haven’t strayed far from four classics: vanilla, chocolate, yellow cake, and red velvet. These cakes have been tantalizing the taste buds of wedding guests and couples for decades and are sure to be a hit for years to come.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: Vanilla is as adaptable as it is popular. You can choose a classic filling and frosting, such as vanilla buttercream, or introduce a more playful flavor profile. Check out the examples below:
Chocoholics rejoice—this delicious flavor is a wedding favorite. It’s commonly layered with a tiered vanilla cake and filled with vanilla buttercream. This classic flavor offers plenty of room for creative fillings, icings, and accents.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: Chocolate cake can be a decadent dessert or a delicate delight. Find a flavor profile that works for you below:
This slice of buttery deliciousness rose into the nation’s most popular wedding cake flavors in the 1970s. But you might be wondering what exactly makes yellow cake... yellow. The ingredients are almost identical to those of a white or vanilla cake with one key exception—the use of whole eggs, including yolks. White and vanilla cakes use just the whites of eggs to maintain their pale color. But the introduction of whole egg yolks brings color and richness to a yellow cake.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: The golden confection plays particularly well with chocolate buttercream, but you can get creative with fillings and icings:
Red velvet cakes are famous for their rich taste, moist texture, and that stunning red shade. This cake sets itself apart from others in its surprising list of ingredients—cocoa powder, buttermilk, and vinegar. These ingredients help soften the proteins of the mixture and create an indulgent treat perfect for weddings.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: A red velvet cake is already very rich, so most bakers recommend leaning into the classic cream cheese frosting. But there’s a little wiggle room to explore different avenues of taste pairings:
Finally, we can all admit that adults enjoy funfetti as much (if not more) than children. This cake takes a colorful spin on the classic white or vanilla cake to bring a taste of whimsy to your wedding guests. And no, you don’t have to use the boxed kind. Bakers from all over the country offer funfetti flavors using a variety of sprinkles to ensure a festive flavor for your wedding cake.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: Keep your funfetti flavor pairings light and a little playful:
Sweet, zesty, and a little tart, lemon cakes are ideal for warm-weather weddings. They can also bring a bit of sunshine to a winter reception. If you’re not a big fan of lemon buttercream, lemon cake and mousse filling is a match made in dessert heaven.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: For lemon cake flavor pairings, think light, sweet, and airy:
A spice cake isn’t necessarily spicy, it just means that certain spices are prominent in every bite. Spice cakes offer subtle nuances of flavor, a bit of warmth, and a comforting aesthetic to any wedding. You can select a classic flavor, such as carrot cake, or lean into winter with flavors such as cinnamon, ginger, clove, and cardamom.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: The flavor of these cakes comes from the use of warm, homey spices that might make you think of winter. Different fillings can heighten the allusions to chilly weather, or you can offset the spice with year-round flavors:
Almond cake is an up-and-coming wedding cake flavor that continues to grow in popularity, due to its nutty flavor and versatility in taste pairings. These cakes are distinguished from the usual wedding cake due to their slightly denser texture and moistness. Almond cakes are also common flavors for gluten-free cake alternatives.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: When it comes to fillings and icing, almond cakes are almost as versatile as vanilla or white cakes. Mix and match these complementary tastes to find a flavor that sings to your taste buds:
Suggested Flavor Pairings: Pink Champagne cakes are light, moist, and have a hint of that delicious Champagne flavor. Complement those indulgent tastes with sweet fillings and icings:
Transport yourself and your guests to a French hunting lodge with a cognac cake. This rich, warm wedding cake gets its flavor from using cognac instead of water in the batter. A cognac cake is sometimes complemented with holiday herbs. If you’re looking for a luxurious flavor for a winter wedding, look no further.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: The cognac flavor of this delicious cake opens doors for a variety of warming flavors:
Suggested Flavor Pairings: The rule for a coffee and cream cake is simple: whatever flavor would pair well with coffee will probably taste wonderful in a coffee and cream cake. Get inspiration from your local coffee shop’s menu for a sumptuous mix of bitter, sweet, and creamy:
Were there ever two substances more made for each other than peanut butter and chocolate? This salty-sweet confection invokes nostalgia, indulgence, and multiple trips back to the cake serving station.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: A peanut butter cup cake is perfectly paired already, but there are ways to heighten the taste experience using other candy bar flavors and textures:
Perfect for summer weddings, coconut cake can be delicate and delicious, or dense and decadent. Coconut cakes are also a wonderful flavor option if you want to stick to the white cake wedding tradition.
Suggested Flavor Pairings: Coconut cakes are rich and tasty, but they also open your wedding cake flavor options to tropical notes:
Your wedding day should be sweet. But who says wedding planning can’t be sweet, too? Zola’s team of wedding experts have everything you need to plan a fantastic day, including planning resources, a custom wedding website builder, save-the-date and wedding invitation services, and an easy-to-use online registry.