May 4, 2012

Easy & Elegant Wedding Cake You Can Make Yourself for Under $50

In this post, I'm sharing a video tutorial to get you started with some basic skills for making an elegant tiered special occasion cake covered with rolled fondant.  The cake can be dressed up with ribbon, fresh flowers, gumpaste flowers, etc.  Here, I've decorated the tiers with an inexpensive and whimsical adornment:  Ombre Paper Butterflies made from paint chips!

I'm pleased to be sharing my first wedding cake tutorial and DIY video as part of the Do-It-Yourself Wedding Ideas party at!

CM Wedding 

For the purpose of this demonstration, I scaled down the cake to 7", 5" and 3" tiers, which will serve 16.  You can increase the size of the cake to suit your event.  The supplies for my cake cost under $35, which includes the punch I used for the butterflies.  A cake for 50 or even 100 can be made for under $50.  Your main cost is in the fondant, which I'll get to later.


A few notes before we start:

1.  Avoid a wedding Cake-tastrophe:  If you're the bride, I do not encourage you to make your own wedding cake unless "cakery" is your passion and you have a lot of experience.  The last thing you need the day before your wedding is the stress that can come with taking on a new creative challenge.

2.  Practice:  If you're a beginner, do a practice cake (just a single tier) before the big day.

3. The Right Kind of Cake:  Avoid box cakes.  They tend to be too soft for tiered construction.  For beginners, I recommend pound cake.  Here's a link to one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes.

4.  The Right Tools:  Use real cake pans.  You can pick them up fairly inexpensively from the craft store or the cake decorating section of Walmart.

5. Plan Ahead:  Calculate the size of the cake you'll need to feed the anticipated number of guests.  You can find a Cake Serving Chart HERE.  Calculate the amount of fondant you will need with a Fondant Coverage Chart.  Make sure you have room in your refrigerator for your cakes.

Okay, let's get started...


Cake:  For a three tiered cake you will need 3 cakes, 1.5" high, for each tier.   On smaller cakes you may only need two cakes.   Bake your cakes the day before.  Cool, then wrap tightly in plastic.  Refrigerate overnight.  Leave refrigerated until ready to use.  Prior to using, cakes can be leveled with a knife or leveling tool to achieve the desired height and evenness.

Frosting:  Use a sturdy frosting.  I like to use a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Soft frostings, light mousses, and whipped cream are not suitable for tiered cakes.

Cake boards:  You'll need a cardboard base for each tier of your cake.  The cake board should be the same circumference as your cake.  These can be purchased in the cake decorating section of craft stores.

Dowels:  You'll be using 1/4" dowels to support the second tier.  Have a tool handy for cutting the dowels.  I used a small craft saw.

Offset Spatulas:  I recommend a small angled model and a medium-sized flat model.  Both can be purchased inexpensively at the craft store.

Lazy Susan:  (Not required, but very helpful) I use the inexpensive ones from Ikea, but you can purchase models specifically made for cakes from the craft store or cake supply store.

Corn Starch:  Easiest to use when put in a clean knee high stocking tied off at the top.  Seriously.  This inexpensive "tool" is perfect for dusting your work surface when working with fondant.

Rolling Pin:  Use whatever type you're most adept with.

Paring Knife or X-ACTO knife:  For trimming fondant

Fondant Smoother:  (optional) These inexpensive tools help to smooth out fondant that has been applied to a cake.

Cake Stand:  (optional) It's good to plan in advance for what type of plate, tray, or stand you'll be using to display your cake. 


Butterfly Paper Punch (I purchased a Martha Stewart model for $12 using a 40% coupon at Michael's)
Paint chips in the same color family
Pearl headed pins (I found mine at Walmart for around $2)

Punch butterflies from the paint chips.
Stick a pin through the head of the paper butterfly and push the metal all the way through.  
Fold wings slightly upward to add dimension.  
Insert pin into cake.

A WORD ABOUT THE PINS:  Do not use small pins, or pins with tiny heads.  The large pearl-head pins used in this post are not only decorative, but are purposefully obvious so that they are not left behind in the cake.  The butterfly and pin are assembled in such a way that the butterfly cannot be removed without also removing the pin, thereby ensuring that no pins are left behind for guests.  Nonetheless, I would recommend counting how many pins you put in and letting the person cutting and serving the cake know how many they should count during removal.  

Be sure to check out more creative DIY Wedding ideas from Crafterminds below!


  1. What an elegant cake! Thanks for the lovely recipe.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)

  2. You have done it again, Jenn! So beautifully creative and detailed!

  3. That cake is gorgeous! It's such a simple idea and turns out so impressive!

  4. Fantastic cake and a great post, Jenn! Love it!

  5. Great tips, Jenn! This would be great for other parties too!

  6. What a lovely cake, great job!

  7. Great post and I love the paint chip idea. Fantastic.

  8. Oh wow! This looks great! I've never even thought of trying to make a cake like this, but you're tutorial made it look so easy! And I love that you used paint chips!

  9. That is seriously gorgeous!!

  10. Hi can you help me I seen your wedding cake, it wast amazing I like the looks and everything.... I really need help for how to make a cake that won't full down when I'll put a icing fondant, pls can you help me, can you email me so I can see it there what you can do for me thank u...

  11. Can you help me, what recipe is good for making a cake won't full while covering a icing fondant pls thank u x

  12. How cute and what a great DIY idea for a wedding, I'm married so I am thinking put a plant in it and make it a great teachers gift!

    impressive wedding day


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