The Cake vs. Cupcake Debate

2013 Nov 15 - by dulhan
When selecting your wedding cake, there are SO many options - from a simple, fluffy white cake to a more exuberant chocolate ganache. But what about the size and shape of your cake?

The latest trend of serving cupcakes - a la cupcake tower, tier, tree, etc. - has been popularized at modern weddings - where the variety, simplicity, and (let's face it) FUN of cupcakes trumps the traditional majestic multi-tiered wedding cake.

Are cupcakes tacky? Hipster? Fun? Unique? In hopes of settling this controversy once and for all - we decided to put the two face-to-face in a cake vs. cupcake debate to evaluate which dessert form deserves sweet victory!

The 5 categories selected cover a range of criteria - so you can make this decision after consulting your head, your eyes, and your stomach:

Style: how creative can you get with your cake/cupcake's decorations and designs? How customizable are your dessert options?

Taste: which treat has the most scrumptious flavors?

Display: how can your cake be displayed at your wedding reception? what are some fun ways to show off your tasty wedding trophy?

Serving Simplicity: how easy/difficult is it to slice and serve this dessert at your wedding reception? what are some potential mess factors?

Traditional Charm: which dessert maintains wedding traditions best?


First up, Style

A white henna wedding cake photographed by Studio Uma.

An adorable cupcake tray, displaying various flavors by Vanilla Bake Shop.


Cakes have a lot of potential to be as fabulous or as elegant as you like! With different icing colors, decorations such as edible flowers, pearls, or lace, and size and height customizability - cakes are the perfect canvas to sculpt your wedding masterpiece!

There's a reason guests look forward to that huge, beautiful wedding cake at the end of the evening - it's meant to be a real showstopper! (Well, after you, of course....)

Cupcakes, on the other hand, have plenty of options for grandeur as well. Just like cakes, they can be decorated with sprinkles, toppings, fruit - or anything you like! But they are limited by their size. The adorable smallness hurts their style points when you can't stick your perfect bride-and-groom cake topper on them because they would topple over!

Also, cupcakes run the huge risk of being tacky! They're inherently childish by nature, and that may be something to watch out for. Stay away from brightly colored frostings, large flowers, or too many sprinkles - you don't want your dessert to look like it belongs at a kid's birthday party.

Winner: Cakes

A beautiful, multi-tiered white wedding cake with roses and golden icing.


Since they are ultimately BOTH deliciously baked goodies, cakes and cupcakes tie on taste/flavor potential. Whether you're a chocolate or a vanilla, fruit-lover or cream-fanatic, your wedding cake is bound to taste wonderful.

I will make a note here that cupcakes have a slight advantage in that you can serve more than one flavor. So if you and your hubby are at a disagreement about whether lemon-creme or raspberry-torte should grace your cake, you can always satisfy both cravings with a tier of cupcakes.

However, the advantage doesn't make cupcakes a winner - you can always customize a wedding cake too, to have different flavors at each layer!

Winner: Tie

A pastel pink rose ombre-colored cake by Country Cleaver.


Cakes can be elegant, glamorous, and downright gorgeous in their towering prowess of deliciousness. But there's only one way cakes can go - UP! Tiered wedding cakes tend to be similar in structure because it's difficult to make a uniquely wacky cake stay up straight and survive the anxiety-filled trip from the bakery to your reception hall.

Cupcakes, on the other hand, provide endless possibilities! The shape of the cupcake tier itself decides how the ultimate design will turn out - and you can go as tall, long, or spiral as you like! Since the cardboard or wooden tier will be quite sturdy, there's no limit to how you can stack your bite-sized wedding goodies!

Winner: Cupcakes

A bright and fun cupcake tier display with fresh red and pink flowers. Photo courtesy of

Serving Simplicity

Cakes are beautiful to look upon in their untouched glory - but the magic fades away once you make that first incision. Although most weddings have caterers to carefully slice and serve the cake, the fact is that cake-cutting is MESSY - and your wedding cake will never look as lovely as it did before the knife got to it!

Cupcakes are easy and simple to serve - just grab and go! Because the cupcake tier is still left standing at the end of the serving process, there's still a gentle (and clean!) reminder of how pretty the whole thing was. Plus, packing up extra cupcakes to take home or give to guests is quite quick and mess-free as well!

Winner: Cupcakes

The delicious multi-flavored wedding cake at an Indo-Pakistani wedding reception photographed by Kimberly Photography.

Traditional Charm

There's nothing quite like slicing into your wedding cake with the newly-official love of your life! The magic of cutting the cake together is irreplaceable in its tradition and charm. It represents a lifetime of sweetness to follow!

Cupcakes can still be adorably fed from bride to groom, but they can't be sliced into like a wedding cake can. While the "feeding each other" part is still cute, the inability to actually cut the cake gives this category win to the long-standing traditional dessert.

Winner: Cakes

A cute, orange-gold peacock themed cake - with a kitty cake topper - photographed by Gucio Photography.


It looks like we have a tie after evaluating all the categories! Cakes are the clear winner when it comes to style and traditional charm, but cupcakes defend their newly-popular existence with wins in display and serving simplicity. But ultimately, the most important category in my opinion - taste - was a tie.

This means that either cakes OR cupcakes are a perfect ending to your wedding ceremony - just go with the flavor and design that suits you best, and you're bound to please! If you're feeling adventurous, let out your wild side with a fun cupcake display - but you can always stick to that traditional white wedding cake that has been cherished for centuries.

And hey, who says you can't have the best of both worlds and serve BOTH? Perhaps a cupcake tier with a small cake on top would satisfy both your enthusiasm for adorably designed cupcakes and your adherence to tradition. It's YOUR wedding after all - you're supposed to have your cake and eat it too!


What do you think deserves to win the cake vs. cupcake debate? The traditional wedding cake or fun, little cupcakes?