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Wedding Planning > Decorations


How to Make a Tier Wedding Cake

Its our step by step guide to wedding decorating  No matter the style, we've got an example or answer for you

The following information is articles, questions, and answers that have been submitted by ForeverWed readers.  Should these not answer your questions. Feel free to ask an expert.

Tier Wedding Cake

Weddings can become expensive, but you can save money while getting the wedding cake you've always wanted. The instructions from former Wilton representative and baking expert Zella Junkin are perfect for a wedding, but the tier cake is just as impressive for anniversaries, birthdays, and other special events.


butter cream icing
light corn syrup
large angled spatula
cake stand
cake tier set
-columns (plastic dowel rods)
-separator plates
-cherubs or accessories
icing tips: #199 shell, #16 star, #3 round (a #21 star tip may be used for larger cakes)
cake dividing circle
cake board (circular cardboard)
assorted round cake pans in graduated sizes.
craft knife or pruning shears

Cake Construction

When baking a cake tier, remember to bake two cakes, i.e. a three tier cake is composed of 6 cake layers. Place icing between each layer before covering with butter cream icing.

  1. Place cake on cake board, then set on cake stand.
  2. Thin the buttercream icing with light corn syrup (approximately 2 tsp. for each cup). The consistency is correct when your spatula glides over the icing.
  3. With a large angled spatula, place a mound of icing on the cake's top, and spread across cake, pushing the excess down onto sides. Always keep spatula on the icing surface, and avoid touching the cake.
  4. Cover the sides with excess icing from the top, adding more icing if necessary. Work from the top down, forcing any loose crumbs to the cake base.
  5. Smooth the side of the cake first. Hold the spatula upright against the side of the cake, and slowly spin the cake stand without lifting the spatula from the cake's surface. Remove excess frosting.
  6. Smooth the top of the cake last, again using the edge of the large spatula. Sweep the edge of the spatula from the rim of the cake to its center, then lift it off, and remove the excess icing.
  7. .Remove cake from cake stand, and set on a cake dividing circle.
  8. Using the dividing circle as a guide, mark equal measurements in the cake's icing at the top edge where icing swags will be added.
  9. Place cake back on icing stand. Use a #3 icing tip to make a thin icing swag along the cake's side, making sure the icing lies between the marks. This serves as your pattern for decorating. Repeat around cake.
  10. Using a #15 star tip, cover the thin swags with the thicker zig-zag icing swag.
  11. Using the #3 tip again, make three swags lying above, below, and on top of the thick zig-zag icing swag.
  12. Add #199 shells along the top edge of the cake to complete the decoration.
  13. Repeat along bottom edge of cake.

Tier Construction:

  1. On the base tier, center a cake separator or plate one size smaller than the next tier, and press the separator or plate gently into icing to imprint and outline. Remove circle.
  2. Measure one plastic dowel rod at the cake's lowest point within this circle. Using this dowel rod as a guide, cut dowel rods to the same size. Generally, the larger and more numerous the upper tiers, the more dowel rods needed.
  3. Insert dowel rods into the lower tiers to bear the weight.
  4. Position separator plates on supporting tier, making sure each tier lines up with the pillars below.
  5. When you are setting up the final display, align pillars and assemble tiers, then add cherub accessories, floral holders, and cake toppers.


  • Plan ahead so that all your instruments are at a hand's reach while you're working.
  • To keep your serving base free of icing when you decorate, place 3" wide strips of waxed paper under each side of your cake.
  • Always mix enough of any one color of icing. It is extremely difficult to duplicate an exact shade.

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