Dummy Wedding Cake Tiers: What Are They & Do I Need One?

4 tier wedding cake with a cascade of colourful handmade sugar flowers on the top 3 tiers with an elegant lace base design.

Dummy wedding cake tiers (also called imitation tiers) are something we get asked about a lot; what they are, why they’re used and whether or not you need one. We’ve added everything you need to know about faking it into our mixing bowl, and baked your ultimate guide to dummy tiers right here! Tuck in for all the reasons you should or shouldn’t consider a fake disguised as cake.

What are dummy wedding cake tiers?

Your dummy wedding cake tiers are made from polystyrene, but you’d never know it unless you tried to take a bite! The idea is that they flawlessly blend into your wedding cake design, covered and decorated just like the layers of sponge around them. Traditionally they’ve been used mainly by wedding cake makers for display; when you visit our studio in Kent the cake designs we have for your inspiration are all dummies, as are the cakes we display at wedding shows or on photoshoots. This is so we don’t waste huge amounts of cake – it would be a crime! However, more and more couples are choosing to include imitation tiers in their real wedding cake designs now. Grab a cuppa and a slice of something spongey, and we’ll get into why…

4 tier gold and ivory wedding cake filled with handmade sugar flowers placed on a piano in front of a large circular window
Michelle and Sean chose to add an additional imitation or dummy top tier to ensure that their wedding cake really was centre stage in the “cake room” at Bradbourne House, Maidstone, Kent

To read more about Michelle and Sean’s gorgeous wedding at Bradbourne House click here

Dummy Wedding Cake Tiers – Stylish Sleuths

The main reason couples now choose to include dummy wedding cake tiers is for design and aesthetic reasons. Adding imitation layers gives you almost unlimited design possibilities, and you can really get elaborate without compromising the stability of the cake. In recent years the ‘geode’ style cakes were hugely popular, and this involved removing sections of the cake to reveal what looked like the crystalline interior of the rocks. Using a fake tier for this means the structural integrity of the cake isn’t in question.

Even if you don’t want chunks of your cake removing, dummy tiers are perfect for adding depth, detail and drama to your design. Sometimes the overall look you are striving for really benefits from an imitation tier or two, and some of our favourite past cake designs have done exactly that. The sky really is the limit with fake layers; unleash your wildest cake dreams!

A Midsummer Night's Dream wedding cake display full of sugar and fresh flowers in cream, deep burgundies and lots of greenery at The Globe Theatre
A Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding cake display at The Globe Theatre, London

To see how an intimate wedding included a showstopper of a wedding cake read more here

Taking Up Space

Another reason dummy wedding cake tiers are often used is to add height or impact to your cake. This is especially important when it’s being placed in a large room, to help it take up the space it deserves and not get lost. A great example of this is at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire; their grand entrance hall is a beautiful spot to place your luxury wedding cake, but anything less than five tiers is probably going to be swamped by the panache of the space. If your guest numbers are on the smaller side and you don’t need extra baked layers, adding a couple of imitation tiers helps you increase the level of design and brings your cake up to the drama level of the venue.

Couple in traditional red clothing standing in front and next to their 5 tier wedding cake at Stowe House
Estée and Adrian enjoying their amazing wedding day where only a five tier wedding cake would work at the grand entrance into Stowe House, Buckinghamshire

The same applies if your cake will be a focal point in the middle of a dancefloor, for example. We would hate to see your one-of-a-kind design upstaged (unless it’s by your dance moves, of course!), and we’ll always advise during your consultation if we think you would benefit from adding imitation tiers to your cake.

For more of our top tips on styling and placing your cake in all its scrumptious splendour, we have a whole blog dedicated to cake display inspiration.

Dummy Wedding Cake Tiers – The Money Myth

When we talk to couples about dummy wedding cake tiers, many people are under the impression that including them will make their design cheaper. I’m afraid we’re going to have to bust that myth and tell you that, contrary to what Google might tell you, including imitation layers does not reduce the cost of your luxury wedding cake.

Your cake is bespoke to you, designed uniquely by gathering all your inspiration, ideas and moodboards and cooking them together with our creativity and expertise. The price we quote is based on the intricacy and detail of the design, and so the same amount of time goes into creating the overall look whether the tiers are flawlessly fake or lusciously legitimate. We often include delicate sugarwork which can sometimes take the form of meadows-worth of handmade sugar flowers, and these are the things that set your cake apart. It is a true labour of love to bring your vision to life.

5 tier centrepiece spun painted gold and ivory wedding cake filled a grand selection of handmade delicate pastel sugar flowers
Delicate sugarwork which can sometimes take the form of meadows-worth of handmade sugar flowers, and these are the things that set your cake apart.

If one of the reasons you’re considering a dummy tier is to bring down cost, our advice is this: have fun choosing another delicious flavour from our menu for your guests to enjoy instead!

How Green Are Dummy Wedding Cake Tiers?

Another reason we don’t always advise including dummy tiers unless they’re needed is their environmental impact. At the moment we can’t get away from the fact that fake tiers are made from polystyrene which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade.  A fantastic alternative to including a dummy tier might be to add a floating tier or even an acrylic spacer to give your wedding cake the wow factor!

Statement 3 tier white bas-relief wedding cake with a clear acrylic tier, designed with white sugar flowers placed on a marble cake stand and gorgeous complementary green floral bed
Fantastic alternative to including a dummy tier, why not use an acrylic spacer to give your wedding cake the wow factor!

Faking it or not

It’s important to weigh up all factors when considering using dummy tiers; does your design or your venue require it, and how important is the environmental aspect to you? We firmly believe there are pros and cons to imitation tiers, and we’ll always discuss it with you when creating your design. Choosing real cake is always a winning option, but if you’re worried about having too much left over we can advise on how best to work around it. Ensuring every last mouthwatering morsel is enjoyed is so important to us!

Whether you decide to fake it or not, we hope you’ll be able to make a more informed decision now. We can’t wait to hear from you and talk about your designs, and we’re excited for you to taste our samples either via the post or at our studio here in Kent. We promise, the slices we serve are 100% real!

Get in touch to design your showstopper with us

Erica and Charlie signature



Photos:  Fiona Kelly Photography, Bluebell Kitchen

Venues featured: Bradbourne House, Stowe House, The Swan at The Globe

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