How Long Can A Wedding Cake Sit Out?

No wedding is complete without an impressive cake display. If we are being honest, many of us think the cake-cutting portion of a couples wedding day is one of the best bits because nothing beats a good bit of cake. However, weddings are full-day affairs, and you want that wedding cake to taste as delicious and fresh as possible. Considering they cost a pretty penny, we don’t want to be disappointed with a dry, tasteless morsel. 

So, how long can a wedding cake sit out? Typically, a wedding cake can sit out for the entire wedding day (8-10 hours, on average), Though this timing can change depending on what your cake is made of, the temperature of your venue, and even the quality of ingredients used.

If you are looking to avoid a wedding cake faux pas, keep reading. 

We’re going to break down what influences the time your wedding cake can sit out, and I will give you some tips that can help you eke out some extra time for your cake, too.

Factors That Can Influence How Long A Wedding Cake Can Sit Out

Not every wedding cake is the same. Ingredients, decorations, and even flavors will be tailored to your wedding cake dreams. 

However, these differences can make it hard to give a concrete time that your wedding cake will be happy to sit out in the open.

Before we get into these factors, most wedding cakes are made a good couple of days before your wedding. 

They’re pretty hardwearing delicacies, so if you have your wedding cake delivered a day or two before your wedding, don’t panic. 

Your cake maker will have factored this time perfectly, and it shouldn’t affect the quality.

Cake Quality

One of the biggest influences when it comes to how long your wedding cake will be able to sit out is the quality of the cake itself.

If your baker has cut a few corners and used some cheap margarine and a budget fondant, your cake won’t have the same staying power as a cake made with the best ingredients.

There are not many things that require high-cost ingredients and materials, but cakes do.

If you want your cake to taste the best and last as long as possible, make sure your baker uses the very best ingredients they can source.

Tiers/Cake Complexity

Now, it is not the actual detail or number of layers your cake has that affects how long it can sit out but rather how long it takes to craft all of these extra layers and additions.

A simple cake may only take a day, maybe two, to craft to perfection.

However, a complicated cake could take up to a week to finish.

This is why complicated cakes may not tolerate sitting out for very long.

They have been baked up to a week before your big day to give your baker plenty of time to add everything you have asked for.

This is quite normal for ornate cakes and does not affect how good they will taste on the day, but you may only get that cake to sit out for a couple of hours before it starts to reduce in quality and taste. 

Venue Temperature

An overly warm venue will cause your cake to go stale fast, especially if it has been cut.

Even worse, if you have a wedding cake with butter-based frosting, it could even cause it to melt.

The last thing you want on your big day is a cake that looks like Slimer from ghostbusters. 

You can always discuss temperature with your venue beforehand or ask your baker for recommendations for ingredients and cake types that may withstand a little extra warmth.

Naked vs. Iced

Naked cakes will always have a shorter lifespan than their iced counterparts.

Naked cakes are really in fashion right now, but this leaves the cake open to the elements and can make a cake go stale and inedible within a couple of hours.

If you want a naked cake, make sure you don’t bring your cake out until just before you plan to cut it and serve it to your guests as soon as possible.

Type Of Cake

The type of cake you choose will greatly influence how long it can sit out. Traditional fruit cakes can last weeks, so they are the safest option, but fruit cake also takes a long time to make.

This is why most couples opt to have just the top tier made from fruit cake.

It also means they can enjoy their traditional slice on their anniversary.

That is a testament to how long fruit cake lasts. Another long-lasting cake type would be a chocolate biscuit cake.

Light wedding cakes made with fresh cream fillings will not last very long at all.

The minute the air hits that fresh cream, it will begin to lose its taste and go hard around the edges.

Unlike most other cakes, fresh cream cakes can be kept in the fridge, but it is important to serve them as soon as possible.

Do You Need To Refrigerate A Wedding Cake?

Refrigerating your wedding cake is generally a big no-no. Unless your cake contains highly perishable ingredients and fillings like fresh cream, avoid putting it into the fridge before your wedding day. You may not realize it, but placing the cake in a fridge can cause it to lose its freshness.

The coolness of a fridge can also alter the finish of the cake, reduce taste quality, and change the texture of delicate frostings. 

So, although it makes sense to put a butter-based delicacy in the fridge to keep it safe for a couple of days, don’t do this. 

Tips And Suggestions For Preserving Your Wedding Cake

If you are not planning to serve your cake straight after its cut, or you want to make some of it last past the big day, here are some tips to help preserve your wedding cake.

Wrap Individual Slices

Once you cut your cake, each slice is open to the air and elements and will begin to dry out.

If you are not planning to serve your cake immediately after your cake cutting, ask the kitchen to wrap each slice with plastic wrap.

This should keep each slice as fresh as possible until you are ready to serve it to your guests. 

Store In Freezer

If you want your cake to last well beyond your big day, the freezer will be your best friend.

However, there are a few steps you will need to follow to keep your cake as fresh as possible. 

Firstly, leave any leftover cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the icing harden.

I know I said this was a big no-no, but that is only for a cake you are serving immediately.

Once the icing has hardened, seal your cake fully with plastic wrap. A couple of layers will be perfect. 

Then wrap the sealed cake in a layer or two of aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container.

You can now place your cake in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy it. 

If your frosting is tinted, just expect that some of the colors may bleed a little as it is kept in the freezer.

It should not affect the flavor, but it may not be as pretty as it was on your wedding day.

Choose Less Perishable Ingredients

Your ingredients choice will influence how long your cake can last.

If you want it to last the full year after your big day for the traditional anniversary slice, then fruit cake is your safest option.

Fruitcake is soaked in alcohol as it is made, and it is also incredibly dense.

Both of these things give fruit cake its almost ever-lasting-like ability.

If you want to preserve your wedding cake avoid naked cakes, fresh cream, and other perishable ingredients. 

Don’t Cut It

Cake slices dry out far more quicker than a whole cake. If you want to preserve your cake, leave it as a whole as you can.

I know some of it will be cut for your guests but don’t cut any larger pieces you are saving before you store it.

This will help it to stay as fresh as possible for as long as you can. 

Ever-Lasting Wedding Cake

Although a lot of your wedding cake will be enjoyed by your guests on the day, many couples like to preserve a little of their cake, whether it’s to enjoy alone later on or to have a slice left for your first wedding anniversary. 

Choosing the right kind of cake for how long you want it to last is incredibly important, as also storing it correctly.

A fresh cream cake left out on your counter overnight is going to be no good the next day.

However, a traditional fruit cake can tolerate sitting in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.

Either way, with the correct care and the correct choices, you could be enjoying your stunning wedding cake for a while to come. 

Related Questions

How far ahead can you make a wedding cake?

You can typically make a wedding cake 2-3 days before the wedding day. Though, the closer to the wedding it is made, the better.