It may seem like a wedding cake topper is a staple that has been around since the inception of weddings themselves, but they really only gained popularity in the U.S. during the 1950s. That said, in recent years, the cake decoration has caught on and has become more unique and modernized for today’s couples.
“Cake toppers are so much more than the expected bride and groom statue on top of a cake,” said New York-based celebrity caterer Andrea Correale, founder and president of Elegant Affairs. “There are all kinds of options these days, from wood laser cut monograms and favorite quotes to personalized mini statues that actually resemble the bride and groom or their families.”
And these toppers are not just for show — they can really bring the whole cake look together when you communicate with your baker. “Making sure you and your cake artist are clear on who is sourcing, creating, purchasing and placing the cake topper are paramount in this process,” said Amber Markland, owner of Olympia-based creative cake studio Sift & Gather.
As a sustainable planner myself, I’m always thinking of ways that any and all wedding decor — cake toppers included — can be reused post-wedding, whether it’s as the “something borrowed” for a friend or it’s turned into a keepsake you can keep in your home. Markland agrees, and specifically loves to see a wedding cake topper reused for future anniversary cakes. “There is nothing more special than incorporating elements from an original wedding cake into a new cake design to celebrate a couple’s love again,” she said.
How to choose a wedding cake topper
There are a few things that the bakers we interviewed unanimously agreed on: that the cake topper shouldn’t be an afterthought, that less is more when it comes to cake decor and that Etsy is by far the most popular site for purchasing toppers. And, just like the cake itself, size does matter. “It’s important to choose a topper that complements the size of the top tier of the cake to ensure it fits and will not look tiny or huge in comparison to the diameter,” advised Katie Frederick of Maeflour Cakes, a Phoenix-based wedding cake bakery.
So, is the topper something that the couple should place on the cake the morning of the big day? Ideally, your chosen bakery should place it when they drop off the cake at the venue, so be sure to leave it visibly out for them, or give it to your planner to make sure it lands in the correct hands. However, life happens, and if the cake topper is a super last-minute wedding decision and you end up having to place it yourself, do so very gently. “If [you are] having florals be the only decor on your cake, these should always be professionally placed,” advised Michelle Le, owner of dessert company Lovele Sweets, which services the DC region.
Based on the guidance of the experts we spoke to, we’ve rounded up a wide selection of cake toppers for your scrolling pleasure.
Personalized cake toppers
With four colors to choose from, this classy monogram with the couple’s initials could match any theme. Navy feels preppy and nautical for a seaside wedding, white is classic bridal and either gold or silver feels luxe.
Between triangle arches at the altar to hexagon terrariums as centerpieces, geometric shapes are having their 15 minutes of wedding fame at the moment. This personalized topper could be the cherry on top of your geo wedding dreams, and it can be spray painted to a color that matches your palette.
“Even though we don’t see many traditional ceramic silhouettes of a bride and groom, couples are still taking from the tradition and doing a 2D version,” said Le. This lightweight wood cutout features a fully custom illustration of you and your partner, exactly how you’ll look on their wedding day. Be sure to hide it from the groom if you’re doing a first look on the big day.
Reminiscent of the ever-popular neon signs couples are loving right now, this topper is trendy and would photograph well. “An elegant topper with their names on it leaves the ‘wow’ to the cake itself,” added Le. This one is laser cut and features two colors and finishes for a multi-dimensional effect.
This pretty script feels minimalist and chic for a wedding detail that your guests can’t overlook. With multiple fonts to pick from, you’re bound to find one that will match or at least complement your paper goods.
Understated and romantic, this is the type of topper that could work perfectly for those who think they might not want a cake topper. If the cake topper feels too rustic for you, the natural birch wood can easily be spray painted to a color of your choosing.
Industrial is the new rustic, and this wire design could look right at home in a trendy warehouse setting. With nearly twenty wire shades to choose from, you are bound to find one that suits your wedding colors and theme.
Unique cake toppers
Whether the groom is an avid fisher or you just want to showcase that the bride is “hooked” on him, this quirky topper set could have multiple meanings for your guests to interpret. And with the groom figurine on top and the bride on the bottom, it might read more as an interactive topper.
Perfect for the couple whose lives revolve around their pup, this is a great way to incorporate your fur child into your special day. This can be added next to a figurine of the two of you for a family photo scene, or it can stand alone and leave your good boy in the spotlight.
This one could fit the cake of an adventurous couple and/or a couple getting married during the cold winter months. “Choosing a personal design that speaks to a shared interest adds a fun, human element to the cake,” said Frederick. It’s made of porcelain, which means it could easily sit on a bookshelf or mantle as a reminder of the big day for years to come.
A classic saying popularized by Marie Antoinette, this speaks to both the couple getting married and their guests. The chalkboard design adds a slight farmhouse cafe vibe that could fit the decor of an outdoor fete. Plus, it doesn’t have an outwardly bridal design, so it could be repurposed for another cake in the future, or even as simple kitchen decor.
An ode to a classic getaway car, you may feel less guilty for sticking around to attend the afterparty with your guests with this slight nod to tradition. Plus, this design isn’t too wedding-specific, so you can put it on display somewhere in your home or office after the event.
Not only is this topper cute and sweet, but pineapples are also a symbol of welcoming, celebration and hospitality — all of which apply to a wedding. “The topper can really bring some fun even into the most traditional tiered cakes,” said Juana Williams of J’s Sweet Treats in Columbus, Ohio. It’s available in multiple finishes to match your decor.
You don’t need to be getting married somewhere tropical to bring tropical decor to your party. These pink beauties could add a much-needed pop of color to an all-white cake. This brand offers same-sex options for every couple.
Hosting a “Friends”-themed shower is a popular choice, but sometimes the love for the series runs so deep with both partners that an homage at the wedding may be appropriate. If placing yourself, “be sure not to push it down too completely in order not to hide the ‘Lobster,’” advised Frederick.
If you’re a couple who lives and breathes the ocean, you can have that show through with your cake. “Have your baker make the top of the cake resemble sand with white chocolate shells and add in cute chair toppers like these to bring your beach-themed wedding to life,” said Megan Endebrock, a baker at Sweet Disposition Bakery in Selbyville, Delaware.
Nothing says “you complete me” quite like a puzzle piece topper. Made of thick, poplar wood, the price tag matches the quality of this not-just-one-use decoration. This handmade topper could be lovingly passed down for generations to come.
Cute cake toppers
This wedding cake topper is a great option for all the adult Disney fans. It comes in multiple sizes to ensure your cake is still the center of attention. This could later be used as an adorable gender reveal cake topper.
If you’ve had enough personalization, a pretty flower adornment could be just what you need. “Adding floral to your cake that ties in with your centerpieces offers a cohesive look,” said Frederick. Of course, real flowers could be an excellent alternative, though they are typically more expensive.
It doesn’t get more customized than these peg doll figurines. These cake toppers are fully personalized, from clothing options to skin tone and even down to a significant height difference between the couple if applicable. A 3D messy bun or beard could really bring the couple to life.
A great unisex option, these cute little birds are both romantic and adorable. Since they are two separate pieces, they can be displayed on the cake however you wish, leaving space for real or sugar flowers. Each half of the couple can display one on their work desk to always feel like they’re together.
In an on-trend rose gold shade, this simple cake topper is all you need. Have your florist wrap this topper in eucalyptus for a natural touch. “It’s these stylish details like the cherry on top of a sundae that just pulls it all together in an impressive way,” said Correale.
This piece could be placed atop a “naked” cake (aka a cake that isn’t entirely covered by frosting) with a few succulents or greenery for a twist on the rustic vibe. You can use it as a little stake in a plant or in your garden after the wedding.
Even if you aren’t going fully rustic for your wedding, these wood round toppers could work for any woodsy or even fall-themed nuptials. And in three separate parts, they could be uniquely placed on each tier of a three-tier cake.
So long are the days of gender-normative wedding cake topper options, and inclusive toppers like this one are slowly but surely becoming more ubiquitous. This cute Mr. and Mr. figurine could add a touch of class to even the simplest of cakes.
Modern cake toppers
There’s a clear juxtaposition to this topper — the fun, retro-style font transports your cake back in time, while the hip saying feels like it came straight from TikTok. This wood design could go well with a fun and colorful cake.
“Choosing modern and simple toppers doesn't take away from the cake’s special design, which is why I think they are so popular,” said Le. In a wreath style you’ve definitely seen before, this one stands out with a unique saying, simply stating exactly what a wedding is — the beginning of your adventure together as a married couple.
How you met is a forever part of your love story, and nowadays, many couples are meeting via dating apps like Bumble and Tinder. If you and your partner met online, this wedding cake topper can pay homage to that with a play on the swipe-right function of the most popular dating apps.
A classic yet modern twist on the geometric trend is this chic circle design. While this one isn’t oversized, try putting it on top of at least a medium-sized cake to avoid it overpowering the star of the show — which is, of course, the cake itself.
Whether you’ve postponed and rescheduled your wedding multiple times in the last year or you’re an old soul and love Etta James, this topper might speak to you. The acrylic design is offered in four sizes and six colors to suit your taste.