Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans, dust with flour, tap out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
Cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and lemon juice.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake cakes until golden brown and testers inserted in centers come out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Immediately run a knife around edges of pans to loosen cakes; invert cakes. Let cool.
Cakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.
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