How much does a Wedding Cake Cost?
Lets not beat around the bush. When shopping for a wedding cake the first thing you want to know is what should your budget be for the wedding cake? With the price of the reception, the photographer, the cars, the flowers and so the list goes on, it can be very difficult to stay within your budget.
Like all professions, you are paying for their skills. I have 15 years experience in creating special occasion cakes and I have learnt from making a few mistakes. I have seen trends, techniques and types of cakes change over the years. It has never been easier to find someone to make a cake BUT to find someone with experience is not as easy. You don’t want something like this to happen at your wedding.
I so often hear the comment, its only flour and water! There is definitely more to it than that. The cake itself is not the only cost. With quality cake comes a price. Wedding cakes are a work of art and they can take anywhere from 8hrs. to 100hrs to complete! Every flower and every process has been handmade by a professional cake artist.
So how do you keep to your budget? Things to consider before you set your budget are: how many guests are you having? Is it for dessert or to take home? Do you want something modern or vintage? Would you like lavish detailing or simple but elegant?
All these factors will determine the cake price!
Firstly, consider the filling. It is very important the cake tastes great. I can remember the days when the majority of cakes I made were fruit cake (showing my age). Not any more. I would be lucky to make a single fruit cake every second month. Now you can choose from nearly any flavour and type you want. If you are having sliced cake with coffee or sending the cake home with the guest, I would recommend choosing a mud cake. However if you are using the cake for your dessert, it’s nice to have a cake with filling. Filled cake might cost you extra, as you will need larger slices which means a large cake, but remember you may be saving about $10 a head by using your cake as dessert instead of ordering dessert. This is something some venues may negotiate.
Do not purchase a cake without tasting it. You want everyone to enjoy every aspect of your wedding, including the taste of the cake.
Secondly, the icing may affect the pricing of the cake. There are many more choices for icing today compared to 30 years ago. For a small budget you might look at getting a ganached iced cake. It tastes yummy and gives the cake a rustic look, however you will be limited to the amount of decoration you can place on the cake. The smooth icing (or fondant) will give you a more formal look, not to mention all the detail that can be added to the smooth iced cakes. However unlike ganache, there is a lot of time and work that goes into making it perfectly smooth and creating that perfect square edge. Icing the cake is a skill learnt with experience. There is also an option for chocolate creations. You can have your cake covered and decorated all in one and with chocolate fencing or chocolate wraps you can create classic and modern looks. However remember to keep in mind that you will not want a chocolate fence cake if the weather forecast is predicted to be 30oC that day. It is not every girls dream to have their cake turn into a puddle of chocolate. This is also why the majority of Australian cake decorators avoid buttercream as well.
Thirdly, the decorations. A cake that starts off taking 8 hours to make and decorate can take days to make by adding some advanced detail. Don't get me wrong. I live for the detail. I could make sugar flowers day and night, one of my passions. I love detailed embroidery and piping work. Creating lace, frills and hand painting all add to the craft of cake decorating. Extra detail does come at a price.
What size should I order? This all depends on your guest list. For take home or coffee slices you can cater for 80% of your guests, some guests will eat it, some won’t. If you are having the cake as dessert you need to cater for all your guests plus a little extra. Please don’t under cater as you want to make sure all your guests get a piece. Do remember the slices will be larger so your cake will need to be be larger. For those on a tight budget you can order serving slabs, these are slabs that only the kitchen staff see, you can have a smaller cake on display and have some spare slabs out the back, this way you will save on icing and decorating.
Cake toppers. These can range from flowers to letters to bride and grooms. A personalised cake topper will cost you more than one off the shelf. The cake topper tells a story so keep in mind you are telling your story as a couple. Personalised toppers can be made with as much or as little detail as you like. If you choose to buy your own topper, make sure you let the cake decorator know. They may require it before the wedding date to make sure it fits in with the other decorations.
If you are on a budget you can always opt for fresh flowers over icing flowers. You must have complete faith in your decorator and florist that they will communicate the flower placement and who is decorating the finished cake. The last thing you want is to turn up to your wedding and the cake is not decorated.
So what are you paying for? For those on a tight budget you can still have a breathtaking cake. Remember the least amount of detail the less expensive the cake. So if a cake takes 40 hrs to complete that’s 40 hrs you need to pay your cake artist to create your cake.
As all cakes are created for each individual couple it’s hard to put a base price on your wedding cake, however if you budget for $6 - $8 a head you will be more than happy with the amount of options you will get!!