Well, I wish this question was as simple it sounds…there are so many factors that go into pricing of cakes, most of which I won’t bore you with, however, it is important to know some basics when starting your search for your wedding cake. This post is meant to be light hearted and a little humorous so please note before reading…. 🙂
First, have a budget in mind! What I mean by that, is that you should have a general idea of what you want to spend or can afford to spend on your cake. I get that for most people, they have no idea what a wedding cake costs, but it helps to get comfortable with the fact that a wedding cake for 100 will start around $6 per serving. Well maybe it will be less if you get your cake from Costco, (no dig on Costco, I love that store!), but seriously, this is a definite case of “you get what you pay for”.
Bakeries such as ours, with an established reputation, that bakes from scratch using high quality ingredients, and that are very familiar with the local venues, are going to be worth the money. We know how to properly bake and construct a tiered cake. We know how to deliver a large, heavy cake and we have the nice, cooled van to deliver it with. You just can’t get that from a grocery store bakery or your “friend of a friend” who said they can make your cake for $100 bucks! With a wedding, there is no “do-over” so you need to go with a bakery you can trust to get it right!
With that said, a good place to start when establishing your cake budget, is by first taking a look at your guest count. If you plan to have 100 guests, your cake will cost less than a cake for 250 guests right? Well, yes…. maybe, but not always. Our cakes are priced by the serving, based on size and design. More on that later…
Thanks to Pinterest, there are about a billion wedding cake photos to choose from! Typically, a buttercream cake will cost less than a fondant cake. However, not all designs can be achieved with buttercream, so keep that in mind when looking at cake photos. Our buttercream cakes start at $6 per serving and our fondant cakes start at $7 per serving. So here is the easy part – if you want a tiered cake with 100 servings, multiply $6 X 100 and voila, your cake will start at $600 for buttercream. Does that mean that all buttercream cakes are $6 per serving? The simple answer is no. Just like not all fondant cakes will remain at $7 per serving, however, it’s a good place to start.
Will a faux cake or a faux tier save you money on your wedding cake? I’m sorry to say, but the answer is no. It seems like having a chunk of Styrofoam vs. a piece of delicious cake should cost less. I know logically, it sounds like it should. So in an effort to dispel that myth, I will explain why it’s not the case. A faux tier, or cake dummy, as we call them, costs about the same it does to bake the actual cake. So, no cost savings there. Second, I personally find cake dummies more difficult to work with then real cake, so I’m my opinion, it actually takes longer to decorate them then it does real cake. So the time that it typically takes to decorate can actually be longer, which means, you guessed it, no cost savings there either!
What about a sheet cake? We do offer sheet cakes, and they are a great way to supplement cake servings, without paying for a huge tiered cake with 250 servings. What I mean by that is, if your guest count is 250, order a smaller tiered cake (the most common size cake we bake is a 3 tier with 80 servings & shown in the photo above) and then supplement the rest of your cake servings with sheet cake. Sheet cakes are basic frosted cakes, delivered to the kitchen, cut by catering staff, and never seen by guests, therefore they cost less per serving then a tiered cake. Keep in mind, that we will only make sheet cakes for wedding clients ordering a two tier or larger cake from us.
Another thing to note about cakes, the more detailed the cake design, the higher the price will be. And, just because a cake looks like a “simple” design, doesn’t mean that it is. I know there are many amazing cakes online, and in magazines and with cake artists pushing cake design to new limits, it’s easy to fall in love with so many of the beautiful cakes we all see. Things like hand painting, edible gold, sugar flowers, tons of little sugar pearls on the cake, all translate into beautiful designs, but also a higher cake cost. Some of these cakes can run as much as $15 per serving…gasp! But think about it, you go out to dinner at a chain restaurant and pay $15 for a so so meal, that was probably frozen and took about 20 minutes to make. A cake artist can spend HOURS from start to finish on your wedding cake, and we think our time is worth it. Cake decorating is an art and not just anyone can do it. Not to mention ingredient costs, like fresh fruit, butter and eggs! That stuff is expensive!
Sugar flowers will always cost more than fresh flowers. Why? Because they are very time consuming to make, and require a skilled hand, with knowledge on how to construct, wire, etc. a beautiful looking flower made from sugar! Sugar flowers can start at about $15 per flower – the more complex the flower design, the higher the price. As much a I love, love, love sugar flowers on a cake, most couples do not have the budget to spend $200-300 on just sugar flowers alone, I get it! So, unless you do, opt for fresh flowers instead.
Lastly, don’t forget that there will be a delivery charge to deliver your cake to the venue. How much that fee will be, depends on the location of your venue from our bakery. The further we have to travel, the higher your delivery cost will be. In some cases, it’s not only the distance we have to travel, but the time it will take to make the delivery – traffic, difficult roads, lack of parking, etc. I would say our average delivery fee is about $50-65, with locations such as Santa Barbara and Los Angeles being $100-150+. When you consider how stressful a wedding cake delivery can be, getting the cake to the venue on time, battling the heat, the weight of the cake, and the fact that they are flat out awkward to handle, you should always opt for delivery…let the professionals do what they do!
I hope this post provides some insight into the cost of cakes, and helps in some small way in determining your cake budget. I’ll be doing a post about dessert bars soon!