Choosing your wedding cake might seem like the least complicated – and most delicious – part of the wedding planning adventure. But wedding cakes are surprisingly expensive. If you want to save money, you’ve got to apply the same laser-focused attention to detail in picking a cake as in choosing your suit or buying an engagement ring.
A wedding cake from a well-known bakery in a big city can run you $11 – $18 a slice, which comes out to a pretty formidable amount, even if your guest list is small.
A wedding cake isn’t just a dessert. It’s one of the major set pieces of the whole day, on par with the altar and your bride’s dress.
So you’re not just paying for a cake – you’re paying for a work of art, along with all the expertise that goes into its creation. Every extra tier, sugar flower, or frosting flourish is going to cost you. Some venues even charge you to cut the damn thing into pieces.
Even with all these varied costs, there are still plenty of ways to save. Listen and learn, Grasshopper…
Cut Down On The Slices
So simple, you might not even have thought of it. The less cake you give everyone, the less you have to buy. You can reduce a cake’s size (and price) by as much as 50% by making sure the venue cuts smaller slices.
Now, this does require some advance planning: if they don’t cut exactly the right size, you’ll run out before everyone gets a piece. But this is something you can work out with the baker and the venue beforehand.
Don’t worry about your guests thinking you’re being cheap: they won’t notice, and besides, they’ll probably be stuffed already from the main course.
Cut Down On Creativity
It’s much easier (and cheaper) for a cake designer to work from an old design than starting from scratch. An established design cuts down on sketching, approval time, and other tasks that are built into the per slice cost.
Cut Down On The Details
The more labor-intensive a cake, the more expensive. Any fancy hand-made design elements done by a cake artist will add to your bill.
A great example: adding lots of little sugar flowers. Those take a while to create. Fresh flowers, on the other hand, are ready made.
Cut Down On The Filling
It’s not all about the outside of the cake. Some bakers charge more for specialty textures and fillings. Ask up front if that sponge cake and white chocolate ganache is going to cost extra (it will).
Cut Down On The Size
Remember when we said that the cake was a major visual set piece for the ceremony? We didn’t say you have to feed that cake to your guests.
Get a smaller display cake and have the baker make a sheet cake that tastes the same. Your guests won’t know the difference, and you’ll save some cash which can be better spent elsewhere.
Cut The Cake
Some people skip the cake completely and go for cupcakes instead. Cupcakes save money, as well as getting around that cutting fee we mentioned earlier. Small pies are an option, too, if they fit the tone and season of your wedding as a whole.
Your cake is an important part of the wedding, but that doesn’t mean you need to blow your whole budget on it. Smaller slices, attention to what it’s made from and how it’s made, and a bit of sleight of hand can make for a cake that looks and tastes great.