With all the costs involved in weddings, budget-conscious brides are often looking for ways to save money wherever they can. One of the areas to look at is the cost of the wedding cake. Guests are always eager to see (and eat!) the wedding cake, but it’s easy to go over budget. I’m here to tell you it’s 100% possible to have your cake and eat it, too. Find out how to design a beautiful wedding cake without blowing your budget.
1) Serving size matters
This where you’ll get your baseline cost. If you’re having a big wedding, you’ll be serving more cake, which means a bigger bill. Most wedding cakes are priced by the slice rather than the whole cake. You can expect to pay anywhere between $2.00-$6.00 per slice for buttercream cakes and $4.00-$15.00 (and up!) for elaborate cakes that require the work of a more skilled cake decorator.
If you opt for a venue package that includes the cake, you’ll want to do your own research on their selected wedding cake vendor. Typically, these cakes include simple buttercream designs. You can always add more detail, but it will be at an additional cost.
THE INSIDE SCOOP: I’ve been told by banquet hall coordinators that the guest count is typically 10% lower on the day of the wedding than the final guest count the bride and groom gives. So don’t worry about having enough to go around. Trust your cake decorator’s serving suggestion based on the guest count. No need to order more than that (unless you and your new hubby want to take home leftovers).
2) Better shape up
Round wedding cakes are the most popular shape and also the most affordable because they’re easiest to ice. Other shapes, especially square cakes, are more difficult to ice perfect. Anything that’s more time-consuming or requires a higher level of skill with add to the cake’s cost.
3) Expensive Taste(s) Will Cost You
Pricing varies by the cake flavor as well as the type of filling. Your basic wedding package typically includes traditional cake flavors, like vanilla and chocolate. So when you’re tempted by the specialty flavors, like fresh fruit fillings or hazelnut and mocha ganache, keep in mind the added cost. You will probably have the pleasure of enjoying all flavors at your cake tasting, so taste but if you’re worried about budget, don’t buy into the hype. Many fancy flavors are an upcharge.
4) Basic Buttercream: The Budget-Friendly’s BFF
A simple buttercream iced cake never goes out of style. It’s consistently the most popular wedding cake design requested by my brides, probably because it offers a classic look that is also cost-effective. It can range from just an iced cake with a piped bottom border or ribbon around the bottom of each tier, to simple yet beautiful piping. If you go this route, have fun with a cheap cake topper. You can always use the classic Bride and Groom Cake Toppers or go for something a little more modern, like a monogram for a minimal cost. I decorated the beautiful buttercream wedding cake shown above, and it only cost the bride and groom $250!
5) The Real Cost of Gum Paste Flowers
Gum paste flowers are a beautiful addition to any cake. Each flower is hand crafted which can make it labor intensive and sometimes more costly than fresh flowers. Some decorators charge a “flower placing fee,” if your florist will not be available to add them to the cake on your wedding day. It depends on the bakery, so don’t be shy. Ask if there’s an additional cost.
THE INSIDE SCOOP: Neither option is edible (unless you opt for edible flowers, which will also add to your budget). Gum paste flowers dry hard and are meant to be for decoration only. If you’re opting for fresh flowers, be sure your florist wraps the ends of the flowers with floral tape or flower spikes. Some flowers can be toxic and should not be placed on cakes, so check with your florist.
Fondant is sugar dough that can be rolled out to cover a cake, or molded into various shapes for endless decorating possibilities. It gives your wedding cake a smooth, sleek look, so it can be visually more appealing than buttercream. Fondant is typically more expensive than buttercream due to the cost of the fondant itself. If you are absolutely in love with the thought of having a fondant wedding cake, you might be able to get away with it. Just keep additional decorations to a minimum.
Keep in mind the more elaborate you want your fondant cake designs, the more expensive your cake will be. The most expensive cake I ever made was for a New Year’s Eve wedding (shown at left). It cost $1,200 and consisted of 6 fondant-covered layers with a damask fondant overlay and rhinestone border.
THE INSIDE SCOOP: If you’re having your wedding outside on a hot summer day, your wedding cake vendor and wedding coordinator are going to have to take extra precautions to keep that cake cool until you’re ready to serve it, which likely means it will stay inside until it’s time to cut the cake! If the thought of your expensive cake having a short debut crushes your dreams, you might think about a naked caked. They’re increasing more popular. BONUS: They’re also more budget friendly.
Some final words of advice for deciding on a wedding cake and the budget, bring several ideas to the tasting and be flexible with your design. A good wedding cake designer will work with you and your budget (whether it’s $500 or $5,00) to make your wedding cake what you want it to be.
What kind of cake are you planning on having at your wedding? Let us know in the comments below!