The eternal question 'How much does a cake cost?' is often the first thing that I'm asked when I meet people, and the answer - well, where shall I begin?! If I could ask you to imagine for a moment going into a car showroom, and asking the salesperson 'How much does a car cost?' then they'll ask what size engine you want, how many people you need to seat, do you want a leather interior, aircon? Now, please don't worry a cake is definitely nowhere near as expensive as a car! But there are some considerations when thinking about the cake that you want...
What kind of style wedding cake do you want? If you are looking for something very simple like a naked cake then this will be the least expensive option as it takes less time to make. Semi-naked cakes ooze simplicity and are easily dressed up with drips, fresh flowers or sweet treats to make them more unique, this style is mid-budget. Bespoke iced or sugarpaste cakes are the more expensive style cake because of the time involved in assembling, icing and decorating.
How do you price a cake? I have a set price list for naked and semi-naked cakes so you can see how much a cake costs, then there are extras that you can add on such as fresh fruit, drip decoration and additional sweet treats. In order to price an Iced/Sugarpaste cake, a design and quote is required. I start with a set price list, and then I cost up the extra detail taking materials and time into consideration. None of these starting prices are hidden, and I send them out to all potential customers so they can have a clear idea of how much the cost starts at.
How many people do you want to serve? You may be thinking of having 100 guests in the day and an extra 30 to your evening reception, but you don't need to cater for each guest unless you are thinking of serving the cake as dessert. So perhaps a cake to serve 100 portions would be right for you.
Why do prices from cake makers differ so much? The cake making industry like many other industries has individuals offering different specialisms and different levels of experience. If we all charged the same amount, I'm sure we would be accused of price fixing (which would definitely be unfair!). So you may pay more for someone who has a lot of experience making wedding cakes and whose specialism it is, as it takes a lot of time to gain skills and accrue the necessary equipment to make wedding cakes (which isn't cheap). Likewise, you may pay less for someone who doesn't make wedding cakes often, or who are just starting out in their business.
But it's just sugar, butter, flour and eggs?! Absolutely, baking is the art of taking some ingredients and magically turning it into a delicious treat to share! However, the quantity of ingredients needed to make a wedding cake can be surprising. The assembling and decoration of the cake is the most time-consuming part and I can easily spend 14 hours preparing a cake until it is iced, and another day or more on top of that just decorating! The other part that people don't see is the time spent building a relationship with customers, attending wedding fairs and consultations, baking samples, creating designs and quotes and this is all before someone has even booked in.
Why are wedding cakes so expensive? This is my other favourite question! If I asked you how much you might pay for a slice of tray bake with your coffee, it may be in the region of £3.50 or perhaps even more. So if you were feeling generous and decided to buy 100 slices for your friends and family you would be looking at a minimum of £350. This would be for something mass-produced, made with cheap ingredients and rolled out on a factory line. Wedding cake designers offer something completely different to this; I make and bake each and every one of my cakes, I don't use the cheapest ingredients, and I'm confident enough to say that I know my cake is better than something made by a robot in a factory.
So how much does it actually cost?!!! What would you like on your wedding cake? If you would like one tier completely covered in gold leaf, another tier with lots of stencilling and the bottom tier covered in ruffles - then you're looking at £600+. If you want lots of intricate detail on your wedding cake then it will cost more, gold leaf, for example, can cost £40 a booklet and then add the time taken to apply it. Ruffles look amazing (I really love doing them!), however, it can take four hours to make and apply the ruffles alone! It is so important to know that you can still have a really beautiful wedding cake without having tonnes of detail on there, and my design style is 'less is more' which means less cost - #winning!
But my Mum/Nan/Best Friend/Neighbour's-aunt's-god-daughter can make it for less!!! Yes, they probably can! When I started out baking a looonnng time ago, I made cakes and charged ridiculously low prices and essentially made no money at all (and that was fine because I loved it!). But that wasn't a business, it was a really expensive hobby! Making wedding cakes is my sole job and business, so like any other business, I calculate the cost of materials and time in order to quote for a design. Without going full boring on you, there are so many hidden costs to running a business that aren't obvious at first and it's not just ingredients that I spend money on.
We could get it cheaper at a Supermarket? Absolutely, you will find that wedding cakes from upmarket supermarkets can sell their cakes for less than you would have to pay a wedding cake designer. There are many reasons for this, firstly, they have a lot of staff at their disposal to make a high volume of wedding cakes so they can work on lower profit margins. Secondly, they are offering non-bespoke designs which are picked from a catalogue, we create all our designs so they are bespoke and unique to you. Lastly, you will find that the majority of cake designers make cakes that are deeper than those from a supermarket so you actually get a bigger slice for your money when working with a cake designer.
Picking your wedding cake is entirely up to you, it's your wedding day and it's you who's paying for it. For some people having a family member make it is the right choice for them, for others the upscale supermarket is their best option, and there are others out there who are looking for something unique and memorable - and that is who I make cakes for, because I want your wedding cake to be the best you've ever tasted and seen!
Most wedding cake makers will have some starting prices on their website, so you can check before you commit to anything. If you have a particular design or style in mind, just get in touch and I'll be able to give you a rough estimate.
My top four tips when thinking about your wedding cake...
- Look through all the information relating to costs so you can see which style suits you and fits your budget best. I have magazines and price guides for naked, semi-naked and iced cakes so you can have a good perusal before we meet up for a consultation.
- Sit down together and talk about your cake budget, this is the most important advice I could give! I understand that you haven't got married before so you don't know how much things cost, but look through the price guides and set a budget.
- Of course, you want your wedding cake to look amazing - so do I! If your dream cake is outside of your budget it may be necessary to tweak a design, but it's my job to show you how that can be done and still have a knock-out cake!
- Remember, 'less is more' and you can have a stunning cake design with a few focal points, you don't need to have everything on it.
I hope that you find this useful in your wedding planning, and just remember your wedding cake designer is there to help you so just talk to them!
PS. If you're interested, here is a glimpse into the time and costs when making a wedding cake. This is to produce a white iced three-tiered cake, it doesn't include any bespoke decoration, or time spent waiting for cakes to cool down or set before moving to the next stage.