Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Budget Crunch: Cake Cost-Cutting Ideas

Wedding cakes are one of the first places brides should look to cut their budget, yet many fall into the wedding industry trap of priced-per-piece wedding cake slices and exaggerated wedding baker-egos.

Think about it, ladies.

It is cake.

Yes, it is an important cake, arguably one of the most important desserts you will serve in your life. (Feel the stress? I know I do!) But in the end it is just that … . Cake.

I served individual wedding cakes for each of my guests and had a large(r) three-tiered cake to cut and still spent hundreds less than my bride-to-be buddies.


I’ll tell you.

Here are six ways you can save money on your wedding cake.

1. Shop Around
This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many brides find a bakery that has a picture of a cake they like and instantly book them. Any bakery can make any cake, girls, so the idea is to choose a cake you like-not a bakery-and work from there.

2. Compare Prices
Ask the bakery how much they charge and tell them you are shopping around. If you had a lower quote from someone else-tell them. See what they can throw in to make up the difference or ask if they will meet the price from a rival bakery. Be sure you are comparing apples and apples here, though. Many bakeries include the price of transportation, set-up and even cake stands in their price. Others don’t. Make sure you have all of the information before you book.

3. Use an Unknown Baker
Not all wedding cakes have to be produced in a well-known bakery. In each area there are people who make their living baking wedding cakes at home. Previous brides know who they are, can make recommendations and can tell you if their cake is any good. Call the bakers, have a tete-a-tete, ask for recommendations if you haven’t secured one and ask to try their cake. Most of the “freelance” bakers I met offered to make me a small cake so I could test their skills before I committed.

4. Get Away From the Wedding-Craze
This is the biggest rip-off the wedding industry has come up with, yet we are all “bound” by it. Or are we? If you are a gutsy bride, call the bakery and ask for a quote for a cake that will serve around X people and don’t tell them it is a wedding cake. If you decide to book them for your wedding-and they try to raise the price-call them on it. Ask them why it is more expensive and challenge their motivations. I read about a bride who did this with her limousine company and saved $1,000 off of her total bill.

5. Get Around That Priced-Per-Slice-of-Cake Nonsense
After the “wedding craze” hype, the paying-per-slice-of-cake thing is my second biggest pet peeve with the wedding cake industry. I know you are worried you will have cake-deprived guests if you under-estimate your numbers … but you won’t. If you expect 100 guests, tell the bakery you need a cake that serves 90. Most cakes aren’t designed for an exact number of guests anyway, so the bakery will round up … you just want them to round down.

6. Flavors, Fillings and Decorations
Ask your baker about the added cost of having a variety of flavors and fillings. Some fillings cost much less than others and unless you are set on having fresh fruit-one of the more expensive options-then choose something else. Your guests won’t know the difference … but your bottom line will.

Rethink extensive handmade decorations. These will add labor time and your baker will be, oh-too-happy to bill you for those hours. Instead, choose a cake that has decorations you can purchase, such as ribbons, bows or in my case ... beads.

Have you chosen a wedding cake and baker? How did you choose someone? What questions did you ask?

Photos courtesy of Shutter Ferret and Mandott

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