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Wedding Cake with a Budget

Wedding Cake with a Budget

Close your eyes and imagine your wedding reception – think about it like you did when you were a little girl with a pillowcase draped off your head as one of your fanciful wedding accessories.  When you and your new husband walk into the reception hall, engrossed by family and friends, picture the colossal cake you always dreamed of having displayed in the middle of the room.  No matter what your budget , you can have a gorgeous cake of your dreams!   

Budgeting for your cake can be challenging .  Many brides say you should expect to pay between two and six dollars per guest for your cake.  With a large wedding, that number can add up fast !  Wedding cakes tend to be expensive because they require unique baking pans, the finest ingredients and master decorators.  Similar to searching for a caterer, get referrals and obtain quotes from several bakeries before choosing your vendor.  While you are at the bakeries, be sure to taste a few samples.  Not only will it make the errands more enjoyable , you will be able to see the range each baker has when it comes to  cake quality .

Before you start visiting and sampling, here is a basic wedding cake anatomy lesson.  Each cake is made of four distinct parts – the cake itself, icing, filling and decorations.  The cake can range from white and chocolate to hazelnut and pound cake – even red velvet cake if you want!  Most wedding cakes are cut into thin layers and filled with icing or some other  filling. 

Buttercream is the most common kind of icing.  It can be flavored to taste like just about anything you like, including chocolate, lemon and liquor flavors.  Other common kinds of icing are fondant, cream cheese and whipped cream.

You have numerous options for your cake filling as well.  Your cake layers can be filled with frosting, custard, preserves or fresh fruit.

The decorations are a great way to personalize your cake.  You can choose from elaborate piping to fake flowers and tiers – even wedding cake topper figurines!  Make your cake figurine more personal by choosing an ethnic wedding cake topper.  Many companies which offer wedding supplies will have a variety of ethnicities to choose from, including African American or Hispanic wedding cake toppers.

Now that you are familiar with the cake’s anatomy – here’s how you can save money on your cake:

  1. Meet with bakers who do not specialize in wedding cakes.  Often they will be less expensive and many are just as good as the specialty bakers.  You may even find a skilled decorator that none of your married friends found!
  2. Get quotes from your local grocery store.  Some stores create elaborate cakes that are just as pretty as a specialty cake.  When it’s sitting in your reception hall, you’ll be the only one who knows it came from the grocery store.
  3. Ask a restaurant if its pastry chef would be interested in quoting you the price for making a wedding cake.  This may seem a little strange , but if the pastry chef is interested in making a little extra money when he or she isn’t at work, you could get a great deal on a unique cake.  As with any vendor, be sure to get the price in writing before you sign anything.
  4.  Avoid labor intensive cakes.  The more fancy a cake, the more time it will take to create and the more it will end up costing you.  A simple cake can be even more stunning and elegant than an fancy one.
  5. Skip multiple tiers held up by pillars.  Crystal pillars are expensive to purchase or rent, so this could be an easy way to save a lot of money.  If you have your heart set on pillars, consider using plastic ones – from a distance they will look the same – or ask friends and family if you can borrow a set.
  6.  Ask for your wedding cake topper as a wedding shower gift.  One of your friends or family members will be happy to give you your dream wedding cake topper as a gift! Let close friends and family members know that is one shower gift you would like.  You may be able to provide the giver with guidelines that let them pick it out, go with the giver or get a gift certificate to purchase a topper yourself.
  7. Get a multilayer cake and decorate it yourself.  This may sound like a daunting task, but we have faith that you can do it!  Get a few good girlfriends together and have fun.
  8. Rent or borrow a dummy cake.  Bakeries will likely have a number of Styrofoam show cakes they display in windows or on countertops.  Ask if you can borrow an elaborate fake cake for your wedding table.  Take a few pictures with it, then have the caterer wheel it away and pass out sheet cake to your guests.
  9. Have a square cake instead of a round one – you’ll get more pieces out of a square cake!
  10. Skip the cake!  Instead, you can serve your guests cupcakes, tartlets, cheesecake or a dessert buffet.  Each option is great and your guests are sure to have their sweet tooth satisfied.
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