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cost for wedding cake - Page 2

post #31 of 60
I do not consider myself a skilled baker. As with most experienced caterers, I can, with good staff, prepare desserts that hopefully are appropriate and tastey. On occasion, I have consented to assembling a wedding cake. You'll note the word..."assembling."

As I've posted elsewhere, I've been retired for eight years, although occasionally, for a special occasion or friend, I will go back into the kitchen. Several months ago, I was approached by a close friend/clergyman and asked if I would cater a buffet luncheon for a young couple whom he was marrying. Both are college students and the wedding was without parents' financial help. Several individuals in the community were providing the means to purchase supplies and volunteering to assist in set-up and service. My capacity was as a volunteer, as well.

As we reviewed the menu, my friend the "preacher" asked if I'd make a wedding cake. I explained that I would be happy to bake the layers, lay down the scrub/base coat of frosting, but that my decorating skills were rudimentary. He said, "Don't worry, I'm sure I can find someone with decorating skills." Long story...SHORT. The church has a multi-level faux silver structure that holds four graduated cake layers on glass platters. I baked four rounds using your basic Duncan Hines mixes with added instant pudding mixes, additional eggs, a mixture of two viscosity oils, almond extract and a water/milk/cream blend. I slightly overmixed, so the cake would slice easily and hold its body. I secured several pounds of white butter and made a simple buttercream frosting. (I did cheat a bit with some palm kernel oil, so the frosting would hold up without a stabilizer.) My volunteer cake decorator, as I expected, was imaginary.:crazy: I frosted the cake, piped on some white lacing, added some fresh flowers to the metal standard, and stuck a remnant bride and groom from a previous wedding atop it. I'd estimate that the cake's ingredients cost less than $100.00. It was made on the premises, so there was no transportation cost.

I thought that it looked and tasted very good; simple, tasteful and tastey.
Several guests asked which bakery had made the "delicious" cake. I gave them a ficticious name. I don't like baking these things and had no intention of fielding requests for wedding cakes.

The long and short. In a pinch, you can produce a very acceptable wedding cake for a modest wedding at a very reasonable cost to you and your clients.

If you're talking fondant and custom precision decorating; that's an entirely different arena.
post #32 of 60
I had a freind get a quote for his wedding cake , it was $1000.

So I did it for $175 and made some profit.
It was 125 pp and I costed it out to around $60.

$1000 for wedding cakes can be a great scam but some are worth it.
Many aren't, just my opinion.
Not that I am one to judge,

I did a $1200 wedding cake that cost me $40 and took 6 hrs total time from raw ingredients to out the door.
What they were paying for is what can't be bottled, skill.
post #33 of 60
but Gerard, that is the whole point. SKILL!
post #34 of 60
:lips:, Without a doubt!
post #35 of 60
Then don't.

Have a sit down with your bride to be and figure out what your priorities are for cake, discuss a realistic budget and then search for a cake that fits in it. There are options out there if cake is not that important to you, but the price is affected by a lot more than just the flour and sugar, you're paying for experience, talent, and quality. And just like it was mentioned "you get what you pay for".

I know I haven't been here for ages, but it's funny I just got done blogging about this and your comment about the bakeries wanting to get in on the money made me reply. I for one, as in independent cake artist, have already learned this is not the business to be in if I were in it for the money.

Good luck with your friend who is making the cake, I'm sure it will be delicious but I'm also sure she's gifting much of her time at whatever rate you're paying her. Oh and for another reference point - a plain buttercream white cake from me is $6.00 per and the area bakeries near me are about 3.50 - 4.00 per. In the boonies, in the middle of New York state (not NYC).
post #36 of 60
I agree with CakeScraps. I do wedding cakes...got a 4 tiered one sitting on the counter waiting to be finished right now. Cake is the CHEAPEST thing just about that a bride orders....the photography is out the kazoo....the sit-down dinner or even just finger foods cost a poop load. The flowers, the decorating, the DJ or band...the list goes on and on. Most of my brides tell me the cheapest thing is the cake and I am not cheap! Most of my weddings average $990 so I have done them for as little as $300 and a little over $2000.

I have a fortune invested in cake tools...impression rolling pins, gum paste cutters that cost a bazillion $$$, support systems so that my cakes doen't lean or fall over, 20 qt. Hobart wasn't cheap....and my ingredients aren't cheap either. I make my own white chocolate fondant and my buttercream is just that BUTTER. I also take classes as often as I can and from the top cream of the crop teachers in the world. That isn't cheap either.

What people have to remember is that when you buy a wedding cake you are essentially buying DESSERT for all of your guests. Make it one that tastes good and looks good. I spend hours baking and decorating my cakes so that they are a work of art for my brides.

You do get what you pay for.

I just had a bride not pay even though she had signed a contract. Her mother paid for her cousin to take the Wilton course and the cousin was going to make the cake. I was not amused. This is June...I turned down 3 other cakes because I had a cake for this darling bride. I would have gave a pretty penny to see that cake. You get what you pay for.
post #37 of 60
I agree with what you're saying.....if a person wants to make a wedding cake themselves to save money, that is certainly their prerogative.

I think what we pastry chef/cake artists are saying though, is that we REALLY don't want to have people come into our shops and try to negotiate prices with us by saying, "my grandma can do it cheaper" or " X cake shop down the street isn't so expensive." Fine, then go there. I'm not in business to negotiate. I have to charge what I charge just to cover my expenses and make enough profit so I can pay my own bills, just like everyone else.

On another note, do you know how many times I've been called up by people who are panicked and have realized at the last minute they are over their heads when their wedding cakes start falling apart on them? They want me to fix it. Depending on my workload and the time frame I have done that on occasion, only to be deeply offended when these same people balk at the fact that I charge them for the fix. To that, I say, WTF? I bailed you out, rearranged my workload although I didn't have to, and you expect this for FREE? As the years have passed, I'm not nearly so nice anymore. This might help explain why we feel the need to defend ourselves, our businesses and our skills.
post #38 of 60

Been on both sides of the cake

As a veteran Caterer, Restaurant owner and Pastry Chef, I have Catered Weddings where the cake actually cost more than the entire event I produced (food,staff etc..) and to my disbelief and horror, I have been in charge of cake cutting where the cake was not only disgusting in flavor but incredibly dry and crumbly, falling apart at first cut, I had to magically morph the crumbles into something that resembles a slice of cake. Hence the calling for me to got to the Culinary Institute to take the P&B program, now I recently attended a Wedding (Friend) at which I made the cake and watched in horror as the Caterer massacred my creation to the point each slice was a microscopic piece because no one informed the "cake cutter" of the additional sheet cakes in the kitchen, when I left there were 2 full cakes sitting on the table. I think when everything is said and done, the ultimate question is: how important is the cake in the equation? It differs with every couple, I just recently did a Wedding cake for a couple that chose not to have food so they could go for the WOW factor with the cake being the focal point and yet another Bride is having me hand sculpt cats for her cake ( they will be painted to look like her own). I have several huge Caters this summer where I am doing all the food as well as the cake and others where I am doing the food with a Dessert bar and or fondue. So the bottom line is..... the cake is as important as the client makes it out to be. However there are times when things go wrong (as they sometimes will) when no amount of money can eliminate or compensate for the STRESS!!!!!
So all you Cake Designers, sculptors and artists pat yourselves on the back for a job well done, I sympathize!
Joan
post #39 of 60
I agree with Joan. There is a ton of stress involved in making a wedding cake. Most people with some cake experience can make a wonderfully decorated single tier cake....the stress comes in from stacking and transporting those little darling to the site which can be through potholed roads (yeah...that is great for cake) crazy drivers, uneven paths to get to the site, stairs, steps, junk in the way, etc, and the always fun one...dealing with other vendors.

I delivered a 5 tier wedding cake in 3 cakes. The bottom two and the top two were already stacked and had their borders. The Groom's cake needed its sugared fruit done. Caterer lady was NOT there and she was also doing the table clothes. I was on time because I still had to make bead borders and dust them. I had to wait 45 minutes for this chick to get there. No apology - "so sorry if I caused you problems". Thank God I had a cake buddy with me. I left 10 minutes before the bride was due. That burnt me up. I do not EVER want to do business with a bride that uses that caterer if she is also decorating. I don't need the stress.
post #40 of 60
In my opinion, the reason why people cringe at the expense of the cake as opposed to the other food, the site rental, and the photographer is… it is a single item that once eaten is gone. They see it as a big ticket item that won’t be there in an hour. Photographers leave them with pictures, the caterer feeds the masses and they have rent or a mortgage to pay themselves so they understand site rental.

They don’t consider that if they have 150 guests, it would cost them one dollar (plus tax) to buy each guest a hot apple pie from McDonalds, $150. Surely they would want something at least twice as tasty/valuable…$300, minimum. How many of you in smaller markets have had clients balk at $300 dollars for a wedding cake? I have. But everybody wants something ten times the worth of a “hot apple pie” but for the same price.

Now I see a bunch of folks here saying that they can buy materials for a wedding cake for well under a hundred dollars. I can’t imagine what kind of cake could be made for that, I’m not knocking cake mix and Crisco icing (okay, yes I am but only because I wouldn’t want to eat it) but please remember that for those of us who insist on real butter (not oil in a mix or Crisco in the icing), even wholesale butter hasn’t been under $2 a pound in years. Add to that gourmet fillings and washes and $40-60 will not yield a three tiered cake, maybe not even a two tiered cake. And that doesn’t include pastry bags, food coloring, and all the dish washing and the tedious task of cleaning tips and couplers. Thanks to Food Network, every body has seen gum paste flowers. They want them and fondant bows and other decorations that have to be made days and weeks in advance. Meaning a cake that has weeks of preparation involved as opposed to days.

Speaking of Martha Stewart, she “ain’t got nuthin on me”, not only do I cater and do wedding cakes, I’m a seamstress. The only gig I haven’t done at a wedding is photography and pronouncing the couple man and wife. I long ago gave up wedding gowns because some brides don’t realize that the reason the gown doesn’t look like they thought it would is because I’m a seamstress, not a plastic surgeon. If you think getting her cake perfect is stressful, try steering the five foot tall four foot wide bride to be away from a form fitting shiny white satin dress with out saying “But honey, you’ll look like the Michelin Man.” :rolleyes:
No one balks at several hundred dollars over and above the cost of materials for a dress made from a McCall’s or Simplicity pattern (Vogue patterns are much more challenging and I always tack on a pain in the bum fee for those), that takes the same amount energy, or less, as a cake.

I have had one great success story in getting a bride to be to understand the cost. She wanted a three tiered cake: 14 inch on bottom with a 10 inch dummy and six inch on top. She wanted three tiers but it was a small wedding and didn’t need that much cake. Yellow cake, butter cream filling flavored with triple sec and orange zest with a triple sec wash, iced lavender (white chocolate icing) with white over piping and bead border on a display board that was flooded with lavender royal icing and decorated to match the cake: $375. It was what my market at the time would bear.

She almost died. Fortunately for me, she was a pottery artist. I think I calculated a minimum of ten pounds of butter being used (Never mind flour, sugar and eggs). I asked her how much she would charge for a piece that used ten pounds of clay worked over the course of three days, fired to perfection and painstakingly decorated. The answer was about what you could buy a good used car for, and clay cost 13 CENTS a pound. She had to acknowledge that $375 was an absolute bargain. In fact, she gifted me a piece of pottery as well as paying in full.

Some people can’t ever wrap their heads around paying a large sum of money for what they view to be a single dessert, even if it feeds two hundred people. They think it’s a gimmick, a rip off or them being suckered especially when they don’t understand what the process entails. Such is the nature of the beast.
post #41 of 60

Hey izbnso

Don't you get sick and tired of having to justify yourself? I know I do, I use McDonalds and Starbucks as my examples constantly (how sad is that) I am an award winning Le Cordon Bleu Chef and Cake Designer with 15 years experience in Catering and Restaurant ownership and yet I find myself explaining the cost of my trade. I know a lot of other Wedding professionals (Florists, photographers etc) that do not have to make the effort, they hand over the brochure and that is that. I guess it is the nature of the beast and I know I am about to be more abrupt about things (not rude) these are my prices, which are comparable with my professional peers and I wont be explaining anymore. :lips:
post #42 of 60

P.S. Speaking of Martha Stewart

I charge an additional 35% when a Bride brings me a Martha Stewart creation to emulate, everything she does is insanely complex and incredibly irritating. I once had to make a Faux fence for a 4 tier cake out of Royal icing (Good times).
post #43 of 60

What oil company did you work for?

I lived in Alaska 18 years and most of my family worked on the slope.
Just curious.
post #44 of 60

Small indeed!

My Dad worked for Arco, Veak, Holmes and Narver and the Navy as a quality control specialist all on the slope, my brother worked for Arco, Peak and someone else, they wouldn't let me sign on with anyone, it's a different world up there (one they didn't want me to know about anyway):rolleyes: I still have a bunch of friends up there (Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer) one owns Alaska Wilderness Tours, originally I was going to "Chef" for him. His company has riggs that rival the Hum V and can climb up the side of a mountain. He had talked with Princess cruise lines about setting up something where he would pick up in his bus and do a quick day tour, not sure how that turned out, I've been tooooooo busy to keep in touch. Anyway, it's nice to talk to someone with common interests. I have to rescue some corn from the BBQ so gotta go! Take care
Joan
post #45 of 60

Crazy, I worked at United Bank on G st

As far as work now, I sold Encore cafe' & catering as well as Mickeymadason's Grill, went to P&B Program, opened The Dessert Diva and I am about to add West Salem Pasta Co.
Tons of Caters and Wedding cakes as well as sculpted cakes for the summer, so I am actually going to close for summer and reopen in September.
Anyway I am off to work.
Joan
post #46 of 60
Wedding cakes can be som expensive! Lucky for me I know a friend that is in the industry of making wedding cakes. She will make me one when I get married for 75% off. She is so nice.
post #47 of 60
I highly recommend the bakers at Whole Foods on Arden and Eastern. Their cakes are delicious. Don't quote me on this, but I think we paid $100 for a half sheet almond/white chocolate filled cake that was two layers.
post #48 of 60
I am an owner of a cake bakery shop, and cakes are very time consuming, especially tired cakes and sculpted cakes. The hardest part of our business is making sure we charge the right amount for the time it takes to make the cake and decor. Food costs are high now, butter is pretty expensive now, my dilema is trying to find a substitiute for my butter in my cake recipes. Never used margarine or shortning in a cake recipe, any suggestions?
post #49 of 60

Try partial margarine

I am having the same issues all of my cakes use real butter. I have been experimenting with 75% butter 25% margarine with great sucess I just cut back slightly on the liquid to compensate. I frost 99% of my Wedding cakes in Swiss Meringue using 100% butter although recently I have substituted 1# of shortening with sucess, I don't like to decrease the butter too much because that is where a lot of flavor and texture are. I intend to increase my pricing on new contracts. I sympathize!
Take care
Joan
post #50 of 60
Butter prices are high, but I would never sacrifice quality, especially in a specialty cake shop, because people expect the best from you. Rather than cheapen the product, I raise my prices if needed.
post #51 of 60
but still, there are times when clients won't buy anymore especially if the prices are just too high for the budget. it's best that you balance it with demand and supply.
post #52 of 60
It all depends on the style of wedding cake and intricacy that it takes to acheive that exact look you want. Generally the pricing is anywhere from $3-$7 per cake slice, ofcourse the pricing is more towards the latter if your wedding cake is fancier. It seems that you are getting a fair, average price. Maybe you can work out a deal that if they knock $100 off of the price you will buy from them a few more times, or that you will make sure that your friends use them.

Good Luck.
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post #53 of 60
$3 - $7 per slice would be low for New York. The market you are in dictates the price in large part. It's a bad idea to undercut the competition.
post #54 of 60
I love it :lol: I made my own wedding cake, and I am a professional. It was a nightmare - there is not time the day before your wedding to finish a cake! Thankfully, part of pastry school includes pastry professional friends, and one of my bridesmaids was also a pastry chef and saved me :D

My quoted price is $4.75 a slice minimum, going up for decoration... about an hour north of Boston.

For the op, if you aren't sold on a cake, don't do it. I have plenty of couples who get a small "cutting"cake and then have a sundae bar or something.
post #55 of 60
When our daughter got married in 2001, the cake was for 250 people, and the price quote was $600, which included a sheet cake as well as the 3-tier cake. It was lovely, decorated with flowers like she and the attendents carried, and what were in the table centerpieces. The cake itself was delicious too.

Because most of the wedding guests were from the groom's side of the family, and because his parents are naturally generous people, they offered to help with the cost of the reception, even though DH and I had said that it wasn't necessary. Still, they wanted to do something, and I didn't want them to feel 'hurt' by not accepting their sincere offer. So I told my daughter that she should handle it, and whatever was decided would be fine with me and DH. So the groom's parents paid for the wedding cake, which I thought was an incredibly genrous thing to do.

The cake was delivered, then assembled in the reception room, on its own display table. Dinner went well, and the party was going great, with a disk jockey and lots of festivities, when someone came running over to tell me that the cake had collapsed! I looked over toward the cake table in shocked horror, just as my daughter looked at me. She sent someone to tell me not to be upset. HUH? She's cool...so I guess I could be too...but the groom's mother was beside herself. She came to me right away, and said "what should we do?...we paid a lot of money for that cake, you've worked in catering, how should I handle this?" There was now a lot of commotion going on, and confusion. Daughter was talking to the banquet manager, who had been near the table when the cake fell. He later assured me that no one had 'caused' this to happen. No guest or server had bumped the table or knocked over the cake.

I told the groom's mother to get a written statement from the catering manager, and other witnesses, then call the bakery first thing Monday morning, and tell them what happened. She did. The bakery first tried to make excuses. It must have been that someone knocked it over. "No, I have witness statements that no one was near the cake". Well, it was hot in the banquet room, and that affects the integrity of the cake. "No, the room was air conditioned, and so cool that people were going outside to get warm". Well...excuse, excuse, excuse...but each time she came back with a rebuttal. Finally the bakery rep asked what she thought would be a reasonable offer. The groom's mother said ... "Well, you know the cake is a centerpiece of any wedding. There are photographs and the cutting ceremony, and the special ritual of serving a piece to each guest...they didn't get any of that. The only cake that was fit to be served was the sheet cake. Have you ever tried to serve 250 guests from a sheet cake?" ... the rep said "would a full refund be acceptable?" She had them make it out to the bride and groom.

It really was the bakery's fault, by the way. They had elevated the layers on pillars with nothing for the pillars to stand on except the cake itself. So the pillars sank into the cake until the top two layers collapsed into the bottom layer, and then landed with a spat on the floor.

Well, anyway, the story isn't about the cost of the cake, which is the actual topic. Even 7 years ago, $600 was about average for a decent cake. We saw some at bridal fairs that cost twice and triple that much. :eek:
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post #56 of 60
Once again, I have to say that it all depends upon the market you are in.

It might be possible to purchase a beautiful wedding cake for 250 people in New York for $600, but I have no idea where. These days $6 per slice is low-average for a wedding cake. And that would not be an ornately decorated one, or one done by a celebrity chef.
post #57 of 60
I think this is a classic case of "you get what you pay for".

Any bakery that would make that boneheaded of a mistake shouldn't even be in the wedding cake business. The first thing any wedding cake designer should know are the basics of cake support. :eek:
post #58 of 60
If you want a cake done by Jaques Torres or Charm City you are talking $2000.00 min. but its soaked layers with almond paste in between etc. you do not want to eat it , you want to save it. I taught in a culinary school in New York , 10 years ago we were charging $3.00-4.00 per person. Like everyone has told you" You get what you pay for" If you want cheap go to Sams Club or Costco they will gladly custom make one for you.
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post #59 of 60
This was 7 years ago. A similar cake today would cost close to double. Regardless of the price, it collapsed. The cake was very plain...no ornamentation at all from the bakery, as the decoration was fresh flowers provided by the florist.

This company supposedly had a very good reputation for their cakes. And I can say the tiny taste I got of it was delicious. Hopefully, they have learned from their very costly mistake. :)
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post #60 of 60
i've known plenty of wedding cakes that were hand made that tasted like crap
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