Why do wedding cakes cost so much? They’re made out of flour, not gold. Do you suspect you’re being gouged? Here is the quick and dirty on wedding cake prices. First off, know the lingo. Wedding cake prices are calculated by serving. Most cakes are priced from $1.50-$6.00 per serving. Do the math before you fall in love and avoid sticker shock. Here’s what goes into a wedding cake, and how it affects the cost.
Yes, Virginia, Size Matters
The bigger the cake, the higher the price. We’re not talking just diameter here. Six tiers of sugary perfection are great. But you better be willing to pay extra for it. A three-tiered cake is standard. Anything more involves more work for the baker: baking, frosting, assembling. Keeping a tall cake upright is a trick, and the baker will pass that price on to you. Now you know why sheet cakes are so cheap. If your budget is tight, buy a small wedding cake. Make up the difference with sheet cakes.
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What’s In The Mix
The most basic building block in cake-ology is the cake itself. And the type of wedding cake you choose can drastically affect its price. The most basic cake is a twist on a sponge cake — often a genoise. Think flavors like chocolate, vanilla … or even banana or carrot. They’re safe, crowd-pleasers, and the least expensive.
Cheesecakes are at the other end of the spectrum (in price, not flavor). They’re absolutely decadent — and time-intensive to make. You’ll be lucky to find a cheesecake at $6 a serving. Most of them are quite a bit more. It’s impossible to name every type of wedding cake out there. We haven’t even touched pound cake, whose price is somewhere between a sponge and cheesecake. But here’s a rule of thumb: The more time-intensive a cake is to make, the steeper the price.
And here’s a rule for the other thumb: The more “stuff” in your cake (liquers, fruit, nuts), the higher the price.
Beauty That’s Precisely Skin Deep
Ah, icing. You either love it or you hate it. Your choice of frosting will have to reflect your personal tastes, and your budget.
This is your basic birthday cake frosting. Pro: It tastes great. It’s easy to use. That makes it inexpensive. Con: It’s harder to get that perfectly smooth look so popular these days, and it doesn’t do well in the heat.
CREAM CHEESE. This is the traditional frosting for a carrot cake. Pro: The price is about the same as Buttercream. It tastes great. Con: You can’t have intricate designs. But if you use live flowers on your cake that doesn’t matter.
FONDANT. Think of this as sugar playdough. It’s used in ultra-hip wedding cakes. Pro: A good cake designer can do almost anything with it. It pleats. It folds. It does everything but cut the cake for you. Con: It’s expensive. And the least tasty of the frostings.
It’s Hip to be Square
Square cakes are very cool, but they’ll cost you. A square cake requires special pans (this you knew). They’re also harder to frost. The edges have to be built up, and look even. And as you know by now, more work means more money.