One of the most annoying factors you'll have likely run in to when planning a wedding is everyone's reluctance in actually giving you a rough idea of cost. How are you meant to stick to a budget if you have no idea how much a wedding cake costs for example?
Well, of course you will have also run into the phrase 'we design each cake individually to suit the couple so costs can vary'. Hmmm, helpful.
Figure Out What You Want First
In defense of these sugar artists (and having been one myself) it is very difficult to give an exact price if the customer has no idea what they want. Asking how much is a cake for 200 people has so many variables there is just no way of giving a price. So make it easy on everyone and give some consideration to the kind of thing you want first.
We'll take a look at things to consider, and then we'll look at some example prices so you have some idea of what cost you are looking at for your wedding cake.
Do you want a traditional fruit cake or a sponge based creation? HINT: Sponge is cheaper usually! If you want a sculpted cake in different shapes - a car for example - then sponge is likely to be the only choice anyway. Fruit cakes can be baked in regular shapes; rounds, squares, hearts, hexagons etc. but anything more elaborate requires sculpting of the cake and this can't be done with fruit cake.
The heat at the venue. Chocolate cakes are becoming ever more popular but are not a good choice for tropical or beach holidays for obvious reasons. You also need to bear in mind that this is a cake that cannot be completed until the very last minute (or it will melt and collapse) -- it's quite labor heavy which will obviously increase costs.
How elaborate do you want your cake? An increasing trend is to have something that is very unique and personal. This could be as simple as leaving it to the cake maker to make a modern art sugar sculpture decorating a simple cake, or to ask for various tiers based around a theme with a sugar dough sculpture of the bride and groom on top. For example, if they are both surfers you can have beach scenes, camper vans, surf boards etc. This is very labor heavy and requires expertise and will cost you the most.
How many you want to feed. This is an obvious one, but you'll also need to think about if you are supplying wedding cake to your evening guests as well, or just to the guests that attended the ceremony. You might also want an extra tier to keep for your first anniversary, and what about guests that weren't able to make it?
A Word About Prices
The following prices are intended as a guide only, to help you in your wedding budgeting. Prices can vary according to the person that is designing and making your cake as well as where you live.
Please note that although most cake decorators include the setting up of the cake at your venue in the price, some do not; so make sure you are aware of any added charges like this, as well as hiring of cake stands and so on.
Chocolate Wedding Cake
Depending on the decoration you are looking at around $550 (£350) for a 2 tier chocolate wedding cake, and $700 (£450) for a 3 tier wedding cake with a basic decoration. If you require more elaborate decoration such as molded chocolate roses, then naturally this is going to cost extra.
Cost of a Traditional Fruit Iced Wedding Cake
This is still the option that most couples go for when choosing a wedding cake and can vary greatly depending on it what decoration you want.
A popular option is sugar flowers, although designs are getting more diverse in this area, so you can choose from feathers, butterflies, bling - decorators often have a specialized style and preference so make sure to ask what they recommend. A decorator may even be able to make you your own custom wedding topper. A custom wedding cake topper would cost an additional $75 (£50) upwards, depending on the detail required.
For a traditional 3 tiered iced fruit cake with a basic sugar flower decoration expect to pay $600 (£380). This would feed around 240 people if your largest tier was 12 inches.
Cost of a Sponge or Novelty Wedding Cake
If you opt for a sponge cake similar to the one decorated above, with simple flower decorations then your costs should come down to more like $450 (£300) for a 3 tiered cake, but remember that sponge portions are bigger. Which is to say that you'll need larger cakes to feed everybody as you only need a small portion of fruit cake to keep guests satisfied.
If you opt though for something a little different in the construction, like this topsy turvy cake, the costs will go up as obviously you are paying for expertise in the structure and decoration. This would be around $650 (£400).
For a cake with a novelty that is unique to you and therefore specifically designed with your tastes and instructions in mind will cost a good deal more especially if there are a lot of separate elements that need to be molded and colored.
For an elaborate design like the Mario and Princess Peach cake pictured here I would recommend you budget for around $1400-1600 (£900-1000).
Wedding cake costs needn't be as high as this of course, but I hope I have shown that it needs some thinking about before you talk to your chosen decorator. Hopefully I've given you some useful information and prices that can be built into your wedding budget, so you can have just the cake you want!