This is a common questions asked by couples when they start planning and setting up their wedding budget. It is just flour and sugar, right? Not quite.
There is a range of things that go into creating a wedding cake, the ingredients being only a small part of the equation. You are paying for an experienced baker to create a delicious cake, that is structurally sturdy, artistically decorated and expertly delivered without damaged. (And if it is damaged, someone who has the experienced needed to repair it on site) Quality ingredients, labor and delivery are the three main reasons why wedding cakes carry a higher price tag.
Using high grade butter, premium chocolate and fresh fruit adds up quickly for a cake to feed 100 people. A four tier wedding cake, decorated with swiss meringue buttercream, contains about 10 pounds of butter and almost 7 dozen eggs! Not to mention 5 pounds of pastry flour, 10 pounds of sugar, real vanilla and several other quality ingredients. If you order a fondant covered cake, you can add about 8 pounds of fondant to the list. Even if you are bad at math you can see that wedding cakes are very heavy. (I lift weights so I can lift cakes!) For this reason there are also structural items, cake boards and cake drums needed to create a support system so your cake will not collapse under its own weight.
Time & Labor
Did you know that a simple four tier wedding cake takes between 12 and 15 hours to create? Baking, icing, stacking and decorating a perfectly level cake takes time and practice to achieve. This is not counting the time it takes to bake samples and set up tastings/consultations with a couple. Handling contracts, answering emails and returning calls for a wedding order can also be very time consuming. Setup and delivery, as well as working with the couples wedding vendors to ensure the wedding days goes smoothly, adds a few more hours to the process. Taking all this into consideration, your cake baker is making very little per hour to create the wedding cake of your dreams. The entire process for a cake to feed 100 people is a time commitment of about 20 hours for your baker.
Setup & Delivery
Most wedding cake bakers will agree that delivery and setup is the most stressful part of the process. Not only do you have to deal with unpredictable weather and heat but also crazy drivers on the way to the wedding venue. I have considered getting a big sign for my car that says “STAY BACK 1,000 FEET” or "DON'T HIT ME OR YOU WILL RUIN SOMEONE'S WEDDING DAY" for all the tailgaters out on the road. Once arriving safely at the venue, setting up the cake takes around 45 minutes. Setup includes leveling the table, finding the cake stand, locating the flowers, talking to the venue owner and finally actually setting up the cake! Contrary to popular belief it is not a “drop and run” process and just adding flowers to a cake can take over 30 minutes.
So there you go, everything you need to know about the cost of a wedding cake. It’s a wonder that it isn’t much more expensive. If it were marked up in the same manner as a wedding gown or some of the other services you purchase for your wedding, it would be! If you are still looking for an experienced baker to create your wedding cake please take a moment to view my gallery for design inspiration or contact me for a complementary tasting.
Phone: 540.493.6812 (call or text)