Ten Tips for Affordable Cakes

Few things say "wedding" better than the wedding cake. And cake artists and professional pastry chefs know that – and make you pay because of it.

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Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart

Take heart though. There are many, many tiny ways to have an actual (edible*) wedding cake but save a buttload of cash doing it. *What? You've never gotten the "frost styrofoam and fake the bottom two layers of cake" advice?

  1. Just like with flowers and dress – the more time, labor, and materials used on a cake then the more expensive your bill will ultimately be.
  2. And…just like with everything else in your wedding, if you trim the number of guests at your wedding then you will save on the number of slices of cake served. And that? Saves you money.
  3. Give non-traditional cakes a chance. Tiers of cupcakes, a table covered with pies, or stabs of cheesecake cost less and are more memorable for your guests.
  4. Take a pass on the fancy fondant icing – it is the worst tasting of all the frosting options and yet the most expensive. Dress up your cake with candies or flowers instead.
  5. Take a cake course six to eight months before your wedding. Use your knowledge to make your own cake (ahead of time!).
  6. Generally, cake prices are calculated more on the labor and materials cost than on the actual pieces used to dress it up. Ask if you can supply your own tiers, cake topper, and even flowers. Purchase yours on sale (or etsy or ebay) and save some dough (heh.).
  7. Those shaped cakes are lovely but they come at a price. Even the square shaped ones cost more than the traditional round cake.
  8. Keep an eye on your cost per slice. Even if you only serve half the cake, you get billed as if the entire thing was served! If you have to, remove a tier to keep costs down.
  9. Try hiring a pastry student. Often, these are skilled artists willing to offer low, low prices just to build their portfolios. Or, try a local culinary school – call and ask if their pastry class needs a practice cake? Generally there is a small fee to cover the cost of materials.
  10. Dress up a plain supermarket cake in a unique and memorable way. Buy plain white rounds in varying sizes and stack them (best for very short cakes) and wrap ribbon around the base of each. Sprinkle a store bought cake with colorful Necco wafers or edible glitter. Create colorful frosting spots and stick them to the prebought cake.