If you are planning a wedding, you are probably realising how quickly costs can add up. The purpose of this blog is to explain not only how much you might expect to pay for your wedding cake from me, but also why it costs what it does.
Are wedding cakes 'overpriced'?
The wedding industry is often criticised for being too expensive, but this is a misconception. Most elements of a wedding are expensive, but the reason for this isn’t as simple as ‘because it’s for a wedding’ (although this is a factor, which I will explain later). Instead, it is largely down to the nature of the services you are engaging, the majority of whom will be independent creative businesses. If you're anything like me, planning your wedding is probably one of the first times you have worked with a business like this. I planned my own wedding a few years before I left teaching to join the industry myself, and I was definitely surprised when I first realised how much wedding businesses charged. But since becoming a creative myself, I have realised there is an important wording missing in that sentence. What I should have said was, I was surprised by 'how much they needed to charge’.
Most wedding suppliers are small, independent, creatives, often with just one person running the whole show. These are individuals who have invested an enormous amount of time and money into honing their exceptional skills and who will be investing hours and hours, if not days and weeks into the service they are providing for you. In order to devote so much time and skill to your invitations, your flowers, your photography or indeed your cake, while being able to maintain our businesses and pay ourselves a wage that reflects our expenses and skills, the cost to the customer can end up being higher than you initially expect. But I promise you we aren’t trying to fleece you. In fact I would go so far as to say there is an epidemic of undercharging in the wedding industry. Sadly the prevailing view amongst a lot of people is that the opposite is true.
I believe in transparency in my business. I also believe in giving my customers the best value for money for my service while at the same time providing me with an income that reflects the quality of that service. And that is why I have put together this blog - to give you a really clear idea of what you might expect to pay if you order a cake from me, and why. I'm going to start with the latter, but if you'd like to skip ahead to the numbers, I won't hold it against you!
Why do wedding cakes cost as much as they do?
Costs - Your wedding cake should be the most exceptional cake you have ever tasted. To help me achieve this, I use top quality ingredients, including organic eggs and Belgian chocolate. As I write this in the summer of 2023, the costs of all cake ingredients are incredibly high and are continung to rise. A three tier cake serving 90 people costs over £20 in butter alone. Alongside my ingredients costs, I must of course include the costs of all the 'extra' elements that go into putting together a cake (boards, boxes, dowels etc). And finally, I need to factor in my utilities.
Time - On average I will spend the best part of a week making your cake. From shopping, to baking, to making fillings and ganache, covering cakes with a perfect finish, creating all of the decorative elements and adding them to the cake takes several days of work. Beyond this, I will have spent several hours liaising with you via the consultation process and further emails and calls, working on designs, conducting research for more complex elements and putting together and sending out sample boxes. All of this time must be factored into the costs of my wedding cakes.
Skill - Like many wedding creatives, I have spent several years honing my skills to a point where I feel confident I can provide an extremely high level of quality in terms of taste, finish and decoration. I specialise in sugar flowers and have spent hundreds of hours perfecting this skill. For this reason, I charge more than minimum wage for my time. I love what I do, I am passionate about it, but my business is not a vanity project. I respect myself, my time and my skill and pay myself accordingly. The wonderful clients who choose to work with me understand this and respect me too.
It's a wedding - This is probably the most controversial section of this blog, but it shouldn't be. There is a misconception that on hearing the word 'wedding' creatives immediately increase the price of their service just because they can. While there probably are a few unscrupulous individuals out there who do operate their businesses this way, it really isn't true of the vast majority of us. Or at least, not entirely true. The thing is, being completely honest with you, my wedding cakes are more expensive than my celebration cakes. But this isn't a scam. They cost you more because they cost me more. In ingredients, in time and in skill. I include consultations, design work and samples in my wedding cake fees, none of which are available for celebration cakes. Your wedding cake should be the best cake you have ever tasted or seen. By charging what I charge, I am promising perfection, because who wants less than that on their wedding day?
So how much do wedding cakes cost?
The question of why wedding cakes cost what they do has another dimension, namely why are some wedding cakes more expensive than other wedding cakes and therefore what factors determine the final cost? There are four main considerations here – size, finish, decoration and delivery.
Size - It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to hear that the larger the cake, the more expensive it will be, and there’s not much more to say about that really! My costs are higher, my time commitment is higher, and there is probably going to be more in the way of decoration.
Finish - here I am referring to the outside coating of your cake. In other words, are you looking for a buttercream coated cake or fondant? My fondant cakes are more expensive than my buttercream cakes. This is because it takes longer, requires more skill and costs more to cover a cake perfectly in fondant than buttercream.
Decoration - Once again, it's probably unsurprising to learn that the more complex, time consuming and highly skilled the decorative elements are, the more expensive the cake will be. I specialise in sugar flowers, which can vary greatly in terms of complexity. The larger the number of flowers, and the more complex the flowers, the higher the cost.
Delivery and set up - I deliver and set up all my wedding cakes. The cost of this will depend on how far away your venue is and how long it will take me to set up your cake. Bigger and more elaborate cakes will take longer to set up so the set up fee will be a bit higher than simple cakes.
So what does this mean in practice?
On the pricing page of my website I share my starting prices, and for ease I have shared them here too. Starting prices are exactly what they say on the tin, they are the price of a cake before any decoration has been added and the price will therefore never go below this.
3 tiers (80 servings*) - from £400 4 tiers (160 servings) - from £550
3 tiers (80 servings) - from £450 4 tiers (160 servings) - from £600
*For more information on cake sizes you can read my devoted blog post here.
Of course, while starting prices help you see the minimum you can expect to spend, I do understand that they are pretty unhelpful if you have no idea how much additional decorations will cost. In order to explain this, I have taken a few cakes from my portfolio and given you final costs, including a breakdown of how I got there. If you're anything like me, having this information will hopefully help you feel more confident to enquire about a quote. There's nothing worse than going in blind is there?!
Size - three tiers serving 80
Finish - fondant
Starting price - £450
Decoration - four sugar avalanche roses (£30 each), two lisianthus clusters (£20 each), one O'Hara rose (£30), silk ribbon (£10) - total £200.
Delivery - 10 miles, one hour set up - £50
Total - £700
Size - three tiers serving 80
Finish - buttercream
Starting price - £400
Decoration - one sugar avalanche roses (£30), handmade foliage - £20.
Delivery - 2 miles, one hour set up - £50
Total - £500
Size - 4.5 tiers, serving 200
Finish - fondant
Starting price - £700
Decoration - 3x avalanche roses (£30 each), 1 full peony (£75), 4x daffodils (£15 each), peony and rose buds x 3 (£10 each), 2x sweet pea sprays (£15 each), foliage (£15).
Delivery - 5 miles, 1.5 hour set up £45.
Total - £1045
So there you have it! If you got this far, well done, and thank you! I appreciate this was a long one. But I hope it's helped to lift the veil on the confusing world of wedding cake pricing. But even more importantly, I hope it's helped to persuade you to drop me a message on my contact page and check if I'm available on your wedding day. I know how scary it can be approaching a business to enquire about costs, when you don't really have any idea what they are going to say. I really like to be open and transparent with my couples, you won't get any hidden costs with me. I know my worth, and I also want you to know you are getting excellent value for your money. I understand that a bespoke wedding cake is a big financial commitment, I don't take that lightly. If you like the sound of that, I would love to hear from you! So get in touch now :)