There are so many areas in the wedding that couples need to budget for. And for each category there are times you may want to splurge and other times you may want to save. As most people do not have unlimited wedding funds, I encourage clients to think about what areas are the most important and which ones may be less critical when they are figuring out their expenses overall. As seen on The DC Ladies, here is my post on splurge vs. save, the wedding cake edition.
One quick note – I am not a wedding baker; so for actual pricing and ideas, please contact your favorite local baker. In the DC area, we are lucky to have some amazing options with some of the top bakers in the country!
1) Fondant vs. Buttercream
When it comes to frosting, the two main types for wedding cakes are fondant and buttercream. There are pro’s and cons to each type, but without a doubt fondant is the pricier option. Fondant needs additional materials and is more difficult to work with. Also, cakes that require fondant designs tend to take more time to create. Buttercream can be an easy way to save. But before making that final decision, it’s best to be up front with your budget and show a few design ideas to your baker to come up with a winning idea.
Splurge – Fondant
Save – Buttercream
2) Sugar Flowers vs. Real Flowers
No doubt there is something special about combining wedding cake and floral elements. When deciding on your cake design you can choose between sugar flowers or fresh flowers. They both have their pro’s and cons. But one deciding factor may be price. Often sugar flowers are a bit more expensive because of the intricate details that go into making them. It can take days or even weeks to create perfect sugar flowers. Fresh flowers through your florist can be a simple alternative. Discuss both options with your baker and be sure to get a list of fresh flowers that can be safely used on the cake if you go that route (some flowers contain toxins that are harmful to cakes).
Splurge – Sugar Flowers
Save – Real Flowers
3) Size of the Cake – Oversized vs. Petite
The bigger the cake, the bigger the price tags. Most cakes I see at my client’s weddings are around three tiers. But when you browse inspiration online you’ll see cakes as big as six tiers or smaller two tier cakes. Some clients will choose a larger cake, because they want something more dramatic and are OK with having leftover cake. But to save money, couples can go with a petite cake that requires less time and money to create. For additional cake slices, bakers will often supplement with sheet cakes. Determining the size cake you’ll need is often based on your guest count. And both the number of tiers and size of the tiers can vary. So speak with your baker before deciding which direction to go in.
Splurge – Oversized Wedding Cake
Save – Petite Wedding Cake
4) Fake cake vs. cutting cake
Awhile back I heard that fake cakes are common ways to “save money”. But after speaking with several bakers, I found out that this is a bit of a misconception. The fake cake can still be pretty expensive, because the baker is still decorating the whole cake. So a better way to save is to do a smaller “cutting cake” that is around 1-2 tiers. And then sheet cakes for the additional slices.