“Yeah right” is my reaction to this blog post heading! I have recently seen quite a few different versions of this comment and it’s a little insulting! It seems there is a little phrase doing the rounds that wedding supply companies “hear the word wedding and instantly increase their price” This is quite frankly 100% NOT true! This could be the case for some cake designers but for the most part, cake is cake and the fee is the same. Where the pricing gets more expensive is in the details and the time taken to create that elaborate design the bride has her heart set on. It’s as simple as that.
So, as wedding season isn’t too far away I thought it would be a good chance to write a post about my opinions on wedding cake costs. I’m specifically focusing on wedding cakes as yes, I typically do charge more for these than other cakes. Not because I hear the word ‘wedding’ and think I can stick a little more £££ on the quote but because a wedding cake order is more than just ordering a cake, its an experience! Its a one-to-one personal service which involves lots of time too.
This comment applies not only to wedding cake designers but also photographers, stylists, florists car hire… you get the idea.
So, I thought I would do a quick post to point out what exactly goes into providing a wedding cake for me and why a wedding cake does cost more than a birthday or christening cake.
A wedding cake requires more design work than usual. A consultation will be required, maybe even more than one. A bride will have lots of ideas but is quite often not sure how to pull them together so as a cake designer you will take more time to research and draft up a design – quite a few hours there already.
Tasters – not always a necessity, especially if they are a repeat customer – but nearly always tasters are provided – more costs and time
Emails and telephone calls – these rack up! From the initial enquiry, to the random questions, to the texts about maybe trying another flavour, the Facebook messages.. the tags on Instagram or Pinterest.. yes this happens regularly and whilst all welcome, it is again more time. I love an organised bride and quite often have a wedding cake booked in 18 months ahead so imagine how many messages you can sometimes receive. Granted not everyone is like this, some people know exactly what they want design wise and its confirmed quickly, but if not more time is spent helping and advising what will work.
Overheads – When you bake a cake, you use your oven, your utilities, your pans, your mixer, your dishwasher and soap. These things all require an initial investment and at some point will also need to be replaced if they break or get old. All business have overheads, even if you are a home-baker.
Delivery and set up – I deliver pretty much anywhere in the South East and London. I do deliver locally for free but anywhere further than 10 miles I charge 45p a mile. 45p a mile isn’t a lot really but pretty standard. I will have to pack up all of my tools and emergency fix-kit (in case of damages along the way) load the car and plan my route. Once I arrive at the venue, depending on the design I will then have to set up. Most of the time venues are very organised and the cake table is ready, but sometimes you even end up ironing the table cloth yourself! I can be there for 45 minutes sometimes up to 90 minutes. Again, and your probably picking up a word I keep using now… this takes more time!
I hope this blog post will be informative to both wedding couples and fellow cake designers and here are a few tips to finish off.
Customers: Don’t forgot, you can always ask your cake designer if they charge more per serving for wedding cakes and if they do, they might have a good reason why. For example, if they add more layers of cake and filling for a wedding cake, it might cost more. If they use ganache it’s more luxurious and expensive than buttercream.
If the quote comes back out of your budget it’s always worth asking if there is anything your cake maker can do to help reduce it. Don’t be afraid to share your budget as it then gives a good idea of exactly what is achievable and saves both you and the designer lots of time.
Before accepting a quote for your wedding cake/cupcakes, always view pictures of their work. Make sure they have made a tiered cake before. There is a lot involved in making a wedding cake. Even a very simple design is very complex and has no room for error! Some cakes may look very simple but in fact take a lot of concentration to ensure there are no lumps, bumps or marks! The fondant needs to be flawless.
Your wedding cake is a one time purchase. If you want a ‘Mercedes’ cake, don’t expect a ‘Ford’ price!! 😉
Cake Designers: Don’t be afraid of charging your worth. I know how much love and energy goes into each cake and if you can pull it off perfectly why should you be earning less than minimum wage. Why should you spend hours and hours making beautiful delicate sugar roses to not earn what is deserved. Be brave, realistic and fair to both you and your clients.
Something that I see mentioned regularly from other cake bakers is they live in a different area to another baker so could never quote like they do. This is kinda true unfortunately, we all know some areas are more affluent than others. Depending on who your target market is (and you should have one of these) you have to consider factors such as wages / housing / and affordability. But you should also bear in mind you have to make a profit, and people on a budget need to have it explained to them that asking for a cake with hours and hours of hand piping on will cost far more than a cake with a simple but pretty edible lace design.
As a cake baker and designer one of the most important things to remember when pricing your cakes is that no one else can bake a cake like you do. Whilst it is important to research what is going on in the market and cake world, what you charge should be totally independent of what other bakers are charging. Your cakes should taste and look different to anyone else’s, and have your stamp on them. This is what people are paying you for.