The Thrifty Wedding: 8 Ways to Save on Wedding Cake/Dessert

This is a series focused on how any couple headed to the altar can find ways to cut back on spending without sacrificing their vision for the big day. Stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series. The next one will be on food & catering.

When you’re planning a wedding, everything can look like dollar signs to you. When it comes to the reception, you want it to be a fun party, where you can celebrate your union, and not stress about how much it all costs. Here are some ways you can get a cake/dessert that’s sure to satisfy, without spending too much.

1. Order less slices than number of guests. Wedding cakes are priced by the number of slices you’ll need. However, not everyone is going to eat a slice of cake. Maybe they’re too full, maybe they left before the cake, or maybe they split a slice with someone, but usually about one out of five guests won’t end up having a slice. So, if you’re going to have 100 people there, you can comfortably order a cake for about 80 people, instead of 100. This rule applies for non-cake desserts as well. If you’re doing doughnuts, or cupcakes, or something else, you can order 80 instead of 100, and still feel good about it.

2. Ask for smaller slices. You can ask your baker if they can cut smaller slices of your cake. You can have them show you what a typical slice looks like in comparison to a half slice or a three-quarters slice before you place your order. If you do end up going with smaller slices, you can order a smaller cake all together. For instance, if you have 100 people coming, so you’re ordering a cake for 80 (tip #1 of this post), but then you’ll serve three-quarters slices, you can order a cake for 60, bringing the cost down even more.

3. Have a sheet cake in the back. One of the more common tricks at a wedding is to have a small display cake for the cake cutting while having a sheet cake in the back to serve to the guests. This gives couples their picture-perfect moment of serving cake to each other and of a nice looking cake, without having to go all out on a well-decorated cake. Guests don’t notice the difference, and are excited for whatever cake they are served.

4. Get naked…with your cake, or just keep it simple. A naked cake is a cake that has frosting between the layers of cake, but no frosting, or a thin layer of frosting on the sides. The most expensive part of the cake is the labor spent on decorating it. By opting for a more minimal finish, you’ll save on the time your baker will spend decorating the cake.

5. Talk budget with your baker. If you don’t want to get a naked cake, but budget is a big concern, talk with your baker about your budget and ask what types of decoration they can do with it. Don’t assume that they’ll try to keep the decorating hours to a minimum if you haven’t discussed it with them. Discussing your vision and what you can afford with your baker ahead of time will help you avoid any surprise costs. One way to keep decorating costs down are to use real flowers instead of sugar ones on your cake. You can also use fruits on your cake as decoration, instead of making your baker design and execute labor-intensive piping designs. Check out Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes for more ways you can cut down on cake costs with your baker: 

6. Negotiate the cake cutting fee. Many venues will charge you a cake-cutting fee if you use an un-affiliated baker. The fees are usually between $1-$3 a slice. If you’re serving 80 slices that can be anywhere from an extra $80 to $240 dollars on top of the cost of the cake. When you’re booking your venue, see if they’re willing to forgo the fee. You may also want to check out their affiliated bakers (if they have any), and then you don’t have to worry about the fee.

7. Choose another dessert. Choosing cupcakes, pies, or doughnuts for your wedding can be cheaper than getting a wedding cake. While the actual pricing will depend on your bakery, these items don’t require much decorating time, so you’ll be saving on labor for your wedding dessert.

8. Have a friend do it. If you have friends that like to bake (and are pretty good), enlist them for their help. As long as you're confident you'll be happy with the outcome, they’re a great alternative to spending a bunch of money on a bakery. You can offer to compensate them of course, but you likely still will come out ahead than if you went with a professional. They’ll also add in an extra ingredient: love! Check out these titles to get you and your friend inspired for your wedding:

Wedding Cakes Aren't Just Desserts

Simply Modern Wedding Cakes

Happiness Is Baking

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

The Magic of Mini Pies

Donuts

Gluten-Free Miniature Desserts

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