Monday, June 28, 2010

Let's Eat Cake!

A wedding or a party wouldn’t be a celebration without dessert. Guests always look forward to the party’s “sweet treat” Until about 10 years ago, a wedding wasn’t a wedding without a traditional tiered wedding cake. The cakes were generally dry in texture and covered with tons of butter cream icing. Cakes were known as a show piece for the wedding and not a wonderful tasting dessert. The only highlight of the cake tasting portion of a wedding was to see the bride and groom smear cake all over each other. Today, brides are thinking outside the box and getting creative with their “wedding cakes” or desserts. Traditional wedding cakes are now being replaced with tiers of yummy cupcakes, mini tortes, cheese cake, fruit tarts, tiramisu, chocolate fountains, and ice cream sundaes. There are endless possibilities for that special bride looking for an option for the “non-cake” wedding cake. For the bride looking to stick with tradition, today’s cakes are more elegant and moist thanks to fondant. Fondant (play-dough for cakes),  is an almond and marshmallow type dough that is used to create a smooth effect on cakes as well as it can be used to create bows, swags, figurines and other d├ęcor features on a wedding cake. Fondant covered cakes are beautiful and some are even a work of art that look too beautiful to eat.

Not everyone likes the taste of fondant and most guests will peel it off prior to eating the cake. A bride looking to choose a fondant covered cake has one question to ask herself prior to making her final decision – can my wedding budget afford a fondant covered cake? A fondant covered cake is more expensive than your tradition butter cream icing wedding cake. Wedding cake prices are configured based upon the type of cake a bride wants and the number of wedding guests that will be attending the reception. For example- a bride will tell a cake designer that she wants a 3-tier wedding cake for 150 guests. Based upon this information, the cake designer will know the size each tier will need to be to accommodate 150 guests. Additional fees for a cake include custom sugar flowers, special designs on the cake, custom cake flavor & filling requests and travel to the reception. A standard 3-tier wedding cake covered in butter cream icing with basic designs could cost $2.50 - $4.00 per slice, totaling $375-$600. Most fondant wedding cakes will cost an additional $2 - $6 a slice depending on the level of detail a bride wants on her wedding cake. So instead of a $2.50 per slice cake, you now have $4.50 - $8.50 per slice of cake, which totals to about $675- $1300 for the wedding cake for 150 guests. The increased price is due to the higher cost of the fondant and the labor time it takes to create a fondant cake vs. only butter cream. Imagine a wedding with the guest count of 250-400 guests. The cake cost is now a couple of thousands of dollars. Most brides on a tight budget will want to think twice about their cake costs if they choose a fondant cake or they will need to get creative and lower other wedding expenses.

True Story: A couple of years ago I had a bride that hired me to be her wedding coordinator for the day of the wedding. The bride had planned her entire wedding by herself but needed a wedding coordinator to manage the wedding day. Her original cake was a simple and elegant 3-tiered butter cream cake decorated with real flowers. Three months before her wedding, she attended a friend’s wedding and noticed the beautiful fondant wedding cake with sugar flowers. She loved it so much that she called her cake designer the next day to change her butter cream cake to a fondant cake as well as she wants sugar flowers instead of real flowers. She was so mesmerized by the fondant that she made the mistake of not asking the cake designer about the new final price. (During the original cake tasting, the bride had been told by the cake designer that there is a significant difference in price between butter cream and fondant.) Three weeks before the wedding she receives her final invoice from the cake designer. The bride was expecting a balance of $400, instead, she was shocked when her balance was $975. Her original $600 wedding cake had now become $1175. The final invoice was paid and the wedding was beautiful, however, the bride had to make some cuts & changes in other areas to accommodate her $1175 wedding cake.

The purpose of this week’s blog is to not scare brides away from fondant covered cakes but instead it is all about cost awareness. Most people are not aware that there is a significant difference in price between butter cream and fondant covered cakes. During your cake tasting with your cake designer, always ask price questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about additional design / cake filling costs, and travel fees. It is better to know these answers up front then to take things for granted and get a heart stopping bill prior to the wedding.

Know your cake prices upfront and “You can have your cake and eat it too!”