So you’ve toured every venue in Central PA to find just the right one, learned all about photography editing styles to find the perfect person to capture your day, looked at one million color palettes on Pinterest, and picked your wedding hashtag… but don’t forget about the SWEETEST part- your wedding cake!
When thinking about their wedding cake, I feel like most clients get very engrossed in the design. But, when it’s time to sit down and crunch the numbers, things start to get REALLY confusing. Suddenly the excitement of eating cake and choosing your flavors and design is overshadowed by the dread of doing MATH and setting budgets instead…and the discouragement sets in.
The most common questions I hear from couples go something like this:
“I like this cake size, but how much does it feed?”
“Price-per-slice, what does that even mean? Why is that a thing?”
“How much should I realistically be budgeting for my cake?”
These are all really valid questions. Looking for your wedding cake shouldn’t be a sugar-coated process, just sugar FILLED and fun, right? Today I’m going to try to answer some of these questions for you (no sugar-coating required) so you have the tools to find the perfect cake designer for your wedding day!
“How far in advance should I be booking a cake baker?”
Friends. I know that The Knot and Wedding Wire gives you a specific timeline, and sometimes it’s easier to compartmentalize your wedding planning based on what they say, but if you come across a vendor you love (no MATTER what they do), inquire with them! For bakers specifically, some of them book up to 1.5 years in advance, and others can sometimes accommodate you with 4-6 months notice!
For me personally, 8-12 months in advance is a great time to be looking for your baker (and booking them if they fit within your budget).
“What should I be looking for in a cake baker?”
First, take a look at their social media and website. Instagram should give you a really good idea of their design aesthetic, along with their personality (which may or may not matter to you, but this person needs to be able to make your vision come to life, be good at communicating back and forth, and make you feel confident that they will show up and deliver on the day of your wedding!). Their website should have lots of information regarding policies, FAQs, basic pricing, and answer all of your preliminary questions. You want to find someone who has the perfect blend of experience, a design style that you enjoy, prices that will realistically work within your budget (see below), and the ability to guide you throughout the cake design process with ease. Also, be sure to check and see if your baker has insurance and the proper certifications through the Health Department (especially if they create product out of their home).
“Now that I am interested in a cake vendor, how can I figure out a general ballpark budget for my cake to see if I can afford them?”
The first thing you need to decide when you are coming up with a cake budget is HOW MUCH cake you’d like to serve. I give my couples a golden rule that 80% of their guests will eat cake. This can fluctuate depending on whether or not you’re providing them with other desserts, or if you have a cake-loving family (in which case you might want to get cake for all of your guests!). Once you have this number, you want to check the starting price-per-slice of the baker. Multiply the two numbers, and you should get a starting point for your budget! Don’t forget that this most-likely includes JUST your cake, and you’ll need to build in a buffer for design, delivery, set-up and any other “extras”. Be sure to check on the baker’s website to see what is in included in their pricing so you can budget more accurately.
“Oh my gosh. I just did the math, and now I need to take out a small loan for my wedding cake… I’m freaking out!”
If this number scares you, DON’T freak out!!! The price-per-slice usually only applies to the cost of a slice of cake WITHIN your tiered, stacked wedding cake. If you don’t want a massive tiered cake, you can get a smaller one and opt for additional cutting cakes that will be given to the kitchen/caterer to serve the rest of your guests (which are usually at a lower price-per-slice). Be respectful to your baker though, and get your cutting cakes THROUGH THEM. This will ensure the same quality (and many bakers have a clause where you are required to get all of your cake through them anyway, so if you’re going to go for it, do it all the way!). You can also save money by offering cupcakes or a miniature dessert display in place of a slice of cake (for example, my price-per-slice is $7, but a miniature dessert package per-person can start at $3.50/person- there’s a 50% savings right there!). Either way, pick a realistic budget based on what you’re looking for, and the information provided by the baker you are inquiring with.
Most bakers in Central PA charge anywhere from $6-$9/slice, so for an average sized wedding (150 guests), you can expect to spend at least $500-$700 (to start), depending on whether or not you’re getting a fully tiered cake, or a mix of tiered cake and cutting cakes. Either way, your baker will sit down with you and crunch the numbers to show you all of the possibilities to make things work within your budget, and to help you breathe easier.
“I want to do a cake tasting! How does this process usually work? What should I be thinking about when I meet with my baker?”
Yasss! Cake tastings are the most fun! First, you’ll want to see what the baker’s policy is on tastings. I only offer sit-down tastings with clients who have paid me a booking fee, BUT I offer sample boxes for anyone to pick up from my kitchen space so they can get a feel for what I offer before committing.
When it’s time to meet with clients for their tasting, I send them a pre-consultation form that gathers information about their day, their likes/dislikes, and anything else that will help them leave the consultation with a clear picture as to what I will be providing them on the day of their wedding.
Here are some of things I ask them:
–What is the overall vibe/feel of your day?- This helps me to tailor the design into something that really captures THEM and the things they love.
–What is your guest count? How many people are you looking to feed with your cake/desserts?- Of course this helps me take their budget and their needs and come up with something that will accommodate both!
–Do you have any pieces of design inspiration?- I LOVE it when couples bring me design inspo. This could be a Pinterest board of all of the cake designs you love, swatches of your wedding colors, your invitations, dress photos (in secret, of course!), or anything that makes your wedding YOU! I take all of this inspiration, and together with the couple, design something CUSTOM for their big day (no copying photos from Pinterest or Insta here, my friends!). There is no set design that you should or shouldn’t have when it comes to your wedding cake- it just needs to be something you love, and something that reflects you and the feel of your wedding!
–What do you LOVE to eat/What flavors of cake interest you the most? All of my clients have my full list of menus before we meet. On their pre-consultation form I ask them what they would most enjoy eating on their wedding day (when it comes to cake flavors), and what flavor profiles they like/dislike. From there, I tailor four custom cake flavors just for their tasting, however they are welcome to choose anything from the menu for their final flavor choices.
So, there you have it! I hope that this information helped to make you SUPER pumped about choosing your wedding cake baker and beginning the cake design process! There are SO many pieces of the proverbial cake that is your wedding day. This is why it’s so important to choose vendors who will be on your team, who will support you and who will be honest with you to help you achieve exactly what you’re dreaming of for your big day. Your love is anything but cookie-cutter (no pun intended!), and your wedding shouldn’t be either!
Hey there! I’m Blayre, and I’m the owner of Flouretta Sweet. I specialize in wedding cakes and miniature desserts that have an old soul and a modern flair, hand-crafted for each unique client on their special day! I have over 10 years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Baking & Pastry Arts management from the Culinary Institute of America. I have always wanted to own my own business and work specifically in the realm of Pastry Arts & Hospitality, and I am very lucky to get to share my passion with couples getting married and planning their big day!
Planning a wedding and need more resources? You may like reading –> “What’s for Dinner? Choosing what to serve on your wedding day!” <–