The wedding cake is to the reception as the bouquet is to the ceremony – and more. It is often the focal point of the decor for the reception hall standing tall and beautiful. To keep cost down many brides choose to skip the catered dinner completely in favor of cake and finger food because the wedding cake brings so much versatility to the wedding reception. That does not mean, however, that no bride should ever consider how to save money on her wedding cake. Indeed, just a couple choices could make the difference of hundreds of dollars. That said, here are five suggestions for how to save money when ordering a wedding cake.
Choose Buttercream Icing: Many despise buttercream icing, and with good reason; often it is made with shortening and therefore tastes greasy. However, if you can find someone that makes their buttercream icing with real butter or white margarine (some less skilled bakeries will only use shortening because it is easier to work with because it holds up better in the humidity) it will taste divine and, in the hands of an artisan, can look nearly as smooth as fondant – without the cost. Often the savings over fondant are in the ballpark of one dollar per slice.
Choose Flavor: This varies from one bakery to the next. Some bakeries demand that the cake be made entirely of a single cake flavor and requires an extra charge for orders that want more than one flavor. For example if a bride wanted banana cake for the top tier, chocolate for the middle tier, and traditional white for the bottom tier, there would be an extra charge in some bakeries. Other bakeries mix and match the tiers freely. I have never run into a bakery which will allow different flavors per layer without significantly increasing the cost as this would mean much more labor and waste. Check with your local bakeries for options.
Choose Natural: The natural color for icing is either white or ivory (depending on ingredients). If a bride wants the icing to be another color, the pastry chef will have to tint the icing by hand and that will raise the price – perhaps significantly.
Choose Simplicity: Handmade icing decorations are expensive and can easily raise the price two hundred dollars or more in labor costs alone. Instead, provide fresh flowers, fresh fruit, or even silk flowers etc. Or, spend the money on vines, medallions, or monograms of crystal wedding cake jewelry that you will be able to use both on your wedding cake and in your home decor for years to come.
Choose Fresh: Even wrapped expertly, cake stored in the freezer until the first anniversary will taste old and freezer burnt. Save money by using the top tier to feed the guests. The couple can always return to the original bakery and order a small six or eight inch replica cake in time for their anniversary when the budget has recovered – and it will taste much better.
Choose Taste: Choosing a Pastry Chef that will make a cake that your guests will enjoy actually saves brides the expense of feeling that they need to provide an alternate expense as well.
One last thing: A bride planning to mount an outdoor wedding should think seriously about paying the extra money for fondant icing unless the weather is sure to stay at or under seventy degrees. Buttercream will normally hold well above room temperature if the humidity is low, but… Fondant is much more reliable in the heat, sun, and humidity.