I’ve been doing some research; finding out what couples perceptions are when looking for their wedding cake. Some of the feedback I received talked about cakes being prohibitively expensive, so it felt like a good place to start blogging again, and hopefully lay some myths to rest.

So why are wedding cakes perceived to be so expensive?

Some of our higher end supermarkets sell wedding cakes. One particular example has a four tier cake, serves up to 160 portions, for £250. It’s a plain iced cake with a ribbon and diamante trim; a 10 inch fruit cake, 8 inch vanilla, and 6 and 4 inch chocolate cakes. Four tiers, with a total height of 13 inches. My equivalent cake would come in at least 20 inches tall. You have no choice on the flavour of cakes, or the colour of the ribbon. You will need to collect the cake yourself and will need to ensure you have someone to set it up for you on the day (I promise you won’t have time to do it yourself; you should be enjoying your day!). And don’t think I’m in any way knocking these cakes; I understand that for some, having a cake isn’t their top priority.

What about bespoke cakes?

So let’s talk about bespoke, hand-made cakes. There isn’t a straightforward answer to this because there are so many factors involved: whether the baker is running a legal business, the cost of ingredients (are they budget or high quality organic?), the overheads of the business, the bakers experience and skill level (and therefore their hourly rate). Realistically, for something I have described above, you are looking at a minimum of £400 (plus delivery), but let me explain why this is reasonable. And remember, the cost of cakes will go up with the skill of the baker, their overheads, the size of the cake you need; there are so many variables.

I just want to start by asking you to please remember that most cake makers are professionals. We work hard at what we do, often putting in way more hours than we budget for to strive for perfection. All we ask in return is to be paid a fair wage, which means we need to charge a fair price for our work.

Four tier wedding cake with marbled and mottled silver designs

Every cake I make is designed just for your day, and my goal is ensuring that you get to enjoy the creativity of your cake while never needing to worry about how it will end up at your wedding venue looking beautiful.

When you find the right cake maker for you, they will take the time to get to know you both. They may offer a consultation, so they can find out exactly how your day is going to run, and how the tradition of the cake fits into the day. Alongside a consultation, you might also be offered a tasting. Don’t be afraid to try different flavours alongside more traditional ones; something that can give your cake the wow factor. To me the taste is just as important – if not more so – than the look of your cake.

Your cake maker may provide a sketch of your cake design; some work on graphic design software, others – like me – still stick to the good old fashioned pen and paper! And you’ll obviously receive a quote based on your choices from your consultation. All this work takes time; to do your cake the justice it deserves.

When it comes to the cake itself, I bake all cakes fresh for your wedding day, and take on only one wedding per day so nothing can get in the way of your special day. My business is just me, so it is likely that your cake will take me a number of days to make, depending on the design, and on your wedding day, I will bring the cake to the venue and set it up myself, ensuring it looks absolutely perfect for your arrival. In advance of the day I will have spoken to your venue to ensure a plan is in place for displaying the cake, as well as the florist if you have chosen fresh flowers.

Claire checking everything is perfectly set up

How does this all add up to the price of a cake?

Remember, the National Living Wage in 2021 is £8.91 an hour. So let’s revisit, just what goes into a wedding cake:

  • General admin; including communicating with the couple, managing diary, ensuring invoices and payments are managed in a timely manner, preparing for the consultation and quote
  • Baking tasters (and potentially delivering)
  • Consultation meeting
  • Designing cake and sketching the cake
  • Cost of ingredients (butter, flour, sugar, eggs, fruit, jam etc)
  • Cost of decoration (flowers, fruit, ribbon, toppers)
  • Cost of materials (boards, boxes, dowels etc)
  • Time to prepare and bake cakes, and to decorate
  • Time to liaise with venue (and florist if required)
  • Time and mileage to travel to your venue
  • Time to set up on site

All that is before I take into account my overheads – gas, electricity, water, insurance, training, tax, NI, and additional time for things like washing up! And this is without taking into account a profit margin to ensure my business is sustainable for the future. My final plea – a repeat of what I said earlier – please remember that your cake maker deserves to be paid a fair wage for the work put into your cake. Does it still seem expensive to you?