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The true cost of your wedding cake
“It’s just cake! Why does it have to be so expensive?” This is a wail that is often heard during wedding planning.
Wedding cakes are labour-intensive and must also be structurally sound to withstand being moved from its maker to the venue. The cost of the ingredients is usually not the most critical factor in the cost of a wedding cake; rather, the type of decoration and the time involved in assembling the cake itself, is what determines the final cost.
Cakes not only have to be baked but they require several hours to cool before icing/decorating. Cake artists also need specialised tools and equipment to complete your order. Artists will certainly have invested in baking pans, fondant moulds, cutters, embossers, spatulas, dusting brushes and so on.
Ingredients and Quality
Professional cake artists will not use frozen cakes but will make their cakes to order, usually two-three days before the event. This ensures that the cake stays fresh and not only looks good but tastes good as well. Most cakes will of course require eggs, flour and butter, but premium ingredients such as real vanilla, high-quality chocolate and fresh fruits and nuts will increase your cost, versus using artificial flavourings.
Hand-crafted details are labour-intensive, for example—hand-sculpted fondant figures, edible sugar work or modelling chocolate figures often take hours of work. Another example is that the drying time for gum paste flowers is extensive. As a result, labour for that often begins days or weeks before the event. Fondant flowers are often hand-coloured, hand-painted or covered by hand, with lustre dust. Many cake artists will also use custom moulds for certain fondant motifs. Complicated cakes will even have a system of internal supports to prevent the cake from breakage and all of this is done by hand.
Special occasion and wedding cakes are often complex and heavier than regular cakes, so the transportation, handling and sometimes on-site assembly will be a factor in costing your cake.
The experience and credentials of your cake artist will also contribute to the cost of your cake. Even what may seem simple, such as getting fondant or buttercream to be perfectly smooth, is a skill that only comes from experience.