Intricately crafted. Mouth-wateringly delicious. Tremendously expensive.

Whether you’re picking flowers or venues, have you ever wondered why the word “wedding” suddenly makes prices skyrocket? Despite the inflated prices that you may end up paying for any wedding-related product or service, one of the most dreaded wedding expenses happens to be the most delicious one of all: the wedding cake.

While many brides and grooms might wince at the thought of paying an elevated price for what appears to be a larger version of a birthday cake, there is actually sound reasoning behind this decision.

Time & Stress

Baking a wedding cake is no easy task. The added time and stress that goes into baking a wedding cake over any other cake is reason enough for bakers to feel the need to increase prices. Baking, icing, assembling, decorating and transporting a beautiful and sturdy cake takes time, practice and tremendous patience to achieve. Aside from baking and decorating the wedding cake itself, bakers must also invest time and energy into the cake testing, which requires baking an additional four or five batches of cake and various icings for the couple to try before making a decision. There can also be numerous follow-up meetings as the bride and groom continue to make adjustments to the design and size of their cake. Overall, baking a wedding cake requires a very personal level of service – and that always comes with a higher price tag.

Ingredients

Baking a wedding cake requires more than just flour and sugar. Wedding cakes are typically made from scratch with high-quality ingredients such as buttercream, premium chocolate and fresh fruit. Wedding cakes are rarely baked ahead of time and frozen since this dries up the cake. Using these ingredients to feed 100-200 people can quickly add up in price.

Craftsmanship

Does the cake need to be sculpted? Will it be hand-painted, or will stencils be used? Will it be three-tiered or four-tiered? All of these considerations affect the final cost of the cake. The complexity of the design and construction of the cake can lead to a very labour-intensive process for bakers. Did you know that sculpting and painting a single rose out of gum paste requires three hours of labour and approximately another three days of drying time? Multiply that number by however many roses you’d like to see on your cake, and you should definitely expect to be quoted a fairly high price. Keep in mind that it’s impossible for bakers to charge complete hourly rates for the time that goes into crafting the cake since that time is hard to measure definitively – and the price would likely be over-the-roof!

So if you’re just starting out on your wedding planning journey, keep these things in mind when considering what kind of wedding cake you would like. If you have a specific idea in mind and find that it’s far too costly, don’t be afraid to ask the baker if there are ways the design can be simplified to meet your budget. It’s important not to get too attached to one concept until you hear whether it’s realistic and whether it fits within your budget.