I wrote this article for Nick and Aleah Valley of Valley and Co., a wedding and event planning company in San Diego. While they were vacationing in New York, they posted it on their blog. Here I’m calling it Part II, because the first installment of “The Wedding Cake: Big Dreams on a Small Budget” appeared here back in April.
In today’s tough economy, many couples understandably look to save on the cost of their wedding cake. Savvy brides and grooms know that the more detail and labor the cake design requires, the more expensive the cake will be. Eliminating or changing design elements can significantly reduce the cost, but you might be surprised to learn which details take the longest. Try to identify the most labor intensive element of each cake below. Then scroll down to check your answers.
Cake 1: Winter white houndstooth pattern
Cake 2: Square off-set with succulents
Cake 3: Sugarpaste flower
Cake 4: Fondant fruits with Envelopments graphics
Cake 5: Lotus flower
Cake 6: Sugared hearts
Did you guess correctly? Read below to find out the most time-consuming elements of each cake.
Cake 1: Star ornament. The houndstooth pattern looks deceptively intricate, but it’s actually a stencil and is quite simple to reproduce. The hand-cut star ornament, on the other hand, requires precise cuts and lots of time. Eliminate the ornament and you’ve significantly reduced the cost of your cake without sacrificing design.
Cake 2: Fondant succulents. At first glance the off-set tiers might look like an architectural nightmare, but stacking the tiers is relatively simple compared to the succulents. This wedding cake was originally designed by the groom (husband to Carissa of JL Designs) and made by Vanilla Bake Shop. The only thing that makes our cake different from the original is that we made all the succulents out of edible gumpaste, a very labor intensive process. The expense of this cake could easily be reduced by swapping the edible succulents for inexpensive real ones.
Cake 3: Custom leaf work. Sugarpaste flowers are undeniably time consuming, but each petal is cut using a purchased cutter, saving the designer time. The leaves on this cake, created to match an invitation from Wedding Paper Divas, had to be cut by hand, which takes a lot longer. Replace the hand-cut leaves with fondant leaves cut with a cutter and you’ve saved your baker a lot of time, saving you money in turn.
Cake 4: Fondant fruits. Although the subtle sutra pattern (from Envelopments) that surrounds each tier would take endless amounts of time to create by hand, here they are done on an edible ink printer. The edible fruits are the most labor intensive element of this cake. Use real fruits to decrease the time spent, thereby decreasing your cake’s price tag.
Cake 5: Olive colored fondant. Yes, the lotus flower was cut by hand, and yes the teardrops had to be hand appliquéd, but coloring large quantities of fondant–especially to match a specific color–takes time. Fondant can be purchased pre-colored, but it’s more expensive than white. To save money, opt for white fondant and introduce pops of color.
Cake 6: Square shape. Icing a cake so that the edges and corners are perfectly square takes years of practice and a lot of time. Some bakers even charge more for square cakes. To cut costs on your cake, you’ll want to literally cut corners and go for a round cake.
Remember, there are many cost effective ways to simplify your wedding cake without sacrificing design. So, before you replace the sugar flowers with real ones, consider the other ways to save your baker time–and save your budget.
Photo Credits. Cake 1: Ashleigh Taylor; Cake 2: Jordana Hazel; Cake 3, 5, and 6: Cory OBrien; Cake 4: Henry Chen