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How to save money on the wedding cake

A wedding cake is a crowning finale to a momentous wedding day. Couples spend hundreds of dollars on tiered confectionary creations, which provide great photo opportunities and even better desserts.

Though a wedding cake is a traditional component of wedding celebrations, professional bakers may charge anywhere from $2 to $6 per guest for the average cake. That could mean spending upwards of $900 for a cake to feed 150 guests.

There are many reasons why cakes may be so expensive. For instance, the equipment used to bake cakes does not come cheaply. Ingredients, such as butter, high-quality flours, chocolate, real vanilla, and others tend to have high price tags. Furthermore, the time that goes into baking and then intricately decorating the cake adds up to quite a bit of labor. For couples who prefer not to spend too much on a cake, there are ways to save money and still savor a delicious dessert.

* Ask a local bakery or restaurant if the pastry chef will create your wedding cake. Oftentimes, bakers who do not specialize in wedding cakes will make a cake at a much lower cost than bakeries known for their wedding cakes. If you adore a dessert at a particular restaurant, ask to have it duplicated.

* Commission an amateur baker, such as a friend or family member, to make your cake. There are many budding cake artists out there, several of which have the cursory skills to create a delicious and aesthetically appealing cake. Friends or family members may even make the cake for little or no cost.

* Keep decorations and flavors to a minimum. The more embellishments and designs you put on the cake, the more expensive it will be. Stick to the basics, and the cake won't cost as much.

* Look into culinary schools in your area. A student pastry chef may be able to produce a cake for you at a fraction of the cost of what an established baker may charge. This saves you money and the student can use your cake as part of his or her portfolio.

* Skip the tiered cake. Tiered cakes require careful stacking and engineering. Also, if the tiers themselves are made of crystal or another expensive material, it could inflate the cost of the cake. Choose a lower-profile cake to save money.

* Serve guests from a sheet cake. Some couples opt to have a dummy cake on display or just a small cake for cutting purposes, and then have waitstaff serve from a simple sheet cake. Guests rarely recognize the difference.

* Shop at a warehouse center. Warehouse centers often have an in-store bakery capable of producing cakes for large crowds. These cakes can be delicious and inexpensive. As long as you don't advertise where you bought the cake, there's a good chance no one will be able to detect a discounted cake.

* Choose ready-made cakes and stack them yourself. Find a bakery near you that keeps a constant supply of specialty cakes in their display cases. Purchase 2 to 3 cakes of the same variety and find cake pedestals from a party or craft store. Embellish the tiers with a few fresh flowers and you have a tiered cake for a minimal cost.

* Think about an alternative to cake. Tarts, pies, cream puffs, and other culinary creations may be more affordable and just as delicious as a lavish cake.

Gadsden Times