Keep in mind the type of ingredients used in the mix, filling, icing, and decorating, when considering the value of the cake. These factors can significantly affect both your tastes and your wedding cake costs.
If you're having your wedding reception catered, you may want to select a caterer that serves wedding cakes. This means that the caterer will take care of delivering, preserving, serving, and cleaning up after the cake. You may even get a discounted price on the cake if you order it with a meal.
You can also significantly lower wedding cake prices by making the cake yourself or having a friend or family member bake it for you. Most family cake recipes will suffice, and specialty cake pans can be purchased at baking supply stores. Tiered wedding cake stands are also available for sale or rent.
While baking your own wedding cake might seem like a cost-effective idea to manage your wedding cake and prices, it can be disastrous if you don't plan ahead. Make sure the cake pans fit inside your oven. Most bakeries and catering services have industrial-sized ovens that can easily accommodate the larger size pans used for wedding cakes. Also consider refrigerator space. You'll want to have the cake stacked and frosted well ahead of time, and you may need to clear out a few shelves to make room for it.
Size and decorating are the two largest contributors to wedding cake prices. The size of your wedding determines the size of your cake. Estimate the number of guests who'll be attending and use that to calculate how many slices of cake you'll need. Bakers will be able to translate into the proper size for a cake. If you're making it yourself, you should be able to eyeball the size of the pans accordingly.
If you have the proper refrigerated storage space, consider hiring a professional to bake the cake and do the decorating yourself to cut wedding cake costs. Standard and specialty cake decorations that simply adhere to the cake with a dab of frosting can considerably lower the cost of hiring a decorator. Also, flowers and fresh fruit are easy to arrange on the cake and relatively inexpensive. Avoid over decorating; less is more.
If you don't dare attempting the cake yourself and a wedding cake and prices scare you, check out your local culinary school. If baking and cake decorating are part of the school's curriculum, there may be some seasoned students looking for practical experience who may not charge for their services. Wedding cake prices should be determined by the skill of the baker and cake decorator, thus this option may be the least expensive "professional" option you will find.
With proper planning, you should be able to have your cake and eat it affordably. To keep wedding cake prices low, consider your local options and how much you would be comfortable in doing yourself. Finally, consider your wedding cake and prices, then make a decision to keep wedding cake costs low and good taste high.