What Determines Wedding Cake Prices?
Why does the "same" wedding cake have differing prices depending on which bakery you choose? Professional wedding cake designers normally price on a "per serving" basis; a serving of wedding cake is 1"x 2"x 4" high. That is where the universal standard ends and factors relating to the individual bakery begin.
Large production bakeries can buy in bulk and frequently bake and freeze cakes ahead -- sometimes many months ahead, thus keeping ingredient and employee costs down. The savings can (and should) be passed on to the consumer, but often quality suffers -- sometimes dramatically.
Specialty cakes such as gluten free, dairy free or vegan normally cost more because of the higher cost of ingredients and, in the case of gluten free, the time required to take extra care in ensuring there is no cross-contamination with anything that has come in contact with gluten.
Custom elements such as hand modeled sugar paste flowers, figures, monogram letter toppers, plaques, specialty items, etc. will add to the basic price of your cake.
If your wedding cake will be adorned with fresh flowers they will be provided by you or your florist and are not part of the wedding cake quote.
Some cake designers and sugar artists include design services and others charge an extra fee; it pays to ask if this service is included in the price you are being quoted.
Variables such as better quality structures/support systems, delivery, or a professional plateau on which to display your cake will likely be priced separately. Some decorators include these in the quoted price, while others itemize.
Finally, the talent and skill of your cake designer will affect the per-serving price. Cake decorating is an art as well as a skill, and how well your decorator brings your vision to life will be directly influenced by these factors. You may have seen online examples of "Cake Wrecks". They are a perfect example of someone doing their best to achieve a look, but falling way short. What you think is "simple" may not be. Naked cakes, for example, look easy but can be a mess if not done correctly. Be sure to look at examples of a decorator's actual work (not pictures of what she "can" do) before making your selection. When you are walking into your reception is not the time to learn that your cake decorator isn't as skilled as you thought.