Well, I suppose, “They don’t have to be.” That is if you don’t mind it turning out looking like this:
By all means- go ahead and get your Auntie Sue to bake you an inexpensive wedding cake, but you’re probably getting one made with different ingredients than you would a custom wedding cake by a professional cake maker. Costs for commercial production line cakes and cakes made of fresh, high-quality ingredients, from scratch and bespoke are completely different. This is not to say that it needs to be off-the-charts-Oprah-expensive… but it is your special moment, so you don’t want to pick up a frozen sheet cake from a supermarket and call it a day. Or maybe you’d prefer something less traditional… like this sushi wedding cake topped with squeaky ducks?
Or... maybe not.
BUT WHY IS IT SO MUCH MORE? ISN’T IT THE SAME?
No. No, it’s not. For starters, you’re paying for artistry, experience and craftsmanship and there’s a lot of labour involved with making an elegant cake. Then, there’s also a very personal level of service. A large, complicated cake design can start months in advance (sugar flowers never die), and take days to decorate. Like Tracy Morgan’s wedding cake for his nuptials to his new wife, Megan. The cake stood 5′ 5″ tall, and featured 8 tiers, a topper and 3 floral separator tiers. The bottom floral separator featured floral ‘legs’ that held the bottom tier.
But perhaps the most essential element is, you’re buying the latest cake style—not, God -forbid, some old, hackneyed design from 2010 ripped from Modern Bride. Cakes also have to keep up with the times, and like fashion, one year pastels are in, the next year, they’re out.
One big variable in the price in your wedding cake also has to do with the techniques used, the materials needed to execute your vision and the time involved. For example, does the cake need to be sculpted free-hand or is it more of a simple shape? Will it need to be hand-painted or will there be airbrushed stencils used? Sugar, Buttercream or Fresh flowers for decoration? All these factors are important and have an impact on the final cost of the cake.
WHERE DID ALL THIS CRAZINESS START?
Of course it all started with Ancient Roman wedding ceremonies that were finalised by breaking a cake of wheat or barley over the bride’s head as a symbol of good fortune. Duh. Afterwards, the wedding guests gathered up the crumbs as tokens of good luck.... but not so much luck for the bride who would then most likely declare a headache on her wedding night. Who can blame her after being hit over the head with that madness?
Fast forward a few thousand years to east Yorkshire. There, a wedding cake was a sweet but heavy confection offered to the bride upon arrival at her new home. After eating a tiny piece, the bride threw the remainder over her head to ensure that she and her new husband would want for nothing. The groom then threw the plate over his head. If it broke, the couple’s future happiness and good fortune were assured. Not sure what the deal is with all the "tossing over the head" but apparently this brings good luck. Don't try this at home with small puppies or children, please. Cakes only. Thank you.
Instead, try to make this recipe at home for fun~ but NOT for your wedding cake:
Wedding Cake Recipe: Yorkshire Matrimony Cake
8 ounces pie pastry
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
4 tart green apples, peeled and cored
4 tablespoons mixed currants, raisins, sultanas
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup Juice of 1 lemon
Divide the pastry into two pieces, one twice as large as the other. Roll out the larger piece and ease it into an 8-inch tart pan. Slice the apples and arrange on the pastry base. Sprinkle the rest of the ingredients over the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and lay it on top, sealing the edges well. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350°f until the pastry is golden. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.
Then in 1840, when Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert, classic white icing was used to decorate her cake this was known as “royal icing” ever since. The multi-tiered cake by the nineteenth century had gradually become the “wedding cake” and it measured more than nine feet in circumference! Now, that's a lot of sugar!
According to the The London Times of February 1840, the second tier of the cake was supported by two pedestals and there was a sculpture of Britannia as well as the royal couple exchanging their vows. Let's not forget the dog at their feet that symbolised faithfulness- and of course two turtledoves, symbolising purity and innocence. So this is why so many traditional cakes have white icing! Who knew?
THAT'S GREAT AND ALL BUT, CAN I EVEN AFFORD A CUSTOM WEDDING CAKE?
Yes, you can! Don’t let the prices of fancy bakeries and wedding websites bum you out! Everywhere from London to New York City, there is truly a wedding cake you can have for every budget imaginable. The Bride hand-holding might cost extra, however.
With a custom cake designer, you should be getting the best ingredients from around the world: the finest vanilla, chocolate and butter. Your custom designer should be using genuine buttercream as well. If you’d rather have a fondant cake, make sure there’s genuine buttercream, jam or marzipan underneath it. Although some say the taste of fondant is less enticing, it can stand up to high heat and humidity. Some say that a buttercream cake is less expensive than a fondant cake. While this may not be entirely false, most cake decorators prefer to decorate with fondant so they don’t have to worry about trying to make the buttercream smooth, which is a skill that takes time to perfect. Make sure to ask your cake decorator if there’s an extra “fondant fee” and when you’re working with a specialised cake designer, you’re within your budget and let your baker know of your budget. You should inquire what their base level pricing is prior to scheduling a consultation. Some people falsely believe that if you spill the beans on your budget, the decorator will charge every penny while not giving as much cake.
Also, please don’t poison your guests by using fresh flowers without the guarantee that they are safe to use. Lots of fresh flowers can be poisonous so putting them on a cake can make your guests sick. Not the most fun to be had on the dance floor. Of course there are some flowers that are not toxic. But if the flowers are not grown organically and not sprayed with pesticides, you may be taking a risk you’d just as soon avoid. Consider paying the extra money to for sugar flowers. They last longer, taste better, and no one will toss their buffet on the dance floor in the middle of the electric slide… as it were. A wedding cake is definitely the centrepiece of your wedding reception and it’s not where you want to cut corners.
BE HONEST WITH YOUR BAKER ABOUT YOUR BUDGET
Let’s not forget that most cake decorators are artists first and businessmen second. A cake decorator wants to create the best, most delicious and beautiful cake they can and would rather give you more for your money than less. A cake decorator always needs to know your budget in order to design a custom cake. Before you know your budget, it’s best to not get too attached to a concept or specific decoration until you find out whether it’s physically possible and whether or not the gold they used to make the Rolex cake you want is real.
Remember: not all cakes are created equal. The sandals you bought in Bermuda on the beach aren’t made the same way as a pair of Jimmy Choos. You only buy your wedding cake once in your life (hopefully). So, if you want a fancy cake, don’t expect to pay a supermarket price. Cakes are also deceptively heavy, so transporting and carrying a cake for 100 to its destination may take more time and planning than a cake for 20.
Essentially there are three factors that determine the cost of your cake: the complexity of design and the construction of the cake, the amount of servings, and the actual baker and designer’s fee. Keep these in mind when starting your planning and please share your ideas with your baker and designer to see if they're realistic.
TRADITIONAL VS. EXTRAVAGANT
Increasingly, it seems that weddings these days are almost branded with colours and themes along with monograms of the bride and groom that are repeated over and over... and over. Some people have gone far enough to use Gobo lights that scatter monogram colours on wedding-hall dance floors. Even more common are the image sharing websites like Pinterest or Instagram as well as TV shows like the Great British Bake Off seem to have created new wedding cake experts... or "cakes-perts" as it were... No longer can cake designers get away with plain designs.
Textured wedding cakes are on the rise and details from lace, to involved textures and bling have become wildly popular. Ombré cake designs based on a hair colour trend display different shaded colours in gradation, has taken over as the 'hot' item.
So where is one to go when they want something fun that won't break the bank and still touts individuality without flying in Kanye West to pop out- might we suggest our "Something Blue"?
Something borrowed, something blue? We have you covered! This may be an unconventional colour but we love using it for cake decorating accents and shading buttercreams in subtle bluesy-hues. Made with the finest chocolate and vanilla sponges then frosted and glazed with our signature silken vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate glaze, then sprinkled with glazed choux buns and eclairs, baked buttermilk doughnuts, assorted macarons, Ferrero Rocher and "soft-serve" buttercream cones, piped buttercream flowers, Kinder Buenos, KitKats, Oreos and candied popcorn! Kim Kardashian WISHES she had this at her wedding- and we assume, she would at her next.
If you're a bit more traditional and romantic, you can try our "Rustic Chic Macaron and Roses" wedding cake.
Chic macarons and dainty chocolate pearls beside romantic piped buttercream roses and a popcorn cascade anyone? Along with a smooth Swiss meringue buttercream all over and in between the light layers of sponge. Now that's an elegant and modern tradition if there ever was one!
No matter which way you slice it- wedding cakes are the last thing your guests will taste before they kiss you goodbye and go off into the night- after they Instagram your nuptials, don't you want to leave them with something 'Gram-worthy'? At Anges de Sucre, we know how to satisfy not only your eyeballs- but your taste buds as well. Let us know how we can help! After all, love is sweet and memorable- and your wedding cake should be too.