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Budget the price of your cake

Have your cake and eat it, too

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Your wedding outfit may be the focal point of a ceremony, but at the reception the cake takes center stage. And like your snappy ensemble, the cost of a cake lies in the details. Yet, even a groom or a bride on a strict budget can get a beautiful barbican of buttercream just so long as you keeps a few things in mind:

Price per slice

The price of the cake doesn’t depend on the amount of tiers but on the number of people it serves. So it’s important to know how many people you expect at your wedding. Standard round butter cake slices can range from $4 to $15, depending on the quality of the ingredients and the bakery. Specialty flavors like red velvet, chocolate, or carrot can start at $7 because they require more ingredients than standard butter. Square cakes are more expensive as well because they can provide up to 10 extra servings.

Also, keep in mind that if your reception is held in a catering hall or hotel, the cost of the cake may already be included in the reception package, with additional charges for customization.

Multi-tiered bliss

Once you find out how much each slice will cost, you need to figure out how many tiers you want. Yet, no tiered cake is created equal. The number of servings in each tier of your wedding cake depends on the shape and size of each tier, so the question of how many tiers you need or want, requires a bit of math.

Round cake pans come in standard sizes from 6” to 18” in diameter, while square cake pans come in sizes 8” to 16” in length.

For example, a round cake with two tiers, one 8” and 10,” will yield about 25 and 39 slices respectively and will feed 64 people. That can cost you anywhere from $200 to $1,000.

Check our tier charts (to the right) to figure out how many inches yield how many slices.

Details, details, details

Do you like the flare of ruffles, the elegance of a ribbon, or the romance of roses? The cost of your cake also depends largely on “garnishes,” an industry term for extra details. And the price of the garnishes depends on how intricate their design and whether you use frosting or fondant. Buttercream frosting is less expensive because it’s easier to work with and requires simple ingredients like sugar, shortening, butter, and flavoring. Fondant is sugar dough that requires a little more work — it has to be kneaded until it’s silky and pliable so it can be draped over the cake. For instance, if a bride wanted ruffles on a tier of her cake, it would require a lot of effort if the baker handcrafts each ruffle with fondant. But if the baker used buttercream, the same ruffles can be created with a simple frosting bag.

Also, keep in mind that floral embellishments are usually included in the cost of a cake, but can also be sold separately. They range in price from $.25 to $30 depending on the detailing and size. Bakeries can either create their own flowers from gum paste or swap out sugar flowers for real ones. Yet, some bakers like Amy Noelle, of Sugar Flower Cake Shop in Hell’s Kitchen, refuses to use real flowers due to pesticides and allergies.

Money-saving tips from real bakers:

* Joann Baylor of Make My Cake in Harlem: Use minimal detailing or inexpensive alternatives. For instance, swap velvet for organza or satin ribbon.

* Lindsey Gamble of Elegantly Iced in Brooklyn: Get a cake that is slightly smaller than a cake that would serve every guest. Many caterers now offer additional desserts to accompany your cake, so you may not need all of your portions, shaving money off the total price. However, brides should keep in mind the size of their space if utilizing this tactic. A 50-person cake may look insignificant in a room of 250 people.

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