"What's reasonable?" she asked.
That's a good question. We currently charge $4.50 per slice for wedding cake, but this is Alabama. Overhead and labor are less, and the market will not support two-digit wedding cake prices. I wish I could charge $12 per slice, but we are at the top of the market already, so we make do.
A few years ago we were setting up a stacked wedding cake at a hotel. The wedding planner was there watching, making sure the cake was "perfect." It was a four tier cake that served about 170. The bride had ordered and paid for the cake but her planner knew how much she had spent.
"Eight hundred dollars for some flour and sugar? I wish I had your job."
I was in shock but held my tongue. I had nothing to gain by responding. But this is what I wanted to say...
Flour and sugar are not expensive, but it takes more than flour and sugar to make a wedding cake. It takes time, skills and resources. First we spend a couple of hours planning and meeting with the bride to design the cake. Then we have to train our employees to bake cakes and make fillings and buttercream icing, to be sure the cake tastes as good as it looks. Then we train them to ice and decorate. There is cake architecture involved, to be sure the cake is straight and sturdy. Then you need the right tools. You probably have no idea what a large commercial mixer costs, or where to buy the specialty products and equipment that go into our creations.
It usually takes several hours to ice and decorate a wedding cake.
And finally, at least two people go on each wedding delivery to set up the cake at the venue. Which means two more people have to be working at the shop while the delivery crew is out.
We also make lots of stacked and carved cakes for other celebrations. Customers often come in with photos of creations they have seen on The Food Network, or on the Internet.
"How much will it cost to do this cake?"
It is never something simple because you can get that at Wal-Mart.
Stacked and carved cakes generally average between $2.50 and $3.00 per serving at Mary's. These cakes are for birthdays and showers, and get picked up at the shop. So if you want a cake that serves 30-40 guests, you will be spending at least $75-$100.
To put this into perspective, The Pink Cake Box (located in New Jersey, but with lots of photos on their website) charges a minimum of $250 for a "celebration cake." The photo of the pink stacked cake with the cupcake on top (right) is from the Pink Cake Box website.
These are MINIMUMS. Most of the cakes you see on TV and the Internet cost a lot more than that!
So if you just want a $20 cake, please go to Wal-Mart. When you want something truly special, call us. We are happy to quote a price on any cake design for any occasion, to serve any number of guests.