Thursday, November 19, 2009

How I Price My Wedding Cakes

Edited 10/23/16 to add that I no longer make wedding cakes, but if you want cake supplies and decorations, go to my website at www.acaketoremember.com. Also, get my pricing guide and you'll never have to read another pricing article again because you'll know that you've priced your cakes the right way :)


Most custom cakes are priced per serving, but I recently decided to go a slightly different route.


There are a few basic serving charts that people use to determine how many servings each cake will yield, but those charts don't always agree with each other. A standard serving size of 1"x2"x the height of the cake (usually about 4") is what most charts say they produce, but if each chart is different, how can that be true?


In addition, if the person cutting the cake is cutting the pieces 3/4" thick instead of 1" thick, you'll get more, but smaller, servings from the cake. If they cut the pieces bigger than 1" thick you'll obviously get fewer servings. This is the one thing that can't be controlled by the baker. We can estimate as much as we want, but if the cake is cut differently than we expect, who knows exactly how many servings will result?


What I've usually seen is that the person cutting the cake cuts the pieces a lot smaller than they should be, so I'm not too concerned about someone cutting the pieces too big. The more likely scenario is that you'll end up getting more servings out of the cake than I'm estimating.

I decided that I needed to come up with a way around this problem, so I now offer a flat price for a cake that will serve a range of people, and the bride can decide which cake she wants. (Keep in mind that the following serving counts do NOT include the top tier. I don't include that tier in the cake to be served in case the bride wants to save it for the 1st anniversary.) Say that you need 100 servings of cake. You could either buy this size, which will serve about 80-95............










Or this size, which will serve about 95-115....



















The bride can decide whether she wants the larger number of servings or the smaller, based on what she knows about her guests. Are they big cake eaters? Will there be a lot of kids there? Is this a group that will probably be at the bar and not eating cake? Is this the only dessert, so will it be more likely to be the focus after dinner? Are you doing more than one flavor on the cake, which sometimes makes people go back for seconds? These are things that should be taken into consideration, and the bride knows her guests better than I do, so she should be the one to decide on the serving range.



If you need around 120 servings, you could have the cake that would serve up to 115, or go with this one, which would serve 120-140.................









The bride decides on the final serving range of the cake, and then the pricing comes in. For each cake, I've set a flat price that includes basic designs and some gumpaste or fondant decorations. Each of the cakes that I've shown here fall into the "basic" flat price category. Unless I'm going to be making a lot of gumpaste flowers, or doing a lot of complicated design work ahead of time, I don't add an extra fee for each flower, bow, etc. Fondant pearls at the base of tiers, gumpaste flowers on top and here and there on the cake and piped designs fall under what I consider to be "basic" cake decorations. If you want completely flat, undecorated tiers, that also falls under the basic flat price. People who do that usually want some type of ribbon or pearl border, which I would make out of chocolate or fondant.


As far as extra charges, I do charge extra for rolled fondant, gumpaste flower cascades, and modelled figures. Those all represent an extra cost in terms of materials and the time that it takes to make them in advance, and the extra time is the major factor in any kind of custom work. I also have a delivery charge that's mainly based on time.


Some other things that I do NOT charge extra for are different tier shapes (squares, hexagons), different flavors on different tiers, and cake flavors (I don't have a separate category for basic or deluxe batters and fillings.)


When you're pricing your cake, make sure that the price-per-serving isn't the only thing that you're looking at. In many cases, the starting price doesn't end up being the only fee that you'll pay. Once everything is added up, a baker with a lower price-per-serving might end up being higher in cost than someone who started at a higher price but who doesn't add on for each flower or dot piped onto the cake.


And like I always say, make sure that you think the cake tastes great...A low price isn't worth it if the cake is mediocre-tasting and nobody eats it. That's the biggest waste of cake money there is!


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.biz and http://www.acaketoremember.etsy.com/

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

8 comments:

Baker's Cakes said...

Thanks for the tips!!! Pricing is one of my challenges!!!

Anonymous said...

thanks great idea!!!!! pricing is a problem !!!!

Maree @ Sweeter than Sugar said...

Love the last paragraph... well said!

Anonymous said...

In Italy they price by the kg...

Kara said...

Some people in the U.S. still price by the pound, but that's kind of an old-fashioned way to do it. It depends on what kind of cake it is, too. I suppose I could do it by weight if I made only pound cake and had a standard recipe to use to figure that out... It's essentially the same as pricing by the serving, you just have to figure out the amount by weight that one serving would be, then go from there. I'm way too lazy for that, haha!

Shayna said...

Awesome tool - why didn't I see this article before. I had a bride ask me just last week why bakers charge different prices.

I need to spend more time hanging out on your blog, Kara! Great info.

Kara Joy said...

You said you don't include the top tier in the serving count. Do you charge for it? If so, how do you price it? Thanks. And thanks for your blog!

Kara said...

I do include a charge for the top tier, it's the same as the anniversary cake would cost if the bride decided to serve the top and buy a new one later. I don't include the top tier in the serving count since a lot of brides want to save it.