Thursday, December 24, 2009

DIY? Not So Fast...Part 3

In part two of this DIY cake series I figured out that for a three-tiered cake, basic flavor, a bride could save about $150 by making her own cake. Now, keep in mind that I'm being generous and not including a lot of possible expenses. That assumes that nothing goes wrong and has to be done over, and that you don't do any extras like taking a cake decorating class. I don't want to be accused of exaggerating, though, so I've left a lot out.

So how much time do you have to invest in order to save that money? I've tried to break it down, and once again I'll try to be conservative.

1 hour-Planning shopping list, figuring how many ingredients to buy to make large cakes.

3 hours-Shopping for ingredients, pans, boards etc, going to multiple stores because you're not going to be able to find it all on one place.

2 hours- Baking practice cakes.

2 hours- Decorating practice cakes.

4 hours- Prepping and baking wedding cake, making icings.

5 hours- Assembling and decorating wedding cake the day before your wedding when you should be relaxing (I'm basing this on times reported by beginning bakers, but it could be longer.)

1 hour- Cleaning up.

1 hour- Delivering cake the day of your wedding when you should be getting ready for your ceremony.

Optional: 6 hours- Cake decorating classes/practicing.

So for the conservative time estimate of 19 hours (without a cake class) you just paid yourself about $7.90 an hour. If you take a class, you just paid yourself $6 an hour. If you add in all of the expenses that I left out, it's going to be even less.

You also bought a boatload of stress the week of your wedding. I don't know if people realize this, but a lot of professional bakers don't do their own wedding cakes because they know how much work is involved in the days before the event.

(And yes, it won't take a pro as long as I've estimated. We know what we're doing, so it doesn't take us as long, and we will make a higher hourly wage as a result. However, we also get to spend time drumming up business, meeting with clients, doing paperwork, and answering emails and phone calls. We also have business expenses like licensing and taxes that add up. I'm not complaining, just pointing out that when people gripe about the cost of custom cakes they're not really looking at the whole picture. It's not just flour and water!)

So why are wedding cakes "so expensive?" Well, again, I don't think that the ones you get from me are that expensive, but the point is that you're not just paying for the ingredients. You're paying for the experience of the person who takes those ingredients and makes them into something that you want to display at your reception. If you don't have the experience, it will take you much longer than necessary, cause you much more stress, and will probably not turn out the way that you want it to look.

Personally, I don't think $7.90 an hour is worth the stress, but I realize that some people will still want to go for it and make their own cake. Good luck, try to have fun, but be prepared. And if you know someone who does cakes and they volunteer to make your cake as your gift, thank them profusely. That is one heck of a nice present!


If you're determined to do your own cake, get my guide to making a simple wedding cake. It will give you the guidance you need to stay off of CakeWrecks.com! 


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

2 comments:

Alisha said...

2 hours? To DECORATE the cake? I know what I'm doing and it takes me way longer than that. I can imagine, if you'd actually like your cake to look nice, the beginner would need at least double, maybe triple that amount of time. You're right, you were being conservative with all your estimations! This is definitely one occasion when it is best to pay someone to do it for you!

Anonymous said...

As an amateur ("hobby" Decorating for 20+ years, working in a bakery for 2) I have spent over $400.00 getting tools, equipment and materials to make 2 wedding cakes that have consumables costs added to that of about $150 a piece, with out counting the time and stress. Because I did not have the knowledge or experience, I bought a lot of stuff I ended up not using. These were for dear friends and I am so glad I had the privilege of making their wedding cakes, but I did NOT save a dime doing it myself.