I recently had a few clients who had small receptions, but who wanted larger cakes. That's fine if you want to have a lot of extra cake left over, but if you don't you could always use dummies instead of real cake.
Now, I've addressed this in a previous post, so I'm not going to go into the nuts and bolts of it here. What I want to address here was a comment that one bride made, about the styrofoam tiers. She liked the idea of the dummy tier, but she said that she couldn't wrap her head around the idea of paying "so much for styrofoam", and wanted me to discount the price.
I know that the idea of having a styrofoam tier and paying for it is slightly confusing, but here it is. This is what dummy tiers look like:
Okay, total cost for these would be around $20-25 including the shipping. As a bride, that's quite a saving over the cost for a real cake, isn't it? Sure, if the way that you display the cake dummies is exactly like they look in this picture.
If I brought the naked dummies to your reception and set them up, you'd be pretty peeved, right? So okay, I guess we'll decorate them then. From that point on, the cost for the dummies and the cost for the real wedding cake are EXACTLY THE SAME. The only savings that I see on my end are the difference between the cost of ingredients and the dummies, and the time spent baking them. Baking time is the least of my worries, it's the decorating that takes the time.
The cost for dummies is really not that much lower than the cost for a real cake. The icing is the same, the decorations are the same, and the time involved in making then and putting them on the cake is the same. When the cost of a dummy is reduced it doesn't make financial sense for the baker to reduce the cost tremendously, since there isn't a tremendous difference in the work involved. A slight reduction will address the time saved mixing and baking, but that time doesn't compare to the time spent decorating the cake.
Basically, dummy cakes still require time and skill to decorate even though they're styrofoam. Using a fake tier is a good way to increase the size of the cake, but you'll have to pay for it just like you would if you get a larger cake. It isn't just a piece of styrofoam.