I know that the myth of the price-hike exists for the word "wedding." I say that this is a myth because in my experience it is. People don't charge higher prices for wedding services than they would for other services, they charge what the service costs. Yet brides still believe the "wisdom" that they shouldn't trust their wedding professionals, since we're all a bunch of greedy, money grubbing vultures who want to take advantage of you on your wedding day.
Well guess what? That isn't true.
In my case, I don't charge differently for a tiered birthday cake than I would for a tiered wedding cake, since they take the same ingredients, time and effort.
To tell the truth, a lot of custom special-occasion cakes take MORE time than a similarly-sized wedding cake, so they might actually cost more.
One of the first things that I ask clients is "what's your budget for this cake?" Nine times out of ten they'll either tell me that they don't have a budget, or that they don't know what a cake costs. I always tell them that they should get an idea of what they're willing to spend so that we can keep it in the right neighborhood.
Wedding professionals really do try to work with budgets. If someone's budget is unrealistically low for the services they want, we can tell them that right up front and save them the time of going through the whole sales pitch. The bride can then decide whether she wants to increase her budget or go somewhere else for that service.
If a budget is on the low side but still workable, then we can try to find a less elaborate version of the services that the bride wants in order to find a compromise between the wish list and reality.
If the budget is well within the limits of the cost of the services, there's no problem and we can go for exactly what the bride wants without eliminating cost-increasing details.
Until we know what range to aim for, though, we don't know how to tailor the services. Talking about the budget isn't "giving in," it's helpful. It helps to keep the conversation on track, it prevents the bride from getting excited while designing her dream cake and then not being able to afford it, and it helps the baker know what to suggest to make that dream cake possible and affordable at the same time.