Monday, January 17, 2011

The Question Everyone Dreads...What's Your Budget?

I get requests for cake quotes all the time, but people rarely start out by telling me their budget. I understand that putting it right out there is uncomfortable, but sometimes it needs to be discussed.

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.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Veronica said...

Well said! Well said! It's funny how the word "budget" translates in someone's mind. If I am going to buy a new/used car I determine what I can afford on a monthly basis and what I'm willing to spend overall. It's still budgeting. How that turns into "the baker is trying to cheat me because it's a wedding cake" is beyond me. There have even been many times tht I've under cut the price a bit because I can and the couple made the experience easy for me.

Jamie said...

I'm the same way Kara, I don't care what the event is, the cake costs the same. It's the details and equipment that affect it. I have done many cakes for events that cost more than a wedding cake. But, the myth exists, because there ARE those who definitely DO charge differently. I don't know why....

M. said...

Finally, people who cake and price as i do.
My theory is

A cake is a cake - what occassion the cutomer wishes to use it for is niether here nor there.
Whether it be a 2 tier chocolate cake for a wedding or a birthday.

Just as many eggs go into my birthday cakes as they do my wedding cakes.

Great subject - well written


adozeneggs said...

I have to say, I'm loving your blog. I've been going through your posts whenever there's spare time.
One of my first cake "potential" clients came in with the most insane request for a cake, I just have to share it:
a confederate flag cake with another cake on top with dragonflies and flowers on it.
Needless to say, I had to talk them down from that idea.
But the funny thing is that when I asked them their budget, the husband to be said to me "you tell me what you can do and I'll give you our budget". Can you imagine? I was so shocked and it was my first wedding cake request (I do cookies and cakes decorated with cookies) I wasn't going to argue, they showed up in a pickup truck with a gunrack. When I called them back, they had found someone else. THANK GOD!
Now I get the budget up front. Maybe I should send them to this post the next time!!
Thanks for a great blog.

Zoe Marzo said...

This was so helpful! Thank you :-)

Melisa Allen said...

Nail, meet Head! Can I link to this page from my site? This is a perfect explaination.

Kara Buntin said...

Melissa, please link away! We need to get people used to being upfront with us, it makes everyone's job easier.