baker rant, wedding cakes

A Sugar Artist’s Lament

April 8, 2013

When I tried to start The Pastry Prophet for the first time, I wanted to do anything and everything to get my name out. I know how to promote myself, but I’m not very good at marketing so I did work without making much of a profit.

A bride on a budget contacted me to make her wedding cake. I love making wedding cakes and was very happy to have the opportunity. Like I said since I was just starting out I offered to make the cake and charge her for the materials only.

Side note: This is a very bad idea. What I didn’t account for was labor, gas for delivery, etc. I would have to spend more than I was asking.

Now the average price for a wedding cake is $2.50 per slice. This is without the fancy decorations, fondant, mousse or curd filling, flowers, and elaborate designs.

The Bride either wanted a tiered wedding cake to feed 200 people or 200 flowered cupcakes similar to these beauties from Sara’s Cupcakes.

When I told her that I would charge her $300 for either project. Imagine my surprise when she said $300 was her limit and wanted to talk me down. Of course she wanted elaborate designs and fondant on the cake.

I had to decline. I told her she would be better off getting a dummy cake for pictures and a sheet cake for eating. The bride wasn’t having it and told me she would make her own cake.

She finished the conversation by saying: “No one eats the cake at weddings anyway.”

Um… speaking for myself it is an incentive to for me to show up if there is an open bar and wedding cake.

What bothers me and gives fodder for websites like is the fact that people want elaborate cakes, but don’t consider the time, labor, and of course, materials it takes to make a work of art. 

The argument is “It’s just cake.” Yes, that is partially true. There is a difference between a cupcake made by a 10 year old verses a cake created by Collette Peters.

I’m not comparing myself to Ms. Peters (I wishI was in her league), but also I’m much better than a box of Duncan Hines.

My price quote of $300 is $.60 per person. You can’t buy a regular cupcake in the Philadelphia area for less than $1.25. I was more concern with getting my name known, but making a cake for 200 people for less than $.60 per person was just damn insulting.

I didn’t get the job and the wedding went on of course with the bride creating her own cake. When I saw the cake I felt smug that I could have done a much better job. I even considered posting the picture on this blog. 

The cake along with the dress, music, and the rest should not make the wedding. It should be part of the celebration.  Everyone loves a good deal. Asking people to do their best without compensating their art and labor is wrong.

If your cake doesn’t live up to your expectation you have to think did you get what you pay for? You can’t have champagne tastes on an Iron City Beer budget.

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