The Wedding Tax… do you believe that it exists?

I recently did a survey via my Instagram stories (yes, I know, it’s so very scientific), and found that a massive 58% of responders believe that there is a “Wedding Tax” - that is, a surcharge applied by Wedding Industry Vendors to their Services, including Cakes!

I receive at least a couple of new enquiries per month, that are requests for quotes for an “event” next year (rather than saying that “W” word) - a popular strategy that is encouraged by bridal magazines and blogs, to outsmart vendors and avoid being charged that dreaded Wedding Tax.  Now, can I just say that it’s actually counter-productive to avoid mentioning that your event is a wedding, as your Cake Artist needs as much info as possible to work with when designing the perfect cake for your event, however, that’s a whole other article for another time!

So let’s answer that burning question…

Why do wedding cakes cost more?

1.  They’re bigger!!

Your wedding is likely to be the biggest party that you’ll ever host - therefore wedding cakes are catered to serve many guests.  Most reception venues will offer packages where the third course includes serving your wedding cake, plating it up beautifully with berries, cream, coulis & ice cream, and to give you an idea of size, a standard dessert serving is 2” wide, 1” deep, and 4” tall - it’s quite a decent chunk of cake on that plate!  Multiply that little chunk by 100 or so guests, and that’s a huge amount of cake that you’ll need to cater for dessert.  As a wise colleague always says to her clients, ask yourself what you’d normally pay for a slice of mass-produced, preservative laden cake from a coffee shop, and then multiply it by the number of guests at your wedding - is your bespoke wedding cake quote still expensive by comparison?

** Stretch your Dollar:  Consider serving smaller slices to your guests… For example, if your reception venue serves canapés at cocktail hour, a generous sized entree & main course, and then follows with the cake plated with coulis & ice cream (ahem, let me loosen my belt!!), your guests will likely be satisfied by a smaller slice of cake.  Ask your Cake Artist about calculating some options midway between the standard dessert & coffee size portions - so you’re essentially downsizing just a slight amount for each serving - and this will help reduce the overall cost of the cake (I use an app on my Smart Phone where I can quickly adjust the serving size in different sized tiers).

2.  They’re fancier!!

Let’s face it, we all want to go all out and choose something spectacular to cut into with our brand new husband or wife. Our wedding cakes will be embellished with all of the deluxe extras, including premium flowers, gold leaf, stencils, hand painted lustres & finishes and custom acrylic toppers.  When calculating a quote, my base price for each tier size & shape is standard for all events, with the deluxe embellishments priced separately. I’ve made some super luxe milestone birthday cakes with all of the bells & whistles, and they have weighed in at the typical price of a wedding cake - so it all does depend on how you choose to dress your cake for the event.

** Stretch your Dollar: Simplify your design… A semi-naked, smooth or textured buttercream finish embellished with gorgeous seasonal blooms can still make a lavish statement, without breaking the bank.

3.  They’re hard work!!

We want your special day to be absolutely perfect, so we spend a lot longer planning & designing a wedding cake.  Compared to your average celebration cake order, there’s usually more email correspondence, more checking & double checking of the design specifications, and more communication with venues & event planners.  There’s sometimes a consultation & tasting fee wrapped into your quote (as this also takes time and ingredients), and delivery & set-up is included too (because nobody needs the stress of transporting a huge cake on their big day).  Then we can’t help but spend more time fussing over & finishing your cake, and again, more fussing at the venue making sure that everything looks perfect. So. Much. Time. I personally don’t charge any extra for my wedding cakes (despite knowing that there is so much extra time dedicated to them), but any Cake Artist who chooses to charge a little more for their time is well within their rights, don’t you think?

** Stretch your Dollar:  Delivery fees are calculated based on distance & time taken for each set-up. Choose a Cake Artist within close proximity to your reception venue to save money on delivery fees.

Do you really need a wedding cake anyway?

The short answer is “no”.  You don’t *need* a wedding cake - it just gets eaten after all!  However, it’s also entirely optional to drop thousands on fancy stuff like a designer wedding dress, bridal bouquets, the flash car or a bridal party, but it’s traditional to have all of the shiny things and an adoring entourage to share your day!

The cutting & sharing of the wedding cake is symbolic of the newlyweds’ commitment to love & provide for one another, and if you want to have that dreamy loved-up cake moment captured for your memories, you most certainly need an amazing cake.  My brides & grooms send me the most beautiful thank you cards, emails & text messages following their wedding, telling me how much they loved their wedding cake.  If you’re a cake or dessert lover, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the love & care that goes into creating an edible masterpiece, that sits proudly alongside the bridal table, waiting for “that moment” where everyone goes all heart eyed as they watch you take that first slice…

** Stretch your Dollar: Choose a smaller wedding cake and after you’ve taken your cute cake-cutting photo, serve it on a small platter alongside the tea & coffee after dinner, OR, have the reception venue pack it up so that you can share it with a smaller group of folks at your “day after” get together.  You could even have a small portion wrapped and frozen for the pair of you to enjoy when you return from your honeymoon.

Some more thrifty tips:

  • Switch out full coverage of (expensive!!) gold or silver leaf, and choose an edible lustre finish instead - not only will you save a packet, but you can choose almost any metallic colour that you desire (gold, rose gold, silver, bronze, or pretty pearlised pastels).
  • Ask your wedding venue if they can slice & serve your wedding cake on platters, so that your guests can grab a slice of the cake themselves - there is less work involved in “plattering” the cake, compared with individually plated servings, so this may save you some dosh!
  • Sugar flowers are gorgeous, but they are hard work and a zillion times more expensive than fresh flowers.  It’s much faster to source & prepare fresh flowers with wire, tape & Safety Seal, than it is to hand craft flowers from sugar paste - so choose fresh blooms if you’re trying to be budget friendly.
  • Forget about ordering an extra tier to save for your anniversary - it's really not necessary!  The tradition of keeping your top tier for your 1st anniversary or 1st child’s christening dates back to when all wedding cakes were made from fruit cake and fondant (and preserved with a tonne of booze) - and they therefore had quite a long shelf life.  You can most certainly wrap and freeze a mud or butter cake that has been filled with plain buttercream or ganache, however, it’s not going to have the same taste or texture after being kept on ice for 12 months! I highly recommend ordering a fresh single tier in your favourite flavour - and this will be the perfect little reminder of your wedding day to share with your partner after dinner.