When you’re planning a wedding, one of the first things that comes up is The Budget, and it can be incredibly helpful to see how other couples allocated funds for their own wedding celebration. Morgan and Thomas have graciously shared their full budget breakdown with us… You can see their full wedding feature here.
Friday, May 15, 2015 Paris, France 14 guests
From the bride: One of the reasons we chose a wedding in Paris was to save money! Thomas and I were lucky, and our parents paid for us to go to college (which is expensive without a doubt), so we felt that we needed to pay for the wedding ourselves. We both have large families spread out all over, so a traditional wedding/reception would have been large, and expensive. I know my taste level is high, so it would have been hard sticking to a budget when it came to decor and flowers, etc. Here is a basic breakdown of what we spent (not included here are DIY invitations printed at Staples, DIY calligraphy, or the cost of the apartment for all of us to stay for a week):
Ceremony: The American Church, $1200 included location for 2 hours, officiant, and organist Total: $1200
Dress, purchased at sample sale for 90% off: Vera Wang, $500
Shoes: Gucci, $1000
Hair, not including trial: Ciara Coiffure, $165
Makeup, including trial: Charles Gillman, $275
Groom’s suit: Hugo Boss, $400 Total: $2640
When it comes to wedding expenses, sometimes it’s hard to understand just why a particular item costs what it does, or why there’s such a range in rates. Something as seemingly simple as chair rentals can cost anywhere from $1.00 to $15.00 each! Today we’re taking a look at wedding cakes to see if we could better understand some of the factors that might result in a certain price tag, in our second installment of Budget Breakdown, with special thanks to Jasmine from Jasmine Rae Bakery.
First things first: the cake itself! The quality and availability of ingredients used to make your cake will affect the price. For example, vanilla beans cost more than pure vanilla extract, which costs more than artificial vanilla flavoring. In general, organic ingredients will cost more than conventional ones, and in-season ingredients are less expensive than out-of-season (fresh strawberries will cost less in June than in January).
Most bakers have a standard menu of cakes and fillings that they offer, with per slice prices based on ingredients and techniques. If you want something custom (maybe your grandma’s famous fudge cake recipe?) or something that accommodates dietary restrictions (say, gluten-free cake with dairy-free filling), that will generally add to your per slice price, anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 more per slice. Because it’s unfamiliar to the baker, it may require that they source special ingredients they don’t normally use, and it may also require them to do one or more test runs, which equals more time and more ingredients.
And then of course the quantity of cake adds to the total cost. Most bakers price cakes on a per slice basis (with some having minimum requirements), so naturally a cake for 50 guests will cost less than a cake for 250.
2. The Baker
The baker (sometimes called a cake designer or pastry chef depending on their preference and experience) that you hire will play into the final cost of your wedding cake. As with any vendor, the more experienced, skilled, and in-demand they are, the more they can charge for their work.
Bakers also have overhead expenses that get factored into their rates: rent and utilities (retail space or work space), transportation costs (to and from the venue), and equipment (baking pans, stand mixers, parchment paper, etc.), to name just a few. And as you would expect, their costs depend on location – the mark-up will be higher in a city with higher overhead (New York City is more expensive than in Nashville, so hiring a baker there is likely to cost you more).
3. The Design
Do you want a multi-tiered show-stopping wedding cake? Or maybe just something small and lovely for cutting? The style and design of your cake will play a large role in its final cost. Cakes that require more time and skill to decorate and assemble will cost more than simpler ones. For example, fewer tiers cost less because they require less assembly, and are easier to transport than taller cakes. A round cake with a rustic buttercream finish requires less time and skill to complete than a square cake with perfect rolled fondant corners. To better understand how a cake’s style and design contributes to its final cost, we’ve asked Jasmine from Jasmine Rae Bakery to share some of her gorgeous cakes. Keep in mind that the prices listed are for a San Francisco-based bakery.
$9 per Serving| Scantily-clad buttercream cake with fresh flowers.
Most bakeries will charge their base price for this style. Naked and almost-naked cakes require very little technique, though a more experienced cake maker will be able to create a more intentional look. Real flowers save time and money compared to handmade flowers – just ask your florist about getting a few extra blooms! Round cakes are the easiest to work with, and this cake is easy to transport because it won’t tip over.
$13 per Serving | Fondant torn paper finish with torn paper flowers.
A unique finish requires experience, and adding a finish beyond a simple fondant covering requires more time. Handmade decorations like these fondant torn paper flowers are time-intensive and require lots of practice and a high level of skill, as does the fondant torn paper cover the rest of the cake – it is very delicate and requires lots of rolling and tearing. This cake cannot be assembled on site the day of your wedding, meaning it must be transported whole which creates more of a challenge!
$15 per Serving | Rice paper blossom, square-tiered tower.
Square layers are the most difficult to cover because there is no room for error when laying fondant over sharp edges as opposed to round edges. The layers must be perfectly even to prevent gaps in the fondant, which cannot be hidden with piped pearls or ribbon on such a clean, modern design. Three techniques are required including specially-treated fondant covering, hand-painting, and rice paper flower creation. Tall designs are prone to tipping over and are difficult to deliver, which may require more hands on deck! If this cake needed to be proportionately scaled up in size to accommodate a wedding with 120 guests, the tiers would have to be twice as high, which would actually make it an 8-tier cake internally. Above all, the high-end designer style looks deceptively simple but requires an incredible amount of skill and a precise level of perfection from an expert cake maker.
It’s always helpful to know which factors to keep in mind, but the right baker will be able to bring your vision to life in a way that fits your budget. They may even recommend a surprising style or feature you’ve never seen or considered before! By keeping your preferences flexible and your budget in line, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see (and taste!) the final product!
When you’re planning a wedding, one of the first things that comes up is The Budget, and it can be incredibly helpful to see how other couples allocated funds for their own wedding celebration. Maura and Aidan have graciously shared their full budget breakdown with us… You can see their full wedding feature here.
Lara Kimmerer | Snippet & Ink
Sunday, September 1, 2013 Whately, Massachusetts 165 guests
DIY is not always less expensive, but can be way more fun. In some places, there were things that we really wanted to make ourselves that wound up being just as expensive as off-the-shelf (beer). In other cases, we saved a lot of money and achieved a far more personal feel by going the DIY route (invitations). By and large, things mostly came out in the wash but we were definitely able to give things our own flair in a way we would have never been able to afford if it hadn’t been for some of our own sweat equity.
If it’s going to stress you out, it’s probably worth paying someone else to do it. For example, we wanted to have complete control over our playlist and had a friend who hooked us up with a professional sound system and was willing to do some “light emceeing” for us. If you wouldn’t have fun building your own playlist – or with any other project for that matter – it might be worth hiring someone to do that work for you.
Don’t get wrapped up in what you “should” have at your wedding. Necessity gets really inflated during wedding planning, so instead think about if it’s something that will enhance your experience and that of your guests, and where you can pare down.
When you’re planning a wedding, one of the first things that comes up is The Budget, and it can be incredibly helpful to see how other couples allocated funds for their own wedding celebration. Heather and Brady have graciously shared their full budget breakdown with us… You can see their full wedding feature here.
From Heather: “We spent about $30,000 when all was said and done, including rehearsal dinner and welcome drinks, and accommodations for some of our family. We saved a bit of money (but added a bit of stress) by buying flowers in bulk from the florist and arranging the centerpieces ourselves. Luckily I had an army helping me get it done, otherwise I do not recommend it!”
Ruth Eileen Photography | Snippet & Ink
May 31, 2014 Bristol, Rhode Island 86 Guests
Venue (ceremony and reception):Mount Hope Farm in Bristol, Rhode Island, $4,250
(I also collected vintage stamps for the invites, thrifted glass and crystal vessels for centerpieces, and DIY-ed some decor, but I truly have no idea how much I spent for these things, as they were collected and created over more than a year’s time!)
When you’re planning a wedding, one of the first things that comes up is The Budget, and it can be incredibly helpful to see how other couples allocated funds for their own wedding celebration. Nicole and Morgan have graciously shared their full budget breakdown with us… You can see their full wedding feature here.
From Nicole: “It was important for us to stay within budget because we didn’t want to start our marriage in debt. Yes, it was our wedding day. Yes, it only happens once. But we don’t come from families that have a lot of money, so for us we really wanted to stick to the budget my parents so generously gave us. It was a huge blessing for them to offer what they did. At the end of the day all that mattered to us was that we were husband and wife, and we really tried to focus on that more than not being able to get linens that touched the floor, for example. We actually tried going under our budget because my parents told us they would give us any leftover money we didn’t use!”
Christina McNeill | Snippet & Ink
Saturday, June 7, 2014 Lodi, California 175 Guests
7 hours of Photography: Christina McNeill, $5000
Officiant: bride’s brother
DJ: Jeriah Coller (groom’s friend), $0
Day-of-Coordinator: Elizabeth Wright (groom’s friend), $0 Total: $5000
GRAND TOTAL: $12,210
Some budget tips from Nicole and Morgan:
Plan ahead! On Black Friday this past year, we woke up early to head into Fred Meyer and purchase 200 boxes of string lights that were half off. We saved so much money by doing that (and it was such a fun adventure).
Beg, Borrow, and Thrift. Call in your favors with family and friends while prepping and planning your wedding day. So many of our vendors were actually loved ones that gifted us by using their talents for our big day: wedding coordinator, DJ, florist, officiant, cake and cupcake baker, and not to mention the hosts of our reception site. All of those key items saved us a lot of money, plus it was fun to have friends and family playing such a big role in our wedding day. // Make weekly thrift store trips, ask around to see what you can borrow from people, and DIY your heart out. I’m part of we a “Deals and Steals” Facebook group, which is where we found our wine glasses and bottle vases. The small jars with sunflowers and burlap were all given to us from another friend’s wedding.
Think outside the box. We went through quite a few options for catering and I felt like giving up, but eventually we sent an inquiry in at Dickey’s BBQ Pit (somewhere we actually love to eat) and their options were surprisingly affordable. Look for catering from places that you wouldn’t normally expect to do catering.
Prioritize splurges. Since I am a photographer something that was top priority for us was photography. I knew the style I wanted and that I wanted someone who shoots film. We didn’t care how much we spent on this aspect as long as the product was what we desired. These are the photos that can help us vividly remember what happened and how happy we felt the day of our wedding, these are the photos that will be passed down to our kids and their kids, etc. It was so important to us that we chose to spend less in other areas.