Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Lowest Price Isn't Always the Cheapest

This blog entry is being written shortly after a bride told me, “Even though your per-serving price is higher, you ended up being the best bargain for a cake.”

I’m learning a lot from my brides as they come in for their free cake sampling/consultation for their wedding cake. The biggest lesson they are learning is that the cheapest price doesn’t always mean it’s the cheapest cake.

Let’s share what my brides are discovering and sharing with me.

Many bakers have a “starts at ……“ base price. Then they add all the nickels and dimes for what my brides are referring to as “every little thing!” Now, some of the extra charges are justifiable because there are extra expenses involved …. Fondant is more costly than buttercream, any hand-molded figures are labor intensive, gumpaste flowers are very labor intensive (some gumpaste flowers take an hour to make just ONE).

Ask good questions during your consultation appointment. Keep a calculator handy and keep track. For example:

One bride was quoted $65 to wrap a ribbon around the base of a cake (a very popular design right now). And the bride has to provide the ribbon. For a wedding for 100, this adds $0.65 to the per-serving “base price”.

As a decorator, it takes me way less time to wrap a ribbon around a cake than it does to pipe an icing border around a cake. So this charge is very confusing to me.

Another bride was told to add the icing dots on a cake (another popular design being used with wrapped ribbon), would be an extra charge “….because the decorator has to put those dots on there one at a time.”

My reaction? “Duh! We put ALL decorations on one at a time!” I suggested she ask for the decoration that they put on all at once. The additional charge? $0.50/serving. For a wedding for 100, that’s an extra $50.

Many bakeries charge extra for more than one cake flavor in a wedding cake. Additional charge is ranging from $0.25 to $0.50/serving. Many charge extra for a filling other than buttercream icing (for example, if a bride wants red raspberry filling or chocolate fudge icing as a filling). Most common charge is $0.25/serving.

Ask about the delivery fee, then break that down by the number of servings to determine the real cost of your cake. For example, a $50 delivery fee breaks down to $0.50/person for a 100-guest wedding.

So let’s compare my cake price to a bakery who charges all of the above nickels-and-dimes. For the record, Cater It Simple does not charge an extra fee for any of the items listed above, with the exception of a delivery fee *IF* the delivery is way outside the Indianapolis Metro area.

Assuming a cake for 100, 3 tier, 3 different cake flavors with red raspberry filling in two of them and lemon filling in the 3rd tier, ribbon on the base with dots and scrolls as the design, delivered 15 minutes from the bakery location.

Cater It Simple’s price:
Base price of $3.50 x 100 = $350. Simple.

Other Bakery:
Base price of $2.25 x 100 = $225 (wow! Big cost savings! But wait ……)
Add: $0.65 for ribbon = $65
Add: $0.50 for design = $50
Add: $0.25 for cake flavor x 2 additional flavors = $0.50 = $50
Add: $0.25 for filling x 2 flavors = $0.50 = $50

ACTUAL per-serving price = $4.40 = $440

At first, the bride thought she was saving $125 with the other bakery, but she was actually going to spend $90 more.

Ask questions. Use a calculator. Don’t assume the lower price is the best bargain.



  1. great post... ppl think sheet cakealways equals cheap... guess again....

    Love Ya!

  2. I have a ton of respect for you Indydebi but I have to disagree here a bit. Not all brides want a filling. Some would do just fine with buttercream. Some designs are much simpler to do than others. Keeping the base price low and charging for extras keeps brides who want simple cakes from paying extra. I would much rather give my brides a choice to keep the price low.

  3. stay-at-home, I don't have a problem with those who have a structured price system. My purpose was to educate brides that they shouldn't take the base price-per-serving at face value, and that as good consumers they should check into what that includes. I always think of that "I Love Lucy" episode where "ten dollars buys you the works". The ten dollars bought her the gears and the motor of the sweeper, then it cost her extra for the electrical cord, the wheels, the metal cover, the hose, etc. My fillings didn't cost me any more than using just plain buttercream icing as as filling so this system worked for me. A bride that expects a super ornate cake with lots of hand-molded detail should expect to pay more than the base price .... I just want the brides to do their homework and understand how some pricing structures work so they can find the perfect cake that fits in their budget! Thanks for your comment so we could have this conversation!