Monday, July 20, 2009

Fake Cakes - No, They Are Not Always Cheaper

Let me explain what the majority of TV shows, wedding websites and wedding magazines usually fail to tell you …..

Styrofoam cakes aren’t free. I have to pay for them. And many times, the cost of the dummy is more than the cost of cake ingredients. Plus……

- It takes the same amount of icing to decorate a fake cake as it does a real cake.
- It takes the same amount of time to decorate a fake cake as it does a real cake.
- It takes the same level of talent to decorate a fake cake as it does a real cake. Just because it’s a fake cake, doesn’t mean I can have my $7/hour dishwasher do it instead of the $16/hour decorator.
- It takes the same amount of gas in the van to deliver a fake cake as it does a real cake.

- It takes the same amount of time (read “Payroll”) for our driver to drive to your venue and deliver a fake cake as it does a real cake.

So how much should you expect to pay for a fake decorated cake?

Many decorators charge the same price based on the number of servings a cake of that size would serve, since the costs are virtually the same. Some decorators will give a small discount, like 10 or 20 percent.

Let’s run the numbers:
A 14” round (usually a bottom tier) will serve 78, times $3.50/serving = $273.
If the decorator gives a 10% discount, you can subtract $27 from this for a cost of $246.

For one fake tier.

The typical reaction is that this is a bit excessive because “…’s not a REAL cake!” You’re not paying for the cake ….. you’re paying for the time and talent and ingredients required to elevate your cake from a dinky little 3 tier cake to a grander and taller 4 tier cake. You want extra bells and whistles? There’s a cost involved in that.

Read the above paragraph again. It’s the most important part. You’re paying for the time and talent to make your cake look bigger and grander than you need.

Some believe that buying a fake cake and having sheet cakes in the back is cheaper. Let’s run those numbers, too

· A 4-tier cake to serve 150 times $3.50/serving = $525.


· A 3-tier fake cake to serve 100 times $3.50/serving = $350. (Why 100 instead of 150? ‘Coz it’s only for show!)
· Sheet cakes to serve 150 times $2.00/serving = $300
· Total cost for fake + real sheets? = $650.
· If the decorator gives a 10% discount for fake cakes, subtract thirty-five bucks.

A bride is going to spend $90-$125 MORE for fake + sheet cakes than she would if she had just gotten a grand centerpiece cake that is ALL cake. The part the magazines forget to tell you is that yes, a fake cake can be cheaper than a real cake, but then you ALSO have to buy the sheet (single layer, no filling) or kitchen cakes (double layer sheets with filling between the layers) for eating.

Now I will admit there are companies out there that rent fake cakes. These are already decorated and sitting on a shelf, like a “Cakes-R-Us” store. A bride selects a cake that looks like the exact same cake that a number of brides have used over and over. And they’re probably cheaper than the custom designed fake cake that most brides look for.

But you know what? Never, ever have I had a bride come in and say to me, “Oh just make me the very same cake you made for some bride last week.” No … my brides walk in wanting a cake custom designed JUST for them, in their choice of colors, flowers and style. They don’t want a Cakes-R-Us cake … they want it to be made just for them.

I use fake cakes tiers sometimes when a design needs a little extra for the look the bride wants. But I’ve never done a fake cake + sheets …. because at Cater It Simple, our goal is to SAVE you money, not have you spend more than you have to just to end up having less (of a grand cake) than you could have had.

Debi Brim can be reached via email at

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much Debi, I always feel slightly guilty because I only discount my dummy tiers 10-20%. But Especially here in Hawaii, the shipping on the Styrofoam is really expensive.