Let them eat cake! Guests may be happily dancing and toasting to their newly married friends at the reception, but food is always on everyone’s mind, especially cake and dessert. Fortunately, there are several ways you can cut your spending when it comes to dessert at the wedding, without giving up too much. My husband and I knew we wanted to have lots of desserts for our 250 guests, but we also knew we didn’t want it to break the bank. There are a lot of tips and tricks we learned that will ensure you get the most goodies for the smallest price.
The Traditional Wedding Cake
There are many tips and tricks to saving money on the centerpiece of your reception menu. Wedding cake is usually priced by the slice, so you can cut down on the amount you need by telling your baker it must serve about 25 people less than your actual guest list; not every guest will have a piece. You can also supplement the cake with more cost-effective desserts to make up the difference, too. We had the cake and a few other options, and while there wasn’t a crumb to be found at the end of the night, we never heard complaints about anyone going home hungry.
The biggest cost saver is a “behind the scenes” sheet cake. Decoration of a huge, elegant wedding cake is what eats up a large part of the cost, and a plain sheet cake can taste just as good at a fraction of the cost. Your wedding cake can still be several tiers high, but the secret is to make some of those tiers fake. Then, you have the illusion of a huge, beautiful cake when what the guests will actually eat is being cut into slices from the sheet cake.
Also, don’t be afraid to communicate your budget to your baker. I saved a lot of money on my beautiful cake by giving the baker artistic freedom and she found ways to make it look amazing without the extra cost. I told her I wanted a tall, white cake with roses and she went wild and made that cake into a piece of art. She saved me money by getting some leftover roses from my florist, cutting them down and placing them in a cascading fashion around the cake. Real flowers actually cut costs by saving the baker time and resources from having to construct detailed flowers from fondant or icing. Details add time and time adds money.
Shape also adds money, so keep it simple! If you want a wedding cake made to look like a white swan, you’re going to reach deeper into your pockets. Extra layers of icing must be added as well as extra ingredients.
A Candy Buffet
It’s a genius idea to pair together wedding favors and dessert. Adding a candy buffet means guests can happily customize their goody bags to eat at the wedding or take home. Candy can get expensive when you’re buying multiple bags, so try to hit the sales after any holiday. Our wedding was in July, so I shopped the “Day After Easter” candy sales with a vengeance, stocking up on jelly beans, Starbursts, and Skittles. This might not be the best way to buy chocolate, however. If you want it, buy some closer to the actual wedding date and be careful with the temperature as you store it so it doesn’t melt.
Place the candy in glass containers with serving spoons, which you can find at the dollar store as well as cheap glass containers. The goody bags can be bought at the dollar store as well and personalized with cute tags you can print from home.
The Groom’s Cake
This is primarily a tradition in the Southern United States, so you may opt out of a groom’s cake altogether. However, if you do choose to have this in addition to the main wedding cake, remember that it doesn’t have to be nearly as elaborate. We went all out on the beauty of the bride’s wedding cake, so we wanted to make sure the groom’s cake was just plain tasty. If you know someone who makes amazing desserts, ask them if they would be willing to bake a groom’s cake for the wedding, which isn’t the main attraction so it doesn’t have to be an intricate masterpiece.
Since my husband’s mother bakes a mean, moist cake, we asked her to make us a few regularly sized cakes for our guests in different flavors. My mother-in-law isn’t an artist ,so there wasn’t going to be any elaborate decoration. We just added some of the leftover roses from the wedding cake to dress it up without spending an extra dime.
Other Dessert Hits
Pies are a great alternative dessert because they aren’t too hard to make and are pretty affordable. You just have to be careful about choosing fruit that is in season. Pies are a huge hit at rustic weddings for that extra special touch.
Doughnuts at weddings are all the rage right now. (Haven’t you heard of people standing in a line for hours to get their hands on a gourmet doughnut?!) They’re basically the new cupcake, and they are usually less expensive.
Mini bundt cakes are another fun, cute dessert option. Many times guests will even share one of these, so you don’t need one cake per guest. Cupcakes are another popular dessert choice. Note that a cupcake is often the same serving as a slice of cake and will be enough for many.