I had a lot of interest on my instagram when I asked whether you would like to see how a wedding cake is priced up, so I have put together the Ultimate Guide to how Cakes in Bloom cakes are priced. Everything you will ever need to know about a Cakes in Bloom cake is here. Please bear in mind that every business is different, and every business model is built with a different pricing structure.
For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on one of our most popular designs: the three tier round cake with sugar flowers. Prices are accurate for 2022 designs.
So here you will find what I hope is a helpful (if long) blog post on what your cake maker will be thinking when pricing up your cake. We will cover:
Off we go! First up, direct costs.
What does a wedding cake cost to make?
Assuming a classic 3 tier round cake design, to feed about 100 finger portions, ingredients alone cost upward of £75.This includes your flour, butter, sugar, eggs (so many eggs) and flavourings like lemon or coffee. It might not include premium ingredients like chocolate, nuts, or dried fruit, which is why fruit cake will always come at an extra cost. A good bottle of mid-range brandy can cost £25 alone, but that's a story for another blog post.
You then have to add approximately another £20 for cake boards and drums, dowels, posy picks, and any structural elements that make your cake stand proud all day. Ribbon and royal icing come in this category.
If your cake is fondant iced, we also need 100g/inch of cake. For a typical 3 tier cake this is about 4kg of fondant, at £5-10/each
We're already up to £150 in costs, and we haven't started baking yet.
But wait, there's indirect costs too!
What indirect costs?
Indirect costs are the running costs of having a business. As a business, I need insurance. As a low risk business, this is typically less than £100/year for public liability, plus building insurance and car insurance. I can't use my car for work (like delivering a wedding cake) without proper insurance. I know!
On top of this, there are costs such as software costs (my website) and marketing costs (my business cards) and 100 other little things that add up over the year to make my business tick over. Sometimes it's the cost of a wedding fayre (up to £300/day) and sometimes it's a training course. Some years it's updating your food hygiene training (£60/year) and sometimes it's a branding service (£400-2k).
On average, my small business accrues about £6k of indirect costs a year. This includes some bills, and all of the above.
This means that the first £6k I make in cakes every year simply go to making my business tick over. Before tax. But that's for later.
So okay, we've paid for ingredients, and allocated a portion of that indirect cost for each cake, so let's get baking!
How long does it take to make a wedding cake?
I timed myself last time I made a cake, and it took just over 15 hours of direct labour, over 4 days. This means that over 4 days I spent 15 hours working on this cake, and does not include the several hours of baking time, because we covered our bills under the indirect costs. It also doesn't include sugar flowers, because that's for later on.
This is by far the biggest portion of the cost of your cake. The more labour intensive (I'm looking at you again, fruit cake) the higher this cost.
Minimum wage outside of London is £9.50 in 2022, and making bespoke celebration cakes is not a minimum-skill job. The average pay for a domestic cleaner is £15/hour where plumbers often charge upwards of £35/hour.
In 2020 I paid myself £10/hour, in 2021 it went up to £12.50, and in 2023 I am charging £15/hour of direct labour.
As our skill as cake makers increase, so should the wage we pay ourselves. In the same way that you can get a cheaper haircut in Tony & Guy by asking for an apprentice hairdresser.
So between direct costs, indirect costs, and time, we're up to just over £400 for a plain iced 3 tier round cake.
I haven't made a profit, or paid taxes yet, and your cake has no custom decorations on it. This is why my 3 tier white wedding cake starting price is £500. You can find out more about the cake booking process here.
But now to the fun part: decorating!
How long does it take to decorate a wedding cake?
The sky is the limit here, and because this is my favourite part of the process I am guilty of undercharging for the joy of a bold design.
But the cake imaged has several aspects of design to bear in mind:
Pink painted bottom tier
textured middle tier
Sugar roses (4 x classic white roses, 1 David Austin rose, and some foliage/berries)
Each of these takes a different amount of time: the rattan ribbon is a negligible cost, but silk or velvet ribbon can cost £12-20 to have custom made. The pink painted tier is a very quick effect to make, but the textured middle tier requires some speed and more skill.
And above all else, sugar flowers are a specialist skill and the biggest thing we take pride on at Cakes in Bloom. Each rose can take up to an hour to make, with the David Austin taking over 2 hours. That's an extra 6 hours of labour right there! These can be done in advance, and I love my flower-making days, but they're still a direct cost associated with your cake design.
Now I won't lie, it's unlikely that I would charge £100 for this small arrangement. I love making flowers too much. But for the purpose of this blog that's what we'll add to our cake quote.
Other things that will add a considerable cost to your cake design are:
Gold leaf (edible gold leaf is £4/sheet and each sheet is only 7.5" square)
Ruffles (about an hour per inch of cake. And overnight work)
Other design elements such as spacers or separators
And after all that, we're at £500+ and Cakes in Bloom hasn't made any profit.
Yes, profit! Because the wage that I am paying myself, or an employee, isn't money that I can reinvest into my business, or save for when my oven breaks, or use to go on that training course I've been eyeing up.
That wage goes towards paying my mortgage and bills, and household expenses, just like your wage does.
According to Tide, a healthy profit for a small business is 10%, with 5% considered low.
In 2022, I was making a profit of 4%. So of that £500+ cake I'm only putting £20 into my business piggy bank. None of us are trying to rip you off, or take advantage of your wedding celebration. I take as small a profit as I can, knowing that in 2020 my oven broke and needed replacing, and in 2021 I had to replace my work computer. If you follow my on instagram you know what a disaster that was.
But we're almost at the end of this cake pricing journey. You have a beautiful 3 tier custom design, with hand made sugar flowers and all of my undivided attention for the week of your celebration, for under £550 of costs to make it.
So why am I charging you £600 for it?
Because tax sucks.
As a small business I pay 20% on my profits in tax each year. It's more complicated than that (I get a tax-free allowance like everyone else, but also have to pay my own NI and Pension as I don't have an employer to do that for me).
So this isn't 20% of your £550, but 20% of my wage + profit (for this example 20% of £245 is £50)
So what does that mean?
If you've met me at a fayre or I've done your wedding cake, you'll know that I really believe in prioritising those parts of your wedding that bring you joy.
There's no rule that says you need cake, so if you resent the cost and compromise on quality you might be better off getting that Photo Booth instead.
However, if cake is important to you, because you want the WOW pictures, and value the symbolic beginning of your lives together then trust a professional to make your cake, and know that you're paying for our skill and time as much as you are for the actual baking bit.
I can't wait to work with you,
Photos by Alessandro Piolanti