400 Cupcakes For A Wedding...help

Business By armywifebryan Updated 5 Jun 2008 , 5:37am by mommachris

armywifebryan Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:22am
post #1 of 46

OK. So far I have only done cakes for family and close friends.....never for money. My husband comes home from work lastnight and says that a guy he works with is getting married and needs to find someone to make 400 cupcakes (plain frosted cupcakes). He was going to go to the local grocery store chains and see how much they would charge until my husband tells him to wait until he can talk to me.

Here's my dilema. I've never made that many cupcakes. Wouldn't know where or when to begin. I don't doubt that I can do it, but where do I start? How far in advance would I need to start baking cupcakes? What would I charge? I've heard that you treat them as a serving in themselves, but I know this guy can't afford a lot that's why he was going the cupcake route (to avoid $3-4 a serving on cake). I've dreamt of starting my own cake business for a while now and this would be good experience for me. I wouldn't even mind taking a pay cut and doing this job cheap just to get my name out there.

What do you guys think? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!


45 replies
indydebi Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:37am
post #2 of 46

If they are REALLY looking for "plain cupcakes from the grocery store", then I'd refer him to the grocery store. BUT ....! a lot of people say "plain cupcakes" but when it comes down to it, they want a flower on each one, with fancy papers and bells and whistles .... and still expecting to pay a grocery price.

foxymomma521 Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:47am
post #3 of 46

What is the going rate in your area? Do they want filling in the cupcakes? Do they need 400 cupcakes (if they are having 400 guests, why can't they afford cake?) Maybe you can make jumbo cupcakes so you only need half as many. (I'm assuming they don't actually have 400 guests) Do you have any more details?

cookinmamma Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:54am
post #4 of 46

WOW!! 400 cupcakes? I can't imagine that many. I did 144 a few months ago for a bridal shower. It took me 3 days to bake, ice, and decorate. 400 would be a nightmare (at least for me).

Ladybug6509 Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:04pm
post #5 of 46

Ok even if you are just starting out don't make the mistake that many of us do and undercharge just to get your name out there. You will be known as the cheap cake decorator and you will have a hard time breaking from the budget clientel. 400 cupcakes is a lot of work, in my opion, harder than doing a tiered cake. And each cupcake is a serving so charge full serving price. You could bake ahead and freeze them if you don't mind freezing. Cupcakes thaw quickly and if he really does want plain icing with no time consuming decor it should only take one day to ice. If you can fit 4 cupcake pans in your oven, it will only take one day to bake all of them.

FromScratch Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:21pm
post #6 of 46

Ditto to everyone. Don't make the mistake of undercutting your prices "for the sake of getting business". It will bite you in the ass when your customers resist you raising your prices.

400 cupcakes is a TON. And if you don't have a couple ovens and a bunch of cupcake pans you are going to be baking for DAYS. And if you don't have the room to store them (if you bake ahead you will have to freeze them or at last keep them in the fridge) Find out how many guests they are having before you agree to anything. Price them the same as a serving of cake. My filled cupcakes start at $4 per cupcakes.

If they can't afford the food.. they shouldn't have so many people, but they could be ordering double the cupcakes because people think "oh everyone will wants at least a couple" but they usually don't.

HerBoudoir Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:22pm
post #7 of 46

You're not going to be able to be cheaper or match the grocery store prices. But then, the quality of cupcakes you would be making would be much higher.

You also have to understand that it will take you just as much time and materials to make simple cupcakes as it would a simple cake in that quantity - possibly more - so where is the savings?

He has to pay what he can afford, and you have to charge enough to make it worth doing the work for you. If he can't afford what you would have to charge, then he has to go elsewhere - if you're only getting reimbursed for cost of materials and getting nothing for your time, why would you do it unless it was family or close friend?

I personally wouldn't sell a simple cupcake (basic flavor, simple swirl on top) for less than $2, but I am a scratch baker and use all-butter in my buttercream. You could lower the cost of materials (box mixes, Crisco in the buttercream) but that's not going to take much off the cost because the time involved is the same.

Kiddiekakes Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:23pm
post #8 of 46

Well...if he is looking for deal...You aren't the place!!I wouldn't charge any less than $2.00 a cupcake!! Those little things are time consuming to bake,ice and decorate! They also freeze nicely and thaw quickly so you can go ahead and start baking!!

locasec Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:25pm
post #9 of 46

I say you should go for it. I did 250 last December for a wedding I was in. They were WASC with a white swirl of icing on top. Some of them had a single black or green fondant polka dot in the middle. The wedding was on a Friday, four hours away. I spent all day Wednesday baking and icing; then I cut out the fondant dots and took them with me (was afraid they'd bleed). After the rehearsal dinner Thursday night, I stuck the dots on in my hotel room, and that was the end of the story. If they truly are just plain cupcakes, they don't really take very long. My costs were less than $50; I did it as a gift to the couple. Don't be intimidated; you can definitely do this!

sweetcravings Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:32pm
post #10 of 46

Best of luck! A few months back the same thing happened to me. My sister calls, says her neighbour wants me to make cupcakes for her wedding on new years eve. Initally i said ok i would do it...for the same reasons you are going to do yours. I wanted to start a business and I thought it would be good experience. I mean how hard could it be to make cupcakes? Well, after long thought and consideration I decided not to take the order. I called my sister and told her to call the women and say i didn't want the job. Honestly the thought of having to transport iced cupcakes across the city on new years eve, with possible snow storm..not my idea of fun. The lady said she wanted very simple cupcakes since it was a second wedidng. But like the CC members tell you, simple is never that when it comes to brides and weddings. I figured it wouldn't be worth my aggravation or time. Like the others say..charge for them. It will take a long time to bake and decorate those babies. Probably longer than a cake would. You have to make sure you add in the cupcake liners too. Please let us know how it goes. I always wonder how one transports that many cupcakes in one peice.

mysticamethyst Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 12:57pm
post #11 of 46

First, I want to say good luck with your decision. 400 cuppies is a lot of work, period. If you check the boards most will not even do cuppies for a wedding because it is to tedious and time consuming. I foolishly did them once and all I can tell you is that if they are simple; meaning no more than a swirlie and maybe some sprinkles on top they aren't bad. I did 60 of those dang mini pumpkins for a halloween bday, they ended up being my worst disaster. They took me literally all night to finish with the help of my hubby, who had never decorated a cake before in his life. We finally finish them and in rain outside my hubby slips carying 25 of them. YUCK. Then I only charged about $1each, also wanted to get my name out there, well it did. After that no one wanted to pay more than that ever, so I stopped for a long time, and also moved. You can bet you bottom that I will never undersell myself again, it sticks with you; or make pumpkin cuppy.

If he is trying to save money cupcakes are not the way to go; I would suggest maybe a smaller cake, and if they are having a wedding for 400 honestly I would think that they can afford the price of $2.50 a slice don't let them bs you.

Sorry this got long,


cakeconfections Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 1:07pm
post #12 of 46

I personally love doing cupcakes and they dont really take that long. I think they involove less time then doing a cake. When I am doing cupcakes most of the the time Iwil lonly bake a day ahead of time and a lot of times I ice them in the same day. The key is organization.

Ladivacrj Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 1:09pm
post #13 of 46

If they really need 400, but are trying to be cheap, a grocery store price is what their looking for and I would send them there. You will never be able to compete with their prices nor do you want too.

However, if you are interested in doing it, then you need to speak to the guy directly to find out what he's really looking for and needs.

Don't undercharge (not below $2.00) you will regret it for the amount of work cupcakes take.

Good Luck

tyty Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 1:15pm
post #14 of 46

For that many cupcakes, I would charge at least $2.50 per serving and any decorations or filling would be extra.

I did a cupcake wedding in March, 216 in all. This couple also wanted plain cupcakes with a swirl which changed to a rose on top, plus a 6 inch topper.

I bought clamshell containers and was able to stack the undecorated cc 24 each for freezing. I wrapped each container with saran wrap and placed into a zip-loc bag. I took the cupcakes out to thaw, then decorated and placed them back into the containters and back into zip-loc bags. The containers were then stacked into boxes, I put on the roses when I set up the tower.

It's more than a notion but there is a method to the madness. Don't sell yourself short, it's a lot of work.

robinscakes Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 1:29pm
post #15 of 46

I love doing cupcakes! I did about 150 dozen (yes, around 1800) last year, but that was over the course of 2 weeks! My advice, for what it's worth, is 1) don't undercharge, 2) get yourself a helper, and 3) get plenty of sleep beforehand!

Good luck!

gottabakenow Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 2:04pm
post #16 of 46

are they really expecting 400 people?? remember Debi's 60% rule... icon_smile.gif

armywifebryan Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 3:29pm
post #17 of 46

ok. i've never heard of the 60% rule. and thank you so very much to everyone who has replied to my post. i will definitely rethink this cupcake thing. at least the pricing anyway!! i will let all of you know how it goes and what I decide to do. thanks again.


SweetConfectionsChef Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 5:57pm
post #18 of 46

Don't be afraid to do the order! Organization is definately the key...and it really can be done! I wouldn't even bother freezing them. If you have 8 regular size pans then you can bake 4 (48 cupcakes) pans at once...that's only 9 oven cycles...which is only about 3 hours worth of baking. Once you take them out of the oven stick them on the 1/2 cake board and let them cool...once cool ice them (which a swirl is quick) and put whatever they want on top. If you make the icing and decoration the day before you bake then baking day can be the day before the event. Once they are put in a box and lid is closed they can set on a counter/table over night without harm. Definately stick to your guns about the pricing and with cupcakes I wouldn't go with a 60% rule....if you have cake and more people show up the slices can be cut smaller to make more servings...you can't do that with a cupcake. Anyway, let us know what you decide to do!! thumbs_up.gif

Toniprev Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 6:21pm
post #19 of 46

Another quick and lovely way to decorate cupcakes is with a fondant disc. You can work like a production line.... if you emboss the fondant.. even more pretty and effective.. a quick dust of Lustre Dust .. and voila!!! I have a few on my website www.torteditoni.com I put a little BC under the fondant.. but just enough to attach the fondant to the cake.

sarahnichole975 Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 6:22pm
post #20 of 46

The idea of 400 cupcakes originally made me want to go running into the night screaming "nooooooooo!" But when I read the other posts and really thought about it, no it isn't that bad. Cupcakes bake rather quickly and cool quickly as well. I think you could do them without having to freeze. And if it's truely a simple cupcake, then it shouldn't be bad. If you want to do them a bit lower to get your name out there, then okay, but don't go too low, do not do grocery store prices! Cajun man says, "YOU CAN DO IIIIIT!!!"

FromScratch Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 6:26pm
post #21 of 46

You could do that if you have a convestion oven, but not with a regular oven without rotating the pans. 2 CC pans side by side would completely cover my oven rack and not allow for the heat to circulate well. So 2 at a time would be all I could do. I'm not saying don't take the order... just know what you are getting into. icon_biggrin.gif

cupcakemkr Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 6:30pm
post #22 of 46

This is so doable, I think that SweetConfectionsChef's plan is the best way to go.

Here's my 2 cents on pricing. I think you can give the guy a discount BUT...make up an invoice that shows what your standard price is $2, $2.50 whatever, say the cost is $800...THEN put in a line item for discount and then the amount due.
and let him know that this was done special for him and his bride, if anyone were to ask him how much you charge for cc's it is $2 each period.

Good luck!

confectioneista Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 6:55pm
post #23 of 46

Someone may have already suggested this and I missed it (sorry if that's the case) but do a cost analysis to see if it would be cheaper to do 400 cupcakes or a tiered cake that served 400. It may be a better way to go with a tiered cake - less time (yours), less money (for him) and the general expense of goods required (non-food items). Sometimes what may seem an inexpensive route really isn't.

Besides, having 400 people at your wedding would make it very hard to go lite on the expense of feeding people, even if it is just cake.

Good luck!

indydebi Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 7:03pm
post #24 of 46
Originally Posted by armywifebryan

ok. i've never heard of the 60% rule.

60% of the total number invited will be the probable show rate at a wedding. So if he is expecting 400 people to be there, did they really invite almost 675 people?

Or are they committing the big #1 "sin" ..... the bride and groom think they are WAY more popular than they really are? icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

FromScratch Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 7:51pm
post #25 of 46

I'm thinking that they are doubling their amount of invited guests because :cupcakes are so small". No way you'd be cutting costs and inviting 400 ppl.. icon_confused.gif

SweetConfectionsChef Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 7:57pm
post #26 of 46
Originally Posted by jkalman

You could do that if you have a convestion oven, but not with a regular oven without rotating the pans. 2 CC pans side by side would completely cover my oven rack and not allow for the heat to circulate well. So 2 at a time would be all I could do. I'm not saying don't take the order... just know what you are getting into. icon_biggrin.gif

I don't bake with a convection oven...I have two regular ranges and bake 8 pans at a time...so with her one she could bake 4 at a time without rotating and the cupcakes turn out perfect...just bake at 335. I have done this time and time again. I'm not sure why you are saying it won't work?? icon_confused.gif And just for future reference, I bake 2-10", 2-8", and 2-6" in my regular oven. I tried rotating the first few times and the cakes fell so now I just leave them alone for about 40mins when the 6" cakes come and out and another 10 for the others.

edited to add: I have done this time and time again.

trulyjulie Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 8:19pm
post #27 of 46

when you are talking about how many pans at a time...are you using 12 cupcake pan or 24 cupcake pan? thanks

mayamia Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 8:24pm
post #28 of 46

I do cupcakes all the times they are easy and fun to do, (it is easier than getting icing smooth on the cake, I think icon_confused.gif )
Go for it!!!! The only advise do not undercharge I sell mine at 2.15 and 2.75 for filled, maybe what you need to do is talk to these people personally about all the details, because there is not much defference in price from cuppies to a tiered cake.
do not be afraid and take the challenge I usually do this many and I just start the day before early at about 5am bake for about 5 hours, clean , rest, do the frosting , and ice I do sleep pretty late that day because I work the whole day of the cuppies, then that is that the next day I rest and done deal!!!! icon_wink.gif
One more thing have they thought about the stand are you providing it, if you do you can make one and remember to charge extra for the rental thumbs_up.gif

SweetConfectionsChef Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 8:26pm
post #29 of 46
Originally Posted by trulyjulie

when you are talking about how many pans at a time...are you using 12 cupcake pan or 24 cupcake pan? thanks

I use a 12 cupcake pan...4 should slide easily into your oven. I put one rack just below the middle and one rack to spaces up. I guess if you have a 24 cupcake pan you could fit two of those, one on each shelf, but I've never tried that.

FromScratch Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 8:32pm
post #30 of 46

SweetConfectionsChef.. My oven doesn't like to cook that many sheet pans.. the top ones never cook the same. Could just be we have different ovens that distribute heat differently. icon_smile.gif I can do a bunch of cake pans because there is space between them.. just not sheet pans. I cook my cupcakes in paper brioche molds on sheet pans rather than in cupcake pans.. that could be it too. I bake at 335 too.

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