Pricing Dummy Tiers/cakes?

Decorating By mrswendel Updated 16 Jul 2008 , 1:03am by maryak

mrswendel Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 9:27pm
post #1 of 34

Hi everyone,

Lately I have had a couple of brides that are having smaller weddings, but want their wedding cake to look "bigger" than the actual servings they need. I don't usually use dummy tiers, but since it seems to be becoming a common question, I need to come up with an answer on pricing.

How do you charge for dummy tiers and/or dummy cakes?

Thanks

33 replies
snowshoe1 Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 10:32pm
post #2 of 34

Can you come up with an hourly rate, determine how long the dummy will take you, and charge that price?

indydebi Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 10:45pm
post #3 of 34

I charge 80% of the normal rate.

Example: 10" round serves 38. I round to 35 for easy math. My normal rate is $3/serving, so the 80% rate would be $2.40/serving.

$2.40 x 35 servings = $84 for that tier.

Same amount of icing, same amount of work, ADDITIONAL space in your delivery vehicle, same amount of gas to get it there, add'l work to put together 4 tiers instead of 3, etc etc etc.

bobwonderbuns Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 10:51pm
post #4 of 34

I charge the same as a regular cake -- it costs me just as much time, energy and effort to decorate stryofoam as it does cake.

mjballinger Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 10:52pm
post #5 of 34

I was thinking 3/4 of the price for one that is cake. I laugh when I see them as a "cost-saver" on tv. Really? They take just as much effort to decorate! I just make cakes for family or for gifts, but if I had a business, I can't see that I'd charge much less than for real "cake".

indydebi Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 10:59pm
post #6 of 34

Here's the numbers that I show to brides when they THINK they can get styrofoam + sheets for cheaper cake:

Cake for 100:

3 tier cake for 100: x $3/serving = $300

3 tier styrofoam cake x $2.40/serving x 100 servings = $240
sheet cakes for 100 x $2/serving x 100 servings = $200

Total for the "cheaper" styrofoam + sheets = $440
Total for the regular wedding cake: $300

It will cost them an extra $140 for the "cheaper" package!

Even if the sheets are $1.50/serving = $150 for sheets + $240 for styro's = $390 for "cheaper" package.

Show them these numbers and you won't have to screw around with doing two cakes for one wedding.

lflowermoon Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 11:27pm
post #7 of 34

I do wedding cakes, occasionallly. I do not want to deal with cracking, sliding, collapsing , etc, so I am the one who gives a dummy cake, well decorated+simple sheet cakes. I did a cake yesterday, 2.50$ per person x 200 guests, including delivery. Total 500$....
What do you think? Here they do not know much about dummies,( when I mention that they are scheptical) but I like to play safe...

cocobean Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 11:32pm
post #8 of 34

mrswendel, Ive had the same dilema over and over. How do you display a beautiful cake chosen by the bride that everyone will be able to see and also be able to serve that same cake so that everyone will be able to enjoy eating it? icon_confused.gif I made three two tiered cakes for my daughters wedding. Only the top of one was real cake so they could have pictures cutting it. Everyone who came to the reception was able to see the beautiful cakes the bride had chosen. Sheet cakes and pastries were served from the kitchen. On the other hand, I made my sons wedding cake, 4 tiers, all cake. In order for most people to see the cake the bride had chosen the cake was not cut until the last half hour of the evening. Other pastries were served until then. But now there ARE NOT a lot of people to serve the cake to. At this point we cut very large pieces and took home a lot of cake. This is basically how it goes. So I have to say to customers. I know the dilema. My fake cakes cost slightly less than my real cakes. BUT not enough to help you decide to go that way. You just have to come to terms with I want everyone to see the cake AND we don't want to take home a lot of left over cake, Or, we want everyone to see the cake AND we don't mind taking home a boat load of cake!!!

The only way around it I can see is to have a wedding where all the quests are there at the same time for a dinner and then the cake is cut for the desert at the end. icon_cool.gif

It will ALWAYS be a dilema for me personally. That said, I'm not going to make it EASY for customers to go one way or the other. It's a lot of work for me the cake designer, maker and baker! It needs to be worth my time either way! Hope any of that helps. Sorry so long! icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 11:48pm
post #9 of 34

[quote="cocobean] How do you display a beautiful cake chosen by the bride that everyone will be able to see and also be able to serve that same cake so that everyone will be able to enjoy eating it? [/quote]

It's called "You can't have your cake and eat it too". icon_confused.gif

I stay and cut my cakes at weddings. All of the guests get there WAY before the bride and groom and they have more than ample time to oooooh and ahhhhh over the cake, so who are you trying to save it for? icon_confused.gif By the time the cake is cut, everyone really has had a chance to see it ... I guess I'm just really confused on what you're trying to do.

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:06am
post #10 of 34

It is true that the guests see the cake for a while, before and during the reception, but to eat it they have to wait for the bride and groom to cut it!
That is why dummy cakes come handy, so the caterer can cut the real cake in the kitchen in advance ( and to cut ,a sheet cake is so less messy than a tall tiered cake )

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:08am
post #11 of 34

I also do not like a cake sitting too much outside

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:10am
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lflowermoon

That is why dummy cakes come handy, so the caterer can cut the real cake in the kitchen in advance ( and to cut ,a sheet cake is so less messy than a tall tiered cake )




Takes me less than 15 minutes to cut a wedding cake with no mess. Let me know which caterers in your area need a lesson and I'll come down and show 'em how it's done! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:15am
post #13 of 34

How big do you cut the slices? I know the basic rule for a wedding portion, but it still seems so small...Which size of cake do you suggest for 100 people, if you want to be "generous"

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:24am
post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lflowermoon

How big do you cut the slices? I know the basic rule for a wedding portion, but it still seems so small...Which size of cake do you suggest for 100 people, if you want to be "generous"




It's not small. It's the industry standard, regular dessert size piece of cake. No, it's not super-sized, like you might find in a restaurant, but I'm also not charging $6.99 a slice like they are in a restaurant, serving a piece that's big enough for 2 or 3 people. It's not Jethro Bodine cake .... it's a wedding cake. It's not a meal ... it's a dessert.

I use the wilton wedding chart, which is pretty much industry standard of 1x2x4. Before you gasp in disbelief, "one inch" is not the same as "paper thin". Here's my webpage on how to cut a wedding cake. http://cateritsimple.com/_wsn/page10.html Notice the cut pieces of cake on the plates ... pretty standard dessert size pieces.

Here's a photo of more of my cut pieces of cake in the 1x2x4 size ... http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1156785

As I've said a number of times .... the client is more than welcome to cut the cake in any size piece they want, but they are PAYING for the number of pieces the cake is DESIGNED to serve. If they want bigger pieces of cake, then they need to buy a bigger cake.

I cut the cakes at my weddings, and I cut them in 1x2x4 pieces. A number of people ask me for ".... a little smaller piece, please."

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:34am
post #15 of 34

Thanks, it is a relief! I feel guilty to charge...anything, if the size is so small...
What do you suggest for 100 people?
Is 3.50 per person too much?

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:35am
post #16 of 34

Do your wedding cakes have one or two layers of filling?

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 12:39am
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lflowermoon

Do your wedding cakes have one or two layers of filling?




2-layer cake ... one layer of filling.

FromScratch Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 1:04am
post #18 of 34

lflowermoon... I don't think the 1x2x4 wedding slice is small either. It's a good sized piece of cake really. More cake than I can eat in one sitting. You have to think that it is 4" tall.. it's the same amount of cake as a 2x2x2 sheet cake slice. If they need more cake they can order more. I have a piece of styrofoam cut out to look like a piece of cake to show people the size. If you are doing a cake for 300 or 50 the price per serving should remain the same. $3.50/serving for a buttercream cake is more than fair. I charge $4.50/serving. You need to find a serving chart that you like and stick to that when pricing. icon_smile.gif I have one that I made.. it's a smidge more generous than the wilton chart because I like round numbers. So where wilton says 12 servings in a 6" cake I say 10 servings. I can e-mail it to you if you'd like it. icon_smile.gif

To the question at hand.. I charge for a dummy pretty much the same as I would for a real cake. It's the same work to decorate.. I only offer them in fondant and I charge my buttercream price since there is no buttercream under the fondant like there would be in a real cake.

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 2:01am
post #19 of 34

Thank you for the advises! Can you email me the chart?

lflowermoon Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 2:02am
post #20 of 34

What if the customers want 2 layers of filling? It is much harder to get a perfect iced cake.....

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 2:07am
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lflowermoon

What if the customers want 2 layers of filling? It is much harder to get a perfect iced cake.....




Then you tort it and charge extra for the extra labor and the extra layer of filling. with lots of practice, you'll find it's not harder at all.

FromScratch Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 2:18am
post #22 of 34

All of my cakes have 3 layers of filling in them. If you make sure not to put the filling too thick and allow your cakes to settle a bit before you frost them.

I will send you the serving chart.. just send me your e-mail address in a PM. icon_smile.gif

maryak Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 2:37am
post #23 of 34

I've been cheating myself. I always saw the price saver advertisement with the cake dummys so I haven't been charging hardly anything for them!! Also, I never even considered charging more for torting. I wish there was a guide on how to charge!! It's all so confusing!

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 2:59am
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by maryak

I've been cheating myself. I always saw the price saver advertisement with the cake dummys so I haven't been charging hardly anything for them!!




That's why I ran that set of numbers for brides. I always start the conversation with "Let me tell you how the wedding magz's have been lying to you about that!"

FromScratch Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 3:14am
post #25 of 34

SOmetimes I just want to strangle the people who think these crazy things up.. Suuuure.. I'll go right ahead and spend 3 hours decorating your dummy cake while I am baking your kitchen cakes and oh yes.. I'll charge you pennies on the dollar for them too. icon_confused.gif I mean dummies cost more than your average cake mix would take to make a cake the same size. Even baking from scratch they are up there if you factor in the shipping.

I have it right in my FAQ's.. dummies and kitchen cakes will cost you MORE than just ordering an actual cake to feed your guests. NO ONE has gone on to order a dummy cake. I can see dummy tiers, but not a whole cake.

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 3:35am
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

I have it right in my FAQ's.. dummies and kitchen cakes will cost you MORE than just ordering an actual cake to feed your guests. NO ONE has gone on to order a dummy cake. I can see dummy tiers, but not a whole cake.




So do I. I have the actual numbers on there to show them. I do the same with centerpiece cakes.

I had a bride call about 3 days ago and she asked about this because she'd seen it on Rachael Ray ... she specifically asked about the wedge cut out for a piece of real cake.

Because the premise she mentioned was "they said there are companies who rent out the same cake over and over .....?" Well, first, I'm not one of them. Second, if they are touting "we use them over and over" as why it's so much cheaper, then that means they are not scraping them off and redecorating them (i.e. not incurring any add'l labor expense). Third, if they are not scraping off the old icing, then how are they sanitizing that open wedge that has had cake after cake after cake shoved in it?

Once I explained the risk of using a styrofoam cake that had been used over and over and god knows if it was ... or even can be ... sanitized or not, she dropped the idea then and there.

cocobean Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 4:24am
post #27 of 34

indydebi,
I should explain most Utah weddings. The majority of wedding ceremonies in Utah are performed at a different location than the reception. icon_surprised.gif The wedding ceremony is usually eariler in the day with one group of people and the wedding reception is usually latter in the evening with an extended group of people. The cake is usually displayed at the reception part in the evening. There are many more people who are invited to the reception than those who are invited to the wedding ceremony. People who are invited to come to the reception, come to congratulate the bride and groom. They do this by standing in a long line, shaking hands with the bride and groom and some family, eating something and then going home. They are not there to witness a ceremony. They are not all there at the same time. And, they do not stay very long unless they are family. The line of people is usually long and a cake that is cut at the begining will never be seen by people who come somewhere after that.

Unless of course they had a ceremony AND a sit down dinner in the same place where EVERYONE COMES AT THE SAME TIME, sees the ceremony, eats together and the beautiful cake that EVERYONE has seen gets cut for desert. (Thr majority of weddings are not done that way here)!

It sounds to me that the majority of weddings you do cakes for have the ceremony and the reception in the same place one right after the other with one group of people. I haven't done many weddings like that. I think that is where your confussion is.

I hope I explained that o.k. icon_rolleyes.gif If I did, does it make sense that we don't want to cut a beautiful expensive cake before most of the guests get to see it? icon_smile.gif Or, explain why so many here might consider a fake cake?

indydebi Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 4:40am
post #28 of 34

cocobean, it actually sounds like we have very similar traditions, but your receptions sound more like an "open house" with people coming and going at various times.

"Back in my day" icon_biggrin.gif , we all got married in the church with the reception in the church basement. In 5 years, I bet I've only done less than 5 weddings where that happened. Most weddings are performed in the church, with the reception in another building some miles away..... another church, a country club, a private venue, etc.

What you call the hand-shaking line, we call the receiving line, and this is usually done when the guests exit the church. The bride and groom wait at the doors of the church and greet their guests as the guests leave. As the bride and groom are getting their post-wedding pictures taken, the guests head on over to the reception site. The guests are usually at the reception a good 30-60 minutes before the bride and groom finally arrive. They are drinking at the bar, eating the appetizers and gazing with awe and admiration at the cake!

I did an open house for a 50th wedding anniversary and I actually suggested a dummy cake for them as they had a concern about not everyone seeing the cake. The open house was 2-6 ... some would arrive at 2 and some would arrive at 5:30, just like what you are describing. This worked out very well for them as they had a cake on display for ALL of their guests, and we had cake and brownies cut and on plates on another table for their guests.

Thanks for the explanation! That was the piece of the puzzle I was missing, making me all confused on what was needed! thumbs_up.gif

cocobean Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 5:30am
post #29 of 34

indydebi,
So glad I explained that o.k. I've been wondering why so many decorators say they cut their own cakes at customers weddings. If I was to do that here I'd be hanging around tooooo long. It wouldn't be worth my time. I only cut my own cakes at weddings were I would be hanging around all night because the customer is a relative. Here, people have to find a friend or someone willing who will be around when the cake needs to be cut. Although, SOME reception places here have professional cake cutting people on site. icon_cool.gif

Anyway, the different wedding traditions we have in different parts of the country really change how you think you should be displaying and cutting the all important CAKE! thumbs_up.gif

So back to the original question. I am very willing to make a fake cake if someone wants one but it's only slightly cheaper. Maybe 30.00 on a 250.00 cake. They usually decide to go with the real thing. icon_smile.gif

LeanneW Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 5:34am
post #30 of 34

one more thing to consider regarding rented dummy cakes is that I am sure you pick from a selection, it's unlikely they would make you a custom dummy.

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