Cuppy Bar Vs. Wedding Cake; Pros & Cons; Labor And Cost

Decorating By __Jamie__ Updated 2 Aug 2009 , 3:52pm by __Jamie__

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:28am
post #1 of 33

So....guest count: 600. Budget? Truthfully, I'm hearing through the grapevine about $1200. So the word "about" gives some wiggle room. Here's my thoughts, and since cupcakes seem to be so popular, this doesn't sound bad. Just need some experts to weigh in. icon_smile.gif

Rather than tell her she ain't gonna get the fancy Knot cake examples she has posted on her wish list (got access to that, shhhhh) for a budget anywhere near the supposed budget amount, and since I can't see myself killing myself baking and decorating cake for 600 anyways....what about a cupcake bar?

4 pans in the oven at once, would be about 12 baking cycles, 15 minutes each...ok no problem. Can be done in one night.

Transport of undecorated cupcakes is a BREEZE! No boxes, no inserts, no nothing. Pack them all in new, clean Rubbermaid Storage bins.

Prepare and separately pack in numerous piping bags, various fillings and frostings.

Man the cupcake bar with one other person for maybe 3 hours, one fills, one frosts...bam, like 15 seconds total...next person! I figure the time spent baking, packing, transporting, working the bar, and clean up would be just as long if not shorter than making cake....plus, no fondant, no SPS, no support stuff, no foam core, none of a LOT of stuff.

What do you guys think? Ever done it? If I am missing something, please point it out....it sounds good to me so far.

32 replies
Juds2323 Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:44am
post #2 of 33

Couple things that come to mind is with a cupcake bar people are going to want to try more than one combo. How are you going to police that? Sorry only one cupcake or you may look poor if you run out. I have seen on other threads that with cupcake displays that you actually need more cupcakes than you would cake as many people want one of each flavor, etc. Granted some may not want any at all, but you could end up needing WAY more than 600 cupcakes. Are you planning on only offering one flavor of cake and just different filling & frostings?

Wish I could be more help. Those are just a few thought that come to mind.

Judi

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:55am
post #3 of 33

That's a good point, more than the 600. And you know, this might be her "invited" number, so I would imagine it would be less than 600. But either way, I see your point. I just don't want to offer a suggestion that would ultimately bite me in arse when it came time to bake.

Juds2323 Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:30am
post #4 of 33

How long do you think a cake would take you to decorate for her? More than 6 hours? Because you used 3 hours as a time frame for the cuppy bar - 2 people x 3 hours = 6 hours. You can bake when you want for a regular cake with cuppies they have to be done relatively close to the event as they tend to dry out faster. Etc.

Plus this will give you a bump for someone else to respond.

Judi

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 5:09am
post #5 of 33

Right....I figure I can (for this time) make frostings/fillings ahead of time and freeze. The cupcakes, I can do those Friday night. Would be about 3 hours of baking, with batter mixing in between cycles. It would be seriously rush rush, but over just that much quicker. Plus, it sounds hella fun! Outdoors, practically everyone in town would be there (exposure!), really, 600 people invited, means everyone knows someone who would be going.

And I don't think of how long would a cake take, it's all the cakes. 600 people. That's a huge amount of cake...and remember, me no makie sheet cakes, so it ain't an option! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

Mensch Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 7:12am
post #6 of 33

It's not the time manning the bar, either, it's the baking and cooling different flavors (or all one flavor), and preparing different icings, preparing toppings, transporting said items, unpacking everything and arranging items attractively, manning the bar, dealing with the last 150 guests who don't get dessert because averyone was greedy and took two, re-packing your stuff, transporting it home.

I think it sounds like a fun idea, but 600 is alot of guests to prepare indivudual cuppies for to order.

Another suggestion would be to prepare 600 cuppies (or however many), ice them with a simple swirl, have her pick them up and arrange them herself (or her helper, or whatever, or deliver and set up if your wish), and have them provide big bowls of different toppings and sprinkles, and the guests can do it themselves.

A cake budget of 1200 for 600 peeps is pretty unreasonable. That's 2.00 per serving, and not including your expenses.

indydebi Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 12:49pm
post #7 of 33

Why are you filling/decorating at the wedding? (If it's a new thing, educate me, 'coz I've never heard of it).

I just did a small dessert bar on Friday and there were only about 18 cupcakes on it. Are you aware of just how much icing is needed for a cupcake? It's WAY more than what is used on a serving of cake. I was using the BIG decorating bag (it's as long as the lower part of my arm) and I had to fill it twice to ice just 18 cakes.

Assuming you'll use about the same amount of icing, you'll need somewhere between 30-40 bags of icing. Plus the bags of filling. What kind of work space will you have?

Unless this prepare-and-decorate show is something the bride is specifically wanting, I'd MUCH rather have them already decorated and just do the set up.

Ultimately, if it was TOTALLY up to me, I'd rather do a SUPER HUGE cake to serve 600 that really showcases what I can do, especially if the exposure is going to be as big as you say it is. Big giant awesome wedding cake ..... vs. ..... big pile of cupcakes. Which one do you think is more impressive to the guests?

Quote:
Quote:

Rather than tell her she ain't gonna get the fancy Knot cake examples she has posted on her wish list (got access to that, shhhhh) for a budget anywhere near the supposed budget amount,


Actually, this should be the FIRST part of your conversation with her. She needs to know UP FRONT AND FIRMLY that $2/serving just ain't gonna get the "fancy Knot cake". In the words of Barney Fife: "Nip it! Nip it in the bud!"

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 2:33pm
post #8 of 33

Lol....yep, I hear ya Debi. The concept is a "DIY" cupcake bar, like "I want a red velvet with Choc frosting" or whatever. This is why I posted this, to get feedback, and to possibly be talked out of it. icon_biggrin.gif And, yes, big gian cake, uh huh! Wayyyyy more impressive. Just trying to get ideas. I hate to see a wedding of this scale go to Miss. Lowball down the road, know what I mean? But I've been doing this long enough to (usually) recognize a PITA situation and wave it down the road too. ((sigh))

indydebi Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 2:48pm
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__

Lol....yep, I hear ya Debi. The concept is a "DIY" cupcake bar, like "I want a red velvet with Choc frosting" or whatever.


You know, from the guests' point of view, this DOES sound like something fun and different for them. Just be sure you know how much icing you're going to need and have all the logistics worked out.

Presentation is half the battle and with a great presentation it can look impressive.

Keep us posted on how it works out. I think your biggest challenge is her budget. Approach it with a "Here's what we CAN do ....." idea.

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 2:51pm
post #10 of 33

Right....I don't want to shoot down any ideas she has, but I gotta be firm and upfront about pricing too. Thanks for the advice guys....please keep it coming if there's anymore!

Gingoodies Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 11:20pm
post #11 of 33

If you decide to offer the cuppies.. DO NOT underestimate the baking time required. It will take you longer than 3 hours to do 600 (or more) cupcakes. I have done large batches before and it took longer than anticipated. Mixing, filling the cups, baking, un-panning, mixing, filling, etc etc etc. LOL. Good Luck!

indydebi Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 2:46am
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gingoodies

It will take you longer than 3 hours to do 600 (or more) cupcakes.


Agree. The numbers you ran on the time was strictly OVEN time .... didn't include mixing, filling, cleaning time.

PinkZiab Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 3:06am
post #13 of 33

Well first thing is to actually find out what her budget actually is, rather than through the grapevine.

For me, $1200 either way would NOT be nearly enough. Even plain cupcakes with a simply BC swirl (no sprinkles, or decoration) with me $1500 ($2.50 each). Nevermind all of the extras (filling, sprinkles/jimmies/candies, etc, labor for service at the event for 2 people). Once you add all that on you're probably nearing $4-5 each per cupcake (just spitballing... haven't actually run the numbers). But I wouldn't even do a simple buttercream cake for 600 people for less than $2400.

chefjess819 Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 3:22am
post #14 of 33

all i have to say is i must be the most UNPOPULAR person in the nation, since my estimated guest list for my future wedding is around 150...who in the world knows 600 people to invite to a wedding?!?!? i'm thinking huge families! i mean, mines big but holy carp lady!!! sry...just had an OMG moment when i read the invite number...back to topic now... icon_lol.gif

cutthecake Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 3:38am
post #15 of 33

Doesn't EVERYONE have 600 "close" friends?

indydebi Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 3:43am
post #16 of 33

I got a call last week with an expected headcount of 700. icon_surprised.gif We're just in the info-exchange stage right now, but I'm already figuring a staff of 15-20 and 2 rented trucks!

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:26am
post #17 of 33

Yes, I agree Tara, it's all grapevine right now....I am just sooooooooo anticipating a shocked look when and if I give her a perfectly appropriate number for her huge guest count. And a cupcake bar sounded cute. But I am not willing to "eat it" just to do something cute. Well....I think I'm done with this idea.

Does it bug anyone else that The Knot really only showcases cakes that were probably in the $6.00 to $10 per serving range? And the really cool ones, usually have a name like Sylvia Weinstock or Ron Ben Israel in the little writing underneath them.....yeah brides, a name like that means a design that costs some serious $$$$$$$$$$$! I mean, come at me with a design like that, but here. is. what. it. costs. Period. And more periods...many more. Period. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:28am
post #18 of 33

I say that about the Knot, because I direct a lot of people there when they can't give me any idea, or haven't even picked colors yet. But they just haveno clue what this costs....and naturally.....I get back in my email "gumpaste flower fantasyland 5 bazillion tiered creation covered in gold gild"...yeah, uh huh.

cakesbycathy Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:32pm
post #19 of 33

I might also suggest to the bride that she think about the tone she wants to set at the wedding. Does she want classy (which to me, says wedding cake) or does she want it to be more of a "birthday party" atmosphere (which is what I think a cupcake bar seems appropriate for).

BTW, I am sure the bride will have major sticker shock, since on the surfact a cc bar will seem like so much less work. She'll have no clue that it would be way more work.

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:39pm
post #20 of 33

Oh trust me, if I did do this, it would be very classy. No way would I want any birthday party vibes. No bowls of sprinkles or jimmies anywhere. All SMBC, ganache, fresh puree fillings, shaved chocolate, whatever else, but really....I don't dig this idea at all anymore, so I'm not even going to suggest it. icon_biggrin.gif

loriana Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 6:11pm
post #21 of 33

Hey Jamie! Let us know how it turns out. I'd love to know!

PS- I like Debi's idea of making a big stinkin' awesome cake that would be talked about for a century! icon_lol.gif

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 6:13pm
post #22 of 33

Oh hey, I would love love love to make a big huge honking cake, but I doubt anyone in these parts wants to pay for a huge honking cake, done up to the nines I mean. We'll see.

mmgiles Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 6:18pm
post #23 of 33

I live in Texas so my biggest concern for this outdoor wedding would be a huge cake and melting frosting.

varika Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 6:35pm
post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefjess819

all i have to say is i must be the most UNPOPULAR person in the nation, since my estimated guest list for my future wedding is around 150...who in the world knows 600 people to invite to a wedding?!?!? i'm thinking huge families! i mean, mines big but holy carp lady!!! sry...just had an OMG moment when i read the invite number...back to topic now... icon_lol.gif




Heh. I had trouble filling out a guest list for FIFTY and had to resort to telling my brother to invite people he knew!

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 6:46pm
post #25 of 33

Thankfully, the wedding is in January (I'm pretty sure, so yay! SMBC allllll the way!)

ccr03 Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 7:36pm
post #26 of 33

You know 600 seems average to me. BUT I am from a small village in Mexico (population 2k-4k maybe) and EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE. Everyone is related to one side of the family or the other, so pretty much everyone gets invited. However, only about 300-400 ppl. actually going to the dinner and eat cake.

My sister said she would probably want like 100 ppl. at her wedding - yeah, that's barely like our aunts & uncles and first cousins.

loriana Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 7:47pm
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccr03

You know 600 seems average to me. BUT I am from a small village in Mexico (population 2k-4k maybe) and EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE. Everyone is related to one side of the family or the other, so pretty much everyone gets invited. However, only about 300-400 ppl. actually going to the dinner and eat cake.

My sister said she would probably want like 100 ppl. at her wedding - yeah, that's barely like our aunts & uncles and first cousins.




Wow CCR, that is SO cool!!

If you added up my sister, parents, Aunt, 2 cousins we'd have *maybe* a whopping 15 people left in my family. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and my grandfather (Opa in German) fled from Hitler. He met my grandmother in Germany after fleeing from Austria. They moved to Portugal, then Spain, then Israel where my dad was born.

My Opa had 8 brothers and sisters. All were dedicated to businesses in Austria. Only 1 other sister lived, Sophie. All stayed too long in Austria when Hitler came and were killed either in Austria or concentration camps. My Opa was in business too, but he wasnt as tied down to it I suppose. Good thing or I wouldn't be here icon_wink.gif

ccr03 Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 9:00pm
post #28 of 33

WOW - loriana! i don't even know how to respond to that. So much respect for your family!

I must admit, even though having a big family can kinda be "interesting" at times, I wouldn't have it any other way. I truly am grateful for them.

Oh, and to the topic on hand - I would not, at all, like a cupcake bar at a wedding. With all that ppl. way too much chaos. I don't want to have to work for my dessert at a wedding. As a wedding guest I'd see it more lazy/cheap - even though it's not - than a huge wedding cake.

Annso Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 3:47am
post #29 of 33

wow!! 600? my my my. well I think i'll have to agree with indydebi, I would suggest that you go with the giant wedding cake that you can use to your advantage. Also, there are more disadvantages in doing cuppies than advantages. You would have to deal with all the extra stress from people at the bar.And with 600 people coming at you all wanting to be served, ppl with bad attitude, impatience..... you get the picture.

I wish you all the best

doc_farms Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 2:00pm
post #30 of 33

Holy Cow loriana, I've never heard from anyone who has experiance things so close to first hand. Many kudos to you and your family for what is sure toi be a miracle that you are all here!

As far as a cupcake bar goes I really do think it will be dependant on the bride. I know that you are more concerned with hearing from us on the amount of work you think it might be and if it's worth it. I agree that it could be set up very classy, and as long as you don't mind the hours going into setting up and manning the station then I think you are fully grasping what all is involved. I would still charge what you would normally charge for a regular decorated cupcake and then just inform the bride that the price is still set there because of the work involved with manning the station. Then, it will truly be up to her. I think it will take a somewhat non-traditional bride to go for it.

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