My First Wedding Cake How Much Should I Charge. Help!!

Business By Annso Updated 19 Mar 2010 , 12:37am by JulieMN

Annso Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:03pm
post #1 of 36

Hey Guys. I am finally blessed with the opportunity to do a wedding cake and I am soo excited. However, I am also scared that I will overcharge or undercharge.

The bride to be said that there was no other baker on the island (Antigua & Barbuda) who would dare try to attempt her 5 tiered fondant wedding cake and none of them could do gumpaste flowers either. So I am basically a life saver.

Here is a Picture of the cake she wants. It is not the exact photo but the details are the same. She wants the flowers to be gumpaste roses, The tiers are 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16. She wants the bottom tier to be real cake (fruit cake or rum cake) and the four top tiers are dummies.

So here is the big question, HOW MUCH SHOULD I CHARGE?/ icon_redface.gif
LL
LL

35 replies
Deb_ Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:10pm
post #2 of 36

Have you priced out your cost to make the cake? What is it?

Seeing you live on an island in the Caribbean it's almost impossible for us to know how much you pay for your ingredients/supplies, so help us out a little.

What is your normal cost per serving for fondant cakes? What is your normal charge per serving for fondant cakes?

Annso Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:22pm
post #3 of 36

Ok.. Well the thing is most of the stuff that i use to make my cakes i order online. I have already estimated The ingredients for the fruit cake to be approx.$600 e.c thats because basic ingredients here are quite expensive. I plan to order the satin ice fondant cause we only have wilton here and it tastes awful. I have thought about making my own fondant but its my first wedding and i don't want to take that risk.

Because most people on the island are not aware of fondant or can't handle it we don't have any basic servings to compare.

brincess_b Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:36pm
post #4 of 36

do you have a usual pricing chart for non wedding cakes? if so, most people do not charge differently for tiered wedding cakes vs tiered party cakes.

sit down and work out your costs - ingredients, delivery, driving to the store, using your fridge, kitchen roll, cocktail sticks, washing up liquid, lights, everything!!!!!!

add on to the price for your time.
do the same thing when figuring out the pricing for your roses - time is a big factor in them rather than ingredients.

as for the dummy cakes, most people charge about 80% of the cost of the real cake - its a lot of decorating work still.
xx

Deb_ Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 10:00pm
post #5 of 36

If most of the cake tiers will be dummies then I wouldn't waste the extra money on Satin Ice fondant. I'd make MMF, it's very easy and very inexpensive.

rosiecast Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 10:18pm
post #6 of 36

I agree with Deb_. Or if it's cheaper/easier for you then just use Wiltons for the dummies.

prterrell Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 11:58pm
post #7 of 36

$999. I price less than Charm City in order to remain competative. icon_biggrin.gif

icon_lol.gif

Seriously, though here's ALL you need to take into consideratoin:
1) cost of ingredients including shipping or gas + wear and tear on your vehicle to go to the store
2) cost of utilities used while making and decorating: electricity, gas, water.
3) how long it took you x how much you want to make per hour

If you know that, then you can figure out how much to charge for ANY cake.

Sagebrush Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 12:36am
post #8 of 36

The cost of the dummies can be as much or more than the cost of the ingredients for an actual cake tier. With shipping outside the continental US, it could even end up being more. Definitely know how the cost of doing up a dummy compares to the cost of doing a real tier, and like the other poster said, it is just as much work for you to cover and decorate a dummy as it is to cover and decorate a real tier, so your cost should be pretty close to, if not the same, as if you were making them a cake tier.

8,10,12,14,16 = 24+38+56+78+100 = 296 servings

If you were to charge a VERY cheap $3/serving, that would set the base price of the cake at $888, before you added in the fondant swags and gumpaste flowers.

Given your location, though, and assuming you can pull off a cake of the quality shown in the photo, I wouldn't be surprised if you needed $6-$8/serving in order for it to be worth the money and time, putting the base price significantly higher ($1776 - $236icon_cool.gif.

The $600 cost of ingredients you mentioned would be for the fruitcake layer only, correct? Did you include energy to run your oven and lights in your kitchen while you are working, your fridge &/or freezer while they are housing the ingredients or finished cake if you need to do that? Cost for gas &/or time to go shopping for the ingredients? Cost for the time you spend on the cake? Cost for cake boards, supports, wires & straws for the gumpaste flowers, parchment, baking spray, toothpicks, shipping for anything you are going to order etc. etc. etc.

Given how long such a cake will be to put together, you also need to know how much labor costs, over and above the cost of ALL the ingredients, it would take to make it worth it for you to spend that much time doing a cake for them instead of something else you choose to do for yourself or your family.

Lots to factor in, and with the special circumstances of your location, we can't really give you a reasonable guesstimate, just ideas of costs not to forget to account for.

HTH

Annso Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 3:17pm
post #9 of 36

Thanks so much for the resposnse guys.And thank for the ideas. I think i'll go with Deb's advice and use the wilton fondant for the dummies. I never did take into concideration the use of utilities and such, but i'll definitely be adding it to the list. But one more question though. How do you stack dummies without them moving all over the place? Do you Dowel them or just glue them together?

sherrycanary62 Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 6:01pm
post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

$999. I price less than Charm City in order to remain competative. icon_biggrin.gif


The horse is dead...quit beating

icon_lol.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

Seriously, though here's ALL you need to take into consideratoin:
1) cost of ingredients including shipping or gas + wear and tear on your vehicle to go to the store
2) cost of utilities used while making and decorating: electricity, gas, water.
3) how long it took you x how much you want to make per hour

If you know that, then you can figure out how much to charge for ANY cake.




This is fabulous information!

Deb_ Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 8:28pm
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annso

Thanks so much for the resposnse guys.And thank for the ideas. I think i'll go with Deb's advice and use the wilton fondant for the dummies. I never did take into concideration the use of utilities and such, but i'll definitely be adding it to the list. But one more question though. How do you stack dummies without them moving all over the place? Do you Dowel them or just glue them together?




I use royal icing to "glue" them together but I also push wooden skewers into them so they are real secure.

Don't forget that since your bottom tier will be real cake, you'll need to dowel that one to hold the weight of all those dummies and fondant.

Are you sure you don't want to try making some MMF? It's real easy, 3 ingredients...water, marshmallows and powdered sugar. I think it would be a lot more cost effective for you instead of using Wilton.

If you need help or tips making it, please don't hesitate to PM me, it really is easy to make.

Nytepyre Posted 15 Feb 2010 , 7:31am
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

$999. I price less than Charm City in order to remain competative. icon_biggrin.gif

icon_lol.gif
.




LOL. I died!

Janran Posted 15 Feb 2010 , 11:50pm
post #13 of 36

Congrats Annso!

I remember my first cake that I made for someone that wasn't family or a friend. I just didn't feel right charging someone a lot of money considering I was just starting out. So I kept it pretty cheap until I gain experience and was confident in my talent. I think the most important factor is to understand your costs which includes time to make the cake and travel. Once you understand this you can decide how much you want/should make.

Annso Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 1:31am
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Quote:

Are you sure you don't want to try making some MMF? It's real easy, 3 ingredients...water, marshmallows and powdered sugar. I think it would be a lot more cost effective for you instead of using Wilton




I have already made my own fondant in the past using this same recipe but I was not too confident about the results. It was kinda dry and hard. Also, I'm expecting so I can't really get into too much strenous work.

Anyway after taking all the advise that i got from you guys concerning pricing, I finally came up with a price of E.C $2,450(U.S$917) this includes shipping and hadling. I gave her a detailed break down on what she would be spending her money on and this is the response I got.

Thank you.

Could you pleease givce me a futher breakdown of the cost of transportation & Utilities because I can provide the transportation if needed that's not a problem.

Also a detail breakdown of the cost of each dummy so I can see if I can get them cheaper and a break down of the shipping and handling fees as if they are posted to my mother - in - law they will be no clearing cost at the post office as she works there

Also the cost of the fondant and how much of it you will need as I ship it in for the chefs at Sandals all of the time.

Thank you


I really don't know what to think cause she is taking quite a while to confirm the order. I'm I about to have an encounter with a birdezilla?[/quote]

Quote:
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Deb_ Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 1:39am
post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annso

I'm I about to have an encounter with a birdezilla?


Quote:
Quote:


[/quote]

Yes you are by the sound of it. I think you've offered her enough information. I mean what does she want a copy of your electric bill? icon_eek.gif

I'd tell her that this is your price and that if she would like to book with you she'll need to sign your contract and pay the deposit.

whew.....people are unbelievable.

Eisskween Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 1:57am
post #16 of 36

My response would be: "I'm sorry, I don't do business that way. I gave you the price as requested. If you would like to sign a contract and put a deposit on the cake to hold your date, I would be happy to serve you."

Could you imagine if everyone that wanted a cake wanted to purchase the ingredients, dummies, etc.? What she is asking is totally unprofessional. And what if the fondant she sends is spoiled or tainted? Are you willing to take that responsibility?

I actually had one person ask if I would decorate if she baked the cakes. Um....NO.

You're right Deb, some people really are unbelievable. icon_confused.gif

Deb_ Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 2:06am
post #17 of 36

I just thought of something. She said she gets fondant shipped to the chefs at Sandals all the time, well why aren't the chefs at Sandals making her cake then? I mean they must make fondant cakes if she orders fondant for them.

I know you're excited about the opportunity to make your first wedding cake, but sometimes it's better to follow your gut instincts and pass on the order.

TexasSugar Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 4:21pm
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb_

I know you're excited about the opportunity to make your first wedding cake, but sometimes it's better to follow your gut instincts and pass on the order.




I skimmed most of this post but did read her responce to you wanting the break down. I'd go with what Deb said, sometimes is it better to say no than it is to deal with some people.

Is it not her business how you price your cakes. I don't go into a resturant and ask them for a break down of how much it cost them to buy the food I was eating and the plate it was on and how much they paid the person to cook it. They give me an over all price, and I either except it or I go somewhere else.

My first thought is to tell her that your price is your price, and you don't owe her a break down. My second thought is to just write her back and tell her that you can no provide her with what she wants and that it would be best for both of you for her to find some one else.

I'm also like Deb in wondering if she can order all this fondant and stuff cheaper for Sandels, why they aren't doing the cake?

Stand your ground and do not give her the break down any further.

AngelaM Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 4:37pm
post #19 of 36

Wow, this woman sounds like a huge pain in the a$$. If she's this much trouble already imagine how many other things she'll hassle you over. My 2 cents: Save yourself the inevitable future headaches and tell her you're already booked for that date.

cheeseball Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 5:33pm
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb_

I just thought of something. She said she gets fondant shipped to the chefs at Sandals all the time, well why aren't the chefs at Sandals making her cake then? I mean they must make fondant cakes if she orders fondant for them.

I know you're excited about the opportunity to make your first wedding cake, but sometimes it's better to follow your gut instincts and pass on the order.




Just because the chefs at Sandals order fondant, does not mean they have any idea how to do or the desire to do this kind of cake. I'm sort of in the same sitch as the op; everything has to be shipped in (freakin' expensive) or you make it yourself (and mmf isn't cheap in places where marshmallows are imported - I make it with one of the gelatin based recipes). And since I've been told over and over that "no one in the country does this kind of work", it can be difficult to price it so that anyone can afford it.

Annso, I know you know this icon_lol.gif , but when you live in a place like this, you can get into the "I can get a friend or family member with connections to get it cheaper or they can bring it from the States on their visit" mentality. The bride needs to understand that you're not one of those people icon_twisted.gif I mean, don't come to me with, "I know you're the only one who can do this; by the way, can ya do a Ron Ben Israel design for $100?" icon_rolleyes.gif

tirby Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 5:47pm
post #21 of 36

I have NEVER given anyone a breakdown of cost. EVER!! if they want the cake at the pice I quote the cool. if not then cool. Also you said you are expecting ummm DO YOU NEED THIS STRESS???? please just let her know that IF she would like to place the order great. If not politely say thank you and just walk away....

pattycakesnj Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 6:07pm
post #22 of 36

I agree with everyone else, you gave her a breakdown of costs (which in my opinion I would never do for just those reasons) and now she wants to nickel and dime you. Don't walk away, run

Deb_ Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 9:26pm
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeseball

And since I've been told over and over that "no one in the country does this kind of work", it can be difficult to price it so that anyone can afford it.





You're in the driving seat then if "no one else in the country does your kind of work". You're exclusive, which to me translates to mean not everyone will be able to afford your cakes.

I wouldn't worry about pricing them so "anyone can afford them", I'd charge top dollar so that you become the cake designer that everyone wants ESPECIALLY because nobody else does what you do.

If you make it affordable to all then you're not exclusive any longer.

Same advice goes to the OP....IF you are indeed the only person able to produce this cake for this bride then she should be willing to pay YOUR price.

She doesn't want a simple cake that every other baker on the island can produce, she came to you because only YOU can give her what she wants.

Therefore you're exclusive which dictates exclusive $$$$

this-mama-rocks Posted 17 Feb 2010 , 9:54pm
post #24 of 36

"I'm sorry, it's just not possible for me to do that."

Followed by:

"It sounds like you need the time to find another baker who works at a different price point. I understand, and I do wish you the best of luck."

cheeseball Posted 18 Feb 2010 , 4:36am
post #25 of 36

Hey Deb, let me rephrase "it can be difficult to price so that anyone can afford it" to "it can be difficult to price; is there anyone that can afford it?" icon_lol.gif (as soon as I clicked 'submit' I realized that first post didn't come out the way I meant it)...dontcha worry, I know how rare it is to be in the position I'm in...but I'd like to keep the good karma around me, so I don't abuse it icon_wink.gif

Deb_ Posted 18 Feb 2010 , 1:11pm
post #26 of 36

ahhhh, yes that is true Cheeseball, gotcha now! thumbs_up.gif

djs328 Posted 18 Feb 2010 , 1:30pm
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by this-mama-rocks

"I'm sorry, it's just not possible for me to do that."

Followed by:

"It sounds like you need the time to find another baker who works at a different price point. I understand, and I do wish you the best of luck."




Well said!! icon_smile.gif

If she really wants you to do the cake, she should sign the contract and let you do your job!! UGH....why would she think you are trying to pull one over on her? I think the price you quoted her is VERY reasonable, considering you have to have most items shipped in!!
Good luck!

psmith Posted 18 Feb 2010 , 1:42pm
post #28 of 36

There is something in the fondant thing. I'm guessing the chefs at her resort have already declined to make her cake because they know her too well (bad sign). Her questions show a knowledge of what costs are considered in an estimate and she is really keen on cutting costs to the extent it could compromise your reputation. I wouldn't touch this.

Sagebrush Posted 18 Feb 2010 , 3:00pm
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annso


Anyway after taking all the advise that i got from you guys concerning pricing, I finally came up with a price of E.C $2,450(U.S$917) this includes shipping and hadling.




You gave her a rock bottom price and she still wants to nickle and dime you to death? Or maybe I'm misunderstanding. When you said the fruitcake ingredients would be $600 were you talking E.C. or U.S.?

If that was U.S. $, you gave her an "I can't believe she's not really even charging for labor" price, and she's already making out like a bandit. So, her behavior is definitely 'zilla behavior. She should be jumping for joy that she's getting it for such a low price.

If that was E.C. $, then *whew*! At least you'll be making some profit on it, but her behavior is still odd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annso

I gave her a detailed break down on what she would be spending her money on and this is the response I got.

Thank you.

Could you pleease givce me a futher breakdown of the cost of transportation & Utilities because I can provide the transportation if needed that's not a problem.




Um, yes it is. If she provides the transportation, then what if she damages the cake en route? At the very least I'd have written into the contract that once you turn the cake over to her, you are not responsible for any damages (actually, I'd suggest doing that even if you drop it off, as things can still happen at that point). But even with that in the contract, she could still ruin her own cake and tell everyone at her wedding that it was your fault, and your reputation might never recover from the damage that would cause. If you take care of transporting the cake and setting it up, you can at least get pictures of it in perfect condition at the venue in case she does try to badmouth you or come looking for a refund she doesn't deserve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annso

Also a detail breakdown of the cost of each dummy so I can see if I can get them cheaper and a break down of the shipping and handling fees as if they are posted to my mother - in - law they will be no clearing cost at the post office as she works there

Also the cost of the fondant and how much of it you will need as I ship it in for the chefs at Sandals all of the time.

Thank you




The most detailed you really need to be in giving the bride of cost would be:

Base price per serving for the flavor of cake she chose
+ additional features (like fondant & fillings) per serving
= Total price per serving
* # of servings
= Total base cost of cake
+ any specialty decorations (like gumpaste flowers)
= Total price of cake

Your costs of ingredients, utilities, transportation to get supplies, and labor are for you to know so that you can come up with an appropriate price, not for the client.

Hope that helps

Annso Posted 18 Feb 2010 , 5:56pm
post #30 of 36

Thanks so much for the advice guys. And trust me I am deeply considering turning this one down. Her attitude first came across to me as one of those bossy know it all. When she first called to make the order she asked if I gave samples so I told her that she would have to pay for that. Her response was "well if by any chance you happen to do a cake for someone could you like just save a little that I can taste " icon_confused.gif My husband was like HELL NO! Because cake decorating is definitely what I want to do as my career I tend to be a little weak when comes to dealing with clients.

Quote:
Quote:

You gave her a rock bottom price and she still wants to nickle and dime you to death? Or maybe I'm misunderstanding. When you said the fruitcake ingredients would be $600 were you talking E.C. or U.S.?




Ok let me put it like this, In the caribbean, fruit cake is a delicacy, that's why it is saved for special occasions like weddings and the Holidays. An 8inch fruit cake can cost up to E.C $90 a 10 inch fruit cake is E.C $120. She wants me to do a 16inch x 6" thick cake for her. I gave her an overall charge of E.C $700 for the cake ingredients, Gas, And marzipan that would be needed to go over the fruit cake befor applying fondant.

yesterday I sent her a final email asking whether or not she still wants me to do her cake. She said she would let me know by today. So.... I'll let you guys know what happens.

One Question. How much fondant does it take to cover a 16" x 6" cake?

thanks.

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