Cheapest I found was at Hobby Lobby now for $40-40% coupon= $24+tx. Like I said, there was a blue kid's version that works just fine.
No pro bakery here, so not worth the investment for the "real" thing for me.
I bought a kid's version specifically for a Bud Light can cake. It worked great. I just used it to line up and scale well, and locate items on the can. So kind of a combo "free hand" and trace. With a coupon, I may have paid $20. (JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby I think)
For us Americans that is 110 inches by 55 inches, more or less. So 6,050 square inches of cake. If it is a sheet cake, 2 inches high, and party-sized portions of 1.5 in. x 2 in (3 square inches) . or smaller wedding-sized portions of approximately 1 in. x 2 in (2 square inches) that is
2,017 "party" servings OR 3,025 "wedding" servings. YIKES!
I agree with the PP to be sure to check their budget is there before you get too involved. I can hear it now,...
I have a concern about "simple decorations". Like a PP said, you may get some crazy person that wants a "simple" carved 3D car that shots sparks out the tailpipe. I would-1. Donate a smaller cake. Not many parties for 50-60. 2. State- choose from the examples above or "baker's choice". That way YOU get to set the limits and won't spend 10 hours and 50 emails "designing" their free cake. 3. I would specify "normally priced at $XXX" in the description but NOT in the...
1. Level, straight sides cake.
2. Smooth buttercream or ganache layer
3. Mist slightly
4. Cover with fondant
Fondant DOES NOT cover mistakes in the underlying structure. Work with a little thicker fondant to help "learn" the feel of it, then you can go thinner (and cheaper).
Fondant requires kneading to make it workable. Work with premade fondant until you get the feel of it, and then you can try to make your own.
OP- this is what most decorators charge in the way of a small difference between "real" and "fake" cake. Real cake ingredients cost money, fake dummies do too- no savings.Mixing/ baking/ clean up--- fake savings here (In the above example- $100)Decorating and icing- no savingsDelivery- no savings. How does the bride "on a budget" actual save by having "fake"? She is actually buying TWO cakes instead of one!
It is interesting who expects a "free upgrade". When getting a "donation" or a "gift"--- you get what you get including cake wrecks and box sheet cakes with a can of frosting on top (maybe with funfetti sprinkles!).
If they want to grand custom cake, cookies, cuppies, whatever--- hand them a bill!