Cakes

Wedding Cake Guide

What to know when dealing with a baker

1. You don't see wedding cakes in your favorite bakery's windows? Ask if they make them and be sure to see photos of their work.

2. Good bakers are snapped up fast, so plan on booking one at least three to six months before the date.

3. Once you commit, they'll most likely need a deposit up front (as much as 50 percent of the total cost).

4. Live far from an urban area but want a world-class cake? No problem. "I've shipped cakes as far away as the Philippines," says Jan Kish of La Petite Fleur in Columbus, Ohio. "The cake had to change planes three times!" Ask for assembly instructions.

5. Some bakers will visit the reception site to ensure that the cake complements its surrounding.

6. Vegan and gluten-free cakes are no longer on the fringe, but they do cost extra because of the more expensive alternative ingredients like chestnut and rice flours.

7.You'll save money by using fresh fruit and nontoxic flower decorations instead of labor-intensive handmade sugar flowers.

8. For couples who want a towering cake but have a small guest list, bakers will do "artistic tiers"—Styrofoam forms iced to look like real cake, for a charge of about $75.

9. Depending on ingredients and decoration, prices vary per serving, from $2.50 (a standard cake made from a mix) to $20 (a custom design baked from scratch).

10. If you use your in-house caterer's pastry chef, you'll eliminate delivery charges and the cake-cutting fee, which averages $3 per slice.

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