Aug. 11, 2010, 7 a.m. by SMARTBRIDE

Wedding Advice: Budget-Friendly Wedding Cake & Dessert Options for Your Reception


When you think of weddings you think of many things, the dress, the venue, the invite list, the music, the flowers and of course the cake.

What can I say about "the cake"? I use quotation marks because it is one of THE things that go into making a fabulous wedding. It is one of THE things that all brides covet. A wedding just wouldn't be the same without a cake. Or would it?

Butterfly Orchid Wedding Cake

This image is courtesy of Pink Cake Box

Before I continue my thoughts I would like to preface by saying I have had the honor of working with some of the greatest wedding cake designers in the industry such as Sylvia Weinstock, Ron Ben-Israel, The Cake Studio NYC, Premier Pastry, Pink Cake Box, Charm City Cakes and TLC's the "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro.

All are fabulous, all do exquisite work, and all of their desserts taste delish with each cake looking like a sculpted work of art. Obviously they're all doing something right because they've been around a long time and show no signs of quitting any time soon.

The Great Cake Debate

However, I must be honest and admit that as a planner I am not impartial to the wedding cake debate. For many years both personally and professionally I have felt a cake has its place and its place isn't always at a wedding. That's not to say you shouldn't have one, but that is to say it's not always necessary. Now before you go throwing cake in my face, let me explain.

Had you asked me a few years ago (as your planner) what my opinion was about the cake I would have told you that yes, you must have a cake. Everyone has one and it's a tradition you shouldn't break away from. Looking back I can now say it was a pretty lame explanation. What's more is that within the last two years I have noticed an ever growing trend with my clients in that they no longer desire "the cake".

Have Brides Lost Their Longing for Traditional Wedding Cake?

There are many reasons that today’s brides don’t have that longing for the perfect cake anymore, but the main reason is that there is always so much uneaten cake left over. For as long as I can remember the cake was the one remaining food item at the end of the night. The bar ran dry and the plates were cleared, but the cake was always untouched.

So, when I started being honest with my clients about how I felt about “the cake”, they were honest about how they felt. They felt it wasn't worth the cost, they hated seeing the cake wasted, they didn't want to do the traditional cake cutting (some thought it was lame or too "showy") and others wanted something more fun.

4 Ways to Shrink Your Cake & Costs

  1. Have A Smaller Cake. I had a client looking for a more affordable dessert option, so I spoke to the venue and negotiated the dessert at a lower cost. The client then chose to do a small cake that only served 25 people and cut the cake for the (ever traditional) cake cutting ceremony and then served the rest the next day to their 15 brunch guests.

  2. Have A Variety of Desserts. If you absolutely insist on a cake for the traditional cake cutting ceremony, an alternative is to order a smaller cake (maybe enough to feed half of your guests) and then have other dessert options to choose from. Give your guests a selection of desserts that they wouldn’t normally have the chance to enjoy on any regular day.

    Pink Cake Box Cake

    This image is courtesy of Pink Cake Box

  3. Try a Trick Cake. I had another client looking for an affordable option, but her mom was not willing to give up on the idea of a large cake on display. So, I spoke to the venue and completely negotiated the cake out and upgraded their entrée a bit. I then spoke to the cake designer and asked if she could do a simple four tiered cake with an edible bottom layer and three false upper layers. There were sheet cakes ready in the kitchen that were later served to the unknowing guests.

  4. Why not Cupcakes? Another option is a cupcake buffet. This will not only lower your cost, but it is also a fun and playful alternative to the conventional cake.

Pink Cake Box Cake

This image is courtesy of Pink Cake Box

Reinventing Tradition

The idea here is to reinvent the traditional wedding cake. Be creative, have fun and speak to your cake designer about what you want. I’m not here to put these people (cake designers) out of business, but I am saying "be original"!

Many bakeries and cake designers are now doing cupcakes, cookies, and mini-treats that will make you want to join Jenny Craig. Do what makes you feel happy! Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too...without actually having “the cake”.

About Shawn Rabideau Events & Design:

Shawn Rabideau Events & Design is a one-of-a-kind firm that believes the client comes first. Always elegant, innovative and classic, Shawn makes the event yours. From location to colors and flowers, everything that Shawn does reflects your personality. Combining full-service event production and lifestyle planning with Shawn’s affinity and passion for floral, Shawn Rabideau Events & Design creates immaculate events, from intimate dinners to large-scale corporate events that speak volumes about you.

More from Shawn Rabideau

  1. How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Rehearsal Dinner