Welcome to week 7 of our Wedding on a Budget series. We’ve already discussed saving money on your reception, but today I wanted to specifically address tips for saving money on your wedding cake. You wouldn’t think that flour and sugar could end up being extremely expensive. But the cost of a wedding cake arises from the skill and time that it takes for a pastry chef to construct it for you.

Wedding cakes can be architectural wonders. Anyone who has seen the wedding cake challenges on the Food Network knows that pastry chefs can invent the most fantastic cakes that seem to defy gravity. However, the more extraordinary the cake looks, the more it is going to cost.

In addition to these monumental towers of cake and fondant, the latest trend in cakes is lots of color and individualized personality. Forget your plain, white wedding cakes of the past. These days, bright colors and unique designs are all the rage. So are “mini-cakes” and cupcakes, often at $20 a piece.

Want to save a bundle on your reception? Skip the cupcakes and the celebrity chefs. In their book Wedding Bargains, Denise & Alan Fields suggest you check with your local grocery store’s bakery or look for independent bakeries and pastry chefs in your area in order to save money on your wedding cake. Sure, it would be a dream to have Chef Duff from Ace of Cakes design your wedding cake. But you’re going to blow your entire $2000 budget (and more) if you do that.

Denise and Alan offer five tips for interviewing pastry chefs:

1. Ask for pictures of previous wedding cakes they’ve made.
2. Are there any extra charges, such as delivery, decorations, etc? Get a detailed break down of everything that you will be charged for.
3. Conduct a taste test at every bakery you visit.
4. Will they decorate the cake with fresh or silk flowers?
5. How far in advance is the cake prepared?

Just like every wedding vendor you interview, make sure to get all the details in writing, get clarification on their cancellation policy, and be sure to pay any sort of deposits with a credit card.

Here are some additional tips from Denise and Alan to help you cut your cake costs:
1. The old cake switcheroo – Have the bakery provide you with a “display” cake for the pictures, then have it wheeled back into the kitchen. Instead of cutting the display cake, just serve your guests a simple sheet cake.
2. Don’t have your caterer do the cake. They’ll charge more for this service than a bakery would.
3. Order less cake than the number of guests.
4. Keep the decorations simple. Use silk or fresh flowers instead of sugar ones that the chefs have to create themselves.
5. More height = more money.
6. Nix the cupcakes.

A fancy wedding cake might look great in pictures. But honestly, by this point in the day you’re either going to be too drunk or too tired to really care what kind of cake you’re cutting into. So keep it simple and save yourself a boatload of money in the process. Trust me. When you’re looking at the credit card statement after you get back from the honeymoon, you’ll be glad you did.

Photo credit: stock.xchng