Bride on a Budget: Let Them Eat Cake

The search for the right wedding sweets leads to Internet success

Wedding cake is awesome. It’s my favorite part of weddings—my mouth starts to drool a bit when the couple cuts the cake. So I was looking forward to finding our perfect cake. When we started planning, I had no clue that they were so expensive and oddly priced by the slice—$5 doesn’t seem like a lot of money until you multiple it by 150 people.

Matt and I thought about going with cupcakes, but I’m kind of old-fashioned and actually want a cake to cut. I just don’t want to spend a lot of money.

I first contacted bakeries near our reception venue to check their prices. Watergate Bakery charges $4.75 per slice. I asked if there was a way to save money, and they said no. All righty, then! Furin’s in Georgetown suggested cutting a small tiered cake but serving a sheet cake, which sounded great. However, dealing with Furin’s was kind of a hassle because the price of the cake changed every time I talked to them. Plus, when we tried their cakes, I wasn’t madly in love.

Inspired by a cake I’d had in Portland that was from a grocery store, I tried contacting two gourmet groceries here. Balducci’s quoted me $7 per slice for a basic cake. Too high. Wegman’s quoted me about $1 per slice, which was great until we saw pictures of the wedding cakes. They were literally a full sheet cake, half sheet cake, and quarter sheet cake stacked on top of one another. It said more Dora the Explorer than wedding.

A girlfriend recommended that I check with my old friend Craigslist to see if any up-and-coming bakers offered less-expensive cakes. I saw an ad for Lemon Tulip cakes and started e-mailing with Jessica, a stay-at-home mom who likes baking. We agreed to meet to do a tasting and talk about design and price. Jessica said she could do a sheet cake and a small three-tiered cake for $310, including delivery. Amazing!

I was completely sold when we tasted her samples. I loved that we could taste the fresh vanilla bean that she used in the frosting. While we happily munched on our cupcakes, Jessica presented some simple but elegant designs using colors and flourishes from our invitation. Perfect! We found our baker. Another wedding task completed!

Stephanie’s tips:
• Just ask. If you’re trying to save money, ask the bakers their suggestions for saving money. They know ways that they can and can’t cut corners.

• Regardless of where you find your baker, make sure you look at multiple pictures of work they’ve done. Good bakers should have a sample book with lots of pictures for you to look at when you meet with them.

• Be aware of logistics. Our reception is in the evening, but Jessica wants to drop off our cake pretty early in the day, so I had to make sure our reception venue could refrigerate our buttercream cake.

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