I’ve spent this weekend at a wedding in Suffolk and had the chance to watch a craftswoman at work! Betty had offered to make her cousin and his wife their wedding cake as their wedding gift. They were delighted to accept and had a particular idea about what they wanted – three tiers of chocolate cake covered in white chocolate cigarellos and white roses. You can see the end result below:
How much do you think that cake is worth? Go on, what you reckon? £100? £200? £300? £400? Annoyingly I’m not going to give you the answer – mostly because I don’t know. Depending on where you live, and the quality of ingredients you’d like used, that cake could easily cost you anything between £200-500.
A few years ago I made my little sister’s wedding cake – she’s got modest tastes (not) and wanted four tiers. The bottom tier was fruit cake, followed by double chocolate cake, victoria sandwich and topped with lemon drizzle cake. Her husband is in the Army and she met him at Army Cadet Summer Camp (she was an adult instructor – nothing dodgy) hence the camouflage ribbon and little hearts. You can see it here:
What I can tell you is that the ingredients alone cost over £150 – I’m not a professional and don’t have access to suppliers for the things you need, so the ingredients were all from Sainsburys – yes I could have got them in Tesco or Lidl but it was a one off and my sister at that, so money was no object. So the ingredients alone – cake, marzipan, icing, dowels, cake boxes, ribbon, cake tin hire for the HUGE fruit cake – were over £150. Cost in the time, gas and stress and that cake was easily worth double that I’d say. Not to mention the number of times I did a dry run of all but the fruit cake.
The thing is when people get quotes for wedding cakes they nearly always think they’re extortionate – and to be honest I think I’d always sniff at a couple hundred quid and feel it was daylight robbery, after all anyone can bake a cake right. Well not so actually. The baking is only the first step, then there’s the icing, and the decorating, and the transporting, and the stacking, and the finishing. It really is much more complicated than you think. All of this is time consuming like you wouldn’t consider.
None of this even starts to consider the stress. The responsibility of making the centrepiece for someone else’s special day, takes a lot of the fun out of it. Watching Betty cutting, icing, stacking and decorating the wedding cake this weekend reminded me of just how stressful it is. Never again. Seriously. I did offer to help Betty out with her own cake (she’s getting married in three weeks) but she declined – and I am *so* relieved. Betty, in her real life, is a paramedic, so she’s trained to cope with stress and work under pressure – she is definitely more adept at it than I am.
My final thought is that the value of a friend or relative making your wedding cake is something that you can’t actually buy or put a cost on – it’s love, it really is a *massive* labour of love. So if you’re getting married any time soon, and someone offers to bake your wedding cake for you, please do accept, but accept graciously and spare a thought for the effort, time, cost and love that goes into it.
It’ll taste all the better once you appreciate the love that has gone into it.