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The Great Cake Debate

Well, I should ask who debates on cake? I fully admit, one of the greatest perks to my job is I get to eat cake constantly! But one of the newest trends is a dessert buffet, cupcakes or if your really lucky the Viennese hour.

I for one am happy to graze my way through any of these options but first lets delve just a bit further into whats what..


Here you have a gorgeous stand or multiple tiered dessert stands donning delicious little individual sized cakes.

2 observations I have:

1) It is nearly impossible to stop folks from helping themselves. I recently attended a wedding where as the Bride and Groom cut up the dance floor, guests flocked to and helped themselves to the cupcakes. Now the planner in me personally wanted to shoo each and every one of them away, but as a guest it wasn’t my place and I was fairly certain the Bride and Groom were hardly concerned. Though, I felt it was horrible for the guests to take that first bite/cutting moment away from them.

2) People are far more inclined to take multiples, especially if you offer multiple flavors that are openly taunting your guests curiosity, and more vulnerable to theft. Where as a traditional cake is cut and served by the catering team, if extra is available they usually will put it out for guests to grab if they want but only AFTER everyone else has been served.

As a cost-effective approach, really it depends on how you do it. If you treat it like a cake with filling and beautiful frosting and candy or fondant adornments you are pretty much looking at the same cost, now if you or a family friend (bless their hearts!) are planning on making these you can surely cut that cost significantly but really after buying all the ingredients and decorations, piping bags, decorations and boxes for travel it all adds up very quickly!

The Dessert Buffet

Really is there anything more mouth-watering then a table busting with delicious cookies, mini cakes, brownies, dipped berries and bars?

After years of Booking hotel events and catering buffets I can tell you, these can get pricey.

Viennese Hour

For anyone wondering the Viennese Hour is nothing short of an adult version of a real life Wonka Style wonderland.

Traditionally served after dinner, this offers your guests the ultimate of all sugar rushes and ensures no one will leave with an empty stomach (stomach ache…maybe).

This luscious assortment of cakes, cookies, brownies, dipped berries, fountains, pies, éclairs, crème brule and pastries as far as the eye can see. Also, enhanced with an ice cream station, candies, crèmes, truffles and chocolates in case guests were not already in a diabetic coma. If you do plan on this route you cannot forget to add the espresso/cappuccino station or at the very least a gourmet coffee station to aid in the sweet consumption. After all how can you enjoy a plate piled with pastries without a vanilla mocha to wash it down?

I did find this video of my favorite “Cake Boss” creating one.

This video shows you two things:

1) just how elaborate and extensive and elaborate these are

2) that people load up on them, you really have to plan accordingly.

This though an incredible addition to any event has met with some adversity, which we will address in a later post, but man is it something to see and experience.

The Wedding Cake

Some know that there is little I love to do more than enjoy a piece of wedding cake, butter creme or fondant, chocolate or vanilla, I don’t care. Cake is cake and cake is great in my book.

The Debate

Some feel cake is dated and a uneccasry expense, and yes the traditional wedding cake is costly. The days of simple tiered confections are gone and cake design has reached a whole new level with shows like “Cake Boss” and the Food Networks “ Cake Challenge” showcasing just how awesome a bit of sugar, butter, flour, milk and eggs can really transform a cake and event alike. A wedding cake these days is more often a piece of art to enhance the evening then simply something to serve with your coffee. I have been so blessed to feast my eyes upon a $10k wedding cake that simply put was a remarkable feat of handmade sugar roses, perfectly rolled fondant and hand piped perfection. Is this for everyone, absolutely not, but to be respected none-the-less.

What if doing cupcakes was more cost-effective, remember you also have to rent, build or buy the stand for display, they are the same idea: some delicious to look at and enjoy. Though having to decorate 150 of them say verses 1 four tiered cake, do you expect the saving to be huge?

Well, we asked our friends over at Piece of Cake Desserts to price the options for us and here is their price comparison:

Cake (the one pictured below in fact) for 150 guests is $637.50

Masterfully Created by Piece of Cake Desserts, photographer - anonymous

The cost for the filled cupcakes (example pictured below), including top-tier to cut and cupcake stand rental (not pictured) would run $562.50.

Bakery - Unknown, Photography - My Camera Loves You

So really only looking at a difference of $65 bucks, Kevin also included this little gem of information:

“According to The Wedding Report the average wedding is around $19,000 and the average cake is around $430, which is less than 2.3% of the cost… for what continues to be a focal point of the reception. 2.3% for something that everybody notices and talks about seems pretty fair.” Of course, he may be biased but offers a valid point.

The Dessert Buffet, well, now think of it this way. Instead of having a baker make one dessert they are now making 8-12 depending on your selection and enough of each to serve your party of 150 guests? Again, where is the cost effectiveness there? You have to plan that each guest will load up their plate (as shown in the video).

A dessert buffet can easily be 2-4 times the cost of a traditional cake. Then consider the Viennese Hour will easily run you $30- $50++pp if you opted for the Full Dessert Buffet, Sundae Bar and Dessert Action Station (such as crepe table, cherries jubilee, bananas foster).

When it comes down to it, is one better than the other? Well for me dessert is dessert, I will take it in any form I can get it. But really the value lies in you, your fiancé, surely your parents and of course the budget. When deciding what you want to offer make sure you get proposals from at least 3 different established bakeries (or your venue) listing exactly what YOU are looking for so you can make the best decision based on actual costs. One thing to note that the expense for these options will all vary greatly based on your preferences, tastes, style and bakery.

And as for the Viennese Hour, it is not for everyone or every budget and you will have to talk to your caterer, bakery or venue about the costs and planning associated (also to be detailed in a future blog).

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