The first and most important thing to remember is to be honest and clear about the budget you have in mind. If you’re having a bakery prepare the cake, be sure to tell them about your budget concerns up front at the tasting. Some bakeries also have price minimums, so it’s a good idea to get the cost issue squared away first.
“When I ask my [clients] about their budget, I’m not asking this to see how much I can get out of them,” says Keli Fayard, the coowner and chef at Vanille Patisserie in Chicago. “I’m asking this so I can design a cake that they will love and they’ve budgeted for. I like to come up with a design that includes a splash of color and a little wow-factor yet still falls within their preferred price range.”
When planning the cake of your dreams, the general rule is that the more time-intensive it will be to make, the more it will cost. This means adding flavors, tiers, or even changing the shape from round to square will increase the cost. Heavy use of fondant icing or sugar flowers also can bump up the price, as can custom colors if the decorator chargers for hand coloring.