“Certainly. One of our caramel and chocolate drip cakes costs £25.” The cake shop owner blinks and clamps the phone beneath her ear. “Oh, it’s for your wedding? Congratulations! Our wedding cakes start at £100. The caramel and chocolate drip wedding cake itself is £125.” She moves to a cake display, removes the ‘Happy Birthday’ topper from one creation and adds a ‘Just Married’ topper in its place. “Well, you want it to be special for your big day, don’t you, dear?”
This is a piece of fiction, but once you start looking into supplies for your wedding it’s easy to imagine this scenario happening behind the scenes. Weddings command a premium, in a kind of self-perpetuating cycle. The couple gives themselves a large budget because ‘weddings are expensive’. The wedding suppliers know that people give themselves large budgets for their weddings so they increase their prices. And so on and so forth.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Take off your wedding goggles. Like beer goggles, they distort our perception. Ask yourself if the cost of something would be reasonable if you weren’t buying it for your wedding.
Let’s look at an example in cakes. My husband and I bought the following cake from Waitrose, and it was delivered on the morning of our reception:
It’s a plain madeira sponge with a layer of jam and buttercream, and the key thing here is it was advertised as an ‘undecorated celebration cake’. Yet it is covered in white icing with a white satin ribbon around the bottom. As a minimalist, I consider that to be suitably decorated for a wedding. The cake costs £16 and serves 20-30 people.
Now, if we look at Waitrose’ wedding cakes, their smallest similar one is this, which serves 55-65 people and is also madeira sponge with a layer of jam and cream:
It costs £129. We’ve gone from around 50p per serving to around £2, because we’re wearing wedding goggles. You could buy two of the cheaper ones, serve 60 guests, and save yourself £97. Is it really worth paying nearly an extra £100 because it comes with dowels and ‘looks’ like a wedding cake?
Personally, we didn’t want a cake that big anyway. We bought the smaller and much better value one and served a variety of other tasty desserts alongside it for our 50 guests using the money we saved on buying a ‘wedding cake’. Of course, if you’re a real die-hard minimalist, consider if you even need a cake at all. There’s no law to say that one must present a baked confection in order to ratify one’s wedding vows.
My challenge to you is this; find substitutes. Don’t automatically look in the ‘wedding’ section. Make it into a bit of a game and enjoy not following the herd.