By Kara Buntin, owner of A Cake To Remember LLC
I’ve been having a lot of brides ask about doing dessert buffets, but they usually mention that it’s because it will be cheaper than getting a large wedding cake. That isn’t necessarily true…
When I got married I did a dessert buffet, but it was by no means cheaper than buying a wedding cake. Unless you get cheap cakes and cheap cupcakes, which will probably not be eaten because they’re cheap and taste that way, the cost will probably be the same, if not more.
When you estimate servings for a wedding cake you should get about 80% of the number of guests for the number of cake servings. So if you have 100 guests, you should plan on having about 80 cake servings. Some people don’t eat cake, others are busy drinking and don’t want any, some are dancing, etc. 80% will be all you need.
(I’m going to get yelled at for saying this, but I’ve heard a lot of bakers say that you should get a serving for each guest…well, sure, that puts more money in their pockets, but every venue manager I’ve ever spoken to says that they have cake left over when the bride buys that much. I personally feel that you should get as much as you need, and you’ll never need 100% of the guest count. I’d rather have all the cake eaten instead of having a lot left over.)
Anyway, when you have a wedding cake, the venue coordinator is usually the one who cuts and serves the cake. They know how to cut the cake and they know how to do the RIGHT SIZE FOR ONE SERVING. That’s the key here. Someone who’s cutting the cake knows how to cut it so that you’ll have enough for the guests who want it.
If you have a dessert buffet, it’s just that, a buffet. Think about how much people eat when they have the opportunity to serve themselves. They won’t take one piece of one type of cake, they’ll take pieces of a few different things. That just means that if you have 100 guests, you’ll have some who don’t have any dessert, but you’ll have others who serve themselves WAY more than they need.
If a bride wants this kind of setup, she should plan on having at least 100% of the number of guests for servings of whatever is on the table, if not more. This is going to raise the price of whatever you’re buying, just from the amount that you have to buy.
The setup is also going to be more complicated, so keep in mind that you’ll need to have serving plates for each dessert. That adds to the cost as well.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a dessert buffet, I certainly would be happy to do pies or cookies for a nice display if a bride wanted that. However, don’t look at it as a cost-saver, necessarily. If price is the major factor for you compare the prices of everything before you make a decision. If the variety is the major factor then definitely go that route, but be prepared to allow for it in your budget since it could be more expensive than you think!