Though the starting costs for a three-tier custom wedding cake can be anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 or more, Traci O’Donnell only paid $500 for her daughter, Kelsey Rader’s wedding cake.
But when Rader sliced into the concoction on her big day, the center contained only polystyrene foam. It was a fake cake—a trend catching on at weddings and other events for their cost savings. While a fake cake uses real icing and fondant and can be just as elaborately decorated as any real cake, the inner structure of each layer is anything but edible.
When it comes time for the all important cake cutting ceremony, with a fake cake there are two options: A pre-cut knife slit allows the couple to play make-believe, and a slice of real cake is brought from the kitchen for face-stuffing photo ops. Another option is having real cake served as the top tier so the couple can enjoy cutting it. Eitherway, the fake cake can be whisked away to the kitchen and a cheaper, less decorative sheet cake can be served to guests.
Related story on Yahoo Makers: How to Save Hundreds on Your Wedding Bouquet
Elizabeth Pietila of Ultimate Fake Cakes in Howell,Michigan, started making fake wedding cakes five years ago. Pietila, a stay-at-home mom to seven, loves baking and creative cake decorating and frequently shared her treats with staff at her children’s school. Says Pietila, “One day, a teacher asked me to “bake” a cake for her wedding but she wanted it made out of Styrofoam and covered with real icing.” Now over 500 plus cakes later, her business has really taken off making cakes for both local, national, and international clients. Shared Pietila, “I thought if I could make a fake cake for local people, why can’t I do this all over?”
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Fake cakes aren’t just for weddings either. Two thirds of Pietila’s business is weddings, but another third comes from other events such as bar mitzvahs, sweet sixteen parties, and corporate engagements. The substantial cost savings of a fake cake, even with the purchase of behind-the-scene sheet cakes, can be significant.
“I had one bride who couldn’t believe the cost savings. My quote for her cake was $200, she was quoted $1,200 for a real cake of the same size. Even with the cost of a sheet cake (and a fake cake) she saved nearly $800,” says Pietila.
Cost was a big motivator for mother of the bride Traci O’Donnell. Using a fake cake for her daughter Kelsey’s wedding “worked out amazing. No one knew. People who stood on top of the cake didn’t know. The funniest thing was, when the cake was being carried off one of Kelsey’s friends commented, ‘Holy cow look at that guy he is carrying that cake as if it were nothing.’”
There are other advantages to a fake cake. Brides are able to preview the cakes before the big day, and even follow the progress of their cake’s creation. Most brides don’t get to see their cake until the day of the event.
There can also be additional cost savings after the event. O’Donnell sold her daughter Kelsey’s cake and was able to recoup a fair amount of the price paid. But she kept her daughter Morgan’s cake to pass on to another daughter marrying in 2016. “I am hoping to have Liz (Pietilla) alter Morgan’s cake for my daughter Brittany,” says O’Donnell.
With the designer look and extreme cost savings any bride can have their cake without needing to eat it.