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Cake or Dessert Bar?

Okay, so we're working on a smaller budget and can't decide if we should do one giant fancy tierd cake, or a tiny 2 tiered cake that only feeds a few people so that we have something pretty to cut for photos, and then have a dessert bar of things like pasteries, mini desserts, candy, etc.

I spoke to a baker in my area and she said she would do our cake for $300, which would feed about 150 people (Our guest list is 190, so this gives room for those who won't eat cake so we don't have a whole tier left over). If we did a dessert bar, we'd get all of the premade things from Sams Club and whatnot, and then probably make some of the things ourselves.

Spending $300 on a cake that a lot of people might not eat is a bit crazy, but I'm worried that the little expenses of a dessert bar when you add up ingredients, foils, stands, toothpicks, mistakes, etc will procceed $300. What do you ladies think? The reception is in a hotel ballroom on a Sunday afternoon.
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Re: Cake or Dessert Bar?

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    tldhtldh member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I'm one of those people who when I go to a wedding, I'm looking forward to the cake more than anything.  No cake, that's the one thing I'm going to remember.  Premade stuff from Sam's club, I am going to side eye.
    image
    AKA GoodLuckBear14
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    edited December 2011
    I think that the time and extra costs involved in doing the dessert bar yourself will be a hassle and not worth it.  If your baker is going to provide the stuff for the dessert bar (desserts/stands/etc) then I'd say go for it. 
    image
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    hz80408hz80408 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    What about doing a tiered cake with smaller diameters and then sheet cakes?

    This way, you're not paying as high a price per piece for the wedding cake...but with small diameter cakes (if you're doing round), then you still get the height of a big cake for pictures, etc.

    Just double check that your venue has room to store the sheet cake.

    I too look forward to the cake at weddings.  I definitely don't think the dessert bar sounds very appetizing, but that's just my opinion b/c I like to bake and store bought desserts typically aren't as good.
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    naomikbnaomikb member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I'm not one to really eat cake at weddings, it's usually messy and too big pieces, and sometimes it's been sliced and sitting out for too long before I get to it.  So although I like it to look at and take the picture with, my vote is for small cake with dessert pastries that I am more likely to eat (assuming they are delicious small pastries, not crappy ones).
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    edited December 2011
    I like the idea above, of a smaller tiered cake for cutting but with sheet cakes for serving.
    That way you can offer a couple of different flavours and everyone gets to eat cake, but you don't have the hassle of a dessert bar.

    If you go the dessert bar route, I'd go with things people can eat without too much muss and fuss. I was at an event recently where the dessert bar was all stuff bought at Cost-Co/Price Club and the items that went the fastest were the chocolate chip cookies, mini brownie bites and mini cinnamon roll bites. The big cakes were almost all left behind in favour of the smaller choices.
    BabyFruit Ticker Me: 37 DH: 40 Married: 7/31/2011 TTC since September 2011 BFP: Nov. 22, 2012 EDD: July 29, 2013
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    edited December 2011
    I voted for one big cake.  I like the idea of everyone eating slices of the same thing, the communalness of it.  You just don't get that with a dessert buffet, and especially one that's just stuff from Sam's Club.  I find it hard to get excited about mass-produced pastries that are the same thing I'd bring for a potluck at work.  If they're homemade or made by your caterer, that's one thing, but mass produced and packaged ones are different.
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    yikeslady04yikeslady04 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    We are going with a dessert table instead of a traditional wedding cake.  While a traditional wedding cake is nice to look at most of the time it goes to waste.  My sister got married last month and most of the slices of cake sat on peoples' plates untouched.  I have polled some friends and co-workers and they have all said dessert bar.  We are on a small budget as well but we are not going to do mass-produced stuff.  It will all come from bakeries but even so it will cost us less than a traditional cake and will be more enjoyed. 
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    kelseydjameskelseydjames member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Okay, I should have been more specific. By Sam's Club, I mean the premade things from Sam's BAKERY, not the stuff out on the shelves.
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    edited December 2011
    I would do a cake, although a Dessert bar would be really neat! With a smaller budget i would say the dessert bar would exceed your budget. I have seen people do different flavors of cake to hopefully satisfy most of the guest at the wedding.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    edited December 2011
    Dessert buffets can be surprisingly affordable.  Do you like to bake?  Bake lots of yummy stuff beforehand that freezes well, supplement with some storebought goodies, and still can have your big, beautiful cake :)
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world... is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." -Lester Banks, Almost Famous
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    kelseydjameskelseydjames member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I love to bake :] So do the women in my family (they want the dessert bar simply because it means they'd get to bake)
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    nonicomnonicom member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I'm all for the dessert bar and think it would be a lot of fun to have family and/or guests bring a goodie on a nice dish, eg, lemon bars.  How could anyone complain about the desserts when they made them :-)
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    edited December 2011
    I didnt vote on the poll. Our desserts are included in our venue and food prices. But we also wanted a cake. So we went for a cupcake cake. Why not have a cupcake cake and have the cupcakes for dessert? You can have a really nice cupcake cake with different fillings. We will have a vanilla cupcake with caramel filling and double choc cupcake with choc mousse and choc chips. Our big top cake will have nougat filling.
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    shannon42810shannon42810 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I have been wanting to do a big over the top cake (even though we are on a smaller budget) and after reading this i got a different idea. I am going to ask My fiance's family to make a few desserts. They would be honored, it would be alot cheaper  and very yummy.
    Good luck on what you decide Smile
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    edited December 2011
    I voted for the smaller cake and dessert bar. I rarely eat cake at weddings anymore because I don't like the flavor the couple has chosen. I like when there is a variety so there is something for everyone. We're going to be doing a variety of cupcakes and a small cake for us to cut and keep for our anniversary.
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    Juliet212Juliet212 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I voted that you should do the smaller cake and the dessert bar. It gives your guests a variety of options and some people would prefer something small (ex. a cookie) then a huge piece of cake. Also, if it's cheaper that way, why not. 

    I am all about giving people options, what you like doesn't mean everyone else will. 

    Good Luck on deciding. =) 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_cake-dessert-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:09841a84-9026-4bed-af4f-f0b20e4ef955Post:6224f8b3-4730-45a0-a85c-d3d3c2673e14">Re: Cake or Dessert Bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm all for the dessert bar and think it would be a lot of fun to have family and/or guests bring a goodie on a nice dish, eg, lemon bars.  How could anyone complain about the desserts when they made them :-)
    Posted by nonicom[/QUOTE]
    Please do not ask your guests to bring a dessert to your wedding to share with others. : /
    image
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    RevangelRevangel member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_cake-dessert-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:09841a84-9026-4bed-af4f-f0b20e4ef955Post:a6dc80c2-08e6-4eef-9b20-0184d2c97e5d">Re: Cake or Dessert Bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Okay, I should have been more specific. By Sam's Club, I mean the premade things from Sam's BAKERY, not the stuff out on the shelves.
    Posted by kelseydjames[/QUOTE]

    But it's still something anyone can buy at Sam's Club, and in my opinion not as special as a full wedding cake. I vote either for a big wedding cake or cupcake cakes. Sounds like if you want variety and something small and convenient, cupcake cakes with a small tier to cut is the way to go. You can get the cupcakes in a variety of flavours for everyone.

    As for getting people to bring in food for the dessert I think that is probably a bad idea but it depends on your family and how they will take it. One thing you need to consider is that your venue might not allow you to bring in home baked goods. I know mine doesn't....they require my baker to be a professional.
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    edited December 2011
    I'm split on this idea ... I love cake, but I can't get away from having it for all of our guests.

    My fiance and I were discussing that we would like to "shake things up" a bit for our wedding ... and possibly do a small, 2-tiered wedding cake and like 250 cupcakes for our guests instead of the traditional HUGE and usually very expensive cake.  We have a lot of people with allergies, preferences and picky appetites so we'd like to appeal to the masses ... as well as the fact that WE ourselves can't choose just one kind of cake!  Although, our cake to cut would probably be carrot with cream cheese filling.  The wedding is a while away so we have time to decide ... but it's still a consideration!
    })i({ })i({ Wedding Countdown Ticker September 3, 2011
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    edited December 2011
    I say dessert bar!  We did an ice cream bar and served waffle cones, three flavors of ice cream and had all sort of toppings.  It was delicious, adorable, cheap, and a BIIIIIG hit.  Not that many people like the wedding cake anyway . . .
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    fallbride1109fallbride1109 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I am one of the ones that when I go to a wedding, I want wedding cake.  So as long as you provide some cake, then fine.  I just attended my boss' wedding and they had a huge dessert bar and I didn't even touch it. 
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    colourzcolourz member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I am not crazy about wedding cake, although it looks pretty. I say dessert bar all the way! And if the women in your family want the dessert bar simply because it means they'd get to bake, I think that's great!!
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    edited December 2011
    I get things from Sams Club for a typical sunday family dinner or bday party- not a wedding. And you definitely need enough cake for at least one slice per person. I purposely don't eat all my dinner so I have room for cake and my whole family does the same. 
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    LauraMC09LauraMC09 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I have to say that whenever I go to a wedding, I'm really looking forward to cake (whether it's a cupcake or regular doesn't matter to me). Since we had our cake tasting, I get cake cravings, especially at weddings. I voted for the dessert buffet, but I would have cupcakes as one of the options.
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    edited December 2011
    Yeah, I have to agree when I go to a wedding I want cake, and I would be very disappointed if it wasn't there (but obviously I'd get over it, as it's not the point!)

    However, I wanted to mention your underserving on your cake - you say you have 150 servings with 190 guests.  I honestly think that is a really bad idea.  Yeah you're probably right that some people won't eat it, but when it comes to something like this wouldn't you rather have left overs than have people you can't serve?? Can you imagine having to say "I'm sorry, we ran out of cake for you"?  I would at least cut the margin a little closer, if it was me.  We're having enough to serve all our guests, even though I am sure we'll have some left over.
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    hmacnairhmacnair member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Personally, I'm not doing a cake for several reasons.  Firstly, the cost.  Normally all wedding cakes are made of fondant and expensive.  Also, Fondant doesn't taste good.  If the $300 cake actually tastes good, then I would consider it, but I refuse to pay that kind of coin for a cake that isn't delicious!

    Also, I don't know about where you're from, but it's a tradtion where I'm from to have the bride and groom hand out the cake personally to guests.  I'm not spending my entire reception handing out cake!

    Finally, and I'd like to ask the girls who are looking forwar to cake: have you ever been to a wedding without one?  I sure have and you know what?  I was too busy having fun to even notice there was no cake.  I only realized that a few months later, when we were at another wedding and the bride and groom couldn't come dance because they were handing out the cake (which was fondant and didn't taste good).

    I think it's really up to you in the end, but don't feel you "need" to have a cake.  You should have what you want to eat for dessert (as you may have not eaten much during the day and will be starving.)
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    edited December 2011
    Not all wedding cakes have fondant.  A great many of them don't.  There are several really popular bakers in my area that refuse to use fondant of any kind, and they're very successful.  Not all fondant tastes bad.  Cheap Wilton fondant tastes awful, but there are many other brands that are actually good.  And either way, there's pretty much always going to be a layer of buttercream underneath it to keep the fondant in place.

    When I'm at weddings, I really do look forward to the cake and would sorely miss it if it weren't there.  It's a highlight, and if done well, can help make the whole event come together both as a piece of artwork and as a dessert.

    It would, however, suck to have to hand all the cake out personally.  At our reception, we're going to just have the caterer put the plated slices on a table and let everyone get their own, since we're having 4 different flavors and we want people to choose the flavor they like best.

    It's all a matter of taste.  Some people really like the taste of Sam's Club or grocery store cake.  Some people, like me, can't stand it unless it's made from scratch.  All cakes are not equal.  My FI and I even went to a tasting where the baker openly admitted to using the grocery store mix that bakeries buy by the drumfull and didn't make any of the fillings from scratch (also from gallon cans grocery stores buy) - and it showed.  Her decorating was beautiful, but the cake tasted cheap. 

    Anyway, I guess my point is that a cake will probably be missed by someone if it isn't there, even if you don't care yourself, and that you can't generalize about all cakes, fondants, and what people will or will not care about based on your own preferences.
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    colourzcolourz member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I have been to weddings were there was no cake and nobody seemed to notice. I've also been to weddings where they served the wedding cake along side a dessert bar. I found that very few chose the wedding cake, but were excited about the choice of pastries and fruit.
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    edited December 2011
    I had both the big cake and the dessert buffet (and a gourmet coffee bar--Hubby and I wanted our guests to have happy bellies full of yummy food, the caliber of wine, beer, and spirits we would serve in our own home, and copious amounts of caffeine and sugar.  Mission accomplished :)  While it may seem like a tremendous faux pas to some Knotties, I did ask some family members to bring some cookies for the dessert buffet.  They told me they were honored to do so and seemed genuinely happy to contribute.  Of all the fancy pies and pastries on the buffet, the homemade cookies were the first to go because they were SPECTACULAR.  This was not a choice influenced by finances (we could have bought everything from the wonderful bakery that made our cake), but I loved having another way to involve the most important people in my life in the most important day of my life (so far).   
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world... is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." -Lester Banks, Almost Famous
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    kelseydjameskelseydjames member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    My family is the same way! So many people whine about how about a wedding is "not a potluck" but that's how my family does it.
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