Cake, Food & Venue

September 11, 2011  |  Wedding Tips

This past week we’ve been talking about the value you should be getting from each vendor and what you can expect to pay for. Today, we’ll discuss cake, food & venue.


I’ve heard people ask, what makes pricing so different from birthday cakes to wedding cakes? There are a few factors.

1. Stability  – Wedding cakes are normally several tiers. I see the cake bakers carry in each layer of cake on the wedding day and set it up on site. Even one layer of cake is significantly heavy. A lot of attention and knowledge is needed in knowing how to not only create a beautiful cake, but also make sure it’s not slanted or doesn’t topple or cave under the weight. For the most part birthday cakes are one layer and require less concern in this area.

2. Design – You’re grandmother may make the best tasting cake around but if you are looking for a precisely designed cake, it’s best to go with the professionals. I’ve seen brides disappointed with the look of a cake because they chose to go with someone who didn’t have the same design skills. They showed them a picture from a magazine and were told they could make it. There was simply a miscommunication on HOW WELL they could make it to look like the picture.

3. Accessories – Besides the actually cost of cake and labor are brooches, ribbon, sugar flowers. A band of rhinestone beading around the base of the cake layers can be more than $100. And the labor involved in creating one sugar flower can be quite a lot.

NOTE: For a professional wedding cake baker in Acadiana, prices normally start at $3.75 a slice and go up from there, depending on complexity of design.


One of the biggest ticket items of the big day is food and beverage. Here is what’s included (for the most part) in that cost.

1. Food and Beverage – The obvious right? Venues must prepare for the estimated guest count as well as any overages. Ask them their policies. Do they let food run out? Most do not like to run out of much, if anything, as this reflects on their reputation. This means they are not simply getting the exact amount of food. They’re making sure to have a surplus. For the buffet style weddings in South Louisiana, this can be tricky. You may have more people than expected. For a recent wedding, the bride had 100 EXTRA guest show up in attendance. The venue was prepared to handle and had to put in a ton of extra work to make sure guests didn’t even notice.

2. Waitstaff – This is a big one. They go unnoticed a lot but I’ve worked with good ones and bad ones and the difference is remarkable. They refill chafing dishes with food and low stacks of plates. They wait on the bride and groom. They clear dirty dishes from tables and clean up afterward. A staff that is continually bussing tables throughout the event ensures that your stunning room doesn’t look like a dirty kitchen. When glasses start piling up, no one is noticing the centerpieces anymore.

3. Silverware & Dinnerware – Caterers normally have one of three options for silverware and dinnerware 1.) Glass and ceramic dishes, 2.) Plastic or 3.) Nothing, you must rent from a rental company. If you’re caterer has included in their price REAL dishes, you’ve scored. Because this also includes a lovely presentation for guest but also them cleaning the dishes. If you must rent, some caterers don’t assume the roll of busboy and other crews must be hired to do so. Ask before booking what their standard process is and if there are any upgrades. If plastic is included, this can actually be an expensive cost you can be glad not to pay. Plastic plates and silverware can get expensive for large groups.


Some venues have a standard fee just to use the building. In this case, what are you paying for?

1. Labor – Besides meeting with brides before the wedding day, venues must pay to have someone onsite on the wedding day far before the actual event starts. This could be as much as 12+ hours. You’re paying to have that person available if you have any questions or need anything that day. Ask venues if there is a such a person that will be available on your wedding day.

2. Liquor License – Unless you are required to pay for a liquor license, your venue pays hefty fees for the ability for alcohol to be served at their venue.

3. Equipment – From tables and chairs, having these available for no additional fee can add great value to a venue. Your overall venue fee will also ensure that even if chairs, tables, linens are damaged, they will pay to replace it so that you have what you need.

In many cases, venues handle catering and alcohol and in few cases among those, there is no fee at all for the site, just food and beverage costs. Factor this in when looking at prices for venues and caterers. It can make quite a difference. Some venues may have higher food prices but no venue fees and average out cheaper than lower catering cost and a $2,000 rental fee.

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