Wedding Cakes: Buy Or Rent?

When weddings cost as much as one year of college, brides and grooms start to wonder why they should pony up $250 for a wedding cake when they can rent a beautiful model for just $100.

The inside of a faux wedding cake crafted by Fun Cakes contains mostly plastic foam, with a secret spot reserved for a slice of real cake to be shared by the bride and groom…
“The only difference is the inside. Nobody can tell,” said Kimberly Aya, whose 3-month-old company also bakes real cakes.

The savings from a rented wedding cake could buy a wedding dress at Target. Is it worth it? Tell us in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Budget Brides and Grooms Rent ‘Fake’ Wedding Cakes [ABC 7]
(Photos: Manassas Cakery)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Chicago7 says:

    Oh, come ON! Fake wedding cake? That’s a strong footing to put you marriage on. Geez.

    Besides, I LOVE wedding cake. Especially frozen, a week later. Mmmmmmmm, frozen wedding cake.

  2. Chicago7 says:

    Throw an “r” up there after “you”, please.

  3. ironchef says:

    culinary students can do it $100.
    They are itching for portfolio pieces.

    Or do a smaller cake. and serve the slices from an inexpensive sheet cake in the back room.

  4. ironchef says:

    Culinary students can do a real cake for $100

  5. GirlGoneRiled says:

    I don’t get why people are so in love with the “wedding in a can” idea. If a couple can’t afford a cake, don’t wish to have a cake or whatever, why go the faux route at all? Why not just simply NOT have a cake and offer something else if dessert is all that important? People are so afraid to veer from this one-size-fits-all wedding concept and it’s a damn shame. Sure, the white dress, diamond ring and multi-tier cake are now “tradition” but at one time they were newish things. Maybe if someone brides and grooms had more guts/imagination, we’d have something new on the wedding horizon instead of everyone attending the same wedding over and over and over, only changing the names.

  6. dohtem says:

    I know of a girl that would dump me if I ever suggested such a thing. :(

    The perfect fairy tale wedding a woman sees in her head should not be messed with.

  7. mopar_man says:

    If you’re spending “as much as one year of college” on a wedding, I’m sure you can cut something else out that’s slightly less important. I mean, saving $150 on a cake? Big deal. Look around on Ebay and save money on the bride’s dress. My wife got a $2800 dress for less than $100 because it was a display model. There’s your savings to buy a REAL cake.

  8. lemur says:

    For our wedding, a friend made the “official” wedding cake and my wife made the “groom’s cake”. Both were very nicely made and did not cost us an arm and a leg. But then again, our entire wedding was designed to be reasonably priced.

  9. ironchef says:


    typical cakes run $750 or higher for a 100 person wedding in Southern California.

  10. Codis says:

    $250 for a wedding cake? I’ve only been to two weddings, the first one featured a $1200 cake and the second an $8,000 cake. Thats right 8K. I was with the groom when his fiance called him and told him the price of the cake. His head looked like it was going to explode!

  11. They Call Me Dan says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but we had, MAYBE, 1 bite of our cake…and it was THE bite that everyone watched. We never really had the chance to sit down and enjoy it, and though I can’t endorse getting a “fake” cake, making your own or finding someone in your family to make one is a great option.

    Besides, you’ll never eat it all, and in a year, it will STILL taste like sawdust when you take it out of the freezer.

  12. badteaparty says:

    I’m getting married in September, and I’m floored by the items and services that people just blindly accept that they “must have”. With almost 200 guests we’re not exactly having a bargain basement affair, but we put our whole budget into a nice location and a good caterer with non-standard wedding food. We’re not having cake because we prefer other desserts. We’re renting a sound system and mixing our own dance and cocktail music on itunes, and not having a photographer, just relying on our friends and families to get some good shots. We’re not having flowers, I think they’re a total waste of money. We’ll put little candles or something on the tables. Ditto for wedding favors, and all the other million tchochkes that this industry uses to separate you from your house down payment. No chauffered vehicles – we’re driving ourselves. I got a dress at for $240, which still seems like a lot for a dress I’m only going to wear for a few hours. Of course if any of this stuff is terribly important to you, as food was to us, by all means go for it. Just don’t think you need to buy the whole package. In a beautiful spot, with good food, drink and music, I know everyone will have a good time. And if our budget was lower still, and we did it at a community center with potluck food, the same would be true. It’s over in 5-6 hours, whatever you do.

  13. shdwsclan says:

    Damn…what a ghetto wedding….only two peices….
    I just see one of the guests destroying the cake because they try to cut one of the foam pieces for themselves….

    It isnt fooling anyone, they have to announce it, because people would try to cut the foam….

    They’ll be like….”May i have your attention please, there is are only 2 pieces of cake because were so po’ we should even be married…, thankyou”

  14. mopar_man says:


    Incredible. No wonder I don’t live there. Everything is expensive. My wife and I had about 200 guests at our wedding. I think a 3-tier cake and a big sheet cake was $250, with 3 different flavours for each tier and the sheet cake being white/chocolate marble.

  15. Arlahna says:

    The real question is, does a $250 wedding cake taste good? At my wedding last September, my cake cost $850 for 100 people. It was absolutely gorgeous and the best damn cake anyone at our wedding had ever had! They said so! And they weren’t just humoring us!

    There were 4 tiers and 4 layers in each tier. Chocolate cake topped with chocolate mousse topped with hazelnut dacquoise topped with caramel mousse mixed with caramelized apples topped with hazelnut dacquoise topped with chocolate mousse and finally topped with chocolate cake. It RULED!

    So if you’re in Snohomish County (north of Seattle) and want the best wedding cake in the universe, well, short of cutting off an arm and a leg for a cake from Mike’s Amazing Cakes in Redmond, you HAVE to go with Judy Tallant of Tallant House. Google it, she’s got a website and she totally lives up to her name.

  16. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Weddings are the biggest waste of money, period. The only people that really want it are the women. I’m pretty sure 99% of guys would be happy going without it.
    Thankfully I have a very cool wife who agrees with that and we did the trip to Vegas for a 9 minute ceremony and a week of partying. :)

  17. Exek says:

    Now I’ve come to realize the last wedding I went to had a fake cake. I always thought it was weird that they were serving us cake in little boxes not from the cake that was cut up from the bride and groom cut into. Thanks! consumerist now I can call them up and make fun of them.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    imho, wedding time is calling in favor time. tap the grandmas & aunts (& uncles even – if they bake). the weddings i’ve been to w/ “family/friend involvement” have been the best (& to be honest, i’ll take home cooking over an $8K cake any day). plus, it’s a great way to spread around some of that joy.

  19. missdona says:

    I just went through the wedding-thing last year. We cut a lot of corners: I borrowed the veil, got my dress online, got the favors on ebay, had a good-sized Vegas wedding with guests, drinks, dinner, dancing, flowers etc.

    The one expense that was outside of my standard package was the photographer. I had to have great wedding pictures, and I wasn’t going to rely on the chapel’s photographer.

    Oh, and my hair and makeup. I couldn’t have done it without professional hair and makeup. My makeup was applied at 3:00pm and lasted past midnight.

  20. acambras says:

    I swear, when I saw the headline for this post, I had to glance at the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.

    The prices cited by some of the commenters make me want to bake my own damn cake.

  21. alterboy says:

    We opted not to have a cake, but at 100 bux i might have sprung for one of these and just got sheet cake for the people not in the wedding party. We went super cheap and got away with a 2k wedding. I just couldn’t fathom spending anything more than 100 bux on cake. I was not about to have a wedding that cost more than my car or almost a year of rent.

  22. superlayne says:


    I don’t want to get married. I’m reading over prices, and all I can think about is all the hundreds of video games 8 thousand dollars could buy instead of a cake.

  23. deweydecimated says:


    um, i am going to give you the ‘total advice from a stranger’ bit…. my husband and i arranged our wedding on the ‘i still have a semester of grad school left’ budget. a friend insisted on taking our pictures as her present to us. imagine our surprise when she showed up with a point-and-shoot 35mm (this was before you’d want to photograph importand events on digital – oh, ancient times indeed.) the *only* thing i regret about our wedding is not getting at least a minimal professional package.

  24. @lawnmowerdeth: “The only people that really want it are the women. I’m pretty sure 99% of guys would be happy going without it. “

    Pfft. My husband and father were both way into it.

    But it wasn’t some bridezilla festival o’ selfishness — it was a SERIOUS RELIGIOUS CEREMONY followed by a once-in-a-lifetime party with everyone we’re related to. (And yes, it was big. My parents were going to do it up style, BY GOD, if they were throwing the family event of the year.)

    Who’s “into” the wedding planning depends a lot on whether you’re planning a big perfect party focused on some chick wearing white, or a major life event with everyone you love.

  25. VA_White says:

    Ok, I had a dummy layer in our cake. Why? Because the cake I picked out was gorgeous and delicious but the bottom layer alone was big enough for the entire guest list. The cake would never have been as beautiful if it was only one big layer.

    So the bakery suggested we use a dummy styrofoam layer for the bottom and real cakes for the top three layers. That way I could have the big pretty cake I wanted without paying for twice as much cake as I needed. She charged me $25 for the dummy layer and everyone was happy.

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Our cake was not ostentatious but with such a small wedding, even a tiny layered cake would have been way too much cake. Using a dummy layer was the perfect solution.

    And hubby and I have been married almost 15 years so this isn’t a new thing.

  26. TPIRman says:

    @deweydecimated: I agree. I got married last year, and we had a pretty but modest wedding. We had the ceremony + reception in a natural setting to obviate the need for flowers, had a family friend cater, etc. But we made sure to hire a good photographer, and I’m so glad we did. We’ll never have all those friends and family members in one place again, and I’ll probably never look as good again as I did in my wedding suit. Might as well have some decent photographs.

  27. @badteaparty: Re photographers — you might check some local student newspapers at colleges. A lot of the student photographers are DELIGHTED to make $100, $150 shooting your wedding and reception. You generally have to pay for the film and developing/printing is your cost as well, but a lot of those kids are pretty talented and will do a really nice job.

    “We’re not having flowers, I think they’re a total waste of money. We’ll put little candles or something on the tables. Ditto for wedding favors”

    We did the same because I’m direly allergic to flowers. :) Allow me to suggest (more advice from a total stranger)! We got white tapers in lengths from 6″ to something like 18″ (huge) and stood them in groups of about 8 in the center of each table as a centerpiece. Looked way elegant and was very inexpensive. (We must have rented the candleholders.) For placecards AND favors, we got cylindrical votive candle holders (about 2 1/2″ tall, try a religious supply store for lower prices), put a tealight in each one, and printed names on vellum-ish paper in some scripty font, which were then cut out and wrapped around each glass votive cylinder (and taped). They made very pretty placecards with the light flickering behind them and nice “favors” for people to take home.

  28. deweydecimated says:

    isn’t it funny how you learn so much when planning your own wedding, but then realize if all goes well, you’ll never use that skillset again?

    we saved on flowers by using live green plants on the tables, in nice little chinese foral pots. they made for nice giveaways – my parents still have theirs, 9 years later. we felt the symbolism of something that would possibly thrive was better than cut flowers.

  29. samoq says:

    Our wedding cake was made at the local grocery store. Basically, $120 for enough cake to choke an army– and it looked AMAZING. It really does pay to look around at your options before taking the cake-leap.

  30. Brazell says:

    $250? That’s a deal…

  31. arcticJKL says:

    Rent the fake cake, thats tacky.

    My friend went to a wedding where they cut into a beautiful chocolate cake and the couple fed each other. Then they rolled the cake away and brought out hundreds of presliced cake pieces.

    It was a different, non-chocolate poor quality cake.

    That sucks.

  32. TWinter says:

    @badteaparty: As others have said, please reconsider getting a photographer. A woman I work with counted on her friends and family to take photos and didn’t get a single decent photo from her wedding, she got blurry and fuzzy, heads chopped off, red eyes, bad angles, bad light, etc. etc. etc… You don’t have to go over the top with the photographer, but you do want to make sure that there is someone there with some skill who is actually going to take photos.

  33. acambras says:


    I love the live plant idea — I may steal that idea. ;-)

  34. Auntie M. says:

    My friend’s brother and sister-in-law put the top part of the cake in the freezer and brought it out on their first anniversary, only to find that, although the rest of the cake was real, that layer was made out of styrofoam. Oh well…

  35. Christ… Some of you people are so stuck up.

    All of you that think this is so stupid are probably bitter that you didn’t think of this idea for your weddings.

    I have a 400+ guest wedding coming up. If I can talk my finance into this… I’m all for it.

    shdwsclan: The fake cake is for show, there is more cake in the back with the caterers. I don’t know what area or country you are from, but most people don’t cut their own cake at a wedding.

  36. finance… fiancé… must have money on the mind.

  37. faust1200 says:

    Buy your cake, rent the wife. It makes terminating the contract that much easier.

  38. MMD says:

    For my sister’s wedding, we did the cake ourselves. We baked cupcakes 2 days in advance and frosted and decorated them the day before. Then we bought a really cool display stand like the ones you see here:
    It looked amazing, people loved it, and the whole thing cost around $100.

  39. ancientsociety says:

    @lawnmowerdeth: I strongly disagree. I really wanted to have a nice ceremony and reception. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, why wouldn’t you want to have a nice event to celebrate?

    That said, my wife and I both agreed that we’d rather spend more time and money on our honeymoon then the wedding. I think we spent ~$2000. My wife paid $35 for her dress on sale, $100 for my suit. Most of the expense came in the catering and tent rentals.

    We paid $80 for a beautiful, 3-tier non-dairy cake (we’re both lactose-intolerant) from Chicago Diner. The bottom layer was enough to feed both our families (smallish slices though). You just have to do your research and search around for the best deal.

    When the wedding was done, we had a 2-week honeymoon down Route 66 to LA. What a blast! And it only cost less than $3000 for the whole trip!

  40. Youthier says:

    @lawnmowerdeth: Eh, my husband would disagree. Like a few other people said, both my husband and I are very tight with our family and there was nothing more we wanted then to have them all with us on our wedding day.

    Except for children. We only love our adult family. That’s the real way to save money – no children.

  41. Lee2706 says:

    @badteaparty: Please please please don’t depend on guests to be your photographers. Unless you’ve seen their portfolios, don’t trust them! So many of our friends thought they didn’t want a photographer then ended up regretting it a few years later.

    Granted, you don’t need the photos to help you remember the event, but since things happen so fast, it’s nice to get a record of things. A large part of our budget went to the professional photographer and we are quite happy.

    If you truly can’t afford a photographer, what about putting up a want-ad at the local community college? There are surely several photography students who’d like a paying job, especially for the experience.

    To get back to topic, we had a small wedding and an inexpensive real cake. Having a fake cake seems odd; why not rent plastic food props for the guests then roll out the overcooked food later?

  42. VA_White says:

    Also for a cheap photographer you can check out your local scrapbook store. Many scrapbook ladies also do photo shoots and many of them are actually pretty good. They will clamor for your business.

  43. etinterrapax says:

    I don’t know that I’d care if someone else did this, but I wouldn’t. It’s a waste of money. If you’re not going to have a decorated cake, then don’t spend money looking like you did. There’s no law that says you have to have at least the appearance of cake. My feeling at my own wedding was that if it was going to cost something, it was going to be substantial. And I had a below-average-priced wedding. But it had real flowers, live music, and a lovely real cake ($400 for 150). People have suggested culinary school students, and I also want to put in for independent bakers. Ours was made by a lady who worked from the back of a country store in a small town, and I don’t know how my mother-in-law heard of her, but she’d used her services before. You ask around and you find people.

  44. Chicago7 says:


    Rent the wife, eh? That’s worth considering! :D

  45. FLEB says:

    I’m going with one of these cakes this September. Basic point: More flexibility and less money, and I’m not really concerned about the edibility of something that serves only as a visual centerpiece.

    With styro as a base, I’m free to design this thing to be as wacky, inverted, or gravity-defying as I so choose. (The fiancee and I are both graphic designers, so we’re going the “new design” route, rather than using a pre-made.) It also means that the design can be more intricate and polished, since she can work on the things for weeks without working about the cake taking on a festive core of mold. No refrigeration required, so there’s less frantic carting it around, and less chance of damaging condensation forming.

    As for the questions of authenticity– the designed cake is merely a visual centerpiece. To go “faux” is a good tradeoff, still keeping the tradition, but freeing up stress and money for the real food, drink, and entertainment that, I assure you, our guests will enjoy much more. I’m saving my pomp dollar for where it’ll go further.

    And I’m with all of you on the photographer: We’re going pro as well, and sinking the budget into it. One nice thing is that we’re getting digitals and rights on all the resulting photos (a “package” of prints from the photog is still included), so we can use them all as we like afterward.

  46. SexCpotatoes says:

    Just buy a cake from China Poison Train Cakes, I hear they are very, very reasonable. You may even get the added bonus of killing your in-laws!

  47. palegreenstars says:

    Another trick – My fiancee’s aunt is a miracle worker when it comes to cake baking. She has been making (amazing) wedding cakes for wedding presents since the 1970’s. I would suggest finding a relative with some culinary skills, and ask for a cake as a wedding present (but I suppose this only works if the relative knows what s/he is doing).

  48. christlike says:

    I can’t believe people are commenting seriously about this travesty of a mockery of a sham. Unfortunately, divorce in more than 50% of marriages is also traditional. Why don’t we work on that and try to have at least some things authentic in our lives. Fake cakes. Bileshite!

  49. clodia says:

    Dude. I’m thrifty, but this is too much. For my wedding I’m getting six inch cakes to go as the centerpieces of each of the tables. Because they are so small, my family is picking them up ourselves, and since there is no real placement to be done, it saves us a lot of money. Cake for 50 people=$101.

  50. phrygian says:

    Why waste any money on a cake (faux or real) if you don’t want one? The real way to save the money would be to not have a faux cake at all and just have a very small cake — made yourself or by a relative or picked up from the bakery on the way to the chapel — if you’re intent on the traditional cake-eating symbolism. I’m sorry but fake cake just seems tacky and a poor way to save money.

  51. Petra says:

    *shrugs* My mum in law just got a fancy white cake from Costco and it was perfect. I’m not even a huge cake fan, I was going to forgo it completely.

    My husband and I are both in college and pretty much penniless, so we decided to just dress up nice and head on over to the courthouse. Our wedding cost us a total of $20 and we’ve never regretted it. I think his stepfather was pretty stunned as well as pleased, since he had just shelled out 20K for his own daughter’s wedding only a few months previously and was hurting badly from that.

    The cost of a traditional wedding, even a budgeted one, can amount to a year’s worth of rent and groceries easy! Personally, I’d rather save the cash and know I can afford the cost of living rather than blow it all on some momentary extravagance. One of my friends from school got married a year and a half back, and wanted a fairy-tale princess theme to everything. They spent a ridiculous amount of money, since they were in love and wanted to make the day as special (and materialistic) as possible. Now, they are still so in debt by their wedding that they constantly quarrel, he can’t afford to get his degree, and they are considering divorce. Sad, really.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Actually, in Japan, it is tradition to have a fake cake (there isn’t even a “hidden slice” in it– just a spot where the bride and groom can pretend to make a cut) and the sheet cake back in the kitchen is what the guests eat. These fake cakes in Japan are extremely ornate and even do things like blow smoke…

    I think that a wedding should be whatever anybody wants– and you forget the enormous pressure put on couple by their parents, who often are the ones footing the bills.

    Just enjoy the wedding and let people do what makes them happy. If a couple can’t decide on their budget and where to spend it, then maybe they should be getting married– because a wedding is not the only time in their life that these kinds of decisions need to be made.

  53. Anonymous says:

    When we got married we didn’t have a lot of money but we wanted it to be beautiful anyway. I made the cake myself and decorated it with sugar roses and some pearl strings. On top I placed two china rabbits on a bed of grass made of green Icing.

    The invitations I also made myself. I designed them, got some card and printed them on my own computer. They looked pro.

    I made the favors by using the same design ftom the invites to make heart-shaped boxes in which I put tealights and tied closed with ribbon. You can get tealights in bags pretty cheaply. It also gives a nice “theme” yo use the same design. I made the Thank You cards too.

    I would never spend 8,000 on a cake! but eveybody’s different.

  54. Grace Gee says:

    OMG…I’m so interested in this fake cake thing. I want this exact design but in Apple Red. Please email me as soon as possible my wedding is in six months. Email me @