Cake prices vary greatly from one region of the country to another. Even within those regions, prices will also depend on the skill of the decorator. There are a few other things that factor into the price of a cake.
The bigger the cake, the more it costs. Wedding cakes are priced by the serving, so if your budget is tight, consider a smaller wedding cake and make up the extra servings you need with sheet cakes served from the kitchen. The sheet cakes will taste just like your wedding cake, and your guests won't know the difference.
The type of cake you select will affect the cost. Sponge cakes, such as white, butter, vanilla and chocolate, are the least expensive. The popular flavors are safe choices because they are always crowd pleasers.
The addition of fruit fillings, nuts and specialty flavors or liquors will also add to the price. I usually suggest at least one tier be filled with buttercream, instead of fruit, because seeds can be irritating to anyone with dental work.
The next factor that will affect the cost is the icing you choose. Buttercream is the least expensive and most popular. Rolled fondant is becoming more popular, but is more expensive, and has a firmer texture. A skilled decorator can work magic with fondant, but expect to pay the price. One of the things I do often is use fondant decorations on a buttercream cake. This creates beautiful cakes that don't cost as much, but still have similar attributes of a rolled fondant cake.
The one thing that affects the price of a cake the most is the amount of work that goes into it. Simple designs are quicker and easier to do, so they are less expensive. Cakes adorned with beautiful gumpaste arrangements and sugar art are extremely labor-intensive and are actually works of art that can be kept for years. Sugar flowers take a great deal of skill, talent and tools to create, so expect to pay accordingly.
How much do I charge for my cakes?
I will not do the same custom-designed wedding cake twice. When I create a cake for a bride, it is uniquely hers and will not be repeated.
Special occasion/party cakes are priced differently, but the same basics apply. The more work that goes into it, the higher the price. You should expect to pay at least $40 for a 10" round buttercream cake with fondant lace decorations.