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Let them eat sheet cake

Susan Lobsinger, left, and Wendy Hunter.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Tess Vigeland: Regardless of the date of the big day, surveys show the average American wedding costs just shy of $30,000. There's the gown, the music, food, drink. Of course, the cake. But for brides and grooms looking to save a buck, there is an alternative to the from-scratch, eight-tiered confection: try a rented one.

Susan Lobsinger has been baking cakes for 30 years, but now she's also renting them. And she joins us from her home, where she's been baking all day. So tell us about what's in those rental ones.

Susan Lobsinger: The cakes are made out of styrofoam and then we cover them with real fondant icing. So that when people look at them, it is real icing, so no one knows that it's a fake cake. What we have as far as fresh cake is on the bottom tier, where they actually can cut the cake and take it out and then have the cake-sharing for the pictures.

Vigeland: So that's actually the tiered cake that is a fake cake. But you have, what, a little trap door in it that people can . . . that the bride and groom can actually go in and have a piece?

Lobsinger: Yeah. And what it is, it's just a cut-out section that we put fresh cake into it. We re-ice it to match the rest of the cake. And down in the bottom plate, we have like a little ribbon with a "V" to show the bride and groom where to cut, because it matches the whole cake so well. That you know when . . . should know. Our bottom line is that they don't tell anybody. Nobody should know.

Vigeland: And then it's just wheeled out of the hotel ballroom, or wherever they are, and a sheet cake is in the back and that's what comes out for the guests.

Lobsinger: Right, exactly.

Vigeland: How did you come up with this idea?

Lobsinger: My son-in-law and I, you know how you sort of, just sort of small talk . . . And we were taking a walk, and I was telling him about brides, that they were trying to save money. And a couple of ways that they were doing it was making their cakes smaller. And so that this was sort of the alternative. It's how we came up with it, it's just with their problem.

Vigeland: How did your friends and family react when you said that you were going to start renting wedding cakes?

Lobsinger: In the very beginning, everyone laughed and thought, "You're doing what?"

Vigeland: Uh huh . . .

Lobsinger: And the first year, we got quite a few orders. But this year, we've actually doubled our orders. So no one's laughing anymore.

Vigeland: So what is the cost difference, then, for the bride and groom, between a real cake and a fake cake?

Lobsinger: A dollar seventy-five per serving for the rental and $3.10 per serving for a fondant decorated cake.

Vigeland: That is significant.

Lobsinger: Yeah. And also, you have no worries with the rental. You've heard disaster stories of cakes falling over, or that kind of thing. So that it's a worry-free.

Vigeland: Susan Lobsinger and her partner, Wendy Hunter, own "Rent the Cake of Your Dreams" outside Buffalo, N.Y. Susan, thanks so much for joining us, but not so many thanks for making me hungry.

Lobsinger: Hahaha. Most of our business is referrals because of how good our cakes taste.

Vigeland: And would you ship some to L.A., perhaps?

Lobsinger: We thought about it, and they are too fragile. We have to teach the U.S. Post Office how to mail first, I think.

Vigeland: All right, fair enough. Thanks so much for joining us.

Lobsinger: You're welcome, thank you.

 

"Fake cakes" made by Susan Lobsinger and Wendy Hunter.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.

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