Everyone loves a beautiful wedding cake. But sometimes the business side isn’t as glamorous as the finished product. A panel of experts—Robert Ayres, Sharon Boone and Bobbie Merritt—shared wisdom and insight at Monday’s IBIE session, “Wedding Cakes: Sales, Production and Delivery Issues.”

One concern for many bakers is that in this economy, many brides are scaling down their weddings, starting with the guest list. So when cakes are charged per serving, and the cakes are serving less people, how can a bakery continue to turn a profit?

Merritt has addressed this issue by charging in terms of time, rather than servings. She creates a formula based on a mid-level decorator, the number of tiers and the level of detail on each tier. Based on all these factors, she estimates the time it will take to create that cake, and charges accordingly.

Another common issue is the dreaded question, “Why does it cost so much? It’s just a cake.” Boone has a policy of full disclosure. Brides are more savvy than ever, and many understand what value means, so she walks them through the process of what exactly goes into creating a wedding cake. Ayres gives a visual in the form of a dummy cake. Often he says this not only helps them understand the value of the cake, but it also steers them away from wanting an additional sheet cake.

Ayres is a decorator at Servatti’s Pastry; Boone is co-owner of Rick’s Bakery; Merritt is owner of Merritt’s Bakery.