Have you looked around at what cake costs?
Why does cake cost so much? The answer is simple labor and materials.
If you are willing to invest the time to learn to do your own cakes you do not have to buy someone else's time and talent. (B.T.W. It takes a fast experienced cake decorator to break minimum wage.) Learning this craft will bring you beautiful cakes for the cost of materials and your time.
Round - Butter Cream - you supply ribbon
6", 8", 10" ....................about 75 servings .......$250.00
6", 10", 14" .................about 130 servings ......$300.00
6", 8", 10", 12" ...........about 130 servings .......$375.00
6", 8", 10", 12", 14" .....about 210 servings ......$450.00
(Newer decorators like me will probably charge about what a grocery store will.)
I noticed the other day a 10 inch tier at a grocery store with 2 basic borders cost 40.00 (In some cases it is trucked from a central baker to your store.) No whistles, no bells. Nothing amazing. (No prejudice here.)
If times are tight, and time is short and you just can't afford a wedding cake might I suggest what a friend of mine did.
Costco or Sam's sells basic cakes very reasonably and they are reasonably fresh. They bake in huge bulk and only bake (last I heard) 3 flavors with minimal decoration. An at home baker cannot even buy the ingredients and bake the cake for what Costco can.
My amazing friend bought beautiful fabric for the cake table and elevated 3 white Sam's cakes on the cake table at different heights by putting stacks of hymn books under the fabric. What a smart cookie!
Special occasion cakes are too expensive for many. I get that. That is a great reason for doing cake yourself.
Some buy Costco cakes and bring them home to add embellishments. Again, I can't even compete with a grocery store or others who can buy their ingredients at discount prices. Giant chains pay much less for everything involved in the cake process and benefit from a streamlined process and giant ovens. They bake very basic cakes and use bucket icing. No, it will not knock your socks off like a great WASC cake or Butter cake will or Butter Cream made with butter, no prejudice right?
Why do I do cake? Because it is fun and you can have something that you might not otherwise be able to afford. If you want to learn check with your local cake supply. My little Mom and Pop store in my town teaches a free beginner class for free with the purchase of your supplies. (If you are local give me a holler and I will get you the details.) You can't beat that. I mean really.
With some practice you will be on your way. :o)