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GRANDVILLE, Mich. - For the budget-minded bride and groom, a new business is offering a less costly alternative to buying an expensive wedding cake: renting a fake one.

The idea is to have an elegant, multitiered pretend cake for show while serving guests slices from a real, tasty and inexpensive sheet cake.

The inside of a faux wedding cake crafted by Fun Cakes in Grandville contains mostly plastic foam, with a secret spot reserved for a slice of real cake to be shared by the bride and groom. Everything is covered by gum paste and fondant, a frosting-like confection made from sugar and water often used in cakes and pastries.

After a bride and groom take the traditional first slice of their real wedding cake, it's often wheeled away from guests, out of their sight, to be cut up and served on plates. Do the same thing using a fake cake and a sheet cake, and guests will be none the wiser.

"The only difference is the inside. nobody can tell," said Kimberly Aya, whose 3-month-old company also bakes real cakes. The online version of her business is called CakeRental.com,

Fake cakes aren't new but renting them is fairly novel. Susan Lobsinger, who opened Rent the Cake of Your Dreams in East Aurora, N.Y., last year, said she knows of only one other cake-rental business - and it's in Canada.

Mary Brown, manager of Cakes Plus in Grand Rapids, said her bakery has rented out its window displays a few times when brides were desperate and needed something at the last minute.

"It was happenstance. It's not something that we do," she recently told The Grand Rapids Press. "But I don't see why not. It probably would be good business."

Brown said a typical three-tier cake serving around 100 guests costs an average of $200 to $250. Aya charges $100 to rent an in-stock fake cake and $150 for a custom design.

Bride-to-be Nicole Kreuger, 26, of Grand Rapids, said she will spend about half as much on a fake wedding cake from Fun Cakes paired up with a sheet cake as she would have spent on a real cake elsewhere.

"That's saving us a ton of money," she said.

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