The venue...the dress...and now the cake!!
The most common question I think I am asked is 'How much is a wedding cake?' And in a polite way I always explain that there is no set price for a wedding cake. So I have compiled a guide for what you need to think about when approaching a cake artist for a quote, and also what to expect in return...
Before you approach a cake designer...
Before you even look for someone to actually make your cake, gather together the information that they will need to ensure the cake meets your requirements as a minimum.
Think about the answers to these questions and provide them at the beginning;
What date is the wedding? There is no point going through the quotation process if they are already fully booked for that date.
Where is the wedding being held and at what time? If you have a separate reception venue then where is this? Obviously the cake designer needs to know where they are going, but also to coordinate the delivery as they may have other cakes going out that day and won't want to be rushed.
How many would you like the cake to feed? Do you want to feed all of your guests - day and night? Is this for dessert as if so then you will require larger portions than standard wedding portions.
Do you want it to be traditional fruit cake? Or sponge? Or a combination of the two? Flavours of sponge shouldn't affect a price greatly, if at all, however fruitcake is a lengthier process for baking, requires months of work, and is usually priced higher to reflect the additional ingredients and work involved.
What sort of designs do you like? There are millions of potential designs for wedding cakes! Help your cake designer out by looking for some pictures of the styles you like in advance. Google and Pinterest are fantastic sources of inspiration.
What to look for in a cake designer...
Once you have your necessary information to hand, it is time to start looking for a cake designer.
Do a google search, request personal recommendations from friends and family and make a list of those that you would like to look into further.
Key things to look for are quality, consistency and finish. Questions to think about are;
Are their cakes all of good quality? Do they all look good? Have they got nice straight sides, level tops and look in proportion? Wonky cakes are never a good look! And are they deep enough? You may get better value for money with a cake designer whose cakes are deeper than one who makes them shallow as you could be getting more cake for your money!
Are they consistent with that quality? Don't just look at their wedding cakes, check out other celebration cakes that they have created. Are they just as good as the wedding cakes? If you can look at pictures they have been tagged in by others, they will be more candid than the staged shots and expose any flaws.
Is the finish good? Can you see any dents or finger marks on the icing? Is the ribbon around the cakes wonky? A rushed finish on a cake is never good! You always want someone who is willing to take the extra time to ensure that every single aspect of your cake is perfect - from the front to the back!
Approaching your cake designer...
Once you have decided upon one or more options for a cake designer, you can then approach them with your request. Give them all the information I noted above and request a quote. Some cake designers will want to meet with you prior a quote, others will give a quote and meet after, some will not need to meet with you at all if they have all the information required. Each situation is different however if you really would like a consultation then don't be afraid to ask!
Ensure you have all the information YOU require when you receive your quote! It should include a full breakdown of costs (not going into detail re ingredients however you should expect to see details such as costs of flowers etc), terms of payment - how do you pay and when, also any terms and conditions though most cake designers will have a copy of these on their website and your acceptance of a quote also forms agreement of those terms and conditions.
Don't be afraid to ask questions! If you have a burning desire to know why there is a certain cost, or an explanation of a certain part of the process then don't be afraid to ask.
Likewise place trust in your cake designer - remember we are artists! We have vision and experience in what we do. So if your cake designer says to trust them, that they are using a new technique but it will look fabulous - really do trust in them! If you have done your research right then you should feel completely at ease that they will create what they have said they will. And who ever wanted a cake the same as anyone elses?!
Some hints and tips...
DO be realistic in your budget. If you went into a restaurant and ordered dessert for 100 people, that dessert would probably cost you £5 a head. Don't approach a cake designer and expect an even higher level of service for £100!
DO get together lots of inspiration pictures. It's super difficult to picture what someone is meaning without a bit of help!
DO be open to ideas! Your cake designer probably has tonnes of ideas in their head and want your cake to look the most incredible it can!
DO tick the box...once you have booked it then relax, forget about it and don't worry about it again until closer to the big day. If you ask how it's looking 6 months before then don't be upset if you get sent a picture of flour eggs sugar etc ;-)
DO check like for like when comparing quotes. Check the sizes of the cakes and the decoration to be used - don't assume that cheaper will be the exact same cake.
DO be open with your cake designer about your budget, and if a quote is too high for that budget then let them know so they can make adjustments to sizes or design and bring the cost down where able to.
DON'T try to haggle. Each cake is carefully costed out and will take hours and hours of someone's time, don't ask them to work for pennies!
DON'T receive a quote then never contact them again. If someone has gone to the effort of sitting for possibly hours researching, designing and creating a quote for you, then at least politely let them know you will be going elsewhere so they are not left wondering.
And remember, cake designers usually work alone or as part of a small team. They put their heart and soul into each and every cake, and whilst some are more skilled than others, the price usually reflects the level or experience and skill. So if you're going to accept a lower quote, then be prepared that you won't be obtaining the most experienced cake designer, however that doesn't mean it won't be a lovely cake! Likewise don't always write off the award winning cake designers as too expensive - they are usually the most experienced at being able to provide something you will love within your budget and you know they are the best at what they do.
But most of all...enjoy the process! Enjoy looking at cake options, get excited for your cake, take a moment on your big day to look at it in detail - someone has worked on that beauty all week just for you and your new husband or wife! It is unique to you and should be savoured both for how it looks and the taste.
Happy wedding planning!