First Time Wedding Cake Advice (It's Long)

Decorating By flowermom Updated 10 Apr 2008 , 6:01pm by flowermom

flowermom Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 9:42pm
post #1 of 24

I am sure this has been addressed about a gazillion times, so I will add one more to the number. I am very new to the cake decorating business, and have already turned down two brides for various reasons. Today I was asked by our pastor if I would do not one, BUT two cakes for his son's wedding coming up.

They are having two receptions, one with a cake for cutting, but not serving to the guests, they are getting Costco cakes because they are expecting a lot for this reception. Then they want to have a second cake for a more intimate reception later that evening. That one will also be cut by the bride and groom, but it will be served to the guests.

He made it very clear they want to pay me, and quoted me at $500...to which I think I must have blank out for a second or more icon_surprised.gif ...to which after I got myself back together said I would check on cost with a friend of mine (didn't tell him the I was checking with an entire Cake Community!).

What I need to know is what exactly I need to do make sure I make this experience for my first cake or rather cakes to go smoothly. Because it's a friend I probably won't do anything like a contract...also because I am not a professional/licensed. I already have a form I use for cake "orders". And I just ordered Sharon's Stacking Video...seems I going to need that, and yes I have the others! Probably what got me in this whole wedding cake project to begin with! Ha!

Thanks!!! I just love this place!

Sandi icon_biggrin.gif

23 replies
busymom9431 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 9:54pm
post #2 of 24

If you are asking for price...............the people who can answer need to know how big of a cake(s) you are doing and the specifics. Sounds Exciting! Good Luck!

indydebi Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 10:01pm
post #3 of 24

Busymom is correct.

$500 for cake to serve 100? Good. Very Good.

$500 for cake to serve 1000? Bad. VERY bad!

Starkie Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 10:10pm
post #4 of 24

Friend or no friend, GET SOMETHING IN WRITING!!! Especially from your pastor!

I don't want to sound mean or sacreligous or anything, but pastors are human, just like you and me. They can and do make mistakes. (I know this from personal experience!) Everyone, regarldess of who they are, will remember things differently. And usually, they will remember them to benefit themselves.

A contract protects not only you, but your pastor as well. If nothing else, you need to have all the pertinent info down on paper ~ how many servings, price per serving, flavors, decorations, colors, delivery, who cuts the cake, etc. Make sure you both sign it and that you both get a copy of it, so that everyone is ALWAYS on the same page when it comes to this cake.

Good luck!
<Starkie>

flowermom Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 10:46pm
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by busymom9431

If you are asking for price...............the people who can answer need to know how big of a cake(s) you are doing and the specifics. Sounds Exciting! Good Luck!




At this point they haven't asked for any specific number, just held up their hands and said about this big two tiered. (I am guessing about 14/16in bottom, smaller one on top.) And that they want two. Not too worried about the price at this point, but rather that I get off on the right start with everything else! icon_smile.gif sandi

flowermom Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 10:49pm
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starkie

Friend or no friend, GET SOMETHING IN WRITING!!! Especially from your pastor!

I don't want to sound mean or sacreligous or anything, but pastors are human, just like you and me. They can and do make mistakes. (I know this from personal experience!) Everyone, regarldess of who they are, will remember things differently. And usually, they will remember them to benefit themselves.

A contract protects not only you, but your pastor as well. If nothing else, you need to have all the pertinent info down on paper ~ how many servings, price per serving, flavors, decorations, colors, delivery, who cuts the cake, etc. Make sure you both sign it and that you both get a copy of it, so that everyone is ALWAYS on the same page when it comes to this cake.

Good luck!
<Starkie>




You made a very good point, my form has all the information on it, I will make sure there is a place we can sign it. Should I required a deposit??

Lil_Belle Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 11:56pm
post #7 of 24

I'm no professional either, but for the wedding cake I'm doing in July I have a contract and I am receiving a down payment due at cake tasting. My mother always says if you're selling something to a friend, or friend of a friend, always get some money up front. (hope that made sense) This way they know you're taking this seriously. icon_smile.gif good luck and I'm sure you'll have a great learning experience!

indydebi Posted 6 Apr 2008 , 1:43am
post #8 of 24

icon_lol.gif It sure is hard to price a "about this big and this high cake"! icon_lol.gif

Ok, let's do a "for instance". 14" bottom with 8" top is going to look a little out of proportion but if you put pillars between them, it MIGHT balance it out.

14" round serve 78 and 8" serves 24 = 102 servings. How "intimate" is the 2nd one going to be?

For the first one, if they want just a token cake-cutting cake, maybe an 8/6 or a 10/6? 8/6 will serve 24+12=36 servings. 10/6 will serve 38+12=50 servings.

Worst case scenario will be approx 150 servings? At my rate of $3/serving, that's $450.

But you really need to know how many people they are expecting.

flowermom Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 12:25am
post #9 of 24

Thanks for all the help so far!

This is getting be a very strange situation. I talked with the grooms' mom (pastor's wife), she seems to be the one making the decision on the cake??? The bride said she didn't care according to the groom's mom. If I understood correctly they want three cakes (not stacked) on three stands (which I have), very decorated for the big dessert only reception Or something that is tiered with pillars between them. These will not even be eaten by the guests...they are getting Costco cakes to actually serve. This will be a pretty cake to look at and for the couple to cut.

Then they want another cake that doesn't have to be soo decorated, probably tier or stacked to actually feed guests at a private reception later. There was no mention of sizes or number, so I am not help there!

I suggested three cakes on three tiers; I have the wilton scroll set that are different levels. That is a 6 inch cake with cake topper or flowers, that is theirs to freeze for later.

The second would be an 8 or 10 inch, that they would use for the cake cutting. Then they could take that with them to the second reception and not put it out, just serve it after they eat dinner.

The third would a 14 in (or larger 16?or18?, I can borrow a pan and it might still fit my stand). The cake is for display only at the first reception, then moved to the second one where it gets served. She said people won't really be looking at a cake there.

However if I understood correctly she basically doesn't want to move the cake. If that is all that concerns her and it reduces the amount of cake I have to do, then I can move the cake! I am used to transporting cakes. Now the tiered one I am not all the sure about, but if they are separate, no problem.

I am not sure if I should suggest anything else, give them (or the groom's mom, she seems to be doing most of the wedding anyways!) time to think it over, give them pictures/book for ideas (and marked with what I am comfortable doing), or just decide I am going to Disneyland for that weekend! This isn't quite how I envisioned my first wedding cake order!

Not sure if any of you can really help, but I know most of you understand why I am getting nervous about this!

Thanks, Sandi

Edit Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 1:36pm
post #10 of 24

It already sounds to me you might want to be in Disneyland for that weekend. (Ha-ha-ha).

pastrylady Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 2:21pm
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowermom

Because it's a friend I probably won't do anything like a contract...also because I am not a professional/licensed. icon_biggrin.gif




Don't sell yourself short! Your may not be licensed, any maybe you haven't been decorating for very long, but if your cakes are good enough that someone seeks you out to make their wedding cake, and you are getting paid to make cakes on a regular basis, then you are a professional!!

I think that this attitude is often the reason why many home-based decorators undercharge for their work. If you treat your work like it's a hobby, then customers will treat it like a hobby too.

Please take this comment in the spirit it was intended, as a compliment to you and as a reminder to value your work.

sassycleo Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 2:35pm
post #12 of 24

Ok from what I've read you really need to nail down some specifics.

If the first cake isn't being served at all then what's the point? Do a dummy cake - definitely charge them for decorating just the same as you would for a normal cake.

You definitely need to nail down how many they expect to serve at the intimate reception. $500 may sound like a lot however it adds up pretty quickly. You definitely from the way it sounds already need to have a contract set up. There is too much up in the air on this and with out it I'm afraid something is going to come back to bite ya in the end.

Another question, why on earth are they going to Costco for the sheet's, why aren't they having you do them? I'd bring it up for the simple fact that if people see the cake you've done then get a costco cake they may not like it and automatically assume you made it and then poof your rep goes down the drain. You could easily do sheet cakes with white icing and shell border edges inexpensively and this gives you the control over your rep.

Also get a deposit. Just because they are a friend don't go against what you would do for any other normal client. They want you to do a cake then they need to pay you appropriately and when you need it. Not a day or so before, not the day of and certainly not the day after. Stick to your guns on this - if you don't there is a chance of getting burned in the end. Say for example if the bride isn't having much say in it, who's to say she might not withhold payment afterwards because she didn't care for something to do with the cake. Sorry I'm not a glass half empty type of person - but this is business and you need to protect yourself and your rep.

Just my two cents icon_biggrin.gif

thedessertdiva Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 2:48pm
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowermom

These will not even be eaten by the guests...they are getting Costco cakes to actually serve. This will be a pretty cake to look at and for the couple to cut.

Then they want another cake that doesn't have to be soo decorated, probably tier or stacked to actually feed guests at a private reception later. There was no mention of sizes or number, so I am not help there!




I am not sure if you've seen the other threads about this but...

If they are having you make "pretty-do-not-eat-just-look-cakes", and are willing to spend money on the crapola cakes elsewhere to have the guests eat, why can't they just have you make those as well?

Most of us have a clause in our contracts that state no cakes from an outside vendor or source. This is a BIG CYA for ourselvs to keep our reputation in good standing. Its not fair to us as the cake desinger to go to all the trouble to produce something out of blood, sweat and tears for someone to find out that they served cake from the local 'five and dime' that tastes like day old bread and have others who could be potential business assume that its our (the cake designer) cake. You wouldnt walk into McDonalds and look at the Big Mac on the sign and accept a Whopper?

Think about approaching the pastor or his wife about doing the kitchen cakes also.

icon_wink.gif

cakebaker1957 Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 2:50pm
post #14 of 24

i think sassycleo said it all, i wouldnt want anyone to think i made sheet cakes and them not taste good, and moving cakes is not a really good thing to much can happen, especially if your making one that has a 16 or 14 in bottom, my 16in pan just barely will fit in my stove, and thinkning about moving it i would dye. im still scared of stacking and transporting . So good luck let us know what happens sounds like a tragedy waiting to happen,.not to make anyone feel bad, but this is what im thinking

flowermom Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 4:10pm
post #15 of 24

Wow, thanks sooo much for all the words of cake wisdom! Ok, I have some work do to do myself, first up is contract. I have been working on a price list and see that I need to finalize it and give it to them. I will see them tomorrow night and I think I will give them all the paperwork and then let the family have a few days to think on this before I approach them again with any other information.

Got any advice on how to transition from not charging for cake because you have been doing it as a hobby icon_cool.gif , and now with so many requests for cakes need to start charging your friends so you won't go broke making free cakes??? That is pretty much where I am at now, and as much as I love doing cakes, the price adds up and it would be nice to actually get paid for it!

Thanks! Sandi

cakebaker1957 Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 4:44pm
post #16 of 24

Just tell everone that due to price increases on a lot of baking products and the high demand for your cakes there will be a charge,

busymom9431 Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 5:31pm
post #17 of 24

If people can't understand our time is valuable...........they don't deserve our custom made for you cake!

vdrsolo Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 6:02pm
post #18 of 24

I totally agree on the other posters' advice about the Costco cakes. I also have a clause in my contract stating there will be no other cakes at the reception. I also do not do sheet cakes as kitchen cakes but do squares that look exactly like the wedding cake when cut (all of my cakes are torted).

Plus, you would be making and delivering all of the cakes, no one has to go pick them up at the grocery store.

flowermom Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 6:06pm
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by vdrsolo

I totally agree on the other posters' advice about the Costco cakes. I also have a clause in my contract stating there will be no other cakes at the reception. I also do not do sheet cakes as kitchen cakes but do squares that look exactly like the wedding cake when cut (all of my cakes are torted).

Plus, you would be making and delivering all of the cakes, no one has to go pick them up at the grocery store.




Oh, I like that, definitely keeping that in my list of things to consider!

sassycleo Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 6:19pm
post #20 of 24

Another thing to think about in regards to the Costco cakes. Find out if there are any allergies that you need to know about. God forbid someone is allergic to something in the other cake - guess who they are going to assume is responsible....You

Really there is going to be no sign saying cake dummy by ....... Cake your eating provided by Costco. If someone seriously hates the cake they are going to think it's yours - aka Lost Potential Customers!!! I hear it a lot that they may not remember the design of the cake but they definitely remember it was horrible. And that type of publicity travels the quickest and is not one you want to be associated with!

Another note - IF - you are going to start charging for cakes (and of course you should!) Look quickly into what it takes for your state to become a licensed and inspected home baking business. Many states it's very easy to become one. You don't want to get caught operating with out being either - not worth the fines.

Again, just my two cents (if i keep giving away my two cents i'm going to be broke!,...LOL)

mmgiles Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 7:06pm
post #21 of 24

What about making one cake? Hear me out. What if you made a cake that was 14, 12, 10, 8, 6 square. The two bottom would serve 170, then you could take the 10,8,6 to the other reception and still have 100 servings. http://forum.cakecentral.com/modules/Forums/files/cake_serving_guide_219.pdf

When they cut the cake they can cut one of the bottom tiers.

Also, I learned this the hard way, but I only have a standard size oven and the largest size pan I can bake is 14". I cannot make a 16" layer.

DoniB Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 7:10pm
post #22 of 24

what I'm doing right now is:
a) family and friends only.
b) I charge only for the supplies and the gas to get there and back (which is not a negligible amount anymore!). If they then wish to 'tip' me what they think the cake is worth, they're welcome to, but for now, since I'm not licensed (and not likely to be anytime soon, darn it, because of our state's rules), that's really all I can do.

I'm with everyone else on the Costco cakes... I"d definitely let the pastor and wife know that you're willing to do the sheet cakes, as well, so that everything is from your hand, and there are no misunderstandings. And folks are spot-on about the lost business! If you can do this one big order for the price quoted, with sheet cakes, then that's a ton of possible future business. Especially if most of the guests are church folks who already know you. They'll most likely want to come to you first for cakes in the future. (At least, they should, IMHO)

Good luck!

flowermom Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 8:47pm
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sassycleo

Another thing to think about in regards to the Costco cakes. Find out if there are any allergies that you need to know about. God forbid someone is allergic to something in the other cake - guess who they are going to assume is responsible....You

Another note - IF - you are going to start charging for cakes (and of course you should!) Look quickly into what it takes for your state to become a licensed and inspected home baking business. Many states it's very easy to become one. You don't want to get caught operating with out being either - not worth the fines.

Again, just my two cents (if i keep giving away my two cents i'm going to be broke!,...LOL)




I have had those two same concerns! I have checked on what is required for CA, and I basically can't operate a home bakery at all. Unless I add on a kitchen that is legal. I checked on using my church kitchen, which won't be a problem, but it's not up to code...shhhh, that could be trouble for them! I have tried to tell them what the health codes are, but they don't really understand, or just play dumb. So I am very worried about getting paid or doing something that is not just a simple party with friends or family. As I typing this I am also thinking I should probably say this is not going to work out and head to Disneyland for a nice vacation. I can't say thanks enough for all the advice you all have!

Sandi

flowermom Posted 10 Apr 2008 , 6:01pm
post #24 of 24

I talked with the groom's mom yesterday and I am only doing one cake and that is for the big reception. They decided to go with a different dessert for the private reception. I am doing all the cake for the big one. THANKS for all your advice. I sure appreciate it and I feel sooo much better about doing this wedding cake now. Now to sit down and work on that contract and find a licensed kitchen!

Sandi icon_biggrin.gif

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