Booked My First Wedding Cake!! Pros Share Tips? (Long)

Business By sayhellojana Updated 25 Jan 2009 , 4:34pm by Deb_

sayhellojana Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 11:57pm
post #1 of 51

Hello,
I recently started selling cakes out of my home. I have made myself a modest website and posted some ads on craigslist. I have done several birthday cakes since then. Last weekend, I did my first cake tasting for a wedding in April. I made 3 4'' cakes and covered in white fondant. The woman loved the cake said it was delicious and better than the other 3 real bakeries she's had tastings at. She called and said she would like to book with me.
NOW,
I need to make a cake contract. Is anyone willing to share theirs? I told her that 50% deposit is due month before wedding, the rest a week before. How do I word this all up in a cake contract?
And, does anyone have suggestions for how to organize myself when making this cake? It's for 150 people - no small task. Do I just give up on sleep for a few days? I figured thats what wedding cake making takes.
Any and all help/advice is appreciated
icon_smile.gif Jana

50 replies
FlowerGirlMN Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 12:24am
post #2 of 51

Are you legal?

kelleym Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 12:32am
post #3 of 51

There's a sample contract on www.cakeboss.com under 'Cake Stuff'. icon_smile.gif

Deb_ Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:48am
post #4 of 51

Congrats on your first wedding booking. May I make 1 suggestion? Make the 50% deposit due now to hold the date and final payment no less than 3 wks. before.

If I had ANY computer skills I'd be able to post a copy of my contract here, but since I'm computer illiterate I'm sorry I can't.

The most important elements to include besides cake size, flavors, decoration, colors etc., are delivery charge, time, date, venue name, address and phone number, contact person name and number, your cancellation policy (will deposit be refunded in full or not at all), how deposit and final payment should be paid (cash, check, cashiers check, credit card etc.) I highly recommend final payment be in the form of a cashier's check or cash, no personal checks.

If you are not licensed you need to contact the venue and ask the person in charge what if any paperwork they need from you at the time of delivery.....i.e. business I.D., proof of insurance etc. Some venues do not accept cakes from unlicensed bakers.

As far as making the actual cake, you can do icings and fillings way ahead of time and just refrigerate or freeze until needed. I usually bake on Wednesday for a Saturday wedding. Fill and crumb coat on Thursday. Final icing and decorating on Friday.

leah_s Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:56am
post #5 of 51

Yes, the first question is are you legal. More and more venues are realizing that the liability they take on by allowing unlicensed vendors to provide food is not worth the risk. And you really should also have liability insurance. The PP has all the basics that need to be covered in a contract. It would be a good idea to consult an attorney for final wording.

FlowerGirlMN Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:02am
post #6 of 51

I don't want to start a gang war or anything here, but I'm kinda worried about this situation.

Have you taken a good hard look at your situation, and are you sure you're up for a cake?

"And, does anyone have suggestions for how to organize myself when making this cake? It's for 150 people - no small task. Do I just give up on sleep for a few days? I figured thats what wedding cake making takes."

Is particularly concerning.

Speaking as someone who (was forced into having) was stuck with a horrible wedding cake, it still bothers me to this day that it was SO wrong. If you're looking at a 150 serving wedding cake in this way, and not sure how to organize yourself.. I don't know. I got mine from a company that's been around for 20 years or so, and they couldn't handle it.

I'm just sort of worried for the bride.

sayhellojana Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:27am
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowerGirlMN


I'm just sort of worried for the bride.



Ouch.

yes, I am sure that I can make this cake for her and I do have a pretty good idea of how to organize myself. I thought that asking wouldn't hurt though as there are many women on this site that are experienced.

I will ask her about the venue.

Thank you for summarizing what I should include in the contract that was very helpful.
I have done a cake for 125 people. This is basically the same structure plus a sheet cake for the back.

FlowerGirlMN Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 12:25pm
post #8 of 51

But if you've done a cake for 125, and are just doing the same + sheet for this.. why are you worried about 150, and thinking it'll mean giving up a couple nights sleep for it?

Telling us that you've done "several birthday cakes" in no way indicates that you've made anywhere close to 150 servings. We can only go on what you're saying here, and what you said in your original post IS cause for concern. I don't know why it's "ouch", it's nothing personal to you.

A wedding cake is a REALLY big deal. If you're not prepared for it.. do you really want to risk ruining it for her?

Also, can I assume that you're NOT licensed, from the venue comment?

Deb_ Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 1:16pm
post #9 of 51

Flowergirl all valid points, however we all had the butterflies over our first Wedding cake order, at least I know I did, and the 2nd, and the 3rd.......sigh........ I guess what I'm saying is we all had to start somewhere.

The most important issue here is......jana, if you're not licensed, be sure you're up front with the couple and tell them that. It's only fair that they know that ahead of time. I'm not suggesting that you don't have the ability or the talent, if you're not licensed, just that if you're not than there is no liability insurance in place and that could be a problem. BTW, your cakes are beautiful and very professionally done.

Good Luck!

P.S. I made about 12 Wedding Cakes from my home kitchen before I was licensed for my nieces and nephews. Fortunately 15 or so years ago I never ran into a problem delivering them to the venues. None of the places asked me for proof of insurance or business i.d. Thank Goodness! Now, I run into this issue all the time. I can't remember the last venue that did NOT require me to show my business papers. I keep a copy of everything in my travel case.

-K8memphis Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 1:48pm
post #10 of 51

Jana, an idea for you is to plan out your plan and start it one or two days earlier than you originially scheduled. Loosing sleep is often how it works but it doesn't have to.

Best of the best bakin' n cakin' luck to you. I know your bride will be very happy. If I think of anything else, I'll post.

Pm me if you need anything I can help with.

Take Care n Can't Wait For Pictures!

sayhellojana Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 1:55pm
post #11 of 51

The bride knows that I an unlicensed and is fine with that. AZ doesn't license home bakers. If I could get a license, I would. I have talked to several women from other areas in AZ and none of them have ever had a problem.
FlowergirlMN - the 125 cake was for family and it wasn't a huge deal to me, but I did spend a ton of time baking because I only have a KA artisan. I thought some other home bakers would have tips on how to maximise baking time with a small mixer or something. This is a wedding and it is very important to me that I make a beautiful cake. The woman's design isn't complicated and I have already begun practicing scrollwork. I wouldn't have accepted an order that I didn't think I could fulfill.

TOMAY Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:09pm
post #12 of 51

Jana
we all have to start somewhere looking at your cakes i think you will do fine. As fara as your small mixer issue I would suggest baking your smaller teirs the weekend before and freezing them so the wends before you can concentrate on baking the largest tier. Plan to start earlier than you thought the more rushed I am the worse my cakes turn out so plan your cake well have on hand one extra of everything you need and extra icing just in case . good luck in your task !

Mencked Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:10pm
post #13 of 51

It is perfectly normal to begin worrying about your first wedding cake and like dkelly said many cakes after that....I'm quite sure that I spent more time worrying (planning) my first wedding cake than I actually spent making it icon_smile.gif! I really think the key to getting the cake done without too much worry on your part is planning, planning, planning. Look at the cake charts to see how much icing you are going to need and cake batter and make sure you have all of the ingredients, cake boards, pillars or SPS stuff, etc....that you need before hand. Plan, Plan, Plan! I bet you're going to pull this off without a hitch..good luck!

lolobell Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:21pm
post #14 of 51

well, seeing as I've only done a few cakes in my day so far and certainly no wedding cakes!!! That's a lifetime away, I just wanted to say that I looked at your pics and I certainly think you have the talent to accomplish this. But, indeed, organizing yourself starting now with the correct contract, finalizing the brides dos/don'ts...........taking all the advice from the experienced ladies on CC about how far in advance to begin your cake etec...........is a must. Make a list of all you need to do, an organized one so you don't forget something and just keep checking things off as they are accomplished!

Take a deep breath and dive in!!!

GOOD LUCK!

KitchenKat Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:26pm
post #15 of 51

I still get major butterflies when I start a cake and again when I deliver it.

Jana, I saw your photos and I have no doubt you can do it!

I agree with Mencked. Plan, plan, plan. I'm a list maker so I break everything down into detailed steps and write it out. Makes the whole job seem less daunting. Plus, it's so satisfying to cross items off my list. I plan my time table in reverse, starting from the delivery time going back to when I'll get the ingredients together. Having things written down is a sanity saver for me.

Good luck and show us pictures

-K8memphis Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:44pm
post #16 of 51

This is what I do. I do the last things first. I mean of course I do any flowers and decor that can be done in advance. But then I also do boxes and boards way before I ever bake. I also make sure my boxes will fit in my car. Doing a trial run when there's no pressure is priceless.

I have a 4-door sedan car I know that an 18x18 moving box will fit in my doors and I can get 4-5 tier cakes in my vehicle at a time--not that I've ever had that many at once--but I have that capacity.

I mean you often have random accoutrements like boxes full of flowers, stands and etc too.

If you need to get things to make the care seat level or get the the ribbly shelf liner so things do not slide in the car get it now and keep it in the car. No worries.

As a general rule I make my icings & fillings before I bake. There's some kind of good cake karma in there for me. I like having it done before baking because then I'm ready to rock n roll and get things filled and stacked and in the freezer ready for final icing on the appointed day.

I like to do it that way because that's the uber messy part. That way I can finish with all the messy stuff and get the sticky icky cleaned up for nice smooth sailing when I later ice the cakes and decorate next time I get them out. I store mine all filled in the freezer wrapped twice with plastic wrap and once in a cooking bag.

I keep no onions or meat or fish in that frige or freezer. icon_biggrin.gif And a nice box of baking soda.

Just some tier cake thoughts for you.

-K8memphis Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 2:59pm
post #17 of 51

So this way where I do the last things first, I will meet myself in the middle somewhere. Especially when you're doing some of your first tier cakes, it's nice to get to a certain point and just start following the bread crumbs you previously laid out for youself.

Another thing--consider setting the timer for 10 minute intervals. When you are in decorating nirvana land, time stops --there is no time when you are in that side of your brain. This is where newby decorators will stay up all night and not exactly have eight hours of work to show for it.

The timer helps you pace yourself. Where you realize hey, what have I accomplished in ten minutes--what will I accomplish in the next ten minutes.

That's also the non-verbal side of the brain where you can become short w/people. So consider explaining that to folks around you that you will be hyper focused and that sweet Jana is still inside there and she will emerge after delivery.

Just some more first wedding cake thoughts for you.

CakeForte Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:06pm
post #18 of 51

My process is similar to K8. I am at the point to where I can do a cake in 2 days...but I give myself 3. (this is with working a full time job.)
I do all of my baking and preparation on Wednesday. As I have my cakes all in the oven, I make my icings and get the other supplies together. I always make more icing than I need. I keep the extra and use it the next week or for samples.

Thursday, I torte, fill, and ice all of my cakes, chill overnight and decorate and stack on Friday. I try really, really hard to have all of my cakes completely finished by 10 pm on a Friday.

I deliver almost all of my cakes fully stacked b/c they are usually 3 tiers. any larger and I will deliver stacked, but it sections and finish stacking on site. I always give myself a 2 hour delivery window.

When I first started I would stack everything on site....but now I pretty much have my stacking system/ techniques down I can do them right on the first try.

LILBOBO1980 Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:14pm
post #19 of 51

k8memphis, I like your timer suggestion! : )

costumeczar Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:59pm
post #20 of 51

Get boxes, paperwork and boards ready on Monday. Shop on Tuesday and get the fillings and icing ready on Wednesday if you have time. Bake on Thursday and decorate on Friday.

-K8memphis Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 4:12pm
post #21 of 51

Oh, here's one. Have a notepad and pen laid out ready for you to jot down the items you will need to pack up in the vehicle or for anything you need/want to do. Have one ready so you don't have to go looking. Your brain will be very full, not so much room for mental notes.

box of flowers
plateau
empty boxes for leftovers (put those in the trunk Monday)
emergency kit
topper
groom's cake
two boxes of wedding cake
mints
servers
DIRECTIONS TO VENUE
COPY OF CONTRACT
PHONE #'s OF PRINCIPALS especially wedding planner

Y'know, whatever stuff like that.

flamingobaker Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 4:39pm
post #22 of 51

K8memphis -
Thank you for that insight into the decorating nirvana/timer thing!!

I thought it was just me that was weird! icon_lol.gif

crazy4cupcakes Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 5:22pm
post #23 of 51

I've been reading this thread and it is full of great info! Thanks to everyone who has contributed their advice. Jana - I've seen your cakes and I think that they are wonderful. I wish you the best of luck and please keep us updated and post pictures.

I am in a similar position. I am going to be doing my first wedding. I don't do this for a living but a friend asked me to make 150 cupcakes for her daughter's wedding. I don't mean to hi-jack this thread but does anyone have any advice as far as how far in advance to bake the cupcakes, how to store them before decorating and what type of boxes you've used to transport cupcakes without tipping?

Thanks in advance!

Mencked Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 9:22pm
post #24 of 51

I recently did 400 cupcakes for a groom's cake table--Here's how I did it and how I would do it differently for sure! I baked all of the cupcakes two days before the wedding--I now know that I could have baked weeks in advance and frozen them--I had some of these cupcakes leftover, froze them (uniced) and they still tasted great even a month afterwards! I was shocked! So if you want to, I'd definitely bake 2-3 weeks ahead of time and freeze them. They were frozen in plastic containers, but I know some people also double wrap the cupcakes in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bags. I've also started freezing lots of my wedding cakes, especially if they're just filled with BC. I level, fill, then double wrap each tier in good plastic wrap, I prefer Sam's brand, usually on the weekend before the wedding. This has been a lifesaver since I also work a full time job. I then get the cakes out on Wednesday night, thaw them all night and during the day on Thursday, then begin icing them on Thursday evening. Decorate on Friday evening. Deliver on Saturday. And for transporting those cupcakes, I just used a cake box--I believe it took 5 full sheet boxes to transport all 400 cupcakes.

cylstrial Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 9:39pm
post #25 of 51

Everyone has such great suggestions on here! Thanks for sharing!

tastyart Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 9:47pm
post #26 of 51

Congrats on your first wedding cake!

I made a wedding cake for a friend's sister, my first. I used the contract from this web site and tweeked it a little for my situation. I also am not liscenced. I made sure that the bride understood that if there was an accident with the cake (fender bender, tripped on the way, etc.), I could not call the bakery and have them bring me another one. I put in my contract that I could refund her money but could not be held liable for any further damages. This site has lots of great wedding cake info. http://www.earlenescakes.com/index1.htm

Good Luck!

ILE Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 9:49pm
post #27 of 51

jana..... with all that inf. go for it good luck show us the pic. don't sleep on it.do it

sayhellojana Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 10:34pm
post #28 of 51

Thanks everyone! K8menphis - lots of good timing ideas. I'll deffinantly time myself and try placing all the boxes in my car. I'm a bit worried about delivery - I have a small car and there isn't much room on the flat floor but I think I can trade car's with my aunt for a few days. She has a Honda Element and it's very flat in the back. I was thinking I would stack the bottom 2 tiers and the top 2 tiers and then assemble on site. Does this sound good or should I not try to combine 2 already stacked cakes? It's a 12'' 10'' 8'' 6''.
I plan to make my fillings and icings way ahead of time. I know my fillings freeze really well anyway and I'll do an icing trial run just to make sure. I know I can make my fondant a few weeks in advance without problem. Do that all the time! lol.
The wedding's not till April but I'm feeling much better prepared. I ordered the supplies I'll need (boxes, dowels, etc) already and am about done with my contract. I modified the on from Cakeboss and I'm quite happy with it.
Thank you for all the kind words. I will post a picture when the day comes round'

CakeForte Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 1:32am
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sayhellojana

- I have a small car and there isn't much room on the flat floor but I think I can trade car's with my aunt for a few days. She has a Honda Element and it's very flat in the back. I was thinking I would stack the bottom 2 tiers and the top 2 tiers and then assemble on site. Does this sound good or should I not try to combine 2 already stacked cakes? It's a 12'' 10'' 8'' 6''.
I'




I deliver all of my cakes in the trunk of my small sedan. If it's a large order, I'll rent a van....but that is rare. I put a clean sheet and liner with a pad so it doesn't slip. I also have my cakes chilled overnight so they are firm during transport. I give myself a 2 hour delivery window...so the cakes have a chance to come to room temperature by the time it is cut at the reception. for example....for a 730 reception, I will get there at 5 or 530...depending on how far I have to travel.

If you do stack them...make sure the are done w/ the proper supports and I strongly recommend them being chilled so you limit the chances of any disasters.

cakesbycathy Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 1:40am
post #30 of 51

You have been given great advice on how to get the wedding cake done.
However, before you go any further -

The bride may be fine that you are unlicensed, but her venue may not. The bride needs to find out if they will allow you to bring in the cake.

There was a thread on here not to long ago about a decorator who was not allowed to bring the wedding cake into the venue once they found out she was not a licensed baker. The bride (who I believe knew she was unlicensed and was okay with it) did not have a wedding cake.

Be sure this is not going to happen to you!

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