Making Wedding Cakes

Business By pinkpiggie78 Updated 2 Mar 2009 , 2:27pm by majka_ze

pinkpiggie78 Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 1:37am
post #1 of 26

I am in the process of starting my own bakery out of my house, and one thing has been scaring me more than anything... wedding cakes. I have not done one, but my biggest concern is do you take on projects that you haven't done before? In other words a bride comes in with a picture of a cake that you have no idea where to even start, do you decline? I am looking for some guidance here... even with most of the cakes I have done for family and friends have at least "one" first on it, which is why I have been offering, but once the business is going I can't say, "Well I've never done that before... wanna let me practice on one of the biggest days of your life?"

25 replies
indydebi Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 1:49am
post #2 of 26

If you never do what you've never done, then you'll only do what you've already done. And how will you grow in your skill and your business?

Remember, you did your "first" birthday cake and did fine!

The thing with doing your first wedding cake .... you only have to the first one ONCE .... after that, you're experienced! icon_biggrin.gif

I'll share what I do with a new design. On the home page of my website is my City Skyline cake. I had no real idea how much time it would take or what kind of things I would run into.

What I tell a bride is that since this is a new challenge for me, I'll do it for prototype pricing, which means she gets this cake at my normal flat-rate pricing. Brides JUMP at this opportunity for me and for them! I get to experiment with a new design and they get something really different at a great bargain price! They love the idea that NO ONE is going to get that cake at the price they are paying.

Once I actually do the cake and find out what's involved, then I determined pricing for the next time (I call it a "Design Fee").

sari66 Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 3:05am
post #3 of 26

indydebi has it right on your first wedding cake is the scariest but once its done it's done! Once you have an order practice all the you've not done and by the time you get to the cake it's not so scary icon_smile.gif
You'll be fine

classiccake Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 3:26am
post #4 of 26

If you know how to support a tier on a cake, then you are in business! Practice doing a couple 2 and 3 tier cakes. Wedding cakes are simply larger cakes that are tiered!

pinkpiggie78 Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 1:22pm
post #5 of 26

Well I got the tiering out of the way this past weekend... I have been thinking about buying some cake dummies, covering them in fondant and doing a few simple designs just to add some to my portfolio.

jammjenks Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 6:52pm
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkpiggie78

Well I got the tiering out of the way this past weekend... I have been thinking about buying some cake dummies, covering them in fondant and doing a few simple designs just to add some to my portfolio.




Your cakes look really good. You will have no problem with wedding cakes. You should definately practice on some dummy cakes to build a portfolio. Brides will probably not be confident in you as a baker if you don't have some sort of portfolio that you can show them. Some won't ask, but if one does you want to be ready.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 7:10pm
post #7 of 26

Thank you jammjenks. February is going to be the month of governemtn red tape and dummy wedding cakes!! I definately want to be able to have some in my portfolio... I have also been toying with the idea of giving away two wedding cakes just to get my name out there and give me some practice... of course there will be a limit on servings, flavors, etc, but I thought it was a good way to both advertise, practice and get some real world experience in the wedding cake sector.

cvoges Posted 2 Feb 2009 , 7:29pm
post #8 of 26

I've only baked and decorated for one wedding. It was for one of my firends, and I surely didn't want to let her down. I bought the pans (14, 10, and 6 square) and did a practice run with them. I learned from the practice experience how to adjust my baking times and temps, as well as how much batter to use for each pan. I iced the cakes and practiced stacking them. I'm glad I spent the time working on this cake, because it gave me the knowledge base and confidence to go on to other projects, but I'm sure it made a difference in the outcome of the final project.

What did I do with all that wedding cake? I gave it away to friends and family a big ol' hunk at a time.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 23 Feb 2009 , 9:51pm
post #9 of 26

Well I completed my first run of wedding cake dummy examples. I am working on another design that I saw on Ace of Cakes and thought was interesting. Does anyone have any interesting simple, yet different cake designs they can point me to that I can try out? I am hoping to have about a dozen wedding cake examples...

cakedout Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 4:45pm
post #10 of 26

I can't count all the times I've said to a bride: "Sure, I can do that for you!"....then I frantically call my cake friend and ask: "How do I do this!?" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

As for design ideas: Spend some time going thru the cake galleries and pick out a few designs you know you could accomplish well. Make some more dummies and take lots of pics! thumbs_up.gif

When I was first starting out I had only a few pics of cakes I've actually done, so I would print out pics from magazines of cake designs I knew that I could re-create easily. So as the experience grew...and the number of wedding cakes increased, I'd replace those magazine pics with my own pics.

Good luck!

indydebi Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 4:54pm
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedout

I can't count all the times I've said to a bride: "Sure, I can do that for you!"....then I frantically call my cake friend and ask: "How do I do this!?" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif



icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif that's what I did with my City Skyline cake AND my real-ribbon-woven-into-the-basketweave cake. I energetically said, "Sure! We can do that!" then when they left, I slap myself on the forehead and go, "oh my god how I am going to do that!" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedout

When I was first starting out I had only a few pics of cakes I've actually done, so I would print out pics from magazines of cake designs I knew that I could re-create easily. So as the experience grew...and the number of wedding cakes increased, I'd replace those magazine pics with my own pics.



I have 2 3-ring binders ... Binder #1 is pics of my cakes and Binder #2 is pics of cakes from internet and magzs. What I tell a bride is that caking is like sewing or knitting. If you can knit or sew, then you can follow any pattern and make anything, even if you've never done it before.

Binder #1 shows you that I can knit. Binder #2 is the pattern book.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 5:17pm
post #12 of 26

I never thought about making a desidns book from magazines... sounds great! Thanks ladies! Ironically I kinda do that already with other cakes... I look through the galleries here, find stuff that I would like to try and send those pics to my friends who are asking for a cake... just never thought to do it in hard copy.

ccr03 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 5:19pm
post #13 of 26

The first wedding cake I did was this white on white cake for my sister's BIL.

Now I just look at them like individual cakes vs. one huge one

Lori17201 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 5:56pm
post #14 of 26

My first one was the assigned on in the Wilton II class. It was really easy. It's in my photos here. All the other ones were my designs. The one I did for the romantic challenge is not what I wanted, but my son and daughter in law came in that weekend so I rushed it so it could also be used for his birthday.
The canopy was supposed to be either royal icing swags or fondant ones, which didn't happen. The long strips of fondant were so soft that the puddle of fondant that was to just lay there pulled the entire things off the pillars. What was left was there just long enough to take the pictures.
I am going to be doing my first non-family/ friend wedding cake in Sept. I talked to the bride last night. She wants it very simple, no fondant and if possible whipped cream frosting. I have never done whipped cream frosting so I'll be playing with it this weekend, hoping to get the stabilization correct.

good luck with your cake!

Lori17201 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 5:57pm
post #15 of 26

My first one was the assigned on in the Wilton II class. It was really easy. It's in my photos here. All the other ones were my designs. The one I did for the romantic challenge is not what I wanted, but my son and daughter in law came in that weekend so I rushed it so it could also be used for his birthday.
The canopy was supposed to be either royal icing swags or fondant ones, which didn't happen. The long strips of fondant were so soft that the puddle of fondant that was to just lay there pulled the entire things off the pillars. What was left was there just long enough to take the pictures.
I am going to be doing my first non-family/ friend wedding cake in Sept. I talked to the bride last night. She wants it very simple, no fondant and if possible whipped cream frosting. I have never done whipped cream frosting so I'll be playing with it this weekend, hoping to get the stabilization correct.

good luck with your cake!

Lori17201 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 5:58pm
post #16 of 26

My first one was the assigned on in the Wilton II class. It was really easy. It's in my photos here. All the other ones were my designs. The one I did for the romantic challenge is not what I wanted, but my son and daughter in law came in that weekend so I rushed it so it could also be used for his birthday.
The canopy was supposed to be either royal icing swags or fondant ones, which didn't happen. The long strips of fondant were so soft that the puddle of fondant that was to just lay there pulled the entire things off the pillars. What was left was there just long enough to take the pictures.
I am going to be doing my first non-family/ friend wedding cake in Sept. I talked to the bride last night. She wants it very simple, no fondant and if possible whipped cream frosting. I have never done whipped cream frosting so I'll be playing with it this weekend, hoping to get the stabilization correct.

good luck with your cake!

skaggs1 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 6:39pm
post #17 of 26

I know when I got my first call for a wedding cake I was so nervous, but I was upfront with the bride and told her that this was my first one and she was totally ok with this. We met looked over the design's she picked one and let me tell you this was alot of cake. But you can do this and once it's done and over with you'll be telling yourself wow I freaked out over nothing!!

cylstrial Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 7:20pm
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi


I'll share what I do with a new design. On the home page of my website is my City Skyline cake. I had no real idea how much time it would take or what kind of things I would run into.

What I tell a bride is that since this is a new challenge for me, I'll do it for prototype pricing, which means she gets this cake at my normal flat-rate pricing. Brides JUMP at this opportunity for me and for them! I get to experiment with a new design and they get something really different at a great bargain price! They love the idea that NO ONE is going to get that cake at the price they are paying.

Once I actually do the cake and find out what's involved, then I determined pricing for the next time (I call it a "Design Fee").




That is such a great idea!

pinkpiggie78 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 7:21pm
post #19 of 26

I am a pretty upfront person... but I don't know if I want to announce that it is my "first" cake. If they asked me, I would tell them, but I don't know if I would offer that info to them.

enoid Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 8:09pm
post #20 of 26

When I was a nursing student the teachers told us never to tell a patient it was the first time you had done this procedure on a patient. Act confident even if you don't feel it. If they asked you just were to say "I haven't done it very many times".

skaggs1 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 9:01pm
post #21 of 26

With all do respect I'm not performing an operation on a person lol, it's a cake. The person I was doing this cake for was a friend of mine from long ago in my high school days.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 9:21pm
post #22 of 26

I would have no problem telling a friend... but my first "non-friend" wedding cake consult... I would like to not have that come up... icon_smile.gif

pinkpiggie78 Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 3:51pm
post #23 of 26

So has anyone ever turned down a cake because they didn't have the skills to do it and had no desire to learn how to do it? The first thing I think of is extension work or very intricate scroll work...

indydebi Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 4:01pm
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkpiggie78

So has anyone ever turned down a cake because they didn't have the skills to do it and had no desire to learn how to do it? The first thing I think of is extension work or very intricate scroll work...




I've turned down carved cakes ... mostly for cars ... one was for a Model T. One I turned down because he called at noon and wanted it for a dinner party THAT night! icon_surprised.gif I told him, "Do you have any idea how many DAYS it takes to do a cake like that?" icon_lol.gif I referred him to a very expensive and high end bakery "....see IF they can do it." He said, "I just called them and they said they needed more notice."

DUH!!!

But I'd never done chocolate cut-outs before I did my City Skyline cake. I'd never done real ribbon woven into the basketweave'd icing before I took on my first one (and it's almost become a signature cake now). And the biggie .... I'd never covered a cake fully in fondant before my friend asked me to help him out of a jam ... 6 days before the wedding ... and it was a SQUARE cake! icon_eek.gif

So sometimes you never know what you can do until you jump in and try!

And guess what .... I'm doing my first carved cake this May!! thumbs_up.gif

pinkpiggie78 Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 1:47pm
post #25 of 26

Thanks Indy. I think I would try most things, but extension work... just scares the bejeezes out of me. I just don't have the patience or a steady enough hand to do it. I would love to try it, but I could never except a wedding cake requiring it. Does anyone have a tactful way of telling a customer that the cake they are desiring is "out of your league" without sounding like you are a fool or losing possible prospective business from the person in the future? I am obviously speaking in hypothetical terms since I have no idea where my business is going to go, but to me it seems like a possibility I might have to deal with at least early on.

majka_ze Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 2:27pm
post #26 of 26

Although I make cakes only as hobby, which is sometimes paid for, there are few possibilities how to say no to a cake:
1. It is not only out of your league, but you don't expect to make it in next year or two.
- simply say: Sorry, I don't make this type of cake. How about that one ...
2. It is only this one cake.
- I would bend the truth: I don't have the time to make this cake. Then, I would find something to do for this day... and it will not be a lie.
- You could play up the price - to complicated/costly/...
3. There is possibility you could make the cake and you would try it.
This is something I sometimes do. You need a price, which pays not only the cake, but also the learning. You have not to make a profit, you have simply cover the cost. Your profit is the learning.
Bake the cake for your family / church / ... first.
In the end - only you can say which one is for you. The words "I can't make it" or similar would never leave my mouth.
You think the cake is above your level. But will it be in a half year or a year?

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