Is Making Wedding Cakes Really Worth It?

Decorating By Ladiesofthehouse Updated 1 Mar 2009 , 3:28pm by Narie

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 1:18am
post #1 of 23

As I type my husband is waiting for the concrete truck to show up to pour the foundation for my new legal baking kitchen! This is a dream come true for me, something I have waited and saved years and years for.

I have already established several really good customers through word of mouth and have been catering (using a legal kitchen) here and there, with a 300 person job coming up in June. I sell pies and have really seen a big demand for my decorated sugar cookies, artisan bread and regular birthday cakes.

My question: is it worth it for me to make wedding cakes? I have made stacked birthday cakes without problems and have some experience with fondant, gumpaste flowers, modeling chocolate, etc. I don't have many pictures in my file, I just haven't been taking pics as I get things done because I am usually running out the door to deliver them, but I am getting better at that.

The only other actual wedding cake decorator that lives here retired last year and I purchased some of her wedding cake stuff at garage sale prices. She assured me it's no bigger deal to make a wedding cake than a regular birthday cake, but I can't seem to just poke a stick at anything--I want to do it right or not at all.

She has offered to help me a little bit, but her cakes were almost all the old-type Wilton cakes with pillars and dripping with buttercream flowers and she never did fondant. Do modern brides even want that kind of cake anymore?

We are on an island in Alaska, population 8500. We are on the cruise ship line, so from late April through September we have hundreds of thousands of extra people in town, sometimes 4 cruise ships a day are docked here. And some of those people travel here to get married. I have also done birthday cakes for people on yachts and they don't mind paying well for their cakes--it's nice!

As far as I know there were at least 10 people married here last year and the only person left in town that makes wedding cakes does it only occasionally, hit and miss because of her small children.

Do you think it is worth the time and $$$ investment I will need to make for maybe 10 weddings a year? I found an awesome decorator in Anchorage that gives classes, and I am willing travel there do that if it would be an asset to my business.

Or should I just keep on telling people I don't do wedding cakes and be done with it? I don't think I would handle Bridezilla very well--honestly, do those brides really happen that often or am I spending too much time in the Cake Disasters forum LOL

My husband thinks I am crazy to turn down another business opportunity knocking on my door, but he doesn't understand the unique stress involved with this type of cake---he just sees the $$$ per serving.

Thanks for ANY input--I am literally losing sleep over this since the kitchen is forging ahead and wedding season is fast approaching.

Kris icon_eek.gif

22 replies
-K8memphis Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 2:29am
post #2 of 23

You can make a lot more on weddings than you can on artisan bread.

If you make tiered birthday cakes, what kind of further investment do you need to make? On the training? Sure if you think you need that. I mean if you need more pans you can acquire them as you get orders too.

Deb_ Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 3:32am
post #3 of 23

Sometimes an over excited Mom of a 1 yr old is more stressful then a bride and groom.

I think you should do them, especially since there isn't another baker in your area.

Good luck with your new shop and the construction, how exciting for you!

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 3:40am
post #4 of 23

More $$$ in supplies and it is quite expensive to get anything here--no Walmart, Michaels, Joanns, or anything remotely like that. We have a gourmet kitchen store that the tourists love and I have talked the owner into ordering a few Chicago Meatallic pans for me. I asked this weekend if she would order me 12" and 14" pans and she said probably not because she has a minimum to order and nobody else will buy the others that I don't get. She got me 8", 9" and 10" because the rest of her minimum will eventually sell to casual bakers in town. Anything heavy I order online kills me in shipping because everything has to be via air.

I also don't know anything about cake tastings, etc. I realize I can make more money doing wedding cakes, I am uncertain if it is worth it as far as the stress of dealing with the bride and family, delivery, set-up, etc.

I messed up a birthday cake once (it cracked in the middle) and they were disappointed, but there was no crying, hysterical hissy fit like I read some of these brides do after the wedding. I would be devastated if I had to refund hundreds of dollars because of a mistake with a wedding cake after days of work baking and decorating.

Thanks for the response.

Kris

Rocketgirl899 Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 3:44am
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

You can make a lot more on weddings than you can on artisan bread.

If you make tiered birthday cakes, what kind of further investment do you need to make? On the training? Sure if you think you need that. I mean if you need more pans you can acquire them as you get orders too.




I agree.. icon_biggrin.gif



and...



uhhh 1st time mother on child's first birthday.... MISERABLE

if it's not the perfect shade of pistachio (what there are shades of pistachio?!?!?!) you will ruin my kids LIFE.

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 3:45am
post #6 of 23

dkelly:

Thanks for the reply! I agree about the mom of the 1 year old icon_twisted.gif

Do you have formal training with wedding cakes, or are you self taught?

Kris

-K8memphis Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 4:11am
post #7 of 23

What is the shopkeeper's minimum? Maybe you could get a nice order together in one fell swoop. After I wrote what I wrote I started thinking about the shipping issues to Alaska. Can you pick stuff up when you're in Fairbanks? I don't know.

But still, I take my cake money in no more than three payments. First one, retains the date--no refunds on any payments received--take that first payment and buy your equipment for that cake. The next third buys all your ingredients and consumables. The last third is pay day!!

So set your pricing up to accomodate the investment you'll have to make. If you have little to no competition, hey go for it, CakeBuddy!!

So eventually you will be able to stop buying equipment with that first portion of payment. Works for moi.

http://cooksdream.com/ >>>this company says they use the 3-day rate to alaska, they are in tacoma wa.

Monkess Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 4:15am
post #8 of 23

Kris-first, how exciting! Maybe its the romantic in me but your island conjures up so many lovely images in my mind and I can go on day dreaming about being the only baker on an idyllic island!!icon_smile.gif
Now to serious stuff-you dont sound too confident and I agree with you-ruining a birthday cake is one thing but someones wedding-I dont think anyone of us can live with that. Having said that, you can always build on your skill sets by taking those courses and eventually I do see this shaping up nicely.
What I would do is to have a few wedding cakes down pat-maybe even just a few, perhaps not very tall-something you are comfortable with. Make up dummies, pictures etc. and then restrict your brides to them until you get comfy with the idea. Also if these are cruise ship brides, do they order well in advance? how do tastings work for them?
CC is a great resource for learning how to's.
I see the new kitchen and the retiring of competion as a brilliant stroke of good luck. Best wishes!

sweet1122 Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 4:36am
post #9 of 23

Just wanted to add an option for your cake pans... you can order from amazon. They have all the magic line pans, fat daddios and wilton pans. All are free shipping and no tax. Oh! And, buy 3 get 1 free (read the specials down below the description), that's on all qualifying home/garden items, which I've found MOST of my cake decorating supplies fall into! Happy Shopping! icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 5:00am
post #10 of 23

I think you have a golden opportunity in front of you and you can't see the forest for the trees.

A wedding cake is just a bunch of decorated birthday cakes all stacked up on each other ... and you've done stacked birthdays. If you anticipate cruise line business, would you even have to worry about samplings? Start schmoozing that cruise line ... become their "official wedding cake supplier". They can include the cake in the price of their wedding package and they just order "a wedding cake ... 3 tiers ... for 80 people" from you. Heck, you'd probably never even see the bride!

I'd rather deal with a persnickety bride any day than a birthday mom! aaauuuggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KoryAK Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 7:17am
post #11 of 23

Hey Kris, I'm in Anchorage and my main business is wedding cakes. Trust me you can get a lot more for those than bread and cookies any day of the week. Get the supplies as you need them (s ugarcraft.com will ship postal and decopac.com has flat $27 shipping for fondant and some other supplies) and go for it! Its really not that different. Also, we could try to work out something where I ship stuff to you that is available locally (i.i. pans and pillar type stuff).

xstitcher Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 7:40am
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

Also, we could try to work out something where I ship stuff to you that is available locally (i.i. pans and pillar type stuff).




That's so nice of you KoryAK!

I also think what k8memphis post about the 3 separate payments and using the 1st one to order all your equipment/supplies is a great idea.

Go for it especially if you think you'll ever regret not doing this later.

icon_smile.gif

Deb_ Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 12:20pm
post #13 of 23

[quote="Ladiesofthehouse"]dkelly:

Thanks for the reply! I agree about the mom of the 1 year old icon_twisted.gif

Do you have formal training with wedding cakes, or are you self taught?

Kris[/quote

Hi Kris,

I've been doing cakes for over 25 yrs, I've taken the Wilton Courses over the years, but mostly I'm self-taught. I worked in a bakery doing everything as a young girl and that was a great experience as well.

I've also learned a TON just since I've been here on CC. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones (and I hope I didn't just jinx myself) but, I've never had an issue with a bride. I think people in my neck of the woods here in MA are a little more laid back when it comes to weddings.
I have only had maybe 5 brides in all those years that used a Wedding Planner. It's just not popular in my particular area. Now I'm sure near Boston, you get more of that type of element.

I didn't even think of the shipping to AK thing, but maybe if you ordered in bulk it would work out OK. In the beginning you may not make as much per cake, but once you have all your pans and stuff, you'll make more.

Koryak........I've been on a number of cruises, they have amazing pastry chefs on those ships. You should see the creations these men and woman put out. I'm pretty sure they'd supply the Wedding cake for their guests being married. But, hey it wouldn't hurt to try.

Good luck!
Deb

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 6:40pm
post #14 of 23

KoryAK: Thank you for the offer! I really appreciate that. I have visited your website before and love your cakes.

indydebi: Thank you for the ideas and yes, wedding cakes are like stacked birthday cakes. That's what I keep telling myself.

sweet1122: I have looked through Amazon because of the free shipping and I thought the Fat Daddios and such were from other sellers and didn't qualify for free shipping? I may have to look again--thanks.

Monkess: It is gorgeous here and idyllic! I had the same idea for starting out, to just have a few cakes that the brides can pick from. Thanks!

dkelly: I have learned more on CC in 6 months than I ever knew about cakes. Reading how-to books is great, but asking somebody actually doing what you are trying to learn is so much better!

k8memphis: THANK YOU for the WA website--I hadn't seen them before and they use Priority Mail! That is a godsend for me. I can't tell you how many times I have filled out a shopping cart, getting all excited that I can get product shipped and then they add their AK service charge of $30-40 onto the shipping total. And I LOVE your payment plan. That will work perfectly for me until I am situated with pans, etc. I never would have thought of that--thank you so much.

Wow. This means I have decided Grandma Tillie's Bakery now does wedding cakes!

I think I better sit down for a minute.

Kris

-K8memphis Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 7:22pm
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladiesofthehouse



k8memphis: THANK YOU for the WA website--I hadn't seen them before and they use Priority Mail! That is a godsend for me. I can't tell you how many times I have filled out a shopping cart, getting all excited that I can get product shipped and then they add their AK service charge of $30-40 onto the shipping total. And I LOVE your payment plan. That will work perfectly for me until I am situated with pans, etc. I never would have thought of that--thank you so much.

Wow. This means I have decided Grandma Tillie's Bakery now does wedding cakes!

I think I better sit down for a minute.

Kris




Wow, thanks for making my day, GF.

And multiplied congratulations <sniff sniff> I'm very happy for you.

Yes sit down and get you a cold one--er maybe it should be a hot toddy considering the whole Alaska angle. Anyhow--

!!!YAY!!!

akgirl10 Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 7:36pm
post #16 of 23

Are you in Kodiak? I think that's a great opportunity for wedding cakes, where else are they going to get them? Global sugar art also ships via USPS priority mail. Also, depending on what you need, you might see if partycraft in Anchorage would ship to you. The ladies there are very nice about ordering special cake supplies. I'm not in the caking business, but they ordered larger sized Satin Ice for me, which saved me quite a few bucks.

michellesArt Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 7:48pm
post #17 of 23

i think if your are in the tourist area and have people come in for weddings, that's your ticket-who on a cruise has the time for tastings ect... you could have a few simple flavour/filling combos available, how many servings do they need and when and bam! you're done (i think the brides on a cruise would be more relaxed than those bridzillas you've been reading about) glad to hear you'll make a go of it icon_smile.gif

xstitcher Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 3:41am
post #18 of 23

I'm so glad to hear you decided to go for it.

Yaaaah for you!!!!!!!!!

Image (I thought I'd join you in your celebration icon_biggrin.gif )

Monkess Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 1:48pm
post #19 of 23

Sniff, a happy one for you! congratulations and reber your cc family is behind you all the way! Go for it girl!

sweetjan Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 2:14pm
post #20 of 23

Keep CC posted on your progress!! Best Wishes to you, sounds like a great opportunity.
And Rocketgirl899....hysterical! icon_lol.gif

kjt Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 2:22pm
post #21 of 23

YIPEE!!! I'm so glad you decided to take this awesome opportunity and go with it! Exclusive Baker (remember, not just wedding cakes, those cruise people have birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, corporate events) to the Cruise Line ?Extroidinaire icon_surprised.gif. Man, this could be a ticket to...somewhere icon_biggrin.gif .
Seriously, all the support and knowledge available here, your experience, and the offer of help from the "former" wedding caker (I mean, even if she isn't up on all the latest decorating trends, she can still bake, torte, fill, and crumb coat, right?!? I know that you'd want her to use your recipes, etc, but if you know her work...
At any rate a big congratulations, and best wishes. Breathe, breathe - this is going to be fun!

Warm regards,
Kathy
from Georgia, where they are predicting snow - 1/2 to 1 inch POSSIBLE accumulation and the bread and milk at Kroger is GONE - in the south, if it MIGHT snow I guess most people run home and make french toast icon_confused.gif .

Rexy Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 2:36pm
post #22 of 23

I would definitely go for it! I was worried about getting into wedding cakes, but I find them MUCH easier than birthdays. I can get more money doing one wedding cake and spend a lot less time, than doing 10 birthday cakes!
I agree you should try and work with the cruise lines. You could come up with 6 signature cakes that you feel comfortable making and they choose from those only.
Good luck!

Narie Posted 1 Mar 2009 , 3:28pm
post #23 of 23

"Do modern brides even want that kind of cake anymore?" Maybe not dripping with buttercream flowers, but Indydebi does wedding cakes all the time, and she just recently added fondant to her arsenal of tools. I would seriously doubt that many destination brides need large, elaborate wedding cakes. Small tiered cakes that serve just a few people might be more what they are looking for-that may be all they need or want. Something like this might fit the bill. http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/doublesided_sash_cake-thumb.jpg

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