Help! Need Advice Fast!

Decorating By divaessence Updated 21 Aug 2009 , 2:25pm by divaessence

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 3:41pm
post #1 of 18

I have been approached about the possibility of doing some wedding cakes at my church.

My choir director fowarded some pics of a dummie cake I made to the church's wedding coordinator, who is looking for members who may be able to help with her services. This is the cake: http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1441113

This would be paid, mind you ... and my choir director is trying to help me out. BUT when she brought it up to me ... she said that she suggested me because she thinks I'm so good and could "give a better price" than the local bakeries.

Uh ... huh?

First of all, I am scarred to death to do wedding cakes for an actual client. I've heard too many bridezilla stories! I've told my husband that IF I ever do wedding cakes they would be for family and friends only. So, this would really be stepping out on faith!

Plus, we all know what kind of work goes into a wedding cake ... and I am just a fledgling decorator (I've been doing this less than a year), so it takes me quite a while. This is time away from my husband, my pets ... you know the drill. So, if I were to do this I would not want to undercharge myself. If anything, I want to be competitive with them. I don't even know how many bakeries in my area even work with gum paste.

And, what are fair prices? I know I can charge per slice for buttercream and fondant ... but what about the detail work - fondant flowers, drapes/ruffles, gum paste flowers, etc.?

I am at a loss here ... and expect to hear from the wedding coordinator soon. I just want to be able to give her some ballpark figures for my services, if I were to take this on.

Sorry this is so long! Any advice from you seasoned CCers would be great! Thanks in advance!

17 replies
catlharper Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 4:00pm
post #2 of 18

Since I don't know where you are located it's hard to say what is fair market price for your area. In my area I can get $3 per person on an "average" wedding cake which is plain buttercream with maybe swiss dots or some other simple decoration on it. For fondant that goes up to $4 a slice for that same "simple" type of design. More detail requires upping the price. For instance, if you look at my photos, you will see a pink and brown shower cake. That was vanilla buttercream with fondant details and was $4.50 per person or $135 for the total cake. For fondant on fondant that would have gone up to $5.5 a slice or $165 for the cake (based on a 30 serving estimate.) In my area really detailed fondant cakes can go for up to $8 per person but I know decorators who charge around the $10-$12 per person now that they have made a "name" for themselves. Your cake costs plus your labor are worth the money. IF you give a discount on those then you need to state that it is a discount and what you would charge if it were full fee. For instance "I can give you a break this one time on that cake and charge only $2 per person but normally it would be $3 per person" so that they know they can NOT come back for other cakes at the cheaper cost. Otherwise you will get business, at the cheaper rate!

Good luck! I'm really just starting out too..been doing it for about a year now and my business is growing fast. I'm getting past the "amateur" stage as far as licensing is concerned and having to deal with all the paperwork of doing that...not fun but I'll be happy when it's all done!

Cat

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 4:17pm
post #3 of 18

Thanks for the advice, Cat.

Where are you located? I am in Southern Indiana, near Louisville, Kentucky.

Lenette Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 4:19pm
post #4 of 18

Call around to the local bakeries or check out their websites. I do not know why folks think you should be any cheaper. If nothing else you will likely pay more for ingredients/supplies since you won't get them wholesale.

So, #1 check around to see what the going rates are, #2 calculate your cost to make the cake. Factor in everything down to the soap to wash the dishes. THEN make a price list and stick to your guns.

It is good to want to help but not to shortchange yourself. That will only lead to unhappiness and you will start to resent the cakes. Trust me on that!

In the meantime, if the coordinator calls, tell her your are working your numbers to have a price that is fair to all parties. You may just go ahead and tell her that you will not likely be less than other area bakers but comparable.

You will also want to check into licensing requirements in your area. Just to be on the safe side. No need all your hard earned money going to fines.

HTH and good luck with it! icon_smile.gif

MalibuBakinBarbie Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 4:36pm
post #5 of 18

I was going to say, like Lenette, check into the legality of what you want or plan to do. Some areas will not allow you to bake from a home kitchen where there are pets in the house (even if you keep them away from your work area). Some fines can be very steep and getting caught if you're not allowed to do it can sometimes result in an audit of your financial records. I am in no way saying this to scare you, or to rain on your parade (so to speak). But if another local bakery finds out you're doing wedding cakes for profit (or any money at all), depending on who they are and how upset they by you not being licensed, you could find yourself in a little bit of trouble. ... I don't know your area though. So maybe it's not a big deal. Or, maybe you could look into what would be required to do wedding cakes if you found a commercial kitchen to rent.

Good luck with this. Believe me, I know how enticing it is. I'm a home hobby baker for friends and family, and I frequently have to turn away people who want me to do special occasion cakes because I work with gumpaste, fondant, etc.

backermeister Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 5:02pm
post #6 of 18

Wedding cakes are certainly alot of work.....especially if you make everything from scratch like I do. I often do go to some of the bakeries around and get their price range, but also keep in mind that many of them such a grocery stores do not bake their cakes or make their frostings from scratch. This entails so much more work. I would speak to your church person that has asked you to do this and see if the church would be willing to donate their kitchen for the time you need for your cakes. They typically only use their cooking facilities on the weekends and they are already inspected and commercially licensed. That would solve that issue. I know many cake decorator's that rent or utilize their church's kitchen and it has worked out great. Just a thought......Also you might consider mmf because many bakeries use satin ice and it makes a cake much more expensive to prepare. I often can offer a better cake at a more reasonable price just because mmf costs almost nothing to make. hth icon_biggrin.gif

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 8:11pm
post #7 of 18

ALL GOOD ADVICE! icon_smile.gif
And, totally - the church does have a commercial kitchen ... so I assume that is where I would be making the cakes ... but I will make sure to ask that upfront! I do not want to be fined!
Any other tips?

Deb_ Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 8:45pm
post #8 of 18

Even if you use the church's kitchen, you'll still need to get it approved and you'll need a business license and insurance. It's a lot to think about.

If you're not comfortable doing this yet, then just be honest with the coordinator. It sounds as if they expect you to come in below market price and if that's the case it probably won't be worth your time.

I wouldn't have a problem with telling this woman that I may not be the baker/decorator she's looking for as my prices are not "bargain" level.

Good luck!

LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 9:02pm
post #9 of 18

I just had a vendor that I'm their preferred cake person, talk to me with another vendor about a church wanting us to be their exclusive vendors. Um, no, was my response. Why? Cause just what you said in the beganing, the "give a better price" part. I feel that is the attitude of most churchs. They feel cause they are a church you really shouldn't charge them. I only make cakes for MY church and I always say its free. They always like to "pay" me. How much? $50 for a fondant cake that serves 165 people. I don't take it personal, I know they don't know better, but it does say something about how the church may view these things.

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 9:16pm
post #10 of 18

dkelly -

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly



I wouldn't have a problem with telling this woman that I may not be the baker/decorator she's looking for as my prices are not "bargain" level.



Well said!

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 9:20pm
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

I only make cakes for MY church and I always say its free.




These cakes would be for my church, or rather people getting married at my church.

Now, if the cake was for a pastoral staff person ... I'd be all about that! I already did a free birthday cake for one of my choir directors.

But the wedding cakes will most likely be for people I do not know (I attend a very large church. In fact, it's one church spanning two states - multiple campuses).

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 9:47pm
post #12 of 18

Any other helpful tips?

LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 10:13pm
post #13 of 18

I made a wedding cake for a couple at my church and it turned out to be a very bad idea. They did not want to work with me on my time, but on their time. They acted as though they were doing me a favor. Did I mention I did the cake for free. I see that attitude a lot in the church. They expect a discount. Don't get me wrong, I know thats not everyone, but sometimes you just gotta be careful when dealing with "church folk". At best, I would offer a 5% discount. And to be honest, I personally wouldn't offer ANY discount. My cost don't change just cause its a cake for the church.

divaessence Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 10:21pm
post #14 of 18

LaBellaFlor -

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

My cost don't change just cause its a cake for the church.



See. That's where I am in my thinking right now. I know they think they're doing me a favor by drumming up some business for me -- but at the same time, isn't the church supposed to help build you up? You know, want to see you prosper? It's hard to prosper if people are always looking for a discount.

Am I wrong?

LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 10:24pm
post #15 of 18

Yes, they should want to see you prosper and as long as you tithe your 10% (yes, I absolutely believe in tithing) of what you make, you are still obeying God's laws. And no, I don't think your wrong.

__Jamie__ Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 10:32pm
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by divaessence

Any other helpful tips?




Yeah, I got some. Don't do it. The church folk are all going to think you will be a bargain and a cheap way out of things. And you'll be put in the position to "help folks out", not because they can't afford it or may not budget properly, but because come on, help out a fellow churchie be a pinchpenny.

BaBa Posted 21 Aug 2009 , 12:59am
post #17 of 18

I am also in southern Indiana, where city are you in? If I knew that maybe I could help you with sonme of your questions.

divaessence Posted 21 Aug 2009 , 2:25pm
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__

Quote:
Originally Posted by divaessence

Any other helpful tips?



Yeah, I got some. Don't do it. The church folk are all going to think you will be a bargain and a cheap way out of things. And you'll be put in the position to "help folks out", not because they can't afford it or may not budget properly, but because come on, help out a fellow churchie be a pinchpenny.




That is what I am afraid of! icon_cry.gif

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