Ordering So Many Fewer Servings Than Guest Count...?

Business By hsmomma Updated 25 Sep 2010 , 8:45pm by hsmomma

hsmomma Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 8:14pm
post #1 of 64

I've had many brides order cake for less than their confirmed guest count. For example: They have 106 guests coming and choose a cake that serves 100. They always say "not everyone eats cake". My usual response is "true...but, then some people eat 2 slices. So, definitely think about that when deciding... as you know your guests best".

Today, I get an email from a mother of one of my brides...stating that their final guest count is 268. And they think 170 cupcakes is enough. I originally met with her and she asked for 200 cupcakes with the possibility of more. Basically the budget is getting tight and she only has enough money left to pay for 170.

What would you do in this situation? Part of me thinks...just do the order, that's what she asked for. The other "business side" of me thinks that if she is short 100 cupcakes...people are going to assume the "cake lady" didn't make enough. Which could end up hurting my business and my ability to contract with anyone at the reception that thinks the "error" was on my end.

I have let her know my concern of her being SO short on cupcakes for her guests. I'm waiting to hear her response. I'm contracted to do the order...so I will. I'm just trying to figure out how to handle people thinking I'm the reason for the shortage. Thinking I should include on my cake cutting guide that I always provide (lists the cake flavors and my contact info. for the venue along with a "what to return" for the couple) a bolded area that specifically states:
"Client ordered 170 cupcakes, 100 less than confirmed guest count". That way the venue or anybody that asks the venue knows that I did what I was contracted for.

What are your thoughts? How would you handle this?

ps. I suggested a smaller wedding cake with side cakes might work better as less people are apt to grab a slice to go as they will with cupcakes. Or, the staff could cut the cake slices smaller if needed...but, she said the venue charges 1.25 per person cake cutting fee but, no cutting fee for cupcake towers that is why they went that way.

63 replies
sari66 Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 8:39pm
post #2 of 64

Wow, that is interesting I wonder how they are going to decide who doesn't get a cupcake? and how will they keep someone from taking two? I don't know what to say about guest thinking it's your fault because my thought would be why the bride didn't order enough, but if you do get asked at some later date you can just say I provided what the family asked for.
I would let the venue know that you were contracted to make 170 and that's what you provided, if they decide to go this way which I hope not.
Good luck

erin12345 Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 9:01pm
post #3 of 64

I like the idea of stating that fewer cupcakes were ordered than guest count given. The people serving them might be wondering what happened to the rest of the cupcakes! This way there will be no doubt that everything was delivered. Why is it that halls charge so much extra for cutting a cake? I would think that the labor involved with cutting the cake would take the place of the labor for preparing and serving another dessert. No charge or a very modest charge at best.

Swanfam Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 9:09pm
post #4 of 64

I agree with sari66 about letting the venue know and/or adding it into the contract. But if I were a guest at a wedding that didn't have enough cake/cupcakes, I wouldn't assume it was the cake lady's fault - I would assume that the family didn't order enough cake. I think the majority of guests - if they even think about it at all - won't blame you for the shortage.

Also - along the same lines, there are some threads in the cake business forum that talk about what to do when the bride orders less cake then guests. One of the best tips I gleaned from reading through those is this: When you're talking to the bride for your initial consultation, ask "how many guests are you inviting" not "how many servings will you need." This slight change in wording helps to get around the problem of the bride (who's inviting 200 guests) only ordering a 100 serving cake from you and then getting Costco sheet cakes for the other 100. I know that's not really the problem you're facing here, but it really helped me to read through the other forums on this topic.

Good luck!

hsmomma Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 9:29pm
post #5 of 64

Thanks both of you for the replies. It's good to hear that it isn't likely that the guests would assume it was a shortage on my part...that just worries me. 100 servings short is alot.

I do ask initially how many guests they are inviting. Because then I give them an estimate based on how many of those invited they believe will show. Just gives them a rough guesstimate of their cost. Then when we do the final contract a few weeks prior, I ask how many guests rsvped. And that is typically the number we do for servings. Though some do decide to go with more "in case" the extras decide to show. If there is a huge discrepancy (like this situation), I then ask them about it. That is how I found out about the cupcake shortage this time.

Thanks for your help ~ I think I am going to include how many cupcakes I was contracted for in my cake guide for the venue. That way if anybody asks... the answer is more likely to be "that's all they ordered" then that's all the "cake lady brought".

I am going to encourage her to order more once again during our final meeting on Friday.

Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it!

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 9:32pm
post #6 of 64

She's ordering less because she's going to sneak in cheaper sheet cake and/or cupcakes from the grocery store in. Hopefully you have a clause in your contract specifically prohibiting that.

CindiM Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 9:46pm
post #7 of 64

They can afford 268 guest, but can't afford over 170 cupcakes. Huh? icon_eek.gif

You are right. Do the math. As my husband likes to say, The cake is not important to them.

I did a 200 cupcake wedding and they never served them. Just a giant display and the family took all of them home. The Chef (a friend of mine) at the venue could not belive it!

mandyloo Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 10:08pm
post #8 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

She's ordering less because she's going to sneak in cheaper sheet cake and/or cupcakes from the grocery store in. Hopefully you have a clause in your contract specifically prohibiting that.




That was my first thought, too... icon_confused.gif

jason_kraft Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:05pm
post #9 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

She's ordering less because she's going to sneak in cheaper sheet cake and/or cupcakes from the grocery store in. Hopefully you have a clause in your contract specifically prohibiting that.



If OP has such a clause in their contract, they will probably end up getting paid for 0 cupcakes instead of 170, since the bride will just use another bakery.

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:11pm
post #10 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

She's ordering less because she's going to sneak in cheaper sheet cake and/or cupcakes from the grocery store in. Hopefully you have a clause in your contract specifically prohibiting that.


If OP has such a clause in their contract, they will probably end up getting paid for 0 cupcakes instead of 170, since the bride will just use another bakery.




Possibly. I'm sure I've lost out on business with that requirement. And it's oooookay with me! But I would rather not see my creations next to some lowly plastic packaged crap from Walmart. thumbs_up.gif

angelwings1 Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:20pm
post #11 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

She's ordering less because she's going to sneak in cheaper sheet cake and/or cupcakes from the grocery store in. Hopefully you have a clause in your contract specifically prohibiting that.


If OP has such a clause in their contract, they will probably end up getting paid for 0 cupcakes instead of 170, since the bride will just use another bakery.



Possibly. I'm sure I've lost out on business with that requirement. And it's oooookay with me! But I would rather not see my creations next to some lowly plastic packaged crap from Walmart. thumbs_up.gif




Wow

jason_kraft Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:21pm
post #12 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

She's ordering less because she's going to sneak in cheaper sheet cake and/or cupcakes from the grocery store in. Hopefully you have a clause in your contract specifically prohibiting that.


If OP has such a clause in their contract, they will probably end up getting paid for 0 cupcakes instead of 170, since the bride will just use another bakery.



Possibly. I'm sure I've lost out on business with that requirement. And it's oooookay with me! But I would rather not see my creations next to some lowly plastic packaged crap from Walmart. thumbs_up.gif



This was discussed earlier in another thread...it doesn't make sense to me to drive away perfectly good business when you can have a friendlier sole source clause that requires all baked goods to be clearly labeled if multiple vendors or homemade items are being served.

Not that you can really enforce a sole source clause anyway, unless you plan on attending the entire event.

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:26pm
post #13 of 64

There's no wow about it. All of the established and respectable decorators in my area very enthusiastically include that clause in their contracts. They might not come out and say why so bluntly like I, but that's one of the reasons why. Someone thought the nasty cupcakes were too dry? Blame the baker of the cake! Oh, you mean no one told everyone that the wedding cake maker didn't do the cupcakes? What a shame.

jenmat Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:27pm
post #14 of 64

one word on the form you send. Never give an accusing tone: "Client ordered 170 cupcakes, 100 less than confirmed guest count" or whatever. Just put "client ordered 170 servings."
they will do the math. A lot of halls will return that form with the items to be returned and bride will receive the form.

angelwings1 Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:33pm
post #15 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

There's no wow about it. All of the established and respectable decorators in my area very enthusiastically include that clause in their contracts. They might not come out and say why so bluntly like I, but that's one of the reasons why. Someone thought the nasty cupcakes were too dry? Blame the baker of the cake! Oh, you mean no one told everyone that the wedding cake maker didn't do the cupcakes? What a shame.




I guess I'm just not "respectable", then. I was under the impression that if someone hires you, you work for them, not the other way around. If you can afford to turn down work because people won't play your way, more power to you. I can't afford it. And, since I'm already showing myself to be an unrespectable low-life, I'll even admit something else. I've eaten WalMart cakes (YES, I said it!) and they weren't so bad! And I've actually bought Costco cakes, because I think they're good! There, now it's all out in the open. I am surely going to cake-makers hell, now. icon_rolleyes.gif

cakesbycathy Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:34pm
post #16 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

There's no wow about it. All of the established and respectable decorators in my area very enthusiastically include that clause in their contracts. They might not come out and say why so bluntly like I, but that's one of the reasons why. Someone thought the nasty cupcakes were too dry? Blame the baker of the cake! Oh, you mean no one told everyone that the wedding cake maker didn't do the cupcakes? What a shame.




Thank you! I got completely frustrated on the other thread about the sole source agreement.

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:36pm
post #17 of 64

Since when does the customer dictate how things will run? I have the say so in my business! I have lots of business too. Not bragging, but I offer a lot and take care of my clients very well. I do things very differently than the run of the mill. There's room for everyone in this business, but I run it my way, and if people want my serviuces, then they can agree to the terms.

jason_kraft Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:38pm
post #18 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

There's no wow about it. All of the established and respectable decorators in my area very enthusiastically include that clause in their contracts. They might not come out and say why so bluntly like I, but that's one of the reasons why. Someone thought the nasty cupcakes were too dry? Blame the baker of the cake! Oh, you mean no one told everyone that the wedding cake maker didn't do the cupcakes? What a shame.



As I mentioned in my previous post, a friendlier clause that clearly labels desserts at the event will let the guests tell the difference. But if you have a harsh clause that disallows all other baked goods, and the bride needs to bring in other desserts to meet their budget, they will either find another vendor, sneak in the other desserts after you leave, or simply ignore the clause. After all, would you really be willing to take your cake and go home over this, risking a huge hit to your reputation and possibly being blackballed by the venue?

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:42pm
post #19 of 64

I've taken a cake back. Didn't bother me! Wanna hear the story? It's good! Leaving work now, so I can come back this evening.

jason_kraft Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:42pm
post #20 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

There's room for everyone in this business, but I run it my way, and if people want my serviuces, then they can agree to the terms.



Have you ever actually enforced that particular term of your contract at the venue (i.e. you see other desserts the bride did not disclose), or is it more of a bluff?

I would definitely be interested in hearing that story.

katystinykitchen Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 11:52pm
post #21 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

I've taken a cake back. Didn't bother me! Wanna hear the story? It's good! Leaving work now, so I can come back this evening.




Yes please! icon_biggrin.gif

LisaPeps Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:06am
post #22 of 64

I agree with Kimmykakes.

I haven't tasted US grocery store cakes as I'm from the UK, however, I have tasted UK cakes and I quite enjoy some of them...

But... If I had spent the time, the money, the effort and the skill to make the tried and tested recipes and decorate the custom home made cakes, cupcakes, cookies etc... I wouldn't want them to be mixed in with any other desserts. If there's one bad dessert in the bunch from the grocery store, the guests aren't going to think that there are two different vendors, you are the baker... in their eyes you catered for all the desserts.

LisaPeps Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:08am
post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by katystinykitchen

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

I've taken a cake back. Didn't bother me! Wanna hear the story? It's good! Leaving work now, so I can come back this evening.



Yes please! icon_biggrin.gif




I would also like to hear the story ^_^

jenmat Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:13am
post #24 of 64

back to the topic at hand, I've done a lot of cupcake weddings, and unless the cupcakes are placed at each spot, most brides WAAAY under-order. Many times they put the stand on the "candy table" that's so popular, and they only need about 50% of their guest count. My favorite type of wedding, nope, but hey, I'm gettin paid, I don't care!

gatorcake Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:16am
post #25 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

There's no wow about it. All of the established and respectable decorators in my area very enthusiastically include that clause in their contracts. They might not come out and say why so bluntly like I, but that's one of the reasons why. Someone thought the nasty cupcakes were too dry? Blame the baker of the cake! Oh, you mean no one told everyone that the wedding cake maker didn't do the cupcakes? What a shame.


As I mentioned in my previous post, a friendlier clause that clearly labels desserts at the event will let the guests tell the difference. But if you have a harsh clause that disallows all other baked goods, and the bride needs to bring in other desserts to meet their budget, they will either find another vendor, sneak in the other desserts after you leave, or simply ignore the clause. After all, would you really be willing to take your cake and go home over this, risking a huge hit to your reputation and possibly being blackballed by the venue?




I read your posts in the other thread and I do see your point about the threat to business. But there is also a risk to business by having individuals assume lower quality goods were provided by the primary provider of the baked goods.

In addition every argument you make against the "harsh" sole provider clause can be used against your more friendly clause. Are you not going to leave your goods if they refuse to label them? What if they put up a label and them remove it after you leave--are you going to stay and make sure they do not remove them? What if the course of taking pictures of the cake, the labels are mixed up? What about guests who do not bother to read the labels and just assume you made everything?

Point is you can play what if games with your more friendly clause as well which make it as useless as the harsher clause you are arguing against. While your concerns are valid, so are the concerns of the person who opts for the more stringent clause. There is a risk to business no matter which clause someone opts for and those with the harsher clause seem to be doing just fine.

Anyway am waiting to hear the story about the undelivered cake thumbs_up.gif

jason_kraft Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:33am
post #26 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorcake

In addition every argument you make against the "harsh" sole provider clause can be used against your more friendly clause.



The difference is in your ability to enforce the clause. If your clause requires clear labeling and there are no labels at the site, you can easily make some on the spot. Yes, someone could remove the labels for some reason or they could get mixed up, but I think a label that says "wedding cake" in front of some cookies would be corrected pretty easily. Someone could also sneeze on your cake, or birds could fly in and dive bomb your cupcake tower. Point is, you can't control everything that goes on at the venue.

If your clause says no other baked goods may be in the same room and you spot other baked goods, you must either force the bride to remove the other items or take back your cake. I can't think of a way for either of things to happen without someone getting really pissed off, so I'm very curious to see how kimmy handled it.

jlynnw Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:43am
post #27 of 64

I really don't think I want to have an event where I have to label my cake wedding cake by the bakery. auntie em's famous cupcakes. Grandma's cookies, etc. Does that not take the elegance of the event and turn it into a family reunion potluck wih and incredible cake as the centerpiece?

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 12:54am
post #28 of 64

I love this story so much, I never get tired of telling it.

Basically in a nutshell, bridezilla from from the start. but she wanted a really fancy cake, she seemed like she was good for the money, drew her a sketch, used my metallic markers (what a waste of ink in retrospect!), yada yada, real nice cake. Thought she understood per slice price. When it came to the contract, I had her inital everywhere, especially the no other cake/cupcakes part. Signed it without incident, and I know she actually read it. She really did look over every single line instead of just what most people do, sign sign sign, not really looking. Ok, never thought there would be an issue.

Two weeks before wedding, she comes to pay balance, Only has "some" of it. What's the deal? Oh, uh, well we had to cut our guest list. Oh, well this makes a much smaller cake, and usually I would not accept anything other than full payment, no changes to price, etc. But I did. So she got a smaller cake, and I was pissed that I let that happen.

THEN a few days later, I happened to be downtown buying new window shades that is next door to one of the rental companies that does chairs, linens, flower vases, etc. I see them unpacking brand new white wooden folding chairs. I know the delivery guy who is unloading. Wow! That's a lot of new chairs! He says "yeah, we didn't have enough in stock for the "XXXXX" wedding next week, so we had to get more. PLUS the bride changed the chair style on us a few days ago. I asked, oh how many is she getting anyways (gears are already turning!) He said 500, same amount. This conversation with delivery man is taking place several days AFTER she came to pay balance.

Red flags yet you think? Oh it gets better. So fast forward to day of. I go to deliver cake, it has to be set up in a funky little wooded area under this stupid oak tree that you have to walk down steps to. Guess who is at the bottom of the hill? Well, I'm not really sure who it was, and I don't care. But it was a woman in a messy black shirt with a toddler, and a huge stack of cupcake boxes. AND she looked like she didn't know where she was.

I turned right around and left. Oh yes I did. I heard from the bride that night. Way after the reception, so I know she knew she got caught and wasn't getting out of it. I told her quite plainly, not only did you knowingly break the agreement, but you went of your way to lie about it as well.

So I guess she saved money by having some cupcakes, sacrificed the huge cake she was going to get from me, and I learned some valuable lessons. That design was really nice, I couldn't say no at the time. NOW, oh I have balls.

momma28 Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 1:15am
post #29 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimmyKakes4Me

I love this story so much, I never get tired of telling it.

Basically in a nutshell, bridezilla from from the start. but she wanted a really fancy cake, she seemed like she was good for the money, drew her a sketch, used my metallic markers (what a waste of ink in retrospect!), yada yada, real nice cake. Thought she understood per slice price. When it came to the contract, I had her inital everywhere, especially the no other cake/cupcakes part. Signed it without incident, and I know she actually read it. She really did look over every single line instead of just what most people do, sign sign sign, not really looking. Ok, never thought there would be an issue.

Two weeks before wedding, she comes to pay balance, Only has "some" of it. What's the deal? Oh, uh, well we had to cut our guest list. Oh, well this makes a much smaller cake, and usually I would not accept anything other than full payment, no changes to price, etc. But I did. So she got a smaller cake, and I was pissed that I let that happen.

THEN a few days later, I happened to be downtown buying new window shades that is next door to one of the rental companies that does chairs, linens, flower vases, etc. I see them unpacking brand new white wooden folding chairs. I know the delivery guy who is unloading. Wow! That's a lot of new chairs! He says "yeah, we didn't have enough in stock for the "XXXXX" wedding next week, so we had to get more. PLUS the bride changed the chair style on us a few days ago. I asked, oh how many is she getting anyways (gears are already turning!) He said 500, same amount. This conversation with delivery man is taking place several days AFTER she came to pay balance.

Red flags yet you think? Oh it gets better. So fast forward to day of. I go to deliver cake, it has to be set up in a funky little wooded area under this stupid oak tree that you have to walk down steps to. Guess who is at the bottom of the hill? Well, I'm not really sure who it was, and I don't care. But it was a woman in a messy black shirt with a toddler, and a huge stack of cupcake boxes. AND she looked like she didn't know where she was.

I turned right around and left. Oh yes I did. I heard from the bride that night. Way after the reception, so I know she knew she got caught and wasn't getting out of it. I told her quite plainly, not only did you knowingly break the agreement, but you went of your way to lie about it as well.

So I guess she saved money by having some cupcakes, sacrificed the huge cake she was going to get from me, and I learned some valuable lessons. That design was really nice, I couldn't say no at the time. NOW, oh I have balls.




LOVE IT!!

jlynnw Posted 17 Sep 2010 , 2:00am
post #30 of 64

I am so proud of you! I know it must have been quite irratating at the time.

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