cakesbycathy Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 12:30am
post #1 of

I want to cry and throw up at the same time, I am so, so, so upset about this. I'm upset that the whole thing happened but I'm also upset that I don't know what happened.

Bride (who is just so sweet) ordered a 5 tier wedding cake. 6-8-10-12-14 rounds.
6-8-10 were white cake (straight box mix, very moist- recipe I have used a thousand times without any problem) with strawberry filling
12 was a snickerdoodle cake (doctored mix) with cinnamon buttercream
14 was marble cake (doctored mix) with chocolate ganache filling

Buttercream icing.

Bride made the cake stand herself. 16 inch round Wilton plate with four 3" pillars (also wilton) glued to another 16 inch round Wilton plate (so the pillars were glued inbetween the plates. Make sense?) The stand was completely sturdy.

The topper was 8 silk roses and a monogram letter (plastic kind you get at Pat Catan's).
I delivered at 3:15. Left at 3:45. I used SPS. Stacked on site. When I left the cake was perfectly fine. I have the pictures to prove this.

Venue calls at 5:45 and tells me the cake is leaning and the MOB wants me to come back and fix it. I was truly stunned to get the call. Reception starts at 6. I race back. I arrive at 6:08 and see that the top 3 tiers are leaning towards the back. The bottom 2 tiers were fine.

I honestly do not know what happened that the top 3 tiers would lean like that. I ended up cutting little pieces of cake board to put under the tiers to kind of prop it up so it didn't look so bad, but of course smooshed the buttercream so had to try and smooth it out to fix it (all this while guests, MOB and groom look on). That part was at the back so I don't think it was as noticable.

I didn't know what else to do. It was warm in the room but when I mentioned that the 2 ladies from the venue got all defensive ("What if it was winter and we had the heat on?"). I don't think anyone moved the cake, but wonder if the table got bumped at all when they plugged in the string of lights underneath the tablecloth. I just don't know.

Sorry this is so very long. I am really at a loss here. I'm also terrified that the bride is going to ask for a refund icon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gif

40 replies
BethLS Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 1:36am
post #2 of

Aww icon_sad.gif

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this....no fun!

I would say that you fulfilled your end of the agreement. 1) You provided the cake the bride requested. 2) You left it in good condition 3) You used good support 4) You came back to try and fix it after who-knows-what happened to it.

If it didnt fall over, and they served it...no refund!

bakingpw Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 4:08am
post #3 of

Did you take pics after you set it up at the venue? If so, you can prove it was fine. You can also tell them you used SPS - the sturdiest way to stack. Anything could have happened at the venue - from someone moving it, to bumping the table, and you can't be responsible for that. You did go back and fix it, so you went above and beyond. I know you are worried and stressed, but you did all you should have.

madgeowens Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 4:20am
post #4 of

No refund..they got to eat it didnt they! Hope you have pics from all angles too.

beenie51 Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 4:54am
post #5 of

I always worry when I leave a venue. Several times the cake was on the most unstable table there. I have only had a cake lean once and that was while I was still there and I had to put in several more supports to keep the cake from falling.
I also cut freezer paper and glue in place on the cardboard. I have had issues with the moistness of the cake and or frosting making the cardboard soft and therefore even with the best system the cake will shift. Sorry that happened to you.

sweetheart6710 Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 5:13am
post #6 of

I just did a friends wedding, and they had me set up at a restaurant (where the reception was after the cerimony). I put the finishing touches on it, and walked out the door, just as the guest were starting to arrive! When they were returning my cake stand they mentioned how they entered the reception room expecting to see the cake (because that is what we agreed on) and it wasn't there!!! The manager of the restaurant decided it should be in the fridge until they were ready to eat it.. so it wasn't even on display AT ALL!! (Not that this has anything to do with leaning cakes) But my point is, you don't know what happened after you left. Some people dont know how to keep their hands to themselves!

matthewkyrankelly Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 5:48am
post #7 of

If you used SPS correctly, it could not have been leaning unless something significant happened. SPS transfers all of the weight of the cake to the pillars and the base of the cake - like a high rise building.

My thoughts - Was the table level? If not, and the table got knocked, the plate may have become dislodged.

The lessons are

Bring a level with you to check the table - it is important - ask the people in Pisa.

Also, you don't owe them money. I'd feel bad, but I would explain to them that you invest in the best systems to avoid this. They probably don't understand how you supported the cake and think it was collapsing. it wasn't. It got knocked.

G_Cakes Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 5:51am
post #8 of

"Bride made the cake stand herself. 16 inch round Wilton plate with four 3" pillars (also wilton) glued to another 16 inch round Wilton plate (so the pillars were glued in between the plates. Make sense?) The stand was completely sturdy."

Sorry this all happened to you...but I am just curious.

If the bride made the stand did you or bride check to make sure the stand was level to begin with? Was it possible there could have been an issue with glue letting go?

leah_s Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 6:38am
post #9 of

I'd say that two Wilton plates glued to four Wilton pillars was the problem. Those plates are NOT designed to be cake stands. Something shifted at the table or "cake stand" level and SPS was still holding it together.

Evoir Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 7:51am

I believe too it was the cake "stand". No way was that foolproof for a 5-tier cake of those dimensions! If I imagine substituting a 16" cake tier for the 16 inches of nothing there in that stand the bride made, there is NO WAY IN HECK I would put 4 measley support dowels into that 16 inch tier to distribute the weight of that enormous cake above (I would use a minimum of 7 dowels in that case - one per every two inches of immediate tier above). I'm sorry but I see this as a total issue of the bride's making. Even if it was a little bump to the table, 4 pillars alone can rotate simultaneously to cause the entire cake to 'screw downwards', meaning it would begin to lean.

I consider bride and family incredibly lucky the whole cake didn't go for a slide off the table!!

cakesbycathy Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 1:27pm

If it was the stand, why do you think the bottom two layers were still level and the top 3 were leaning? Wouldn't the whole cake be leaning?

That sucker was heavy!! So now I am wondering if the pillars shifted at all. The stand seemed intact when I went back to try and repair.
I also really wonder if the table somehow didn't get bumped when they plugged in the lights.

Still upset about this and am wondering a)what happened after I left and b)if the bride is going to call.

leah_s Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 1:30pm

Yeah, I would have looked at that hot mess of a "cake stand" and said, "Ummm . .. no I'm not putting the cake on that."

I rejected a cake plateau left by the rental company once because it had rust spots on it and I didn't consider it appropriate for pictures of my beautiful cake. A couple of days after the wedding the Rental Company called me to thank me for helping them notice they had a problem with their cleaning procedures. They had been running their plateaus through the dish machine and were in the process of ruining their entire inventory of plateaus.

Another time I rejected a plateau from a florist because it was a full 3/8" out of level. MY CAKE was level which was obvious when I put the level on it, and the plateau was just as obviously warped when I put the level on it.

The message here is, You're The Expert and you can reject crap that others leave for you to work with. But I'm pretty mouthy and directive. icon_smile.gif

hilly Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 8:26pm

Yeah, I can barely lift a 5 tier cake of that size, there's not way a glued together plastic stand would be adequate. I would also wonder if something happened with the stand, maybe one of the legs shifted, someone noticed, fixed the stand and then called you. Not saying that's the cause, but I would have to wonder.

cakesbycathy Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 11:23pm

So no word from the bride yet, but she leaves for her honeymoon tomorrow so maybe when they get back. However...

I think Facebook is going to either be my friend or my enemy here but I am not sure which. Bride and I are friends on FB so pictures of the wedding are showing up (not from her, but her friends are tagging her so I can see the pics).

There are 5 pictures of them posing next to the cake and cutting the cake. In a couple of them the cake looks fine. But in the others it definitely looks like the cake is leaning. I'd love to say it's the angle that the picture was taken from that makes it look like it's leaning, but not really sure if that's the case.

And that makes me wonder if when they get their pictures back fromt he photographer and it's leaning in the professional pictures if she'll start wanting a refund. They spent over $600 on the cake so they expected it to be perfect and it wasn't.

Ugh! I just want to cry and throw up all over again. Sigh....

amygortoncakes Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 3:37pm

Just wanted to say sorry. I know that sick feeling...and the worst part is there isn't anything you can do now to rectify the situation. Hopefully the family and the bride are decent people and can see that you did everything you possibly could to fix the problem. And maybe the bride knows that she is partly to blame for the homemae stand. I think the best thing to do is get back on the horse and turn out an even better cake. Good Luck...and keep your head up.

3GCakes Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 4:18pm

I'm sorry this happened to you...it really doesn't sound like anything you did wrong.

I agree that the homemade cake stand was probably a part of it, but the lights being strung AFTER the cake was on the table also sounds very suspect to me.

Did any of you see the Amazing Wedding Cake show where Nadia Cakes made a 5-tier pillow cake, put it on one of those big silver cake plateaus and it BENT the cake plateau's legs?

Yep...that Wilton standy thing the bride made definitely makes me wonder.

Can you post any pics you have of the cake showing the stand?

BluntlySpeakingKarma Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 4:44pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

The stand was completely sturdy.




Doubtful. If even one of those was longer than another, and it shifts, the whole thing is compromised. That's a heavy cake to put on something so ridiculously flimsy. Flimsy-yes.

BluntlySpeakingKarma Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 4:48pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s




Oh me too Leahs. The money some of our brides, well all of them, invest in our cakes, we wonder what they were smoknig sometimes when they set up their cake tables. Several times, we have completely swept the table clear, set the cake up how we needed it, and put some of their stuff back. You can't really look at some of the stuff and think what a mess, you have to be ballsy and smart and get rid of it, or they will blame you. There's no way what they made was bad/wrong/unstable, they're the bride, remember? IF they want to put anything back, that's ok, it's out of your hands at that point. But setting it up your way, how it should be, should never be fretted over or apologized for.

Look, your $3000 cake would have fallen if I didn't remove your homemade stand. Ok? Ok.

BluntlySpeakingKarma Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 4:53pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by madgeowens

No refund..they got to eat it didnt they! Hope you have pics from all angles too.




This is not the best attitude to have if you're in this business, I'm sorry, and don't mean to be rude. We hear from so many clients that come to us after hearing about pushy and defensive bakers that go on and on and on about what they're not responsible for, like lighting at events for gosh sakes. We focus on what we do provide, and how compensation is handled should anything happen to go wrong. Which, knock on wood hasn't happened yet. Of course we have the standard disclaimers, but not many.

Sometimes, it really is the bakers fault, even hours after delivery. It's true. And what are they supposed to, run to get sheet cake so they can return a big pile of cake for a refund?

Sounds to me though, that this little homemade thing is probably responsible, and the tiers on top will start to lean before you usually notice the lower ones.

3GCakes Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 4:58pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarmaCakes10



Sounds to me though, that this little homemade thing is probably responsible, and the tiers on top will start to lean before you usually notice the lower ones.




Yep, think of it like this: If you have a big, tall stack of cups sitting rim-down on a table, the top half or so can lean without the bottom half leaning. By the time the bottom half is leaning, the whole thing is on the floor. It's only natural for the top to lean while the bottom stays in place. Especially if the bottom is heavier than the top.

dreamcakesmom Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 5:17pm

Did you know ahead of time about this stand? I'm not sure it was in your best interest in utilizing something that is not constructed specifically for being the base of such a large cake especially from what I understand was utilizing 2 stands sandwiched with plastic pillars whcih I've used wilton pillars and they have cracked on inserting and applying pressure in my cakes so maybe 1 leg cracked and slipped just enough to shift the weight of the whole cake then slowly over time causing a lean. Regardless by utilizing it, you as the professional are responsible for the outcome

indydebi Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 5:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarmaCakes10

Several times, we have completely swept the table clear, set the cake up how we needed it, and put some of their stuff back. You can't really look at some of the stuff and think what a mess, you have to be ballsy and smart and get rid of it,


During a consultation a bride might ask me if it's ok if they put this or that on the cake table. I would ALWAYS tell them, "Darlin' you can put anything you want on the table 'coz if it's in my way, I'll just move it!" (smiling my southern gramma smile! icon_biggrin.gif )

Since I usually cut my own cakes I also told them that any candles WILL be blown out before I start cutting. I caught my hair on fire once because of that and will not chance it again. No one ever objected to this one!

indydebi Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 5:39pm

I don't know if this story pertains to this situation or not but I'm sharing it.

here is the link to my son's wedding cake from thsi past weekend: http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1837561⊂=1838544
Read the narrative under the pic.

In short, the cake looked great when I set it up, but later we noticed a lean. A very NOTICEABLE lean. When I pulled the cake apart (first time I ever had to do that) the dowels were all in place .... none had slipped, moved or were out of whack. I could only assume that somehow I had cut them wrong and the ones on the left were just barely taller than the ones on the right.

I "whittled" the ends of the dowels down (less than 1/8" - more like I 'shaved' a thin layer off and not so much 'cutting' some length off), reassembled and wow, what a difference! Perfectly straight and level!!

I always cut my dowels the same length and lay them side by side to make sure but evidently I missed this micro difference in length in dowels in two different tiers.

Since the OP used SPS, I don't think this was the issue with this cake, but since we're having conversation of "it looked fine when I left it", I thought I share that sometimes it just doesn't show up right away.

jenmat Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 5:52pm

Oh wow, that stinks. Totally stinks. The fact that you had to go and "fix" it in front of everybody, including a mad momma, makes my knees weak.
If this stand was still intact when you arrived back at the reception, did you check it closely? (hard to do with an audience, I know). What is weird is that the stand wasn't out of whack or cracked. A homemade stand wasn't a good choice, but I've been in that place where you look back and wonder what you were thinking when you agreed to do such and such.
Maybe the cake tiers settled? The appearance would appear to lean then but the structure would remain intact. Otherwise, once the homemade stand broke/cracked, shifted, etc, that thing would have been on the floor, especially with all the tiers on top of it. I'm thinking it may have been baker's oops on this one. Bummer.

bakingatthebeach Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 8:55pm

I have been a hobby decorator for 25 years now (real job is an RN) and I will do wedding cakes for friends, they just supply the money for ingredients. Know how you feel, but the upside is it stayed up! If you look at my tiered cake with the purple flower vine, the top two layers slid off after standing for 6 hours in an 85 degree room. A/C not working, cake table in front of window at an ocean front hotel facing the setting sun (made them move the table) and I thought it was my nerves as to why I was sweating so bad but my husband commented on how the thermostat was saying it was 85 degrees! Bride was cool about it and I did her baby shower cake a year later! She said if that was the worse thing to happen all day, oh well! You know I felt sick about it for a year afterwards. The square wedding cake in my pics is all SPS and I drove with it stacked to the reception. If mine didnt budge with the driving, I dont think your SPS is the problem. Sounds to me like someone moved or bumped that table which made the homemade stand wobble and the glued legs shift. You will feel better in a year (or 6 months since yours stayed up lol!)

nadiacakes Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:13pm

I'm Abby from Nadia Cakes (we did the cake From Fabulous Cakes on TLC that almost fell over when the cake stand leg collapsed). I wanted to comment on the discussion because after the show, we made some big changes to the way we do large tiered cakes. Here is the link to the video of the almost disaster if you missed it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwtiO5gP0vs

We don't get the chance to actually cut and serve a lot of the cakes we do so it was really helpful seeing the pillow cake broken down so I could see where the structure failed. After the leg broke, the cake began to lean pretty badly and the internal supports pretty much failed me. When the cake pitched forward, the dowels slanted inside and the cake began to settle forward in the direction of the broken leg. I sat next to that cake FOR 3 HOURS making sure it didn't fall! The producers from the show still talk about it LOL! I had to restack it twice to redistribute the weight. Thankfully it was a pilow cake and not a wedding cake so it didn't look bad with the pillows all unevenly stacked. It just looked like tossed pillows so it worked.

Anyway, after that we realized that larger cakes need a centralized support system. I had doweled it together with skewers but they wern't strong enough to keep the cake from falling over. If the cake had pitched forward with a pole through the middle, there would have been no chance of it leaning. It also would have kept the dowels from slanting since the cake would have been held stationary regardless of what the dowels were doing.

We did another episode of Fabulous Cakes for season 2 and the cake is a huge cake. We used the pole system in it and we had NO problems with leaning. We go into the support system in depth on the show so if you watch you can see what we did this time around. Not sure when the show will air but if you follow us on Facebook, we'll post the date:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Palmdale-CA/Nadia-Cakes/119751804228

I learned my lesson BIG TIME from that pillow cake! I swear, my whole life flashed before my eyes when that cake stand broke. We seriously almost lost that cake. It was terrifying!

The pole system we use now is actually a cupcake tree from here: http://www.bossmanufacturing.com/

You just take off the plates and then use the center pole to dowel the cake. Its much easier then getting a PVC pipe and fashioning your own pole system like you see on a lot of the cake challange shows. Its a pretty cake stand and it doubles as a cupcake tree as well and its reusable. You can even order extra pole extensions to make it as tall as you need it. I made mine 4 feet tall for the last spisode we filmed. Very well made stuff. We get all our stands from here. Hope this is helpful! I'm a self taught cake decorator so I don't know what I don't know until it happens to me. Luckily we were able to save that cake and learn from it!

3GCakes Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 9:41pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by nadiacakes


I learned my lesson BIG TIME from that pillow cake! I swear, my whole life flashed before my eyes when that cake stand broke. We seriously almost lost that cake. It was terrifying!




I bet!! All I kept thinking was how mad I would be at having to buy a new stinking plateau!

Is the new system you use something you take a deposit for and have to get back?

nadiacakes Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 9:54pm

The cake stands that we use cost about $200 each. We charge $35 to rent them with a $100 CASH deposit that they get back when they return the stand to us. In the economy we decided to only get a $100 deposit instead of the full value of the stand. $100 is enough to get someone to return it and its easier on their budget.

We explain in depth that the stand is their responsibility and must be returned within 3 days of the event. We don't go pick them up and they will lose the deposit if its damaged or not returned. We also take down the phone number for the person responsible for returning the stand. A lot of times the bride and groom are on their honeymoon and another person is the one in charge of returning the stand.

Never lost one yet!

nadiacakes Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 9:56pm

And yes, since the pole system is basically a broken down cupake tree, there is a deposit on it.

As for the other stand, we just bent ALL the legs forward and we still use it. You can't even tell. Looks nice! LOL!

indydebi Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 9:59pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by nadiacakes

A lot of times the bride and groom are on their honeymoon and another person is the one in charge of returning the stand.


I had one that backfired on a family. Bride's family was from another state and dad sent in the check for the cake, including a deposit on the silver plateau.

After the wedding, plateau was given to a groomsman, who lived here in town, with instructions to return it. groom drove it around in his trunk for close to 2 weeks before it got returned, and this was only after a few emails from me asking, "Where's my stand?"

After the return, dad is expecting his deposit back, which he's not getting because it wasn't returned by the Tuesday after the wedding. Dad actually figured that since HE gave it to a groomsman to return, that means the plateau was out of his hands which would be the same as "returned".

uh, sorry dude! "Returned" is defined as when it is back in my hands. Dad told me "I gave it to the groomsman." I told dad to collect his deposit from the groomsman, then, snice it was the groomsman's (lack of) action that caused the problem and cost dad the deposit.

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