Bridal Show Help-Sorry, Long

Business By karateka Updated 7 Mar 2011 , 11:12pm by pattycakes1976

karateka Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 3:26pm
post #1 of 13

Hi.

Got a big bridal show coming up next weekend. I have some half sheets already in the freezer, and need to bake about 6 more. I need to make frosting, and have my fillings on order.

I have business cards, a slideshow, a photo book, and 5 display cakes. I wanted more, but ran out of time.

I've got tablecloths, skirts, a big banner. I'm making a form so I can sign up folks for tastings. I've got 2 thousand little cups with lids and my info stamped on little round labels on the lids. It remains to fill each cup with cake, filling and frosting.

Questions:

How far in advance can I cut this cake up and start filling cups? I figure those things aren't really all that airtight, so I can't see doing it much more than one day in advance. Is that even possible? The day before the show I have to make several trips to set up. The venue is at least a half hour away and there will need to be at minimum 2 trips, possibly 3. Am I going to be able to also fill 2 thousand sample cups? Or should I start Thursday? I don't want to hand out stale samples! I suppose I can come home at 5pm Saturday after the first day of the show and pack up the remaining samples....I plan on only bringing half of my samples the first day, to make sure I don't give them all out the first day (if that's even possible).

What do you put your samples in? I was originally thinking of sitting them out in rows with little signs saying what they were, and having plain boxes under the table to refill their spots with (the tables are skirted, so nobody will see them, ideally...) Does that sound stupid?

What do I do for this case of severe anxiety I'm sporting? My IBS is kicking up and stress generally causes that. I'm afraid of looking like a rube. Truthfully, I'm as concerned about the other vendors as I am the brides. Do I need to factor in more samples to offer vendors close to me? How much more? Then I need more cups....sigh...

Any help appreciated. I've read all the bridal show posts I can find, and they've helped immensely, so thank you to those folks. Just didn't see my issues addressed, unless I've missed them.

Thanks-

12 replies
tootie0809 Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 3:49pm
post #2 of 13

I've done several bridal shows and they are a ton of work, but very worth it! Bridal shows are a lot of fun, so don't get too nervous. It's a great way to meet new customers, and most of the people there are happy and pleasant to talk to.

For samples, I do the same thing by putting a small cube of iced cake in a soufle cup with a lid. Let me tell you, they take so much longer than you think to cup and lid them, so plan for ample time. I do mine at least a few days ahead of time. The last bridal show I did, I came home from vacation 1-1/2 days before the show, so I had to get my samples done before that otherwise I'd have run out of time to set up and get ready for the show and still try to cup and lid all the samples. My hubby and I did about 1500 samples 2 weeks before the show, lidded and cupped them, put them all in boxes depending on the flavor, and then I put them all in my single freezer. That way I could just grab them on my way to the show and they'd be thawed by the time I set them up. They were so moist and delicious. I got rave reviews from the attendees on the samples, so I'd advise to do that if you can ahead of time so you don't stress yourself out. The lids are quite airtight, so if you freeze them, you shouldn't have to worry about stale cake.

Sounds like you've got the rest of the details for your show planned out well. Have fun and good luck! Hope it's a huge sucess for you!

cakegirl1973 Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 3:54pm
post #3 of 13

First, you will be fine! I have looked at your cake photos and you are talented. You can do this!!!! I suggest that you recruit some help, if possible. From your post, it sounds like you are doing this all by yourself. Can someone help you with cutting the cake and putting them into the cups? If you rally some friends to help you on Friday, then you could knock it out in a few hours. I think the cups with lids have enough of a seal that you could either do Saturday's samples on Thursday and then Sunday's samples on Friday. I wouldn't prepare them more than 2 days in advance, though.

I see no problem with lining the sample cups on a table and then replenishing them. Put a sign with the cake flavor so you don't have to answer that question repeatedly.

Good luck! Take a deep breath and just do it! You'll be fine!

Enchantedcakes Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 3:55pm
post #4 of 13

First take a deep breath. At the last bridal show that I did several vendors and the models from the fashion show all came over to try my samples. Thankfully I did not have to have mine in portion cups, I made mini cupcakes and had them displayed on my 6 tier cupcake stand, which was easy to re-fill. I would not fill the ortion cups more than 1 day in advance. Two thousand samples seems like a lot, but here in Florida we only get two-three hundred brides at a show. Also make sure that you have help at the show, you will not be able to talk to the brides if you are signing up other brides for tastings. Also I normally do not get many brides signed up for tasting, they normally contact me after the show to set something up, at the show I network with the other vendors and just try to get my name out there and supply a quality product for the brides and their guests to try. Be prepared to answer a thousand questions from several brides at once.

sillywabbitz Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 3:59pm
post #5 of 13

Could you make up all the samples in advance and freeze them? Do you have that much freeze space? If not will a neighbor or friend let you use their freezer for a couple of days. I'm thinking you could put the cups already filled in freezer bags since you don't feel the cups are airtight. Just make sure they're defrosted before the show because it would be bad to give out frozen samples.

Classycakes Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 4:00pm
post #6 of 13

You're way more organized that me. I just put my samples in cupcake wrappers so the little plastic containers are sure to be a hit.

For a two day show, I usually prepared half my samples for each day. I worried about the freshness aspect too so me and hubby got up very early each morning of the show, got the electric knife out and cut & filled the wrappers before we left. I had everything else ready to go so it only took about an hour. We even packed our vehicle the night before to save time in the morning.

The main thing is have lots of business cards or flyers. I had half page flyers with a couple of pictures of my display cakes. People tend to forget who's who so this jogged their memory. Of course, it had my contact info as well.

Your calendar will come in handy because you will get asked if you are available for such & such a date.

My portfolio got a little bottle necked because really only one couple/person at a time can view it. So I bought a digital photo frame and put at the other end of the booth so other people could look at it while they were waiting to talk to me or hubby.

People tend to poke at your cakes - I guess to "feel" the fondant. I eventually had to put a tiny sign that basically said "hands off". Well, not in those words! Some of my sugarpaste work got damaged and that ruins the look of your cake presentation.

If you have someone to help man the booth with you, that will be really helpful because it tends to get crowded at times.

A door prize or entry works very well too.

I'm sure you will do an amazing job! Wishing you great success - hope you get lots of orders!

Classycakes Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 4:01pm
post #7 of 13

You're way more organized that me. I just put my samples in cupcake wrappers so the little plastic containers are sure to be a hit.

For a two day show, I usually prepared half my samples for each day. I worried about the freshness aspect too so me and hubby got up very early each morning of the show, got the electric knife out and cut & filled the wrappers before we left. I had everything else ready to go so it only took about an hour. We even packed our vehicle the night before to save time in the morning.

The main thing is have lots of business cards or flyers. I had half page flyers with a couple of pictures of my display cakes. People tend to forget who's who so this jogged their memory. Of course, it had my contact info as well.

Your calendar will come in handy because you will get asked if you are available for such & such a date.

My portfolio got a little bottle necked because really only one couple/person at a time can view it. So I bought a digital photo frame and put at the other end of the booth so other people could look at it while they were waiting to talk to me or hubby.

People tend to poke at your cakes - I guess to "feel" the fondant. I eventually had to put a tiny sign that basically said "hands off". Well, not in those words! Some of my sugarpaste work got damaged and that ruins the look of your cake presentation.

If you have someone to help man the booth with you, that will be really helpful because it tends to get crowded at times.

A door prize or entry works very well too.

I'm sure you will do an amazing job! Wishing you great success - hope you get lots of orders!

jenmat Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 5:40pm
post #8 of 13

Good luck on your first show! They are really a lot of fun, so look forward to great feedback and compliments and to just talk yourself up!

I have made samples the night before, and also I have done them a week ahead of time and froze them. Both works. If you have the freezer space, just do as much as will fit, and then do the rest the day before.

Another thought is depending on weather, you COULD take them, cover them, box them and place them in your vehicle outside. ONLY if its below freezing though- this past January we did that with 2500 samples overnight in our delivery van and it was I think 15 degrees out. Worked SOO nicely.

I have done the "line the samples up" thing and it works just fine.

My advice for anxiety- WINE, (although that might not help the IBS!) Actually, for anxiety the best thing to do is "make a date" with it, and choose to only sit and worry about it at say 8pm every evening. Then you know you're guaranteed some serious worry time and you can let it go until then.
Best wishes!

karateka Posted 17 Feb 2011 , 6:22pm
post #9 of 13

Thanks everyone!

I have my 14 yr old daughter coming the first day, and both she and my DH are coming the second day. DH couldn't get off work Saturday. My DD is helping me, she's stamped the lid labels, and is wanting to help fill cups. Problem is school.....DH and I can set up on Friday, but she can't help fill cups until after school. So it's all on me during the day. At least I had the foresight to take off teaching at the dojo that week, so I have all night to work on this.

I have a goodly amount of freezer space, so that's no problem. Maybe I can find some really huge plastic bags to put these things in....at least 2 gallon freezer bags or bigger if they are made. I still have about 6 half sheets to bake, and buttloads of frosting to make, so I have all day Tues, Wed, and Thurs to do this.

I have 2 cakes due this weekend (not the best planning, but an order is an order, and I need the cashola!) and I have to work a shift at the hospital Monday, but that's it. DH is off Thursday, too, so guess what he's doing?? Whether he knows it or not!

Thanks so much for the input. I tend to get really anxious and this has helped. Better go work on that 3D camera cake I have waiting!

Annabakescakes Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 5:50am
post #10 of 13

So, how did it go, Stacy? I would love to know! Hope it was great!

karateka Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 3:13pm
post #11 of 13

It went ok, I guess. Everyone says the show was dead, but I had nothing to compare it to. I had about 1200 samples left over, so I'm trying to get those out of the house.

I haven't gotten a single call or inquiry, so I guess it was a bust. I did hear lots of nice things about my cake and my displays, but if nobody's buying, then I guess it was just small talk. Very expensive small talk, as I'm now down about $2K and have nothing to show for it.

Could be the last year of me being in business, at this rate.

Annabakescakes Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 10:33pm
post #12 of 13

Oh, geeze, Stacy, that stinks!!! You have such lovely cakes! And your ganache is so smooth and amazing. There is a slow spot in the economy right now...maybe a break wouldn't hurt, and then you could start again when things are going better. I wouldn't quit for good, but maybe it would be less stressful if you changed your focus until the economy picks up again. I know you keep fairly busy with the hospital and with karate, and two teenagers. Could you just do cakes here and there as you get calls and pick up more hours with the hospital? I know there are tons of people on here that have full time jobs and do a couple cakes a week after hours. Or more hours at the dojo. I am so sorry things aren't going well. thumbsdown.gif

pattycakes1976 Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 11:12pm
post #13 of 13

I just did my second one. I am in a small town (whole county is about 50,000). We started a "bridal circle"..an organization of wedding professionals in our area. It is invite only..we all recommend each other and want to trust who we recommend. It has worked great and we all help each other out. Both of our shows had about 280 visitors..about 65-70 were brides. Our vendors get a list of all brides so we can contact them later (maybe offer them some sort of "special"). Our vendors all donate large prizes for drawings the day of the show (this year the total was over $12,000) and we advertise that; helps get the brides there. I hire someone to help me in my booth. I went to several shows in the Dallas/FtW area to see how cake vendors did samples and asked why they chose the method they used. All of them pre-cut and said it was to save time. Some used the 2oz cups with lids, some used cupcake papers. I made the decision to have my helper cut to order. Took a little more time..but that way I knew slices were fresh. The brides did not seem to mind waiting. I did have my husband build me a 3 sided box with a top that I set on my table & covered with a white tablecloth. The back side was open and I placed my cakes in it. That way customers did not see the "mess" when the cake was being cut. Worked out real well. I also decided to run a slide show on a TV from a lap top instead of having a book..that way brides did not pile up in front of my booth and block others from getting in while they looked at pictures.

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