Venting, But Would Also Like Your Honest Opinions (Long)

Decorating By nissi01 Updated 7 Jun 2011 , 10:00pm by cakesbycathy

nissi01 Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:21pm
post #1 of 64

Hi everyone. This is to sort of vent, but I would also like your opinions. Sorry its so long.

I have been going back and forth with one of my daughters teachers regarding her wedding cake in July. She had been looking around at the different bakeries and my daughter mentioned to her that I like making cakes and am going to school for baking and pastry, and then she asked me if I would like to make the cake. I tell her sure. I am unemployed right now and my 1st semester of culinary school is done and I have the summer off, (unless I get a call for an interview and get hired). We have been communicating via email so far because of my school schedule and finals.

She tells me that she needs a small cake to be gluten free. Just for her and a few people. I tell her ok, no problem with that, but she also needs a cake to feed almost 400 people, and I say ok. She wants a cake to feed maybe 150 or so as her display and then the rest can be sheet cakes. Ok.

I made a sketch of my idea for the display cake and the small gluten free cake. The display cake will be round cakes, will feed almost 250, and will have gumpaste hydrangea and some roses and be covered in fondant. For the smaller gluten free cake she saw a picture of a tree stump with two birds and since Ill be making such a small cake I figured I can do something like that for her.

So for this I told her I would charge her 1500.00. (My hubby said I should of charged her more) but I thought I was giving her a reasonable price. She contacted me today that she cannot afford the 1500.00 and wanted to know how we could bring the cost down.

She wants to be able to feed almost 400 people. Am I really charging her too much for all this cake. What do you guys think?


Denise

p.s. Ill be using a friends commercial kitchen and Im mainly doing this also for practice and experience and to continue to apply what I have already learned.

63 replies
Ameera Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:37pm
post #2 of 64

Nissi, I read a reply that someone wrote on CC - "Everyone cannot afford my cakes." I do not know the baker who penned this wonderful saying.

However, since you do want the experience, I would ask the teacher for her price range and then come up with something that suits her budget and still provides a challenge for you.

I have never made a cake of this magnitude and I mainly bake for pleasure, so I am not sure if this is the best response for you.

Good luck with your decision.

ConfectionsCC Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:42pm
post #3 of 64

Is that the total # of guests she invited, or is that the # after she has scaled down to accommodate for no shows and for people who will not eat cake? That is the first way to scale back on price. Another thing, she wanted an all fondant cake, if possible, present a similar design to her done in mainly BC! Both those things together should bring the costs down considerably! IF that still doesnt help enough and she still wants you to make it, make the show cake smaller and add more cheaper servings with the sheet cakes. HTH

CreativeCakesbyMichelle Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:44pm
post #4 of 64

Considering that the price would break down to $3.75 per person that sounds like a deal to me. I'll bet if she got price quotes from other bakeries they'd probably be at least that much and likely a lot more.

I don't understand people who invite 400 people to their wedding and then complain about how much it's going to cost to feed them. I mean, hello, it's 400 people!

Who even knows that may people that they know well enough to invite them to their wedding? I don't think I could come up with that many people if I just started inviting every random person I saw in Wal-mart lol.

If she thinks that $1500 is too much for cake then maybe she should consider scaling down the guest list. I wonder if she's priced how much the catering is going to cost.....

Bluehue Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:46pm
post #5 of 64

Denise - cake to feed 400 people @ $3.75 per person = $1500.00
She is getting a fantastic deal thumbs_up.gif


I hope this doesn't turn into another .............."i want these cakes but geeeeee, i can't afford it - what can YOU DO Denise to LOWER the price for ME?

Instead of her thinking - hmmmm, perhaps i better re think what i want into ..............what can i afford? icon_rolleyes.gif


Bluehue.

Norasmom Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:47pm
post #6 of 64

You definitely need to be firm on your price for what she is asking for. You do not want to lose money, but maybe there is a way to break even.

KakeMistress Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 2:57pm
post #7 of 64

honestly I would be P*****sd if I just broke even on a cake that big.... 400 people?!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Gluten Free cake alone is going to cost an arm and a leg... I say stick to your guns woman and stay at the 1500 price tag if she dosent like it then she can TRY to find another baker....

Hope everything works out for you with either getting paid what your worth or not having to bother with it if she dosent want to pay you.. HTH

Bluehue Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:06pm
post #8 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ameera

Nissi, I read a reply that someone wrote on CC - "Everyone cannot afford my cakes."
Lolll - i have been known to say that to my customers and say it on CC also.
If they can't afford me - fine - my thinking is this = my cakes aren't for everyone and everyone can't afford one of my cakes.
I don't turn my oven on to produce cheap and nasty.

Bluehue



I do not know the baker who penned this wonderful saying.

However, since you do want the experience, I would ask the teacher for
her price range and then come up with something that suits her budget and still provides a challenge for you.

I have never made a cake of this magnitude and I mainly bake for pleasure, so I am not sure if this is the best response for you.

Good luck with your decision.


WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:11pm
post #9 of 64

For the sheetcakes, I charge $140 for a full sheet cake that serves almost 100 people (and I only sell sheet cakes if they are also getting a tiered cake as well). If she got two full sheet cakes, and did a tiered cake to serve the other 200 (@$3.75/serving), the total would be $1,030.

In fairness, since you aren't as experienced as the other professional bakeries, I think it's unfair to charge more than about $3/serving for fondant covered cake. I do think you need to charge extra for the gumpaste flowers and charge a set price per flower and let her decide how many she wants.

CalhounsCakery Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:19pm
post #10 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

For the sheetcakes, I charge $140 for a full sheet cake that serves almost 100 people (and I only sell sheet cakes if they are also getting a tiered cake as well). If she got two full sheet cakes, and did a tiered cake to serve the other 200 (@$3.75/serving), the total would be $1,030. In fairness, since you aren't as experienced as the other professional bakeries, I think it's unfair to charge more than about $3/serving for fondant covered cake. I do think you need to charge extra for the gumpaste flowers and charge a set price per flower and let her decide how many she wants.




I think you are a little closer to the mark here. I don't charge as much for a sheet cake either. It's less complicated, and in a situation like this, would be much more scaled back on the decorations.

Another way to cut cost, maybe increase the servings of the sheet cake, and decrease the display cake servings.

nissi01 Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:22pm
post #11 of 64

Thank you everyone for your input. I sent her an email telling her that if she can get me an actual head count it will help me determine how much cake we need and she may not need to feed 400. I also told her if she likes I can come up with another concept for her display cake. I also told her that the sheet cakes do not have to be covered in fondant. she wanted all the slices to be uniformed. We shall see what she says.


Denise

cakegirl1973 Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:25pm
post #12 of 64

If I were in this situation, there are a couple of things that I could suggest to reduce the price. First, switch from fondant to buttercream--under *my* pricing matrix, that would save her $300.

Second, I would suggest that she purchase silk hydrangeas and roses, rather than having me make them--not sure how much you charged for this, but I charge quite a bit for gumpaste flowers.

Beyond that, the only way to get her price down is to feed less people! I know you want the experience, but do not allow her to talk your price down. Good luck!

MnSnow Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:39pm
post #13 of 64

Another thought--sheet vs. kitchen cake
sheet cake= no filling and 1 layer
kitchen cake=filling and 2 layer

so which of her guests will get no filling and 1 layer and which ones will?

I charge the same for a kitchen cake as I do a tiered cake--same amount of cake and filling icon_smile.gif
I charge less for sheet cakes--no filling and less layers--less cost to me

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:47pm
post #14 of 64

My sheet cakes are the same (4 torted layers and filling) and covered in buttercream only, with a small rosette or similar decoration. I charge less for these because I don't care what anyone says, sheet cakes are MUCH easier and less work than a tiered cake.

I don't have to worry about figuring out how much batter to make for each size pan (what a nightmare if they want a different flavor for each tier), I don't have to worry about stacking and paying for the support structure (and this saves a huge amount of time as well) and there is only minimal decoration. I also don't have to worry about them leaning/falling/etc. during transport.

As long as the cake is the same inside and tastes great, nobody cares that they didn't get a piece of the main/decorated cake.

indydebi Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:48pm
post #15 of 64

Like Bluehue, I have actually told people, "Not everyone can afford me .... and that's ok."

A $3.75 cup of coffe isn't a lot of money ..... unless you have to pay for 400 of them.

Hate to be the one to break it to this chic, but when you're feeding 400 people, then it's going to cost you. Putting my caterer hat on: Assuming a cheap buffet of only $18/person (and that's BEFORE tax and tip), she's looking at around $7200. Add an estimated 7% sales tax and 20% tip PLUS 20% service fee and she's at almost $11,000. Yeah ... I can afford $18 for "just a dinner". But no, I CAN'T afford $11,000 for a "just a dinner". DUH!

I'm sure she can afford $3.75 for "just a cake". But she can't afford $1500 for "just a cake".

Did she mention how much she thinks she CAN afford for a cake? (I'm sure we'll all find that number entertaining! icon_lol.gif )

If she can't afford to feed 400 people, then she needs to cut the guest list.

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:55pm
post #16 of 64

Another idea is to do a small centerpiece cake and small round or square cakes simply decorated for each table. I personally love when people do this... especially since it saves them money on centerpiece decorations (it's a cake AND a centerpiece! LOL!), and it saves money since you don't have to pay a cake-cutting fee at the venue (each table helps themselves), it saves time - since 400 people don't have to wait to be served, and it saves money because it's not a huge, elaborate wedding cake.

This (to me) is the perfect price-cutting option for a large wedding. I'd prefer this to doing 400 cupcakes (which aren't nearly as good because you don't get the filling and they aren't as moist).

Marina Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:03pm
post #17 of 64

Yes, I know a way to cut the cost...cut the amount of people. If you're expecting 400, you've got to realize that it's going to cost you some $$$.

Dani1081 Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:13pm
post #18 of 64

I agree that 400 people is rediculous. . .not sure that even Kate and William had that many people. I also agree that cutting costs means a smaller display cake (150 people, like the OP stated) and sheet cakes, covered in buttercream, not fondant, for the rest of the servings.

BTW - I would HATE to be the baker that has to supply a decorated cake for every single table! What a nightmare! Big or small, a display cake is ALOT more work than sheet cake. Bride to be. . ."I need a wedding cake for 150 people, and 40 6" wedding cakes that match for the tables!" UGH! THAT would drive the price way over the original $1500 quote in my book.

Lovin_Cakes30 Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:15pm
post #19 of 64

I love the "cake centerpiece" for each table too. I was actually thinking of doing this for my own wedding =) Plus then she still has the glueten free cake. Maybe you could make that one more of wedding tierd cake and scrap the bird/tree thing????

indydebi Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:21pm
post #20 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dani1081

BTW - I would HATE to be the baker that has to supply a decorated cake for every single table! What a nightmare! Big or small, a display cake is ALOT more work than sheet cake. Bride to be. . ."I need a wedding cake for 150 people, and 40 6" wedding cakes that match for the tables!" UGH! THAT would drive the price way over the original $1500 quote in my book.



Agree. Plus the fact that they are paying for more cake than they need. A table normally seats 8 but a 6" round serves 12 (1.5 times the cost since it's 1.5 more cake) and an 8" cake serves 24 (3 times the cost since its' 3 times the cake).

so 40 six-inch cakes x 12 servings each = 480 servings x $3.75/each (assuming the same price) = $1800 JUST for the centerpiece cakes.

If she can't afford $1500, she'll really balk at $1800. Even if you point out she's saving on the centerpiece (floral) costs, she'll still balk at $1800 "just for cake!" icon_eek.gif

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:31pm
post #21 of 64

I can ice a 6" cake in buttercream in under 10 minutes. Doing several of these small cakes would save me a LOT of time as opposed to a tiered cake.

As someone who has worked in a bakery and developed speed, I don't see how doing 20 or so small cakes would be such a big deal... especially if they are all simply decorated in the same manner. To me, that's no more than 2 hours of decorating. I'd much rather to that than cover a tiered cake in fondant. Without a sheeter, it takes me forever to roll out fondant - and it kills my poor old back! LOL!

Sangriacupcake Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:43pm
post #22 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dani1081

BTW - I would HATE to be the baker that has to supply a decorated cake for every single table! What a nightmare! Big or small, a display cake is ALOT more work than sheet cake. Bride to be. . ."I need a wedding cake for 150 people, and 40 6" wedding cakes that match for the tables!" UGH! THAT would drive the price way over the original $1500 quote in my book.


Agree. Plus the fact that they are paying for more cake than they need. A table normally seats 8 but a 6" round serves 12 (1.5 times the cost since it's 1.5 more cake) and an 8" cake serves 24 (3 times the cost since its' 3 times the cake).




I went to a wedding that had centerpiece cakes....chocolate cake, orange mousse filling, ganache glaze, and one chocolate rose for decor--verrrrrry easy to make! After the bride and groom cut their small tiered cake, they announced that the couple at each table who had been married the longest should cut and serve the cake at their table.

Omg it was so much fun to watch what each table did. Some of the "chosen" couples fed each other a bite just like they were the bride and groom........ one table had to cajole the gramma & grampa to do the cutting........at a table with single people, two brothers cut the cake and acted all lovey-dovey like they were a bride & groom. Great fun and something different for guests!!!

And virtually all the cake got eaten because it was right in front of everyone (and also because it was delicious!)

indydebi Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:48pm
post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

I can ice a 6" cake in buttercream in under 10 minutes. Doing several of these small cakes would save me a LOT of time as opposed to a tiered cake.

As someone who has worked in a bakery and developed speed, I don't see how doing 20 or so small cakes would be such a big deal... especially if they are all simply decorated in the same manner. To me, that's no more than 2 hours of decorating. I'd much rather to that than cover a tiered cake in fondant. Without a sheeter, it takes me forever to roll out fondant - and it kills my poor old back! LOL!



agree that it depends on the decorator's skill/speed. the prev example showed 40 cakes, so that would be 4 hrs. I can do a tiered cake this size in BC in way less than 4 hrs. If we're comparing fondant to fondant (instead of comparing BC to fondant), then the decorator should factor how long it would take to roll out 40 smaller pieces of fondant compared to 3 or 4 large pcs.

But the time involved aside, my example was to show that centerpiece cakes cost more because the bride is buying more cake.

Here are two articles on centerpiece cakes, spelling out why there is usually an add'l cost due to add'l labor and supplies: http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/search/label/centerpiece%20cake

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:48pm
post #24 of 64

I gotta say this to everyone who keeps mentioning cutting the guest list... I'd rather attend a friend or family members wedding and have less food (or flowers, etc.) there than to be left off the guest list due to funding issues.

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 5:01pm
post #25 of 64

If the cakes are 6" buttercream only iced cakes (or covered in ganache - much easier!), I would think an inexperienced baker should be charging about $25 per cake at most. Even multiplying that times 40 cakes would be $1000. Add in another $75 for a simple two tiered cake for the bride and groom to cut, and you are still saving a TON of money (in cake, centerpieces and cutting fees).

I'm failing to see how this would be the more expensive option...

indydebi Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 5:07pm
post #26 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

If the cakes are 6" buttercream only iced cakes (or covered in ganache - much easier!), I would think an inexperienced baker should be charging about $25 per cake at most....



Poured ganache would be an easy option and look really pretty!

I'd just have a problem explaining why a 6" cake is $2/serving when served alone or $3.75 if it's sitting on top of a tiered cake.

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 5:25pm
post #27 of 64

Tiered cakes are more expensive due to the increased costs of a support system, the increased drive time and risk due to the possibility of collapse, etc. There is also increased labor because I have to cut the dowels, make sure the cakes are perfectly level, hide any seams between the cakes, blah, blah, blah...

But then, you already know that.

What I tell customers is that single layer cakes are less expensive because they are less labor intensive and no internal support is necessary. Never really had anyone question me further.

ETA: If I had someone complain about tiered cakes costing more per serving, I'd probably offer to sell them unstacked tiers and tell them where they could buy the dowels and offer some basic instructions on how to stack them. Perhaps if they had to worry about the collapse themselves, a light might go off in their head.

indydebi Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 5:27pm
post #28 of 64

oh, my bad! I didn't realize you were talking single layer and I was talking 2-layer!

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 5:30pm
post #29 of 64

No, I was talking double layer (4") cakes. I meant single tier. Sorry.

TexasSugar Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:04pm
post #30 of 64

If you are considering the pros and cons of the costs and easy, between a larger several tiered cake and a bunch of single tiered cakes you also have to consider...

You would need 40 cake boards vs a much smaller amount for the lager cakes.
40 boxes vs no box, one large box or three or four boxes for the large cake.
Are the 40 cakes just going to sit flat on the table or do they get cake stands?

What is the difference in baking time? 80 layers of cake would take longer to bake than 6 or 8 of them. And yes I realize. you can buy more cake pans, but then that is an added expense, and would it be cost effective if you aren't going to use that many pans all the time.

Space to store 40 cakes between baking, icing, decorating and before delivery, during delivery, plus carrying in 40 cakes, vs 3-4 or one large cake.

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