1St Wedding Cake Consultation - Need All Advice I Can Get!!

Decorating By pj22 Updated 27 Oct 2011 , 5:20am by pj22

pj22 Posted 25 Oct 2011 , 9:37pm
post #1 of 14

Hello!

I just got contacted for a wedding cake consultation this weekend and this is going to be hopefully, the first wedding cake I'm going to make. Can you all please advice me on how to go about it?

What questions to ask? Favorite flavors, memorable places for the bride/groom to draw inspiration from for the cake design? What else?

Should I offer free tastings? Nothing has been mentioned so far about tasting.. is that separate from the first consultation?

Thanks for all possible advice!!

13 replies
MsGF Posted 25 Oct 2011 , 10:07pm
post #2 of 14

Get a contract signed first of all! Ask them to bring colour swatches, ideas, pictures, and an invitation you can keep. The bride probably already has an idea of what she wants. Inspiration can come from their invitation and colour swatches are good so you can match icing colours. Finally relax and let them guide you and inspire you. Last of all don't get in over your head don't agree to things that you can't comfortably deliver. Money up front and a signed contract!!

Good Luck you will do great! And the cake will be awesome. Congratulations.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 12:07am
post #3 of 14

I'll just tell you how we do it: Our tastings are free, unless they want to try very specific flavors. In that case, we offer a bride's choice tasting for $25, and they get to choose three flavors. Otherwise, we bring whatever we have on hand (Usually basic flavors like white, yellow, chocolate) We do both the tasting and consultation as one meeting.

I tell the bride to bring any color swatches, ideas, pictures, etc. that she would like. That's really all you need to communicate over the phone, unless you want to go ahead and give her a basic idea of your pricing. I usually don't.

At the consultation, have either a book or computer for them to look at pictures of your work. Ask them questions like this (in no particular order):
1. How many servings?
2. Date and time of ceremony
3. Venue
4. Budget
5. Wedding colors/theme/design
6. cake/icing/filling flavors
7. Do they have a cake topper?
8. Do they need a cake stand?

Make sure you go over the delivery charge, and any other fees or charges in addition to the cost of the cake. We typically give them a ballpark quote, and then follow up with a more definite quote in an email. Make sure you get all of their contact info for follow up. You can also go ahead and bring a contract to fill out and sign if you want, if you think they will want to go ahead and sign.

pj22 Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 3:18am
post #4 of 14

Thanks so much MsGF and LoveMeSomeCake!! I appreciate the detailed suggestions.

However, I don't have any wedding cakes that I have done yet... do I just show them pictures online or ask them if they have an idea?

I am thinking I'll offer some basic cakes and fillings for free... like vanilla cake, chocolate cake, red velvet cake. What fillings are popular for wedding cakes that I can offer at a tasting/consultation?

For delivery charges, I was thinking $0.50/mile to and from the venue? What kind of cake stands can I offer if they don't have any?

Thanks!!!

pj22 Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 3:20am
post #5 of 14

And how do I charge for gumpaste flowers? I will add it to the per serving price but how do I figure out how much to add? TIA!

cakegirl1973 Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 3:27am
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by pj22

And how do I charge for gumpaste flowers? I will add it to the per serving price but how do I figure out how much to add? TIA!




I charge per flower, and the price depends on the difficulty of the flower (i.e. how much time will it take me to make).

pj22 Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 3:33am
post #7 of 14

Thanks! If you don't mind, can you please share what you charge? I have no idea how much to charge for say, a gumpaste rose or a daisy.

Tails Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 11:01am
post #8 of 14

Hope this doesnt come across wrong, but shouldnt you already have these prices for doing regular cakes? If you have to ask pricing, why are you selling/making someone a wedding cake whilst so unprepared?

karateka Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 11:49am
post #9 of 14

Pricing for gumpaste flowers is pretty individual. Nick Lodge charges $8 per full rose, but he can do it in no time flat and his skill level is quite high. You need to figure how your flowers look in comparison and how long it takes you to do, then come up with a price you can live with from there. He also charges a $20 bouquet assembly fee.

It would be wise for you to figure out your pricing structure before you meet. You may not have done weddings (everybody has a first one) but you need to come across as confident in your abilities and knowledgeable about the industry, unless of course, you are doing this for your sister or best friend and they are very familiar with you and your experience level.

If they can't see pictures of wedding cakes you've done, have pics of what you have done, and be able to point out elements that are similar to what they might like on their cake. If you've done a lacy birthday or shower cake, for example, or you have gumpaste flowers on an anniversary cake.....if they are worried about no wedding cakes, but you have stacked other cakes in the past, show them pictures so they can see they are stable.

I do keep a few cake picture books (like Martha Stewart Weddings and one of Colette's books) on my consult table in case they are stumped for ideas. I can let them look through it and am able to tell them honestly whether I can execute the design or certain elements of the design they want.

Brides want to know you can handle this, and want to feel comfortable with your expertise. Have a contract ready so they can read the details if they want. Take a non-refundable deposit and tell them you get paid x number of days prior to the event. Be ready to answer questions like your equipment return policy, delivery and setup charge, cancellation policies, extra charges if they apply, delivery time (relative to the ceremony) any available discounts (say for military or police/fire) whether you cut and serve, do the leftovers need refrigeration, who places any fresh flowers, can they use a topper and do they need to get it to you before the delivery, etc.

I used to offer premium flavors for an extra cost, but am switching to an all inclusive pricing structure.

Tell them honestly if you don't have a stand for them to use (f they ask....a lot of them don't, in my experience), but explain that you can get one for them to rent no problem. I finally had a bride request one and I went out and purchased it, and am charging a deposit to cover replacement cost ($100). No sweat!

If they want a certain color, ask for a plain swatch of around 2x2 inches for you to match.

Lovemesomecakes615 had good questions for the bride.

I hope this helps. Good luck....let us know how it turns out.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 3:21pm
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by pj22


However, I don't have any wedding cakes that I have done yet... do I just show them pictures online or ask them if they have an idea?

I am thinking I'll offer some basic cakes and fillings for free... like vanilla cake, chocolate cake, red velvet cake. What fillings are popular for wedding cakes that I can offer at a tasting/consultation?

For delivery charges, I was thinking $0.50/mile to and from the venue?

What kind of cake stands can I offer if they don't have any?

Thanks!!!




I agree with Karateka, show them what you do have. When we first started doing consultations, we didn't have a lot of wedding-style cakes to show either, so we just showed them all the cake we had done so that they could see that the skill and ability was there. If you have time, you could put together some dummy wedding cakes and take pics of them. Just make sure they are something you can duplicate in real cake. Dummies can be easier to work with, and then when you try to duplicate it in real cake, it doesn't turn out as polished looking.

It's hard to say for sure what fillings would be popular in your area, but you usually can't go wrong with a chocolate ganache or a raspberry filling.

For delivery, we go to Mapquest to figure fuel cost (they have a calculator) and then add $10 per hour of time. Not sure if this is the best way to figure delivery, but it works for us. Make sure you figure for both ways.

There are lots of places online you can order cake stands. We have these:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055A208A/?tag=cakecentral-20

Make sure you have the right size for the cake; account for any extra space you may need for decor, etc. We charge a refundable deposit for our stands that we return to them when we get the stand back. It's roughly the value of the stand, so that we can buy another one if we need to.

Sugarfuse Posted 26 Oct 2011 , 9:24pm
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tails

Hope this doesnt come across wrong, but shouldnt you already have these prices for doing regular cakes? If you have to ask pricing, why are you selling/making someone a wedding cake whilst so unprepared?




In my experience the intracacies of wedding cakes aren't that much different than non-wedding cakes, but the aura around wedding cakes makes them seem much more daunting. That's amplified with the first one that you make. I can empathize with pj22's questions.

Also, this is a forum - a place where those who don't know how - ask, and where those who are willing to - share.

maendings Posted 27 Oct 2011 , 1:17am
post #12 of 14

Make sure that they understand the 'size' of the cake slice when talking about servings. I drew out a 1 x 2, 2 x 2 and 3 x 2 slice on paper, laminated it and added it to my consult book. Wilton also has a section showing possible tier combinations and servings. Just remember that the serving they always talk about are 1 x 2 inches, that's why they get so many slices. If Aunt so and so is cutting the cake, she may cut larger and you don't want to come up short. Anything visual helps. I also copied the pictures off of the Witon site of anything they might need to rent from me- pillars, plates, fountains and such. I include a copy and circle what they need to return. That way there are no questions about what is what. Good luck.
Colleen

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 27 Oct 2011 , 1:34am
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarfuse



In my experience the intracacies of wedding cakes aren't that much different than non-wedding cakes, but the aura around wedding cakes makes them seem much more daunting.




This is SO true. thumbs_up.gif

pj22 Posted 27 Oct 2011 , 5:20am
post #14 of 14

Thank you so very much for the detailed advice... I really appreciate it!!! I do have the cutting guides and diagrams that I can use for serving size ideas. Thanks for the link to the cake stands... I was looking online on ebay for something similar.

I have made gumpaste and fondant flowers on cupcakes and cakes before but I think it is much easier to include them in the price than for a wedding cake and you don't have to make as many. As Sugarfuse said, the aura around wedding cakes is such that you tend to think of them as more difficult... thanks Sugarfuse!

I will have 1-2 fruit fillings and a chocolate and vanilla filling/frosting and vanilla and chocolate cake for tasting samples. As some of you suggested, I'll have books and a laptop where we can view pics online as well.

I feel much more prepared now so thank you everyone for your help and advice!! icon_smile.gif

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