Brides Afraid Of/not Telling The Budget: New Trend?

Business By Dreme Updated 11 Nov 2011 , 2:39pm by ncsmorris

Dreme Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 3:07pm
post #1 of 24

Have any of you had brides that just wont tell you about their budget? For some reason this has been recently happening. I understand if they maybe don't know the cost of a wedding cake, but seriously I don't understand how they can't or won't give me some kind of number to work with. I simply ask, "Is there (or do you have), a budget for your wedding cake?". I ask it very politely and like a normal calm person.

Lately I have been getting the response, "No" [I have learned that if there is an unlimited budget, the brides will back up the "no" and let you know that price doesn't matter but these brides aren't doing that.], "I don't know", "We will see what your estimate says", and I even had a bride change the subject on me. I tried asking the question different ways, such as "Is there an amount you don't want to go over?" or " Is there a price point you would like to stay within?". For some reason they just wont give me something to work with. I even try explaining the reason I ask for a budget, that I need to know what techniques and designs I can do based on their details, I need to know what I can offer. They just seem to want to change the subject, like they are sensitive about it. Like I just said something mean or offensive to them. I feel like they feel I could be killing their dreams if I had the budget and didn't offer them everything. I think they are not being honest with me about what they really can afford.

This has only recently been happening. I have never had this problem before. I don't know if its some stupid magazine trend ("Oh brides no don't tell them your budget! They won't offer you all their options if you say that. You could be missing out on the best stuff!). I have yet to book any of these brides. I feel like they are a complete waste of my time. I could be doing something else. I feel like a need a way to weed them out but with out being a jerk business that seems siddity about budgets and working with people. I don't how to put it delicately.

Have any of you had this happen?

23 replies
jason_kraft Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 3:46pm
post #2 of 24

We haven't had that happen, but if a bride was reluctant to give us a budget, I would just start out the conversation with the starting price for wedding cakes and a rough estimate of the price for the cake they want. Then it's up to them whether or not they want to go ahead and book a tasting.

JennieB Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 4:27pm
post #3 of 24

I have seen the glazed look the brides icon_surprised.gif give when asked, and the sometimes not so nice look icon_confused.gif I get from the grooms. I think they think we are a used car salesman ready to up our prices because they say there is no budget. I usually folow up with " my prices are my prices and they don't change I just don't want to suggest a $1000 wedding cake if your budget is $400 either way your cake will be beautiful"

sebrina Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:00pm
post #4 of 24

Yeah, I have this happen too. I think they are afraid if they give you a budget, then you are going to max it out. What ticks me off is the ones that ask for a 6 tier cake with detailed piping, airbrushed fondant, chocolate seashells, all on a bed of edible sand with their initials & a custom edible cake topper. All to feed their wedding of 60 people. Then they act like I have slapped them when I give them the price. But instead of downsizing & letting me price again, they just go somewhere else.

Sorry, needed to vent... Grrr....

RheaCakeQueen Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:03pm
post #5 of 24

I think they are afraid that if they give a budget price, that is what they will end up paying, but if they don't tell you a price, they might end up paying less. I think they are afraid they will get ripped off just because they said they could afford "X" amount. I think they are afraid that they would be charges $400 for a $200 cake because they said their budget is $400. JennieB is exactly right about the "used car salesman" fears. You never tell a used car salesman how much you have to spend on a car because then you would never get a "good deal".

I think it is becoming more of a trend because people are getting more and more budget conscious.

Dreme Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:05pm
post #6 of 24

It's odd, I've tried that Jason. They still want to go through with the tasting though.

I don't really know what all will happen in the meeting with the client, so I feel like I have to give them the benefit of doubt and book them for the tasting. I never know who is going to turn into a booked client. Some brides may not know the cost of a wedding cake or didn't do her research, but after being educated she may actually be able to afford our prices. I don't want to miss out on an actual legitimate bride that just needed to be educated and has the money. I don't mind missing out on an fantasy land bride who wants to ignore the reality of what she can afford. It's not cool that they are not being honest with me and don't want to talk money.

The real problem unfolds when we are in the meeting and i'm trying a second time to get a number. They go home and fake being ok with my base prices (cost of the naked cake, delivery, rentals, and all that stuff added in). I design separate from our meeting and then send them the estimate with art/design and tax added in. I try to go for the lower end of design. Following up I get responses back stating they want to get the price lower, its over their budget, or that they found a cheaper option. Sometimes I don't hear anything back from the couple. All they had to do was give me a number, I wouldn't as pissed. That kinda makes me feel like a fool. So the whole time they couldn't afford me. Like I should have just wrote them off when they didn't give me a budget. I'm getting to a point where I really don't give a anything. I may just have to require a budget before booking tastings. Come and see me when you have it together. I don't care if discussing money is offensive to some people. They need to be honest to themselves and others about what they can and cant afford and stop putting up a front.

I'm sorry if i'm going into a rant, but I'm one person doing this and I really can't afford to wast time on somebody who lies to me and cant be honest.


I need a better budget radar. Mine is broken.

RheaCakeQueen Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:10pm
post #7 of 24

Do you charge for your tastings? If you don't maybe you should and then if they book with you, the price of the tasting is credited towards the cost of the cake? That way at least you are not wasting your time doing a tasting for those who just want free cake or are just looking for the "experience".

TexasSugar Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:11pm
post #8 of 24

Honestly if I was shopping for a wedding I would not know how much to budget everything. I would definitely have to talk to people and find out their prices and then go back and do the math on how much total I have to spend and where to spend it.

Some people may just be uncomfortable discussing prices. Or may be waiting for that deal.

When I left a consult for a wedding, I think I would want to leave knowing the total amount of the cake. That way I could say, "You know I can't afford this, or this is probably more than I want to spend." Or know how much much it will cost me so I can go back home and plug that price in with other things to see if I can move money around to afford the cake I want.

jason_kraft Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:27pm
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by RheaCakeQueen

Do you charge for your tastings? If you don't maybe you should and then if they book with you, the price of the tasting is credited towards the cost of the cake? That way at least you are not wasting your time doing a tasting for those who just want free cake or are just looking for the "experience".



This. We don't schedule in-person tastings any more: we only offer to-go tastings starting at $30 (and we do not credit the tasting to the final order). If a bride is serious about placing the order with us she will pay for the tasting, but if the tasting is free the bride has nothing to lose.

We don't charge separately for phone or email consultations, but I already allocate the cost of that time along with other administrative overhead into the price of all our products.

Dreme Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 5:32pm
post #10 of 24

Oh god Sebrina yes! They are doing that too! asking for everything when they cant afford it.

I really try and work with every couple to give them an awesome cake without sacrificing my time or my work in the pricing. Based on their details sometimes I can give them a couple of estimates. If I can I give them the lowest price using the basic techniques for their concept and try to come under their budget. Sometimes it may be at or around the budget and they get that. Even sometimes they give me awesome details to work with and I may throw in a estimate over their budget. I only will do the last option if I have at least two lower options or them. 9 times out of 10 our brides go with at budget, or over budget. On occasion they pick the one under budget.

QTCakes1 Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 6:06pm
post #11 of 24

I didn't want to discuss budget, cause I didn't want it maxed out. I didn't think the baker would give me a $300 cake and then charge the max budget. It's just a cautios thing, but it can be hard to work with. The cake I ended up with was several hundred dollars below budget.

FromScratchSF Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 6:13pm
post #12 of 24

I have had that a few times. I respond with:

"You stated that you expect 130 guests at your reception. My buttercream cakes start at $6 per serving, fondant starts at $7, so for a basic buttercream cake in the size you require would be estimated at $780. Please keep in mind I am using basic math to arrive at that figure and does not take into consideration how many tiers you may want or your final guest count. Any additional custom design work, color-matching, sugar flowers/fresh flower design, and delivery is additional. Does that sound like it fits into your budget?"

If I get a "well it might if your cake tastes good" type responses I decline the consultation. It's a big flag that they can't afford me but still want the tasting experience, which is a waist of my time and product. Brides may go over budget for a lot of wedding details like shoes or a dress, but in my experience a fancier cake isn't something they find more money for. So I now offer to do paid samples they can pick up if they want cake. So far this seems to be working, it weeds out the window shoppers and I can focus on people that are there to buy.

cakelady2266 Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 6:24pm
post #13 of 24

I don't ask what their budget is. When I get the call or email, I give them the starts at prices per serving with a list of cake and icing flavors in that price range. I tell them the cake will cost xx per serving time the number of servings. So they know up front before the consultation/tasting the cake will cost at least xx amount and can increase with additions like fillings, bling, specialty flavors, fondant etc.

Giving them a base price right off the bat lets the bride decide before scheduling consultation whether she can afford you or not. I don't want to waste hours with a bride only to find out in the end she only needs, wants or can spend $100 for $1000 worth of cake.

Dreme Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 7:10pm
post #14 of 24

I do not charge for tastings for events with guest counts over 75 (soon the be 100). Everyone else pays for a to go tasting if they want one. The price on that is soon to go up too.

In the beginning we started with paid tastings overall. That really didn't go so well as no one in our area really charges for a cake tasting. Since removed and putting the 75 requirement on it, we have been able to have more tastings resulting in a higher booking rate.

I would like to be able to design and price live and give the estimates then and there, but that has never worked for me. I only confuse the couple. I do not know how to quite change my method as come at it more with an artist point of view. I'm probably going to get jumped on for my method but here goes: Before caking I was a general artist. Anything art I just did. So when designing for a bride, for me its natural to have way too many designs pop into my head. Every time she says a detail, another idea or variation comes into play. If I started working these ideas out live our meeting would go on forever. I like to narrow it down on my own time away from the couple. I like to make sure I accurately price only the final designs i'm going to present to them, and sometimes I may need to research a technique or look up something. I'm ocd and must present a formal typed estimate on letterhead. Sketches must be formal and in full color with all details. It embarrasses me to show a client my rough draft, chicken scratch, stick cake drawing and I am always apologizing for it. So now I try to never pre sketch for a client. I don't like to show my problem solving and back end details. The ocd in me says everything must be presented perfectly and formal. I know a lot people don't agree with my method, but really I don't understand how to do it any other way.

Dreme Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 7:25pm
post #15 of 24

I like the no in person tastings, that would make things easier and free up more of my time. At the same time I like meeting face to face with my couples, I like being able to read them a little better and sometimes implement their personality into the designs. How do brides respond to the no in person tastings? Are any upset that they can't have a sit down meeting and go over things?

carmijok Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 8:34pm
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

I have had that a few times. I respond with:

"If I get a "well it might if your cake tastes good" type responses I decline the consultation. It's a big flag that they can't afford me but still want the tasting experience, which is a waist of my time and product. Brides may go over budget for a lot of wedding details like shoes or a dress, but in my experience a fancier cake isn't something they find more money for. So I now offer to do paid samples they can pick up if they want cake. So far this seems to be working, it weeds out the window shoppers and I can focus on people that are there to buy.




When my daughter was getting married...and before I started even thinking about decorating cakes...we went for wedding cake tastings. I can tell you that we first went to a baker that was known for designing unbelievably beautiful cakes. And surprise...her prices were really reasonable. However, her cake and frosting were not that good. And the way things were presented was not great. However, we still planned on using them until we went to a lesser known custom cake shop. We were treated to a lovely tasting experience (no charge) and WOW...what a difference in taste. Her cake was SO good! She charged twice what the first baker estimated, but guess who we used?

Taste does make a difference and if you think it doesn't, well, I think you're grossly underestimating the client. I would hesitate to pay top dollar for a cake whose taste I wasn't familiar with. I mean design is great but guests will remember the taste --if it's worth remembering that is. And people ALWAYS find the money if they think something is worth it...especially wedding cake. It's usually the centerpiece of the reception after all!

Also, if I was handed a tasting 'to go' box I would equate that to mean someone thinks I'm not important enough to warrant a real live consultation and does not really want my business.

I ended up working for the smaller custom bakery and doing the wedding consultations for them. If there's one thing I learned, it's that you stand a better chance of closing the deal if you treat potential brides with a special experience and delicious cake. I always made it clear that any design the bride wanted could usually be adjusted to fit whatever budget she had in mind. She usually found the money, but not always--however, I never thought that those who didn't use us because they really couldn't afford us were wasting our time. We figured the more people who we treated to a special experience and learned how great the cake was, the more business we'd get from them later with a different event. The owner got a lot of new business that way.

jason_kraft Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 9:09pm
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

Also, if I was handed a tasting 'to go' box I would equate that to mean someone thinks I'm not important enough to warrant a real live consultation and does not really want my business.



You're not far off the mark there. The to-go tasting strategy works best when you have a competitive advantage and have no trouble filling your baking schedule, so you can afford to turn away business if the customer is not comfortable with your ordering process.

costumeczar Posted 8 Nov 2011 , 11:01pm
post #18 of 24

I think that the "I don't know the budget" thing is a combination of the brides really not knowing how much a cake should cost, and the fact that wedding magazines routinely tell brides not to mention their budgets. It's along the lines of the advice of not saying that the cake is for a wedding, because we supposedly jack up the price if it's a wedding cake instead of a party cake.

It's a general distrust of wedding professionals.

indydebi Posted 9 Nov 2011 , 2:20am
post #19 of 24

It's what I call "Used Car salesman Syndrome". They have been "trained" not to tell how much they can spend because they think we'll jack up the price to that amount.

I rarely ran into this problem because my pricing was on my website, plus my intro packet had all pricing info, plus the intro packet had an interactive spreadsheet where they could figure the cost of their cake/food down to the dime before they even picked up the phone to call me.

On the one or two that were reluctant to give a number, I'd start out "humorously" telling them "Oh good! I haven't done a thousand dollar cake in a long time! This will be fun for me!" That usually gets them down to reality. icon_twisted.gif

On the serious side, I always told them, "My objective is to give you everything you're looking for AND leave you with money leftover in your pocket."

I only had one mom who refused to give a number but she WAS kind enough to explain "But I thought it worked that you gave me a price and then I'd come back to you with my ideas of changes.?" I told her, "That sounds fine if you're buying a car, but why would I want to go thru the quoting process twice when I can give you what you're looking for hte first time round, *IF* I know what you're looking for?"

But it's Used Car Salesman Syndrome. they've been scared of dealing with anyone on pricing of large items because of past practices.

johnson6ofus Posted 9 Nov 2011 , 3:04am
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

"You stated that you expect 130 guests at your reception. My buttercream cakes start at $6 per serving, fondant starts at $7, so for a basic buttercream cake in the size you require would be estimated at $780. Please keep in mind I am using basic math to arrive at that figure and does not take into consideration how many tiers you may want or your final guest count. Any additional custom design work, color-matching, sugar flowers/fresh flower design, and delivery is additional. Does that sound like it fits into your budget?"




As a customer, and a non-pro caker, I love this approach. Until I "got into it", I had NO idea about all the cake fuss. These statements (above) are a great intro... a starting point I can understand and work with.

AND, if my budget is $3, I know I cannot hire you and waste your time and mine.... which, I believe, is the goal (OK, except for the window shoppers and "experience " brides....<sigh>icon_wink.gif.

mcaulir Posted 9 Nov 2011 , 4:09am
post #21 of 24

I really genuinely didn't have a 'budget' for my wedding cake, or any wedding item, really. I spent about $500 more than I was thinking on my dress, and much less on flowers and photography than I thought. I had to go and look at what was available for what price, then I decided what I wanted to spend more or less on.

If I'd seen a 'dream' cake for over a thousand dollars, I might have bought it. I really didn't have a number to give someone.

FromScratchSF Posted 9 Nov 2011 , 4:16am
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

Also, if I was handed a tasting 'to go' box I would equate that to mean someone thinks I'm not important enough to warrant a real live consultation and does not really want my business.


You're not far off the mark there. The to-go tasting strategy works best when you have a competitive advantage and have no trouble filling your baking schedule, so you can afford to turn away business if the customer is not comfortable with your ordering process.




I'm not a bakery and don't have a counter full of cake to give out for the hope of good will word of mouth. It costs a lot of money to bake the cake in the first place just in kitchen rent, especially here in the bay area so I made the decision to work smarter, not harder. Sure, I've had brides go over by $100 from what they planned, but x2 or x3? Just giving out samples or booking full consultations in the hopes that someone will go that drastically over budget is not financially feasible to adopt as a business practice. If a bride tells me she wants cake for 130 but only wants to spend $300 (but might spend more if they "think I'm worth it"), the game has already been rigged against me. I'm not going to take the appointment to try and convince them to triple their budget.

costumeczar Posted 9 Nov 2011 , 11:36am
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF



I'm not a bakery and don't have a counter full of cake to give out for the hope of good will word of mouth. It costs a lot of money to bake the cake in the first place just in kitchen rent, especially here in the bay area so I made the decision to work smarter, not harder. Sure, I've had brides go over by $100 from what they planned, but x2 or x3? Just giving out samples or booking full consultations in the hopes that someone will go that drastically over budget is not financially feasible to adopt as a business practice. If a bride tells me she wants cake for 130 but only wants to spend $300 (but might spend more if they "think I'm worth it"), the game has already been rigged against me. I'm not going to take the appointment to try and convince them to triple their budget.




I get that kind of thngs too, and I definitely tell the bride that I can't do it for the price range they want to stay within. You can always refer them to someone cheaper in order to be helpful, but I'm not going to waste my time and money on an order that won't be an order.

I just had an interesting email yesterday. A bride that had booked a tasting with me had cancelled because I'd quoted her a price, but then they decided to go with a photographer who was much more expensive than they had planned and had to cut back on everything else. I wrote her back and said that was fine, and that I thought that you should decide what's best for your wedding and put your money there, but if she changed her mind to call me!

So she emailed yesterday and said that after trying a cheaper bakery she had changed her mind and wanted to reschedule. icon_biggrin.gif I think that since I was nice about her cancelling the first time she wasn't afraid to email me again, and she'll probably book her cake with me. So I guess my point is that you can be honest with clients and still be nice about it, then if they do reject the cheaper cakes you'll still be on their list of potential people to hire.

ncsmorris Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 2:39pm
post #24 of 24

I think it depends - there could be a couple of different situations. It could be that they have NO idea what to expect. They may be looking for a general idea of how much it would cost, expecially if you don't have "starting at" prices posted on the website. (Example like someone above said, "well, cakes start at $4/serving; if you expect 100 guests, thats roughly $400."). This is especially true if they are in the beginning of the planning process and trying to make a budget. How can they know their budget for a wedding cake if they don't have any sample prices? If you and two bakeries give them sample prices, THEN they can work it into the budget. If they've already done some research, then they would be able to come to you with a budget.

Another could be if they tell you the budget is $800, then you're going to give them an $800 cake, when what they really want to know is how much the cake they want will cost, even if they HAVE budgeted for more (or less). I usually say something like the above "cakes start at....." then I will let them know that we can work from that basic price, raising or lowering the price based on the options they select.

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