A Lengthy Vent....need Validation!

Business By dreamsville Updated 18 Jun 2012 , 9:00pm by kakeladi

dreamsville Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:00pm
post #1 of 19

Hi All!

Ok so bare with me here while I share my story:

My husband and I met a woman while doing a charity event (Selling our cupcakes) who asked us if we did wedding cakes. She wanted to buy a wedding cake for a girl who was getting married (in 3 weeks!) to a young man in the military. His deployment was being moved up so they were moving up the wedding and she wanted to know if we would take on the project. Of course we said yes because we happened to have the date open. She made it clear that SHE wanted to pay the bill for the cake and even set up the meeting with me and the bride.
So I met with the bride and her mom. (18 yr old pregnant girl, just graduating from high school who really had NO idea what she wanted....hadn't given a wedding cake much thought at all). We talked about everything and got all her info so we could come up with the perfect wedding cake...which we did. She told us she was expecting 250 guests....no problem. Our cake price is $2.00/serving (I know....tha'ts pretty cheap for wedding cake compared to most areas!). So I made up the contract after the meeting and sent it off to the woman who was to pay the deposit and the bill. Here was my contract breakdown.

Order date 5/30 for a wedding on 6/16!

5 tier round cake
Cake total per guest $500.00
Equipment price: $37.00 (cake plates, pillars etc)
Delivery/setup $25.00
Flower sculpting $50.00
(for a cake with roses and ruffles ALL over it!)

TOTAL: $612.00
Equipment security rental (for my cake base) $20.00 <---will be returned when my base is returned.

Grand Total: $632

Does that seem unreasonable? So she was supposed to give me a $50 security deposit on Monday which never happened. I emailed her today to see what was going on and she replied that they're not sure what they're doing and that the bride is meeting with another cake maker tomorrow. Obviously this says to me that the woman paying was a little caught off guard by the price or assumed I would be doing it very cheap (or free!?) because it was a military wedding.
Now I'm all about military stuff and I know it tugs on my heartstrings, but I can't AFFORD to give away a 5 tier wedding cake just because it's a military wedding. I didn't try to soak her in price or anything like that. Do my prices look ok? Should I be rethinking something? Be honest because I want to be able to really get into the wedding circuit around here and this would've been our 2nd huge wedding cake. (Our first went off WONDERFULLY!!)

Thanks all for reading. Feeling bummed because it's a paycheck that now isn't going ot happen....but a little relieved at the same time because I already have a very busy and stressful week next week.....so I'm not really angry....just second guessing I suppose.
icon_sad.gif

18 replies
BakedAlaska Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:10pm
post #2 of 19

To me, that situation has "pending disaster" written all over it. I'd be pleased if they decided to go with another baker!

Who schedules a wedding with 250 guests happening in 3 weeks time and doesn't even begin to consider the cake? It sounds like the bride could care less about a cake. Honestly, from the sounds of it, she's got lots of other things on her mind at the moment...

Either way, you should never feel tempted to underprice yourself to gain clientele. You'll find yourself the favorite baker of every cheapskate in town. And, as the profit margin is slim enough given the time and materials necessary to produce a cake, you don't want to end up giving away your personal time to make some stranger's day special. It's just not worth it...

Good luck!

shanter Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:11pm
post #3 of 19

Two things come to mind:
1. "Cake total per guest" sounds a little like it will cost $500 x 250. (I don't think the buyer took it that way; it just seemed the wording could be more precise.) There must be some other way to say it--say, basic cake total for 250 guests. Then list the other amounts as you have stated.
2. Is she really expecting 250 guests? That sounds like an awful lot to me for and 18-year-old, but then they could be inviting an entire army base, so what do I know? icon_smile.gif

To actually answer your question, yes your prices look okay. If she chooses another baker, feel relieved and enjoy yourself for the time it would have taken you to make it - in fact, always enjoy yourself. icon_smile.gif

BakingIrene Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:14pm
post #4 of 19

You did right. Nobody asked YOU to provide a gift or donation. The person making the donation was upfront about her intention.

So it sounds like this particular wedding party got the dose of reality that they need. How do you pull together even a basic party for 250 on three weeks notice? That is, assuming that a caterer is even available? Heck there might be a real rush of last minute weddings in your parts.

If this bride comes back to you on her own, you are free to offer her a $50 gift, either a small cake for a small wedding, or a discount on your quote. It is after all your tax dollars that fund the military...

dreamsville Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:22pm
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by shanter

Two things come to mind:
1. "Cake total per guest" sounds a little like it will cost $500 x 250. (I don't think the buyer took it that way; it just seemed the wording could be more precise.) There must be some other way to say it--say, basic cake total for 250 guests. Then list the other amounts as you have stated.
2. Is she really expecting 250 guests? That sounds like an awful lot to me for and 18-year-old, but then they could be inviting an entire army base, so what do I know? icon_smile.gif




oops yeah I didn't actually word it like that in my contract icon_smile.gif My bad....I typed that wrong here! hahaa

And I don't think she has 250 guests at all. my guess is, they invited their whole church, and all ehr senior friends (probably doing this instead of a graduation party) and assuming everyone comes (which will never happen) she would have MAYBE 250. She didn't even know...and 2 weeks before the wedding she doesn't know how many are coming says to me that they stood up in church and said "hey ya'll....we're gettin hitched quick, come celebrate at our homecooked buffet"....which is fine...I'm not knocking that.....but yeah, not much thought into preparation.

I guess I'm just going to thank her for getting back to me and tell her I absolutely have to know by Friday or else I can't order any of my materials on time.

Thanks all, you're making me feel better already!! icon_smile.gif

kelleym Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:37pm
post #6 of 19

I'm wondering if the gift-giver had no idea that she bride wanted 250 servings of cake. She might have been imagining a shotgun-30 guests and a reception in the church hall type ceremony. I can see where generosity of spirit may have had her thinking that maybe she could spend $200 (or whatever) on a cake for this military couple.

There is no way that 250 servings of cake are going to be cheap, even at Costco or Sam's. That's a lot of cake. I join the others in doubting whether there will actually be that many in attendance.

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:54pm
post #7 of 19

[quote="dreamsville"]Hi All!

Ok so bare with me here while I share my story:
[/quote]

I will listen to your story, but I'm not taking off my clothes.

kelleym Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 12:05am
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_Hfuhruhurr

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsville

Hi All!

Ok so bare with me here while I share my story:



I will listen to your story, but I'm not taking off my clothes.



+++ 1,000,000

thumbs_up.gif

BlakesCakes Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 12:36am
post #9 of 19

Yep. I'm betting that the "giver" is still trying to catch her breath, having thought that maybe she was on the hook for $100-$200................

First thing done wrong is that the giver didn't start off her convo with, "What do you charge per serving of cake?"

Second thing done wrong by the giver was that she didn't say to the bride-to-be, "I'd like to donate $XXX toward your wedding cake."

Third thing done wrong is that the mom didn't raise her daughter well enough for the kid to know that you don't take advantage of a gift giver and that you don't invite 250 people to a last minute, thrown together wedding--unless, of course, your last name happens to be Kardashian.

If it were me, and the gift giver called me back, I'd find out her budget, tell her what I could do for that amount, and leave it at that.

Like my DH ALWAYS says, no good deed goes unpunished..............sadly.

Rae

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 1:02am
post #10 of 19

I don't know where they think they are going to find a cake for 250 people for cheaper than that, especially with such short notice. We would charge about $1000 for a basic design for 250 people. That's not counting the flowers, delivery, or cake stand. Still think you're charging too much? icon_wink.gif

Definitely set a deadline, and be firm about it. If she doesn't get back to you by Friday with FULL payment, NO CAKE.

Edited for typos

Evoir Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 7:10am
post #11 of 19

That's a minimum $1500 (plus delivery charge) spend in my business. No you're not the unreasonable one. Chalk it up to misguided philanthropy, and the silliness of youth.

vgcea Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 7:20am
post #12 of 19

The only thing I can add is this: $50 deposit for a $600+ cake that's less than 3 weeks away?

I'm not sure this particular consultation would lead to a real order but for future orders, I would increase the percentage of the non-refundable retainer/deposit to at least 50% of the total.

carmijok Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 7:56am
post #13 of 19

I don't think your prices are off at all! in fact to me they're on target for what you offered . But I am going to play devil's advocate and throw the ball back in your court a bit.

You saw the situation--young 18 year old pregnant girl, didn't know and didn't care so much about the cake...someone else footing the bill... and a guest list that was more of a guess-list.
I mean a 'hey ya'll come to our wedding' doesn't sound like this was going to be a formal sit-down dinner at the Ritz! It more than likely was going to be thrown together on the cheap, so why wouldn't you steer the consultation towards a more simple design, budget-friendly cake? Just because someone else is paying for it, doesn't mean they gave you carte blanche. I know, I know...no one told you a budget, but really, couldn't you tell this was going to be more than what was needed?

Does a bride who doesn't care so much about the cake really need sculpted sugar flowers? I know she said 250 people but did you ask if that was the invited list or the confirmed list? A five tier cake sounds a bit much for a wedding that is being basically thrown together last minute. To me a simple small tasteful cake for the reception could have been enough for pictures with kitchen cakes for guests...NOT for 250 unless someone has a firm head count.

I was not there so everything I'm saying is based on my own opinion, but I think you got excited by the thought of doing a big wedding cake and perhaps overlooked the reality of the event itself. And again, the prices you quoted were not out of line at all for what you were offering. I just think you offered too much for what was needed and the bride was just going along for the ride.
Don't worry though...next time you'll have a bride that actually cares about having cake!
thumbs_up.gif

Tails Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 8:58am
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

The only thing I can add is this: $50 deposit for a $600+ cake that's less than 3 weeks away?

I'm not sure this particular consultation would lead to a real order but for future orders, I would increase the percentage of the non-refundable retainer/deposit to at least 50% of the total.




+1000!

dreamsville Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 1:48pm
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

The only thing I can add is this: $50 deposit for a $600+ cake that's less than 3 weeks away?

I'm not sure this particular consultation would lead to a real order but for future orders, I would increase the percentage of the non-refundable retainer/deposit to at least 50% of the total.




My regular practice is for a $50 deposit as SOON as a bride wants us to pencil in her date. If she changes the date (and we're not available) or if she cancels, she doesn't get it back. SO that has worked nice for brides who are scheduling weddings for many months from now. But yeah I guess I should've just said we need 50% down now since the wedding is in 2 weeks. Oh well.....next time

dreamsville Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 1:54pm
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

I don't think your prices are off at all! in fact to me they're on target for what you offered . But I am going to play devil's advocate and throw the ball back in your court a bit.

You saw the situation--young 18 year old pregnant girl, didn't know and didn't care so much about the cake...someone else footing the bill... and a guest list that was more of a guess-list.
I mean a 'hey ya'll come to our wedding' doesn't sound like this was going to be a formal sit-down dinner at the Ritz! It more than likely was going to be thrown together on the cheap, so why wouldn't you steer the consultation towards a more simple design, budget-friendly cake? Just because someone else is paying for it, doesn't mean they gave you carte blanche. I know, I know...no one told you a budget, but really, couldn't you tell this was going to be more than what was needed?

Does a bride who doesn't care so much about the cake really need sculpted sugar flowers? I know she said 250 people but did you ask if that was the invited list or the confirmed list? A five tier cake sounds a bit much for a wedding that is being basically thrown together last minute. To me a simple small tasteful cake for the reception could have been enough for pictures with kitchen cakes for guests...NOT for 250 unless someone has a firm head count.

I was not there so everything I'm saying is based on my own opinion, but I think you got excited by the thought of doing a big wedding cake and perhaps overlooked the reality of the event itself. And again, the prices you quoted were not out of line at all for what you were offering. I just think you offered too much for what was needed and the bride was just going along for the ride.
Don't worry though...next time you'll have a bride that actually cares about having cake!
thumbs_up.gif




On the contrary I DID offer her other cheap options (mainly because I'm extremely busy next week and was actually hoping for a little less stressful of a design). We talked small cake and cupcakes, we talked several little cakes instead of one huge cake. We talked about small cake just for the wedding party. But as we're talking, she and Mom are flipping through a catalog and find a Wilton cake and she points to it and says "this is the one I want. Can you do this?" What was I suppose to say? icon_sad.gif I told them what the basic price would be and the mother of the bride even told me that she could help pay for it. But to be honest, my job isn't to go between the gift giver and the mother of the bride to mediate who pays for what. I just give the bill and they figure out who's paying.
The gift giver is the one who told me that this girl was expecting about 200 guests so she knew she was looking at AT LEAST $400 if our servings start at $2.00/serving. Who knows what's really going on. I imagine she won't get back to me by tomorrow and that's ok with me. I will be able to appreciate the lesser stress since I'm also running my church's Bible School all next week. icon_lol.gif

BakingIrene Posted 7 Jun 2012 , 2:59pm
post #17 of 19

You did what any of us would do: you tried to bring some commonsense to the situation in front of you.

This bride is the one who has no clue. The reality of what's in front of her hasn't hit her yet. She needs a five-tier fantasy cake? sounds like a teenager not a parent-to-be. I understand wanting a "real" wedding cake but that includes a well decorated 6"-10" job if you are ordering at the last minute.

So--you are too busy next week to make a large cake for them. They can have a really nice 2-tier cake and sheets, or they need another baker. That settles that, even if they come back to you today with full $$$.

Brace yourself for the possibility of a shower cake...which the mother of this bride would order--my sense is that she knows how to pay for it, fair and square.

vtcake Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 7:44pm
post #18 of 19

Could be they just wanted to explore other options.

kakeladi Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 9:00pm
post #19 of 19

What ever became of this situation? Did you make a cake? Who paid for it and about how much?
Inquiring minds want to know icon_smile.gif

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