We have been creating cakes for a couple of years now and have stayed out of the wedding scene. Well, now I know why! We have a wedding coming up in September and the bride has totally changed her cake design plan from our initial meeting. Not really a big deal only the new cake design does NOT work well with her plan for the cake table and the overall look, including several cupcake stand that her fiance made! I have created sketches to show her and make sure we are on the same page. This is my subtle way of saying "Are you sure this is the look you want?" Should I not be so subtle and voice my reservations? I just don't know if that's my place or not. Do I just give her what she wants or steer her toward a better option-in my professional opinion. Help!!
You have a written contract, right? Including the date by which the design change would cost the bride $$$. Right?
That is one way of professionally saying "don't change your design".
I bet she's at her maximum point of stress right now, and is overwhelmed by seeing new cake table images that she doesn't knows how to filter. Include her fiance in the discussion and you might say something like "your original design was a happy marriage with your fiance's handiwork". That might settle her down.
The other line that works is "I'm not sure I can do that technically speaking" and be prepared with a backup line about colouring or something plausible. Some "cakes" are technically not doable at the price that people want to pay.
See, successful wedding cakes are all about being able to "read" the body language of the couple and whoever else comes with them. Sometimes there is an overbearing relative who is paying, and sometimes the bride knows how to speak up for herself.
You will have seen the other threads here about rude and demanding brides after the fact...you may also have noticed that somewhere in the ordering process there was rudeness too. That's how I used to filter out the brides that I didn't want to bake for. Indecisive, family feud, overbearing, rude...bad customers.
We do have a contract and we are still within her time limits for changes. And she is certainly not a Bridezilla. Very sweet young lady. I think she is just overwhelmed with the options that are out there. At some point, brides have to stop looking! =) I just don't want her to be disappointed. I have sent scketches and an email so we will see how things go from here. I love your diplomatic line about her fiance's work. I may use that! Thanks for your reply!
Yeah she probably has a zillion friends emailing her pictures of cake tables etc. The Food Channel is showing trailers this week of just such a series...no surprise that you got this call.
Hey you might even hire the fiance to make cake stands for you. It sounds like this was a good first wedding as long as you keep playing psychiatrist (which the dress people also do).
I wouldn't have a problem saying "this design of cake wouldn't go well with this stand because-----" as long as there was a real reason. If it was just something I didn't like, oh well, it isn't my cake. I've done cakes that I thought were hideous but the bride loved them. If there's a real reason why her designs clash them sure, bring it up. If she still wants it then at least she can't say you didn't warn her. You don't have to say "this is one ooglay cake," but just be professional about it and give her the reasons you don't think it would work.
I find the hardest challenge in this business is trying to gently steer the customers away from bad ideas. "Everything plus the kitchen sink" designs and bad combinations of colors. Some are easier than others. It is a major challenge in diplomatic wording. I too love the line baking Irene gave you, brilliant wording! I usually in the consult say something along the lines of "I'm listening to everything your interested in and I'm getting a vision - let me share what's jumping in my mind on this...." Then I describe what I think would work and what I am envisioning from the pieces of inspiration they have. Sometimes it works, sometimes they like 90% and change one small detail. Sometimes they start adding back in too much stuff. When we go back towards too much stuff I usually say "It's your cake and I want you to be happy, we will do whatever you want. However, I am concerned that this might be too busy". Give them a couple recommendations - I would do this - or this, but I'm just afraid all of it might be too much. That way even if they pick their design they have been warned and you are avoiding a power struggle by saying I'll do whatever you want it is YOUR cake but....... and then If they pick out something bad and insist on it I usually make sure to say again something (in a positive way) about ok, as long as your happy, I'm happy. I even had one bride call back later and say "I think your right, let's do that". More commonly if you gently "brainstorm" with them based of thier inspiration they walk away thinking it was their idea.
I have been seeing, with the growing popularity of sites like Pinterest, that brides are gathering so many ideas, photos and inspirations that they have trouble cutting through the clutter and settling on their personal choices. If you have a good rapport with this bride you can try to gently refocus her on her original design and warn her about getting to "cluttered" with other ideas.
I agree with the others. Shes probably seeing things everywhere that look SO COOL and wants it all to fit in her wedding. Im helping my soon to be SIL with her wedding. Im baking the cakes but Im also helping make decorations and doing the set-up of the tables and decorating them too. Her theme hasnt changed but the cake design has changed more time than I can count and everyday that I talk to her shes had a friend show her this or she saw that online etc etc. Even though my bride is my soon to be SIL and my cake is a gift I still kept my mouth shut when she picked out some really horrid designs. It's her cake and her special day. I'm not a bakery owner or a pro so I don't have a reputation to protect. If I did I might handle it differently.
When my best friend got married she went all wedding crazy too. In the end she settled on an autumn theme, oranges, reds and browns and yellows, lots of leaves, pumpkins, mums, hay bales etc. So Im helping set up the foyer of the church, bucking bales and stacking potted mums and scattering leaves around when this group of guys show up with a HUGE white arch decorated with green ivy. I had NO IDEA where it was supposed to go so I told them to sit it over there and they left. Not too long after that a big delivery truck showed up with a bunch of tall Ionic pillars. I had them sit them with the arch. They told me they had another truck coming with the rest of the order, more pillars in differing heights. I went to get my friend. She looked around at the arch and pillars and had no idea where any of that had come from. She couldnt remember ever ordering it but the delivery people left receipts behind so shed paid for them at some point. So we staged the pillars with mums and tried our best to make everything fit in with the final theme. And sure enough as soon as we walked out into the foyer there was another delivery of potted plants (this time a bunch of lilies and ferns) from a florist that she couldnt remember visiting lol. The arch was used as a prop for guest to have their pictures taken under (which turned out REALLY cute). My friend had so many potted flowers we were stacking them in any free corner of the reception hall and the sanctuary.
I guess at some point her theme was something else and she just impulsively bought stuff to go along with it and forgot (she had been planning the wedding for almost a year). Its a funny story now though lol.
LNW--that is hilarious! I'm trying to picture the fall theme with the arch, ivy and roman columns. I'm glad things turned out.