pouchet82 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 12:01am

So I have a dilemma, every time a friend of mine gets married I make the wedding cake as their gift. I am making my friend's cake in August and we had discussed a design a while back. Now she is adding all kinds of elements and changing the design, and I know it's going to be very tacky and will not look good. I want to make her what she wants, but I don't want to put my name to such an ugly cake. Has this ever happened to anyone? What would you do? I have tried to suggest different things and veer her in a different direction, but she's very particular about what she wants. TIA!

100 replies
doramoreno62 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 12:39am

Has the design only been discussed? Maybe (if you haven't already) a sketch of it would make her see the actual look of the cake. In her mind, it may look beautiful and unique, but once it's on paper she may realize what you are saying.

Smckinney07 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:12am

AI would be upfront and honest with her, your friends right?! Explain to her that your worried that the design has too many elements and you don't want it to look cluttered, make a detailed picture of what she's asked for so she can see it as Dora said.

I'd also make some other sketches to show her, separate her designs into a few different sketches and have her tell you what she wants to keep and what she can get rid of, then resketch- narrow it down some more...

You don't have to tell her your worried it will be hideous lol ;)

What is she wanting? Out of curiosity :)

lorieleann Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:13am

being a friend it gets a bit sticky, but since you don't have the option of canceling the order, you have to find a way to make it work (insert Tim Gund voice!). don't let her tell you how to add elements, but instead lead the conversation so that you ask her what elements she wants and then you find a way to add them to the cake.

 

I had my line in the sand moment with a cake that a customer designed themselves with orange and purple scrolls and starbursts with alternating color ribbons on circle and square tiers. i knew it was ugly, but went with the 'it's what the customer wants' out and did it anyway--and hating every minute of it.  I vowed, never again would I do a cake I wasn't happy with! 

 

A few months later, I had a customer who wanted to have fondant swags on a cake, a la 1997. The photos she showed me were so dated and just ... yuck.  I struggled with how to give her the draped 'elegant' look she wanted, but then came up with a design that I was happy with (less structured and non-symmetrical swags, the drapes had more flow and movement down the tiers). I even worked in fluer di lis and bright blue orchids as requested. There was a 'novelty topper' though that there just was no helping!  

 

i have gone so far as to decline an order that the customer was pushing and pushing into a direction that I knew that wouldn't look good.  I finally told here that I just couldn't do her design to her vision (a modern and clean design featuring 14 different silhouette cookie cutter shapes of her daughter's favorite things like the state of Idaho, a church, lipstick, frog, grad cap, etc., on a 5"/8" cake, in a monochromatic color scheme of red and white.) 

JWinslow Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:15am

I'm in the middle of this now.  I did a drawing for a cake and my friend was really excited.  I decided to do a mock up with dummies and was horrified! 

 

I came up with a new drawing with elements that will fix the problem but she seems to be a little confused.   I am meeting her again this week (my terms).  I find using the words balanced and elegant are helpful when trying to change directions.  Trying to get her to understand that when sketches are turned into cake the look can change because the medium is different.  I know she trusts me but this is for her boyfriend's birthday so she gets a little paranoid.  We shall see..... 

 

I have to really try and change her direction cause I really don't want to be associated with the original design even though It was my drawing. :(

 

I find taking the situation back on yourself will help people come to a conclusion that they think is theirs.  Hope that makes sense.

JWinslow Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:16am

All you can do is try - If she insists you may have no choice - it is her day

kaylawaylalayla Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:26am

AI've made an ugly cake before, but I'm not my own boss lol. Just curious what does she want? Maybe someone here will have a stroke of genius

bct806 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:19am

A

Original message sent by JWinslow

I'm in the middle of this now.  I did a drawing for a cake and my friend was really excited.  I decided to do a mock up with dummies and was horrified! 

I came up with a new drawing with elements that will fix the problem but she seems to be a little confused.   I am meeting her again this week (my terms).  I find using the words balanced and elegant are helpful when trying to change directions.  Trying to get her to understand that when sketches are turned into cake the look can change because the medium is different.  I know she trusts me but this is for her boyfriend's birthday so she gets a little paranoid.  We shall see..... 

I have to really try and change her direction cause I really don't want to be associated with the original design even though It was my drawing. :(

I find taking the situation back on yourself will help people come to a conclusion that they think is theirs.  Hope that makes sense.

Did you show her the dummy cake? I would show it to her and see what she thinks. Everyone has different tastes. Showing her the dummy will either bring her into the light of day and show her the error of her ways or cement her even more in her decision. If the first, yay. If the second, she is the bride and it is her day. Give her what she wants.

puddles_gal Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:36am

AI've had to deal with the same issue in terms of making ugly cakes in the past, and finally I told myself no more! Now, I never let my clients dictate the overall design. After all, they are paying for your expertise, skill, and creativity, and I've learned that the baker usually knows best. Often I will try to incorporate some of the clients ideas into the designs, or if they show me a picture of something they like, I will put my own spin it. Honesty really is the best policy, so if a client shows me a cake they like circa 1980s, I will tell them if I think it's outdated, but then show them sketches that bring it up to date. Most people aren't aware of current trends in the cake world, so as a baker, it is our job to help educate them, and they are usually very grateful for it. I'm probably lucky in the fact that most of my clients have seen my work, so trust what I do. At the end of the day, you want a happy client, but you don't want to be miserable the whole entire time you are making their cake! Now, I just have to get over the fact that I have a client who wants a cupcake tower for her wedding in royal blue, bright yellow, and white.....lol

JWinslow Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:36am
Quote:
Originally Posted by bct806 


Did you show her the dummy cake? I would show it to her and see what she thinks. Everyone has different tastes. Showing her the dummy will either bring her into the light of day and show her the error of her ways or cement her even more in her decision. If the first, yay. If the second, she is the bride and it is her day. Give her what she wants.


I'm bringing it with me when we meet so she can see why I am concerned.   I'm pretty confident she will allow me to make adjustments.  I think it will take a visual for her to understand and that's OK.

pouchet82 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 12:20pm

Thanks for all your replies. So this is the gist of it, I asked her if she wants an elegant cake or a whimsical cake and she told me she wants elegant. She wants a 5 tier ivory cake with white orchids and calla lilies, but not many flowers, she wants more of the elements on it. She wanted "girly things" (lipstick, eye shadow, nail polish etc...) down one side of the cake and football/Buffalo Bills stuff down the other side. She also has a buffalo bills topper (I hate store bought toppers!). 

So my design idea is as follows: The tiers will be gift boxes with big bows. 

Top tier - small spray of flowers with cake topper (cringe)

2nd tier (left side) - small spray of flowers with some of the girly elements, bow on the right side

3rd tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

4th tier (left side) - large bouquet with gumpaste show, haven't decided where to put the bow

5th tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

Cake board - small spray of flowers with girly elements and I though maybe nail polish spilling onto the board.

I was planning on doing white calla lilies, white orchids, white rose buds, white filller flowers and some red berries to get some color in there.

The worst part is, the groom is a complete groomzilla, and I know he wants a big glitzy cake. I suggested making a grooms cake instead if having the buffalo bills stuff on the cake, but she insisted on this. I know groomzilla will be disappointed.

I feel as though I could make this work as a whimsical cake, but I'm having a hard time envisioning this a an elegant wedding cake icon_confused.gif. Any suggestion or input would be greatly appreciated!

ericapraga Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:01pm

Reading your description, I have got nothing! I think you might have the best idea of how to make their elements work together. That's a tough one, I don't think I could put something like that together! Good luck and I hope it turns out well!
 

JWinslow Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 1:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by pouchet82 

Thanks for all your replies. So this is the gist of it, I asked her if she wants an elegant cake or a whimsical cake and she told me she wants elegant. She wants a 5 tier ivory cake with white orchids and calla lilies, but not many flowers, she wants more of the elements on it. She wanted "girly things" (lipstick, eye shadow, nail polish etc...) down one side of the cake and football/Buffalo Bills stuff down the other side. She also has a buffalo bills topper (I hate store bought toppers!). 

So my design idea is as follows: The tiers will be gift boxes with big bows. 

Top tier - small spray of flowers with cake topper (cringe)

2nd tier (left side) - small spray of flowers with some of the girly elements, bow on the right side

3rd tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

4th tier (left side) - large bouquet with gumpaste show, haven't decided where to put the bow

5th tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

Cake board - small spray of flowers with girly elements and I though maybe nail polish spilling onto the board.

I was planning on doing white calla lilies, white orchids, white rose buds, white filller flowers and some red berries to get some color in there.

The worst part is, the groom is a complete groomzilla, and I know he wants a big glitzy cake. I suggested making a grooms cake instead if having the buffalo bills stuff on the cake, but she insisted on this. I know groomzilla will be disappointed.

I feel as though I could make this work as a whimsical cake, but I'm having a hard time envisioning this a an elegant wedding cake icon_confused.gif. Any suggestion or input would be greatly appreciated!


Wow.  I can see why you're concerned but it appears she wants some type of  his & her cake.   I did a search on Google to see if I could find some kind of design reference. - No help there - just split cakes with her stuff/his stuff.  Have you done a sketch or played with dummies or even boxes to get a sense of her concept and where you would have to put elements?.  Is the topper whimsical enough to tie the concept together? 

Sassyzan Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:06pm

AUggghhhh.....it's a WEDDING cake! Not "this is your life"!

Good luck, OP! I hope she can tone it down a bit.

BeesKnees578 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:10pm

Yes...WOW!  Is it possible to make an elegantly gaudy cake?  That's what she's asking for, right? 

 

I think you should convince her to ditch the idea of "elegant" and go for "whimsical"....tell her that the rest of her wedding may be elegant, but this cake is where she really needs to let her casual personality show through...tell her how AWESOME and FUN she and her fiance are and that you really want THAT to come through on the cake.  Tell them that you will prepare some of the flowers and stick them in if you need a filler, but you aren't 100% sure that they will look right.  Explain that it's your biz name on the line and don't want to put anything out there that doesn't look good...she wouldn't want to tarnish your name, right?  ASK her to TRUST YOU AND YOUR ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE.  The last thing you want her to say is...Oh, that DOES look bad.  I shoulda listened! 

 

I'm sure you've done all of this, or some version of it, just trying to help!

 

Would doing the squares with the corner at the front of the cake table help with the division of he-said, she-said elements?  Make the left side him and the right side her.  Maybe on one of the tiers, toward the front corner that's pointing forward...nevermind.  SEE SKETCH...much easier that way!

 

Good luck and can't wait to see pics!

BeesKnees578 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:18pm

SCREAMING right now!  I just did a long post to you and it didn't post...UGH!!!  Synopsis below!  Grrrrr....

 

Anyway, see pic.  Tell her how awesome and fun they are and you want that to show in the cake....try to get her to ditch the elegant idea and go with whimsical.  I know you have tried, but just trying to help...

 

 

Maybe my longer one will post?  Maybe it took a little longer to upload and I am being impatient!

therealmrsriley Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:19pm

So glad to see this thread. I went through this same thing last weekend. I had a graduation cake that I was all set to design very nice and simply, when the graduate gave me a sketch in crayon of what she wanted. It was a hodge podge of every activity she took part in in high school. It was far too much. I did the best I could but it wasn't something that I felt 1,000% great about.

 

When I finished it, I vowed to myself that while I welcome creative input from clients, for integrity's sake I need to retain creative control. From here on, if a design doesn't fit aesthetically, I will recommend a different route that we each can agree on.

BeesKnees578 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:25pm

My original DID post afterall! icon_biggrin.gif

 

PS  I seriously question your friend's definition of "elegant".  I was under the impression that elegant DID NOT include tubes of lipstick and nail polish and football!

 

Good luck with this completely Bi-Polar Cake....I am sure it will turn out lovely.

 

And please, no backlash on the bi-polar comment....it's said in jest with the full knowledge that it's not a funny issue.  Lacking the right word, I guess.  Maybe oxymoronic?  Paradoxical? Those aren't right, either!

JWinslow Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 2:42pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeesKnees578 

Yes...WOW!  Is it possible to make an elegantly gaudy cake?  That's what she's asking for, right? 

 

I think you should convince her to ditch the idea of "elegant" and go for "whimsical"....tell her that the rest of her wedding may be elegant, but this cake is where she really needs to let her casual personality show through...tell her how AWESOME and FUN she and her fiance are and that you really want THAT to come through on the cake.  Tell them that you will prepare some of the flowers and stick them in if you need a filler, but you aren't 100% sure that they will look right.  Explain that it's your biz name on the line and don't want to put anything out there that doesn't look good...she wouldn't want to tarnish your name, right?  ASK her to TRUST YOU AND YOUR ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE.  The last thing you want her to say is...Oh, that DOES look bad.  I shoulda listened! 

 

I'm sure you've done all of this, or some version of it, just trying to help!

 

Would doing the squares with the corner at the front of the cake table help with the division of he-said, she-said elements?  Make the left side him and the right side her.  Maybe on one of the tiers, toward the front corner that's pointing forward...nevermind.  SEE SKETCH...much easier that way!

 

Good luck and can't wait to see pics!


love this post and I'm not doing this cake.  The visual really works and advice are excellent.

pouchet82 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 3:16pm

AI'm glad i came here for advice. I was feeling like a horrible person for not wanting to make the cake she wants. To make matters worse i just realized the topper wont fit... or maybe thats a good thing! I,m going to try to sketch something out this afternoon. I can totally see this being pulled together with whimsical flowers and ribbon roses. I told my hubby i will take pics of tge cake before i put on any of the elements!!

thecakewitch Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 3:31pm

AWhat about on the biggest tier at the bottom, make it the his and hers elements. Then the rest of the tiers you can make it the elegant part with the flowers.

Janette Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 4:08pm

I cringed looking at the sketch. 

 

I am always up front and say we will work together to create a cake you will be happy with and one that will represent my work.  I ask what did they have in mind and then gather up pictures and include some that I thought was nice that may be different then she had in mind.  I would never do a cake that is a bad reflection on me.

bct806 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 4:33pm

AThat sucks. I was going to recommend a groom's cake until I saw you had already suggested it. Maybe steer her in a different direction. Ask her what they like to do together. Hiking, camping, swimming, watching tv. Something. Then do a cake around that idea. I would prefer that then a hodge podge of our individuality. Isn't it all about two becoming one anyway? Of course the risk you take is her wanting to slap that idea into the already horrible ideas she has. :(

JWinslow Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 4:38pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by pouchet82 

I'm glad i came here for advice. I was feeling like a horrible person for not wanting to make the cake she wants. To make matters worse i just realized the topper wont fit... or maybe thats a good thing! I,m going to try to sketch something out this afternoon. I can totally see this being pulled together with whimsical flowers and ribbon roses. I told my hubby i will take pics of tge cake before i put on any of the elements!!


I really believe working on a sketch and showing your friend is a great tool.  Did she by any chance bring you pictures of anything?

pouchet82 Posted 18 Jul 2013 , 11:51am

So I've been trying to sketch out the cake and I realize that it is a lost cause. I spoke with my friend last night and she wants what she wants. She was also trying to tell me how to assemble the cake and to make the tiers higher icon_mad.gif. I told her it's going to be done my way unless she wants the cake toppling down during the reception. She was being so demanding I almost told her to go find someone else to make the cake. Her and her fiance are so worried about the cost, I'm only charging her for the ingredients for the cake and my husband and I are putting money towards it too as their gift. If she thinks she's going to get a 5 tier wedding cake for under 300$ elsewhere I would like some of what she has been smoking icon_rolleyes.gif. I'm attaching a pic of the topper, and I apologize for my comments before, it is worse than cringe-worthy. icon_eek.gif Some people really put the @ss in class...

 

 

 

 

kikiandkyle Posted 18 Jul 2013 , 12:52pm

AI know you'll be getting ready for your friend's wedding, but is there any way you can take all the little accent pieces with you to the venue and have her see them before they're attached? Ie take her an elegant cake, then have her approve it being gauded up when it's in front of her face?

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