Moosetracks48 Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 4:25am
post #1 of

I recently did a 4-tier buttercream wedding cake. Originally, the bride had arranged for the caterer to pick up the cake and assemble it at the venue. The morning of, the caterer said the bride's aunts were picking it up and would assemble the tiers. I talked to the caterer and she said she had no experience doing the cake assembly. At this point I got a little nervous. The bride's aunts arrived an hour earlier than we had arranged and I was just completing a last tier. I measured and cut the dowels and showed them how to insert the dowels into the plates and I marked the places for the dowels on the tiers. I sent extra icing, tips, and bags for any repairs.  When the bride's mom called two days later, she told me the cake had fallen over and ruined the groom's cake and two of the tiers. I was mortified. I didn't talk to the caterer but the only thing I can figure is that they installed the wrong dowels into the tiers. The caterer told the bride's mom that they were the wrong dowels for the plates, but they were correct and I even tried them again at home and they fit. Lesson learned - cake assembly will only be done by me. If the client doesn't want to pay for the delivery and setup fee, I won't do the order. Also, should I contact the caterer and let her know that the cakes plates and dowels were the correct fit?

16 replies
sixinarow Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 4:35am
post #2 of

I'm confused. Why did you not insert the dowels yourself into the cake? Was something preventing you from putting the dowels in before they left for the venue? I'm sorry, this just doesn't make sense to me. 

Annabakescakes Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 4:39am
post #3 of

Yeah, I would've put the dowels in myself, at the very least. But if they didn't pay, and that is what they asked for, I would absolutely call and tell them that you did your part correctly, and the caterer has no flipping clue as to what she is talking about.

vgcea Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 5:03am
post #4 of

A*Speechless. Exits left*

Moosetracks48 Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 5:34am
post #5 of

Well, I had marked where they went but you're right - I should have placed the dowels and plates on the tiers and they could have just set the next tier on top and applied the border. That way there would be no mix up of which dowels went with which tiers. Ugh!! I was so rushed and nervous about them assembling the cake, I just couldn't think straight and worse even with 5 people in my house while I finished the last tier and explained to them how to assemble. 

Smckinney07 Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 5:47am
post #6 of

AYou should have warned the bride against letting other people assemble the cake that they have spent so much money on, that you would hate for something to go terribly wrong that could have been prevented (for future). If you're uncomfortable doing something (or rather not doing something) because a customer wants to save money don't take the order, it's your business and your reputation!

So, they said the plates were the wrong ones for the dowels-you used sps? Why weren't they inserted already? I would not feel comfortable having someone else assemble a cake, especially that large with no one around I trusted! After that phone call I would have just taken the cake there myself. I know that doesn't help you now, and I'm sorry this happened.

I would be more worried about the bride and groom then the caterer, she told you on the phone she didn't know anything about it. Did the couple come to you with their complaints? I just don't see why the caterer would call you.

Yes, they chose to pick up the cake, contract or not it's on them what happens after, but you are supposed to be the expert and anticipate problems that can arise and relay those to your customers. Accidents happen, weather, whatever, but this was a simple construction problem that could have been avoided. I'm not saying this to be mean or hurtful, it sounds like you didn't feel comfortable with the situation and were worried something would go wrong. I'm just trying to say you should trust your instincts, if your uncomfortable dont be afraid to speak up.

FromScratchSF Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 6:23am
post #7 of

AHi!

I am going to chime in with some advice, possibly tough love, but the client paid for a tiered wedding cake. I don't get how you say they "didn't pay for set up". Set up generally means delivering the cake to the venue and finishing the table- this is the first time I've read that a cake maker defines "set up" as actually stacking and finishing the cake, and it's also the first time I've heard of a cake maker 1/2 making a cake then turning it over to a non-cake maker, complete with icing and what not, to finish. The only possible outcome here was complete disaster.

Stacking and assembling a wedding cake takes training and skill, and it is your responsibility to do if you sell a tiered wedding cake - and if the client can't afford for YOU to do it- all of it- then I advise you, professional to professional, to decline the work.

I would be offering a full refund and would be calling the caterer to apologize for shifting that responsibility to them and making them look bad at the wedding for your error. I would not be calling anyone, least of all the caterer, to school them on how they didn't put your wedding cake together right!

Please take this as a learning experience as far as your pricing and when to say no! If assembly and construction is not built into your tiered cake pricing you need to re- do your pricing because you are false advertising.

Better luck next time!

vgcea Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 7:00am
post #8 of

AFromScratchSF you said that way better than I could have.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 11:18am
post #9 of

A

Original message sent by FromScratchSF

Hi!

I am going to chime in with some advice, possibly tough love, but the client paid for a tiered wedding cake. I don't get how you say they "didn't pay for set up". Set up generally means delivering the cake to the venue and finishing the table- this is the first time I've read that a cake maker defines "set up" as actually stacking and finishing the cake, and it's also the first time I've heard of a cake maker 1/2 making a cake then turning it over to a non-cake maker, complete with icing and what not, to finish. [B]The only possible outcome here was complete disaster. [/B]

[B]Stacking and assembling a wedding cake takes training and skill, and it is your responsibility [/B]to do if you sell a tiered wedding cake - and if the client can't afford for YOU to do it- all of it- then I advise you, professional to professional, to decline the work.

I would be offering a full refund and would be calling the caterer to apologize for shifting that responsibility to them and making them look bad at the wedding for your error. I would not be calling anyone, least of all the caterer, to school them on how they didn't put your wedding cake together right!

Please take this as a learning experience as far as your pricing and when to say no! If assembly and construction is not built into your tiered cake pricing you need to re- do your pricing because you are false advertising.

Better luck next time!

scwright Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 11:39am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF View Post

Hi!

Set up generally means delivering the cake to the venue and finishing the table- this is the first time I've read that a cake maker defines "set up" as actually stacking and finishing the cake, and it's also the first time I've heard of a cake maker 1/2 making a cake then turning it over to a non-cake maker, complete with icing and what not, to finish. The only possible outcome here was complete disaster.

 

Exactly what I was thinking, I've never heard of a cake maker handing over a wedding cake to be finished by the customer or whomever picks it up complete with tips and icing! That's very strange...

sixinarow Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 12:33pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF 

Hi!

I am going to chime in with some advice, possibly tough love, but the client paid for a tiered wedding cake. I don't get how you say they "didn't pay for set up". Set up generally means delivering the cake to the venue and finishing the table- this is the first time I've read that a cake maker defines "set up" as actually stacking and finishing the cake, and it's also the first time I've heard of a cake maker 1/2 making a cake then turning it over to a non-cake maker, complete with icing and what not, to finish. The only possible outcome here was complete disaster.

Stacking and assembling a wedding cake takes training and skill, and it is your responsibility to do if you sell a tiered wedding cake - and if the client can't afford for YOU to do it- all of it- then I advise you, professional to professional, to decline the work.

I would be offering a full refund and would be calling the caterer to apologize for shifting that responsibility to them and making them look bad at the wedding for your error. I would not be calling anyone, least of all the caterer, to school them on how they didn't put your wedding cake together right!

Please take this as a learning experience as far as your pricing and when to say no! If assembly and construction is not built into your tiered cake pricing you need to re- do your pricing because you are false advertising.

Better luck next time!

^^^^^ This.

ddaigle Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 12:41pm

I just got into a discussion with a wedding coordinator that was trying to tell me the florist was going to put the flowers on the cake.   I said....."no one touches my cakes but me...he takes care of the flowers...I will take care of the cake".     I never, ever let anyone get involved....did I say ever?

RitasDecliciousCreations Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 3:24pm

Any cake of mine that has two tiers or more are delivered and set-up by me...no one else (my rules!)!  I have yet to receive any complaints about that--probably because they know that if anything happens to their cake, after it leaves my precious hands, is their fault and I will not be able to whip up & decorate another cake in a short period of time or provide any sort of refund...period!  Just a sayin'...

FromScratchSF Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 3:32pm

AI do want to say to OP, I don't want to make you feel bad (or worse then you already do) but I did feel my 2 cents had to said because I don't see much grey area in your situation. I sincerely want you to be successful but misunderstansing your responsibility will prevent that from happening.

Again, best of luck!

Moosetracks48 Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 4:59pm

AThank you to all for such great advice! I have learned a valuable lesson! I won't be making this mistake again!

jenmat Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 5:50pm

Oh my word. 

First, agreed with everyone else about correct boundaries on who sets up a cake. But you've learned.

 

Next, I'm sorry but grow a backbone or finish cakes earlier. If they show up 1 hour early, you say "um, you're one hour early, go away." I can imagine the kind of pressure you were under trying to get a cake finished while the customer is waiting for you. That would lead to disaster in my bakery as well, as I don't like having any kind of audience. 

 

If you don't want to tell people to go away, then at least finish cakes the day before so they have time to chill properly and then they have less chance of disaster. Then if Aunt Flo shows up all clueless you have a much better chance of thinking on your toes. 

 

My heart goes out to you and I pray the fallout is short lived!

aallison1974 Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 11:34pm

AI received the same, shall I pick the cake up and stack them 2 days before the wedding.( brides mother) . Also, i had a hotel tell me when i turned up at the agreed time, just leave it in that room, i get somebody to move it later..absolute fear runs through me that 'something' could go wrong.. I ended up waiting two hours clinging to the cake, but for peace of mind, it's worth just booking out that time.... I can't imagine how you must of felt, it happens and I've learnt by this thread too.. It's ours until its a finished article standing proud where it should be standing..all the best for the future..

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