I'm currently planning my 1st ever wedding consultation for a few months time and would love any tips/advice from anyone more experienced at this!!
My plan so far was to set out 1 hour appointments throughout the day, when my couples arrive we would take a seat in my studio where there would be a plate and cutlery set out for each person and cake samples in the middle of them. I would say go and introduce myself etc and then let them taste the cake while I leave the room to make tea and coffee.
i would come back in after 5 mins and talk about the flavours they like, followed by designs, guests, theme etc.
so a few questions I have..
- should I bake cupcake samples for each couple or an entire cake cut into slices for each couple?
- I really don't want to have to sketch in front of anyone, so would it be rude to say I will send them a sketch within a few days?
- Should they even get a sketch before paying a deposit.. Incase they take my sketch to another baker?
- should I have a book made up of all my cake photos for them to look through?
Also any advice on what I should actually say, all I can think of is 'Hi, my name is.. Here's some cake' I'm worried il be nervous and choke!!
Thanks for any tips :)
I always (12 years) did things in a different order.
Talk with them about the "look" of their wedding, venue, dress, how many servings, etc. I would have already asked the bride to bring a good, detailed picture of her dress.
I was always fine sketching in front of the client. In fact, I'd knock out anywhere from 3-8 sketches in a few minutes. These are "stick cakes" crude drawings, but enough so she could get the idea. I also used colored pencils which helped.
I had the samples ready - two layer 4" round cakes, except that they were divided into either 1/2 or 1/3 to get different flavors, but the whole cake, when put together made up a whole 4" cake. (one layer, split into 2) Sometimes I'd have some extra fillings in little souffle cups.
I'd give them a glass of water (better palate cleanser than coffee or tea) and leave them with the list of flavors and go tidy up the kitchen for a few minutes.
When I came back, they picked the design they wanted from my sketches, and the flavors they wanted from the list. Then they'd make a deposit and sign a contract, or not.
In any event you NEVER give them your sketches. Even after they give you a deposit. Mine were always on the back of my order form anyway.
Congratulations! I really enjoy bridal consultations. When a couple joins us in our shop, we greet them and get them settled in at our consultation area with their order form. They can begin filling out the top half while I finish getting their samples ready. This is just their contact info, wedding date/time, and general info. When I rejoin them, I complete the rest of the form with them (number of servings, cake size options, design, etc.). THEN, I go get their samples and allow them to taste and choose. I always try to give them time alone to talk as they eat. (We ask them to submit flavor choices to sample before they come in for their consultation.) We serve cake samples on nice plates with REAL silverware, napkins, and we have small bottles of water that we offer them, too. Finally, we decide on their favorites and we complete the form, including price. It seems to work well (and quickly - thirty or forty minutes TOPS) for us. You will get better at this as you go along. I'm looking forward to reading others' methods here, too! Good luck!
I did thing much as leah did. In the beginning I would make up a 6" round completely iced and bordered, letting them take it home. Then when I got a 4" pan started making that up just as leah said and serving slices at the shop. There often would be as many a 6 people come to the consultation. When I ended up throwing out almost the whole cake several time, my feeling of waste overwhelmed me so much I started cutting bite sized pieces 1x2x2 - 1/2 of a wedding sized serving giving them each of them 2 different flavors to try (explaining that a 'serving' would be as much as they had on their plate). That seemed to work best for me. I almost never left clients alone. A few left w/o ordering (to think it over) some of those ended up ordering but most signed a contract right then & there. I almost never sketched. I had several albums and books of cake pix to pick out a design from. Many times we would take elements from 2 or 3 cakes and put those together for 'their own design'.
Most of my work was in b'cream. When I got into fondant I would be sure to serve at least one piece w/fondant for them to try. Most of the time I would ask if they had a particular flavor they wanted to taste so I would be sure to have it on hand. The 4" cakes were bake up when I had extra time or batter and kept, well wrapped & dated in the fzr. If any ever got to be 6 months old (very seldom) it got thrown out :)
I highly, highly, highly recommend The Complete Guide To Tasting Appointments by CC's own @CostumeCzar. After reading this, I completely re-vamped & was able to streamline my tasting. (I have a home bakery in CA.) Worth every penny!
I have my table set with plates, flatware, iced water, etc., along with my albums. My display cakes are on the cabinet facing the clients, so they get to stare at them while we go through my question-and-answer session. I try to get as much info about their day (I have an intake form) - venue details, colors, theme, # of servings, CAKE BUDGET, indoor vs outdoor, etc. I try to get as much of the talking done before I bring out the cake tray because I have noticed that once I put the cake out, a few of them stop listening to anything I say (like questions about cake budget), and that gets a little awkward.
I don't leave clients alone either. I do have what I call "Caking 101" which is what I go through with my Q&A session that I send home with them, along with any leftovers. I don't sketch, but that's more because while I can decorate a cake, I can't draw stick figures! I use BakingIt.com to print out blank cake tiers in case I need to jot some placement notes down (seriously, I can't even draw those either...), and I have cake dummies on the table for them to see the sizes, and somewhere from CC I ended up with paper templates of what a proper wedding cake serving size looks like. Visuals really help, so I've learned to have all my "toys" out and ready!
Wedding consults are a lot of fun, so relax & enjoy!
I was scared to death at my first tasting. But I nailed it!
Definitely dust off the fine china if you have it and set a nice table. Etiquette is important, especially of the bride brings along her future mother-in-law Ms. Snooty Pants. I suggest baking a small cake as others have said. It looks more elegant on the plate. I would only make cupcakes if that's what the bride wants at her wedding.
I cut the cake at the table. It's pleasing to the eye to see the knife sink in to the soft, yummy cake. I like the feeling of 'breaking bread' together and it makes everyone feel more comfortable. Serve yourself a piece and talk with them about the flavors. This gives you something to do rather than sitting and staring at them while they eat. How awkward is that?
If they like what they taste and want to proceed, I offer them coffee and get down to business. I have a checklist that I follow. Be sure to ask if they are keeping the top tier for their first anniversary. If they do, don't make the mistake of counting it in the number of servings (ask me how I know). They may want a separate keepsake tier to freeze.
Often the bride will have pictures or a link to her pinterest page for ideas. Use the Cake Stacker app if you have it. If you don't have a Square to accept credit cards, get one. It's much more professional.
Relax, you've got this!
Hi, great advice!!! I wouldn't have thought about the top tier....or having to bake a small cake and cut it in front of them! How many cakes did you bake? How do you know what to bake and which fillings to use? I have been baking as a hobby for years and for years I have been told to do it professionally. Now that I'm unemployed, I'm thinking of starting a cake business. Can you share additional advice on that as well??? Thank you!! ;)
Thanks for the recommendation, @BakerBlackCat :)
I HATE tasting appointments...it's like a long string of blind dates one after the other. And @4laynes comment about the future MIL Mrs. Snooty Pants gave me flashbacks.
I'd recommend (short of getting my guide, which has LOTS of examples in it), that you streamline as many aspects of the appointments as you can. Schedule all on one day, bake once for them, schedule them back-to-back, that kind of thing. Assembly-line it as much as possible. And charge for the appointment, since that eliminates a TON of issues with people who aren't serious and other things.
Wow, thanks so much for all of your amazing advice!! I have loads of ideas now that I'm looking forward to putting into action :)
Another question Iv thought of is.. How many of you give a quote there and then at the consultation? I'm not great with number so I sit at my computer tapping away to figure out a quote usually. Obviously I can't do that while my clients are sat there, so would it be ok to give them an approximate quote ie. 4 tier starts at £££ so they have a rough price and then I can email them later with an exact one.. Or do they need to leave the consultation with a full quote?!
thanks again for all your tips :)
Our clients don't get a quote until they have finalized all of their choices. Then I check our pricing chart and figure out what the total will be, add delivery fee and taxes, and they pay half before they leave. The other half is due two weeks before the wedding, or they can come in and make payments anytime in between.
If they want time to think about it (99% of our clients come in ready to book us and pay the 50% deposit), then they have one week to decide, and we charge them a consultation fee of $25. (If they place the deposit, this fee is waived.) I tell them ALL of this before we even begin the consultation. They like to know how things work. No surprises at the end. I've had clients tell me multiple times that they appreciate knowing payment procedures up front, that it's very honest of us. I agree! Don't worry about scaring them. Just be honest about how things work when they're working with you!
I usually give a quote right then and there, but I price by the cake, not by the serving count then add things on. If there was a situation where you can't figure out the quote right then it's perfectly fine to tell them that you'll get back to them with the price, but make sure to do it the same day. And if they've given you a budget and your price is going to be higher than that, give them options about how you could potentially change things to lower it to their budget. That's assuming that their budget is realistic. If they want a four-tiered cake for $50 you're not obligated to try to make that happen!
1st thing I always did was ask what there budget was. Then I could go from there. Then you can plan and sketch within there parameters. And personally, I wouldn't give them any cake sketches unless they pay a deposit. Never happened to me, but have known some decorators where when the sketches were given to the customer without a deposit, they then took them to another decorator who copied the design.
@nadizm I baked two cakes and a few petit fours for this appointment. The bride saw on my Thumbtack profile a lemon/raspberry cake that she wanted to try and white almond 'wedding cake' flavor. I used a pound cake recipe for the petit fours. I made the standard doctored mix recipe for each. Each mix made two tall 8" layers. I only used one layer of each and froze the other two for another use. Does this make sense? I torted each and frosted with SMBC.
While tasting and talking they decided that the pound cake in the petit fours wasn't what they were looking for - and I agreed. I didn't like it either! As it turned out she decided to go with the lemon/raspberry for the wedding cake and WASC 'wedding cake' flavor for the petit fours. I asked her if she had considered cupcakes and she said that they were too casual looking. I pulled up some pics of mini cupcakes dipped in poured fondant with a small flower that were very elegant. Long story short, I'm making 75 petit fours and 75 cupcakes rather than 150 petit fours! WHEW!!! Go me!! (I'm kicking myself in the butt for suggesting a lemon curd filling for the petit fours to compliment the lemon cake. What was I thinking???)
Anyway, I really think that if I had not spent this time talking and eating with them in a relaxed way they may have walked out. The petit fours were pretty bad.