Stick with something alcohol based to thin it down, like vodka or Everclear. Lemon extract will do in a pinch although it is not only expensive, but may give your cake a little extra lemon flavor you may not want. HTH!
Look at kits by iwata and Badger. I tried both of these when I was looking to upgrade my airbrush. I went with Badger, but the iwata was nice too. Grex makes a really nice airbrush, but they are outside of the budget you mentioned.My first airbrush was a Tester Aztek and I hated it. It spat and sputtered and clogged a lot!
You might want to check your local college to see if they offer SBA (Small Business Administration) classes. They can very helpful with developing your business plan. I took them and they helped, but they also told me that it would be worthless when I went to the bank (and it was). Prepare to pony up some collateral (house/land) for your startup costs.Also, have you considered getting a job at one of these cupcake shops? I don't know how much you know about running a...
I find that the private / country clubs I deliver to are the worst about cutting the cake properly. I think leaving a cutting guide is a great idea, but don't expect the event staff to stop and read it. It's more of a CYA measure. I think a call to the catering manager would not be out of line. It sounds like it's just an education issue where the manager needs to (re)train the servers.
This does sounds like a fun bride! I think a cake stand that looks like a coffin would be really cool! Even an overturned grave stone would look awesome! Have you tried sending a PM to Mike411? He has made cake stands for me before and likes a good challenge.
Great going step0nmi - you may even be changing your username to watchoutf0rmi soon! I deal almost exclusively with brides and wedding cakes and every bride fishing for a discount uses the "well this other baker quoted me $X.xx" line. I always tell them "If you liked the look and the taste of their cake better we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we?"
I HIGHLY recommend Mike McCarey's Cakenology Vol 1 DVD. It's all about the process of making a scale model car cake. He actually makes a Ford Mustang in the DVD and walks you through all the steps. I review it every time I start making a car cake. It think it runs about $40 and worth every cent!
You might also consider checking with local bakeries to see if they would print out your message with your new font on edible image paper. Once when mine was on the fritz I paid another bakery to print out the page for me.
There is an awesome site called What the Font? http://new.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont that lets you submit an image of a letter or word and it will help you ID the font used. I did Google it however, and it looks like someone said that Aachen SB Bold was very close to the "m"