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How did you know you were ready for wedding cakes?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I had posted this in the business forum, but then realized it has more to do with decorating skill levels than business per se, so I'll post it here.


I got my first request for a wedding cake this morning, and promptly turned it down. I am nowhere near ready for wedding cakes, and probably won't accept to do one until the end of the year or early next year (Lord willing).

I have been known to over-analyze myself to paralysis LOL and while I think I can probably pull it off, I refuse to put someone's big day, and my reputation in jeopardy.

So how did you know you were ready to do wedding cakes? Did you go by how long you'd been a decorator, or by how many cakes you'd done? Did you just dive in or did you have a more calculated approach to it?

What challenges did you face (special permits, venue restrictions e.t.c)?
post #2 of 30
In my case, I had no choice. My very first wedding cake was my dd's. I obsessed over that cake for a year. All she told me was "XX number of people, and XXXX colors - go for it!" About 6 months later, she told me she wanted a castle theme. icon_confused.gif So I did my very first 4-tier, first fondant, first wedding, first castle, etc. And I flew to NY and made the cake in her tiny apartment.

I made all the decorations and flowers ahead of time and very carefully took them with me on the plane. I was surprised noone gave me any flack over that.

The learning curve on that one cake was immense. After that, I figured I could handle anything in this world. thumbs_up.gif
post #3 of 30
My first wedding cake was my DD's, too! In my case, ignorance was bliss icon_lol.gif as it was just 6 months into my cake decorating journey and I had no idea of the things that could have gone wrong and had no idea that I "wasn't ready". I've since done 3 more and they're my favorite cakes to make. I love everything about doing wedding cakes, from meeting with the brides and doing tastings, to the planning, the baking, the decorating, the delivery. Now that Colorado has a CFL, I'm hoping to do more and not do them for free! icon_lol.gif
post #4 of 30
My first and only was for a dear friend who wanted whatever was easy for me. Even so, it was a scary experience. But then I am still new at this and freak out under stress. I learned a ton though, and one of the things I learned is that (even though it turned out wonderfully) I am NOT ready to do this again! lol!
post #5 of 30
I turned down my son's wedding cake a few years back, even though I have improved, I am afraid to do one for others. He hired a baker/decorator that did a fantastic wedding cake for my daughter, and his was not what they had ordered. Now 3 years later, that's all he remembers, his cake was not nice. So I would hate to be in that position, and I think that's the biggest problem, confidence!
post #6 of 30
I'm 3 years in and have just done my first. I felt like I was ready when 3 friends asked me to do their wedding cakes for the same month. I figured I must have been good enough! I'm not sure I could do it for a paying client, though. Too much stress!
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for these responses. I'm glad I'm not underestimating the mental and 'skill work' it takes to execute an excellent wedding cake. It's not just any cake, and it holds so much meaning for the couple that it has to be right.
post #8 of 30
vgcea~~I've been watching this thread; it was an interesting question. I've been a hobby baker for 2 years now. Last September I did a 100th birthday cake for a wonderful woman. About 200-250 were going to attend her party. My cakes were a love gift, but the skill level needed and the mental pressure was very similar to a wedding cake.

Although I did well and was not disappointed in any aspects of the cake presentation, it was an overwhelming task. I learned a TON of stuff doing these cakes. Logistics, expense, timing, transportation, cutting, table prep, size of cake boards, prep of cake boards, having a friend to help, the sheer number of hours (especially the 24 hours before the cakes were due!), on and on and on.......

Because these cakes were my love gift, I had total control of the design, colors, flavors, everything. I was able to change aspects of the design, etc. at the last minute in order to get them finished and out the door. It would have been 100% more stressful if I'd had the necessity of adhering to a specific design (such as a bride's design).

Here's a link to my thread on Wilton.com where I have some photos and explanation of the cakes:
"MY BIGGEST CAKE PROJECT, EVER! (whew.........)"
http://www.wilton.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=4&threadid=156177&FTVAR_MSGDBTABLE=
----------------------------
I would suggest you identify a source where you can donate, design, transport, cut and serve a large stacked cake and make a "practice run". (You can contact local homeless centers, hospital emergency room Staff Lounges, Convalescent Staff Lounges, Police Stations, etc., anywhere there are a large number of healthy people on staff.)

A "practice run" would give you invaluable experience and then you'll be ready for the real thing!
post #9 of 30
I honestly don't think you can be "ready" for your first BIG ONE. It's something that's forced on you or that you agree to in a weak moment. The only way you're going to stretch yourself to that point and find out how much you can do is to just do it. Yes, it's scary. Yes, there will be moments you wish you lived somewhere else. Yes, there's the possibility of monumental disaster. BUT if you don't ever take the plunge, you'll never know how capable and creative you can be.

As Apti said, practice runs are great. And they would help you immensely. However, until you do it under the stress of an actual wedding with all its attendant jitters and potential disasters and come out on the other side, you won't understand what causes us to keep putting ourselves through this on a regular basis. You may decide you don't ever want to do another one, and that's okay - a lot of bakers don't do weddings at all.

You have loads of people here to help and advise you with every aspect of the process. Go for it! thumbs_up.gif
post #10 of 30
jgifford~~I was astonished at how much I learned doing those 4 large cakes! If I HAD to do a wedding cake, at least I'd know what I was in for now, and would be able to approach it without an abnormal level of stress & fear.

Fortunately, my grandkids are 9, 10, and 12. Whew...... I have a little while yet....
post #11 of 30
When I was assembling my dd's cake at her venue, I realized I had never stacked a cake before! Sometimes ignorance is bliss - - on the other hand, knowing what you're doing is a little more calming. icon_lol.gif
post #12 of 30
Oops!

I don't want you to think I went into this completely stupid. icon_rolleyes.gif I had searched and researched the entire design/"manufacture"/assembly of the cake for months. I knew (in theory) exactly how to proceed and what to do, and had everything I needed to do it. I had just never physically stacked a cake before.

I was very pleased with the result, and now years later I'm still rather pleased with it. thumbs_up.gif
post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apti

vgcea~~I've been watching this thread; it was an interesting question. I've been a hobby baker for 2 years now. Last September I did a 100th birthday cake for a wonderful woman. About 200-250 were going to attend her party. My cakes were a love gift, but the skill level needed and the mental pressure was very similar to a wedding cake.

Although I did well and was not disappointed in any aspects of the cake presentation, it was an overwhelming task. I learned a TON of stuff doing these cakes. Logistics, expense, timing, transportation, cutting, table prep, size of cake boards, prep of cake boards, having a friend to help, the sheer number of hours (especially the 24 hours before the cakes were due!), on and on and on.......

Because these cakes were my love gift, I had total control of the design, colors, flavors, everything. I was able to change aspects of the design, etc. at the last minute in order to get them finished and out the door. It would have been 100% more stressful if I'd had the necessity of adhering to a specific design (such as a bride's design).

Here's a link to my thread on Wilton.com where I have some photos and explanation of the cakes:
"MY BIGGEST CAKE PROJECT, EVER! (whew.........)"
http://www.wilton.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=4&threadid=156177&FTVAR_MSGDBTABLE=
----------------------------
I would suggest you identify a source where you can donate, design, transport, cut and serve a large stacked cake and make a "practice run". (You can contact local homeless centers, hospital emergency room Staff Lounges, Convalescent Staff Lounges, Police Stations, etc., anywhere there are a large number of healthy people on staff.)

A "practice run" would give you invaluable experience and then you'll be ready for the real thing!



Apti those cakes are HUGE and beautiful. I love the colors.

The time investment along with the mental pressure in the last few hours of decorating is what freaks me out. 2 weeks ago I made a 2 tier SMBC cake at the last minute. It was STRESSFUL especially because my 2nd batch of BC took forever to go from curdled to smooth. I think my stress level must have changed the atmosphere in my kitchen amplifying everything. There I was running out of time, and waiting on my BC without which I couldn't go ahead with finishing my cake. So I'm looking at the clock, and my crumbcoated stacked cake, and the BC and freaking out! And it was a free cake too lol.

I'm going to have to find an avenue to do bigger cakes.
post #14 of 30
My story is very similar to the rest. My niece asked me to make her wedding cake (a gift) a year in advance. So since I had a whole year to obsess, stress, research, design, practice, etc...I figured I'd give it a try. I also let her know I was very nervous and not to expect a professional quality cake. And let me tell you I stressed and obsessed for the entire year!

I was already comfortable making tiered cakes so I knew how to properly support the cake. But the most I'd done was a 3 tier cake. This one was a 5 tier cake to feel 200 people. That for me is the most important aspect of a wedding cake. If you don't know how to support your tiers and stack them properly, you are setting yourself up for a cake disaster. All the hours spent baking, decorating and obsessing will be for nothing if your cake topples over or caves in because it's not supported correctly. lol Can you tell I've read a lot of "cake disaster" stories on here?

I had a few issues with the execution of the particular design, but I kind of just went with plan b on that and it worked out. I spent a bazillion hours on that cake but I was so happy I actually did it.

I've since made another smaller (3 tier) wedding cake and felt so much more comfortable since I knew I was capable. I have another one to do in June.

These were all gifts but I'm with Elcee. I'm in Colorado and now with the CFL I'm hoping to actually pick up a real paying order as well! Somehow that makes me more nervous than doing it as a gift...
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgifford

I honestly don't think you can be "ready" for your first BIG ONE. It's something that's forced on you or that you agree to in a weak moment. The only way you're going to stretch yourself to that point and find out how much you can do is to just do it. Yes, it's scary. Yes, there will be moments you wish you lived somewhere else. Yes, there's the possibility of monumental disaster. BUT if you don't ever take the plunge, you'll never know how capable and creative you can be.

As Apti said, practice runs are great. And they would help you immensely. However, until you do it under the stress of an actual wedding with all its attendant jitters and potential disasters and come out on the other side, you won't understand what causes us to keep putting ourselves through this on a regular basis. You may decide you don't ever want to do another one, and that's okay - a lot of bakers don't do weddings at all.

You have loads of people here to help and advise you with every aspect of the process. Go for it! thumbs_up.gif



Thank you so much for these words jgifford. Somedays I think taking the plunge is the one way to get myself moving. I tend to do better under stress. I hate how I feel during the process (short-tempered is an understatement) but I'm usually so immersed, so focused that things turn out ok. I hate the feeling, love the results. I'm training myself to work just as well, but with less stress.

CC is such an invaluable source of encouragement and support. It's like any cake emergency can be tackled because we have so many gifted and experienced people here who are willing to share. Thank God for CC and its members.
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