Bridal Show Samples

Business By jess9333 Updated 4 Aug 2008 , 2:09am by maisyone2

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jess9333 Posted 16 Oct 2007 , 11:58pm
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I am doing my first bridal show soon, and I need some advice regarding how to provide samples. I was thinking of handing out mini-cupcakes. I just don't know how many to make. This bridal show gets around 4000 people! Do I seriously need to make 4,000 mini-cupcakes?!?! Those of you who have done this before, how many do you bring? And do you think mini-cupcakes is a good idea? Or is there a better way to give samples out. I don't want to be cutting from a slab all day. I would way rather have everything pre-portioned. Help!

12 replies
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mommicakes Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:11am
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If you don't want to make tons of mini cupcakes, you could make a sheet and get some of those plastic solo cups with lids and portion it that way. I agree with pre-portioning items. This way they too could bring it home with them instead of trying to eat while getting elbows bumped into the. One way for them to remember who it came from is to put a label with your name & number on it. I think someone here on CC has suggested that. HTH. Good luck with your show. Let us know how it goes.

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SweetArt Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:30am
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I usually make enough samples for about 1/2 of the attendees. That seems to carry me through the event without much left over. I prepackage my samples in souffle cups so I don't have to be cutting cake there and I can give the people my full attention. I bake 3 different flavored sheet cakes, level them, then torte them in half and separate the layers. I now have 2 layers that are 1" high. I ice the tops and then begin to cut 1" lines horizontally and the vertically. This makes perfect 1" bit size pieces. (I've had many people tell me they were glad not to be given a large piece of cake.) It takes about an hour to package 300 samples. I can then stack them in a box and not have to worry about space, or something squishing them.

I'm sure I'm in the minority about this, but I don't really like cupcakes, and especially mini cupcakes. There is just too much dry edge, and not enough soft fluffy center. I think it would also take much longer to bake that many mini cupcakes than it would a sheet cake.

An extra note: I also have those tiny ice cream spoons for people to take with their sample to keep their fingers clean. Also, I did the label on top thing the first year, took all night to put those suckers on. icon_cry.gif icon_cry.gif icon_cry.gif I will never do that again. I didn't find it worth it. Maybe it would work for someone in a small show, but don't kill yourself doing that. Your show is too huge!

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absolutecakes Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:54am
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I just finished a bridal expo last month and I made 1200 mini cupcakes. I didn't have any problems with them drying out as I put them into large containers right away after they cooled. I had someone ice them right there at the show. We had 1400 registered brides and my samples lasted me just over an hour at my 7 hour show!!!! I have another one coming up in January and it's twice as big as this one was. I'm going to bring about 5000 mini cupcakes to give away. It will take me a day to make, my oven can cook 20-22 dozen at one time. I think it was definately worth it, I booked about 20 weddings from the show and I'm still getting calls everyday.

P.S. I sent out a poll to about 20 people to ask them what they would prefer to see mini cupcakes or pieces of a sheet cake. 100% said the mini cupcakes.


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mezzaluna Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:00am
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The cupcakes are cuter, but the dressing cups are more time/cost efficient. I did the dressing cups. People could take it with if they didn't want to eat it there. I make choc cake with passionfruit filling.

Just one flavor, otherwise people are going to take one of each. A square of cake, a squirt of filling, lid goes on. Small plastic spoons.

Don't forget to provide a trash can or they will be leaving those cups all over your tables AND the neighbors.

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Erdica Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 10:48am
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I do mini cupcakes and have always had very, very positive feedback. I have not done a show yet with over 400 brides walking through the door. Our big one around here probably has at least 2000 brides easily. I just don't have the room, or the money, to do that one. I just think that by the time a bride gets around to your table, she may be burnt out on cake. I think that taking sheet cakes can be hard when you've got people asking you questions and you're trying to cut cake.

Will someone be helping you out with the booth?

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peacockplace Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 2:28am
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I just wanted to bring this back up to see what everyone else does form samples at shows. I have one coming up and I just can't decide how I was to do them.

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CakesByJen2 Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 7:13pm
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Does anyone NOT pre-package their samples??

I haven't done a bridal show in about 6 years (I'm back to just being a hobby), but I always did sheetcakes and cut and served them on-site. Though there are disadvantages, such as being more hectic and messier, I preferred doing it that way because (1) It was easier to offer a variety of flavors, (2) I was sure that the cake was fresh at the time it was eaten (3) I felt like the brides were better able to remember me and associate what they saw with the cake if they tasted it at the same time, (4) More cost effective, and (5) I always wondered what condition take-home samples would be in by the time the bride remembered she had them, or if they got eaten at all.

My show had about 500 brides, 1000 people total and I took enough cake to provide 1000 1" bites, figuring some will try more than 1 flavor, some not any. I made 1/2 sheets of the most popular flavors, 1/4 sheets of more specialty flavors. Some were filled, and most had my basic vanilla BC, but some of the specialty flavors had the appropriate specialty icing. I think I did maybe 8-10 flavors all together, but only had 3-4 out at any given time. I served them on the smallest plates I could find and provided baskets of little plastic sampler spoons and napkins. I tried using cupcake liners one year, and found it slowed things down. Also, I always had a helper, so I could focus on talking to people while my helper cut and plated samples. Using toothpicks would be a good idea, then there's no plating and passing involved, people can just pick them up. I always had great feedback, and would see brides frequently making notes on the brochure they picked up about what flavors they had tried. Never had anyone ask for take-home samples.

The first year I did a show, my competition had pre-packaged samples, and they dried out quickly and were not very good at all (my helper snagged me some). I can't imagine how bad they were by the time people waited until they got home. She lost a lot of business to me that year. I know more people seem to be going with pre-packaged samples because it does make it less hectic on show day, and keeps your booth neater. If you do pre-package, be sure it is in a very small container that has a decent seal to keep them moist!

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Solecito Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 7:39pm
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I made mine prepackaged. It was easier for me and for the customers too because they can carrye them better than a plate of cake. People eem to like it better this way, a lot of them left the pate of half eaten cake in my stand and took my little cups with cake.

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indydebi Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 10:27pm
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peacockplace Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 11:43pm
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I've been wondering about the prepackaged samples. Has anyone had any complaints? Has anyone done them prepackaged and wouldn't do it that way again?

Also, does anyone do mini cupcakes?

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indydebi Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 11:57pm
post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by peacockplace

I've been wondering about the prepackaged samples. Has anyone had any complaints? Has anyone done them prepackaged and wouldn't do it that way again?

Also, does anyone do mini cupcakes?

I wouldn't do it any other way. I baked a 12x18 sheet cake, torted it and cut it into 1" (or smaller) squares. That gives me over 400 samples (12columns by 18rows times 2 layers). In a mini-cupcake pan that has 24 cavities, it would take 18-20 pans to make that many samples. I only provided one flavor .. white cake with white icing. This is a 1" sample to show them I can bake ... not to show them every single flavor that can be made.

Plus, I just really like the freedom to be able to talk to one person while handing a second person a lidded, cupped sample. When you only have about 30 second per bride, every second counts. I had a constant line of brides at my booth (and the little icon_twisted.gif in me was taking much pleasure in noting that the booths on each side of me were empty of visitors, while my booth had them 6 deep! icon_twisted.gif icon_lol.gif icon_twisted.gif ). With the lidded cups, I could stack them up in a bussing tub that was resting on a chair where a sheet cake would take up tabletop space that could have one more dummy on it, plus the space needed for plates, forks, cutting space, etc. With the lidded samples, I was able to work the booth alone.

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maisyone2 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:09am
post #13 of 13

I have participated in a few bridal shows and each time I've taken mini cupcakes for samples. Sometimes I've injected them with a filling and then a swirl of white buttercream and other times just a swirl of frosting. I've had nothing but praise for the little treats. Most brides and their entourage comment that they are the perfect bite, no plate, container or utensil to contend with. I have seen too many times a plate from other vendors get one bite taken and the rest tossed. I have been asked if a cupcake or two can be taken home to the groom to be or a mom, and because my sample the way it is, is more of an eat right at the moment type thing it's a little difficult for them to carry it away. So I think this next round of shows, I'm going to have little cups with lids to pop the cupcake in.

As far as the time it takes me to create these mini cupcakes....
I figured it based on Indydebi's example of how many samples she gets from a 12x18 pan.

432 mini cupcakes take approx. 1 1/2 hours to bake, that is putting 2 pans of 24 in the oven at the same time; baking time approx 10-12 minutes. I have 4 mini cupcake pans with 24 cavities. So when two are in the oven, the other two are getting their cups and being filled. It goes pretty quick once you get a good rhythm going.

Once all cupcakes are done and cool, then about 200-300 of them get the swirl of frosting. The remaining cupcakes will get their swirl at the show as they are consumed. My hubby is usually the one doing that so I can talk to the potential clients.

I made about 800 for this past springs show and I know I didn't spend more than 4 hours and they were done and ready to go for the show.

This works for me.


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