Outside Reception: What Could I Have Done Differently?

Decorating By Pebbles1727 Updated 23 May 2010 , 4:30pm by Pebbles1727

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Pebbles1727 Posted 23 May 2010 , 3:14am
post #1 of 12

Hi Everyone,
well, today I got a chance to do my first official wedding cake. All in all, I was pretty proud of it, but was really worried about it making it to the end of the reception. Well... it did not make it as good as I wanted it too, so was wondering what I could have done differently to make it work better.
I had several concerns going into it:
1. It was supposed to be an outside reception on the beach in Southern Alabama in May, translates into very very hot (no breeze today either). I was afraid that icing will just melt off, so I opted out for fondant...
2. The bride wanted hydrangeas on the cake, which I have advised her is not a good flower as it cannot be stuck into the cake directly and it will wilt very quickly. I was assured that the florist knows what he is doing...
3. Due to the temps, I advised that the cake may not need to be left outside for very long before cutting...

So here is what happened:
1. Delivered the cake, and florist starts sticking hydrangeas directly into the cake. I voice my concern, and he says "well, I've been doing it for 15 years and noone got sick yet and what do you know with it being your first cake; don't want me to stick flowers into the cake, then give me some icing to ice them down with." I dont' have any icing with me, it's a fondant cake, plus it has a ribbon on the bottom of each tier, so if he used the icing, it would have soaked all into the ribbon and stained it. Arghhh.... I asked him if the flowers will make it to the end of the reception, he tells me that they will wilt within 2 hours in airconditioning, in about 30 mininutes outside. Mind you, this is 1 pm and the wedding does not even start till 5. Argghhh...
2. Before I left, talked to the caterer (who is my friend) and explain to him that he does not need to take out the cake until very last possible moment because of hot temps. He says "don't worry, I won't take it out until bride and groom get here, plus they'll cut it shortly after reception starts, so the cake will be out for only an hour tops." I also tell him that he needs a straight edge knife, not serated, b/c of the fondant. Yeah right, we get there at 5:30 and the cake is already sitting out, sweating, and hydrangeas are shriveled up in these little bitty bunches on the sides of the cake.... the cake does not get cut until 8 pm. And then, caterer uses serated knife and instead of cutting through it, they place it on top and push down with the knife. Needless to say it squishes the tier drastically because fondant does not give and sticks to the knife (it softened and got sticky sitting out for several hours). I panic, so I grab a straight knife and kindly offer my help. Thank God, she takes me on my offer. I could not do much with a smaller tier, because it was so squished up by the time I started, mind as well scoop it up with spoons. I'm mortified, but once we got that one out of the way, it went much smoother. I had to make bigger pieces than normal, but it cut ok.

So, my question is what in the world do I do next time I have an outside wedding in the South? Do cakes have any chance of lasting outside?
Please help me what could have been done differently to make this work out better, and sorry for long rambling post.
Thanks, P : )[/list]

11 replies
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Pebbles1727 Posted 23 May 2010 , 3:57am
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Well, I know that someone out here has a perfect plan for a hot weather cake. I have another one coming up in couple of weeks, and that one is supposed to be chocolate buttercream. Is it doomed? I have several other people asking for cakes for outdoor events, and I'm now sceeered.... icon_cry.gif

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Shalott Posted 23 May 2010 , 4:31am
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I'm sorry this happened to you! I don't have any advice to give being beyond a novice myself, but it seems to me like the fault isn't yours. You warned them about the possibility of hydrangeas wilting (and the fact that they shouldn't be stuck in a cake in the first place), and they didn't listen. You told them how to cut the cake, and again they didn't listen. Not your fault.

Next time, could you possibly offer to make the flowers out of gumpaste? Here's a link to something that's supposed to make forming hydrangeas easier:


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indydebi Posted 23 May 2010 , 4:51am
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It's not that hydrangeas should not be pushed into the cake ... they should not come into contact with cake/icing/fondant at all. Depending on the sensitivity of some people, the toxicity could taint the icing/fondant just by laying on top of it and could affect the people eating the cake.

A suggested corrective action: Put in your contract (as I had in mine) that hydrangeas, poinsettas and calla lilies are NOT permitted to be on the cake under any circumstances. This was a deal breaker. If a bride insisted (and I never had one), I would definitely send her on her way to find another baker who would be willing to poison her guests.

As for everything else that happened (cake out too early, cake cutting done wrong), all of that was out of your control and you really have no responsibility to it. You don't say whether the bride was a relative or friend, but at some point you'll probably have the opportunity to mention "Gosh, that's too bad the vendors at your wedding didn't listen to me and brought the cake out too early AND tried to cut it with the wrong knife. Especially after I specifically told them what NOT to do."

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Pebbles1727 Posted 23 May 2010 , 5:05am
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Thanks Indydebi,
the bride was a daughter of a really good friend, and all the vendors were more or less friends, no strangers. This was my first wedding cake and for a friend, so I really am feeling bad about all of the mishaps. How long would you say the cake can stay outside before having to be cut? What normally happens if the cake gets mutulated by server? It just seems to me like people were thinking something was wrong with the cake because it was impossible to cut, not that the server had no clue what she was doing. Is it normal for fondant to get sweaty and sticky after a while in the heat and humidity? Will something else work better? I just came across your old post about your icing and it seems like it works great for heat. Will it work just the same if I use high ratio shortening? I have a noon beach wedding coming up in two weeks and I know it's going to be scorchig hot here on Gulf Coast. Will anything make the cake more durable in that situation?

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Texas_Rose Posted 23 May 2010 , 5:24am
post #6 of 12

Fondant will get sticky in the heat no matter what you do. Indy's BC is lovely for hot weather, but even it will melt in direct sunlight and once the temps outside get to a certain point. I don't know of anything that's absolutely heat proof...dried royal icing probably, but of course that doesn't taste good.

Usually you won't be there for the cutting of the cake, except in a situation like this where the customer was a friend of the family, so you won't know if the server mutilates the cake. When you are there, you can offer to cut the cake, like you did this time, if they seem not to know what they're doing.

About the flowers, if they absolutely have to have a toxic flower and you don't want to make them from gumpaste, tell them they have to use silk flowers. I've seen silk hydrangeas that looked so realistic that I had to touch them to see if they were fake (not on a cake icon_biggrin.gif ).

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sugarandslice Posted 23 May 2010 , 5:25am
post #7 of 12

Here is Australia we have our fair share of HOT weather! And most of us use ganache under fondant. It holds up so well in the heat, you can leave your cake out for hours if necessary.

As far as the flowers and sinfully bad cutting - out of your control!!

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noahsmummy Posted 23 May 2010 , 6:12am
post #8 of 12

totally random and off topic.. but i just noticed.. sugarandslice, we have the same birthday and both live in aust. hahaha. had to share.

But i agree, sounds like all the things that went wrong were totally and completely out of your hands.

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sugarandslice Posted 23 May 2010 , 6:47am
post #9 of 12

Hey noahsmummy, that's a coincidence!! Where in NSW are you? I'm in ACT, maybe we could have a joint party!! Or do each other's cakes!
haha icon_razz.gif

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noahsmummy Posted 23 May 2010 , 6:57am
post #10 of 12

hah yeah! its a pretty average birthday though. haha. ive always hated it, and now my poor son has the day after. lol.

im on the central coast, betweeen sydney and newcastle, used to live in wagga.. and ive got family in ACT, so next time im there.. ill let you do my cakes.. any day! lol. your cakes are brilliant!

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sugarandslice Posted 23 May 2010 , 8:51am
post #11 of 12

At least the day after is NYE and everyone wants to party!! icon_biggrin.gif

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Pebbles1727 Posted 23 May 2010 , 4:30pm
post #12 of 12

Yeah, lesson learned, I'm not going to be doing hydrangeas ever again, no matter who it is for. The only reason I did this one is b/c it was a friend, for anyone else it would have been no-no.

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