When making a cake for yourself, you will choose what type of cake and what decorations you prefer.
If you are making one as a present for a friend or a family member you may ask what type of cake they prefer and if they have a preference as to what color it should be but you will no doubt decide how the finished cake will look.
However, if you are making a cake for a paying client, it will be a rare occasion when they say, “I will leave it up to you,” as they usually have very definite ideas of what they want. They may be open to suggestions, but ultimately it will be their decision as to what the finished cake will look like.
Do you know what questions to ask so you can give a bride exactly the cake she wants? Get this right, and she will have nothing to complain about.
A wedding cake will most likely be the most important cake that anyone will ever have made.
The bride will generally choose the type of flowers, the colors and the design of the cake, but sometimes they don’t have any idea of what they would like so they give you a few vague details and expect you to design a cake they approve of and produce their dream cake.
It’s usually the bride who has the final say as to what the cake will look like even if the groom accompanies her and tries to make some suggestions. Occasionally, the groom will make all the decisions, but it rarely happens.
The secret is to ask the right questions
The most important question that you will ask a bride before you begin to discuss the details is “What’s your budget?” Only when you have established that she can afford a custom made cake can you begin to gather the information you need.
To make sure that the flowers and the cake will be what the bride is looking for, ask the following questions.
- What flowers are going to be in her bouquet, and does she want the wedding cake flowers to match them?
- If she doesn’t want the flowers on the cake to match her bouquet, then what flowers does she want?
- What type of arrangements does she want on the cake – small ones, large ones, hanging ones, ones that stands up from the cake or ones that lay flat on the cake?
- What colors will the flowers be?
- How many people will it serve?
- How many tiers does she want?
- Does she want it to be a stacked cake, with pillars or on a special stand?
- What type of cake would she like – heavy fruit cake, light fruit cake (which are fondant iced) or sponge, chocolate, etc. which can be fondant covered or iced with frosting, buttercream, etc., and the flavor of the frosting & fillings?
- What color will her dress be? (Unless she has some quirky ideas in mind you could suggest that the color of the cake matches the dress)?
- Does she want the sides of the cake piped, with lace or left plain, etc.?
When all the information has been gathered, you can then say what you can produce to fit their budget. When all the details are agreed, ask if the cake will be collected or if it will be delivered you will need the address of the venue, the delivery date and time.
Most importantly, tell them the amount of deposit they need to pay to reserve the order and, lastly, the date of final payment before the event. Make it quite clear that the cake cannot be collected or delivered unless full payment has been made.
When I started, I trusted everyone, and I didn’t even ask for deposits, and for years, I wasn’t let down until the day came when I didn’t get paid for a wedding cake.
I was promised payment when I delivered it to the venue, but the bride forgot to leave the money with the caterers.
The next day I received a phone call, and she promised to pay me when she returned from her honeymoon.
Three weeks went by and I heard nothing, so I went to her house, and it was empty. A neighbor told me that the couple split up two weeks after they got married, and I never found her and never got the money.
After that, I started charging a deposit and only delivering or handing over a cake after payment.
Now don’t be surprised if you get some strange requests
Then, of course, there is the bride who has unusual ideas about the cake. Black wedding cake flowers on a white cake – I was surprised at how stunning it looked. Purple cake and red flowers, brown cake, and green flowers – need I go on?
What’s the bottom line?
Customers should expect to pay a premium price for a custom cake with beautiful wedding cake flowers.
It amazes me that anyone ordering a custom made wedding cake allows such a low budget for it. They seem to have no idea how long the wedding cake flowers take to make and how much work that goes into producing the cake itself and how long it takes to decorate it.
They allow huge budgets for the caterers, the drink, the dress, the flowers, etc., but think the cake will be the cheapest expense of their wedding.
That’s not correct because if a bride wants a custom made cake, then she must expect to pay a reasonable price for it. Wedding cakes nowadays will cost anything between $500 and many thousands of dollars.
There are plenty of cheap, dry, tasteless, ugly cakes sold in supermarkets, but you pay for what you get.
Producing custom made wedding cakes, decorated with gumpaste wedding cake flowers, takes time, and the baker/pastry chef wants to be paid well for doing such a skilled job.
To avoid any confusion about the prices of your cakes, prepare a brochure with a price list. It’s something you could do yourself on a computer.
List the prices for each size of the cake, the price for a plain cake, for a cake with simple decorations and an estimate for different amounts of gumpaste flowers. That way, there will not be any confusion about what your cakes cost.
List the wedding cakes separately from the celebration cakes as wedding cakes will cost much more than a birthday cake.
If a customer is not willing to pay your price for a cake, then advise her to buy one at the supermarket and, NO, don’t offer discounts.
If you have any experiences to share or have any questions please put them in the comments box below. I would love to hear from you.