Ordering Your Wedding Cake
The date is set, the dress has been cried about at least three times so now your thoughts turn to the centre piece of your reception – the wedding cake.
Where do you start? Having probably not bought anything of the like before and hopefully not again, it’s important to get it right. Following is some general advice on how to acquire the perfect sponge based masterpiece…
Quality wedding cakes are generally fairly expensive, and for good reason. You are ordering (or should be) an original piece of work which means a lot of time and creativity has gone into beautiful designs, even before the cake has gone into the oven. You wouldn’t expect to buy an original print for the price of the paper… It’s a skilled and very time consuming job to design and create a cake that is not only beautiful and adorned with intricate sugar craft, but also delicious, even and stacked safely. Add to this specialist equipment and exceptional quality ingredients and you can see where the costs start to add up. Generally the more complicated the design and therefore the more time consuming, the more expensive it will be.
If the cake isn’t that important to you, of course you can keep it simple – naked cakes, buttercream layer cakes and even store bought cakes dressed with some edible flowers can all look fantastic in this situation. If the budget is tight but you want something a bit special, always ask what options a designer can work with. It may be that you have a small decorated cake to cut and display with kitchen cake to serve.
At this point nailing the design isn’t priority – a good designer will be able to work with you if you are after something bespoke or guide you on existing designs at the consultation. However, having a good look at a broad range of suppliers/designers will give you an idea of who compliments your theme, personality and style.
Always check that the premises are registered and have a good rating from the Food Standards Agency. Ask to see the certificate or ring the supplier’s local council to check (checking where the supplier is based of course).
Get as many testimonials as you can. Check Facebook pages – unhappy customers are always happy to share!
Ask about the ingredients – it’s not all about the outsides. You are paying a lot of money, make sure that you are getting what you pay for. You should always be offered wedding cake samples – some charge, some don’t. All suppliers now should point you towards any allergy and intolerance advice.
Get some quotes (asking about any delivery or other costs) and exchange a few calls or emails with your shortlist just to get a feel for them and how you feel about working with them.
The design will factor around the size of the cake to a large extent and the designer will probably ask this question first and be able to guide you on how many portions you will need. If you want a large cake but have few guests, fake tiers can be added and this can be discussed at this point.
Most designers have collections for you to choose from. You may have been coveting one of these for some time or maybe elements of a few cakes take your fancy. Any design can be tweaked in terms of design, colours and size, I am always happy to do this and of course advise if something will work or not.
Bespoke designs may carry a larger price tag but you will end up with something completely unique to you both. In this case make sure you can communicate well with your designer. At the end of the process the cake should still be an amazing surprise but true to your personality.
Ideas can come from all quarters – from the venue, fabrics or something completely unrelated. A cake truly is a blank canvass, don’t be shy!
Where and how the cake is displayed can make a huge difference. For instance, all white cakes can look flat away from a light source, or look like an ethereal dream next to one…
A lot of cakes are photographed sitting on pretty, tall stands but bear in mind that these are often dummy cakes made for shoots and that a real cake can be far too heavy to be displayed this way. Venues will often have standard silver stands which can be decorated with florals for example. Have a good think, there are lots of creative ways to display your cake that will really add to the overall effect.
If the cake is displayed in the centre of a room you will need to have the whole cake decorated, rather than having a ‘front and a back’. This of course will have an impact on cost.
Bear in mind other factors – if your wedding is in a non air-conditioned marquee in the middle of August, you will not want your buttercream cake sat for very long so factor in any issues such as this. Again, your designer should advise.
Lead times – if you see a cake you really want, book as far ahead as you can. 4-6 months is generally enough time depending on the designer.
Consultations – depending on time and other factors these can be in person or by email/phone. Some people love the event of a tasting session, others are happy with saving time and having samples sent to them – especially if it’s fairly straight forward and the design is already decided on. I prefer to meet all of my brides but am aware that it’s not always possible or needed.
Payments – most designers will take a deposit to secure your date. These are generally non refundable so make sure all is well, you have read any terms and conditions and ALWAYS invest in wedding insurance. It’s not expensive and will cover you for any events that are not in the control of your suppliers… For instance if a venue is inaccessible due to bad weather, the supplier may not be insured to cover this so insurance is invaluable to recoup any losses.
Again check T’s and C’s for any cancellation procedures or other issues that can vary greatly between suppliers.
Be clear on timings. Make sure the supplier is in contact with someone who will be there on the day to ensure no issues with delivery. I like to leave a good margin of error but at the same time like to leave cakes in situ to avoid any movement after I’ve gone – any damage after this time is the responsibility of the venue or yourselves. It’s important that all involved liaise well.
Hopefully this will have helped you in ordering your wedding cake without a hitch so enjoy, and eat! x