So, you're engaged. First of all: CONGRATULATIONS! Enjoy every second!
Once the dust has settled though, you are probably reading this with your practical head on. What happens next? How do you plan the perfect wedding? How on earth do you afford it?
Well, as a cake designer who sees dozens of couples every year, I thought I'd write a little blog about what happens when you come and see me and talk cake.
Firstly, I'd say it's never too soon to get your cake booked in. It might be way down on your list of priorities after Dress, Ceremony and Reception Venues etc, but all the very good Cake Designers get booked up quickly. As I write this, in Autumn 2016, I am already taking bookings for 2018. And while 2018 seems ages away, and you might not even know what your cake will look like (or have about 100 different ideas), once you're booked in with me, you can change the design as many times as you like until about a month before your wedding. I'm very flexible. Tastes change and I happily adapt to suit.
So, you've chosen your venue, your dress may be ordered and it's all getting real. Now you are thinking cake. (I think cake about 90% of the time. Welcome to my world!)
Some venues have recommended suppliers and some don't. If your venue does, you do not have to go with them. This is your big day and it is absolutely fine if you wish to shop around. I'd suggest approaching three or four cake designers that you like the look of (search for Cake Designers near your venue as this will drastically reduce delivery costs) and firstly, see if they are available for your date. I get the majority of these tentative enquiries via email from my website, or via my Facebook page. It's worth saying at this point that you might not get an immediate reply so please don't be disheartened! If I'm quiet, I generally reply the same day. If I'm busy with cakes, it could be a couple of days as sometimes I come home and collapse in a chair. So be prepared for a slight wait before a response.
From this point, I'll explain the process as I do it, as it might be different for other suppliers. (One thing I would say is be wary of any Cake Designers who do not offer tastings. You wouldn't buy your dress without shopping around and trying some on. The same goes for cake. I've had some couples admit that the cake is often an afterthought and have been surprised when I've offered a tasting, but what you have to remember is that you will be feeding this to your guests. You need to know that the cake is worth eating!)
So, your chosen wedding date is available and we've arranged to meet. I've had couples come to me with no clue as to how their cake needs to look, and couples who have arrived with huge physical folders or chockablock Pinterest boards. Neither is wrong - there is no wrong way to approach this, so if you know you need a cake but don't know/care what it will look like, I can help.
But say you have two or twenty cake ideas you like and you are getting stressed. Then what?
Both these scenarios are why the consultation helps. If you have absolutely no idea, I can usually ask enough questions about the rest of your planned day to find a thread of inspiration, be it the colour of your key flower, to the time of year, to your favourite flavour. Even whether you are a high-fashion couple or prefer things much more rustic. There is the perfect cake for everyone.
And if you have twenty pictures, I can nearly always spot a theme across them all. They might all feature a certain type of flower. They might all be very minimalistic. I can usually identify something that ties them together that you might not have spotted.
When you arrive to see me, I will have asked you beforehand what flavours you would like to sample and I will have them ready. I serve my samples in cupcake form as they are easy to prepare and they transport well. (I hold 99% of my consultations in the Gallery, by the fire, where my studio is located, but occasionally I travel elsewhere to meet couples if schedules are a problem.)
As it's practically against the law to serve cake without tea, expect a nice hot cup or two, or coffee/latte/cappuccino if you prefer. Even water!
And this is the point where we talk weddings and cake.
Questions I ask include the following:
- The date and time of your wedding service and whether this location differs from the reception. (Civil weddings are massively increasing in popularity so it may be the case that the ceremony and reception are at the same venue.)
- What flavours you would like.
- Do you require any favours, or little extras? (I provide favours, cupcakes and/or biscuits as place settings etc.)
- Any food allergies in your immediate family and whether this needs to be catered for in the cake. (Some couples say yes, some say those with allergies intolerances can just avoid the cake.)
- The details of your florist. (In case the cake requires fresh flowers.)
- The details of your photographer. (This is so I can approach them directly and purchase any photos of the cake for my portfolio.)
- Who your wedding coordinator is at your chosen venue. (In case I need to contact them for any reason.)
- How many does the cake need to feed?
- What is the theme of the wedding?
- What are the key colours?
- What are your key flowers?
- What time will the cake be cut? (For naked cakes this is especially important as it will be standing out exposed to the elements and there are steps I take to keep it moist.)
At this point, we've usually got to know each other a bit and in my mind, I have a decent idea about what it is you need, and you have a decent idea about the type of person I am and whether you like me. It's a lot like a job interview in some respects! You need to feel comfortable with me as you are paying me for a service. You can ask me as many questions as you like during the consultation and I do not push for a decision at this stage. You have tasted my cakes and you (hopefully) liked them, but I appreciate that you may be seeing other suppliers and shopping around. I send a quote via email for you both to look over and I ask that you let me know if you wish to go ahead and book (or not) when you have received it. This means I can release your date to other couples if you are going elsewhere, or book you in if you have chosen me. And then, once you have paid your deposit, that is you booked in and one more thing ticked off your list!
I hope this has been of some help. Please ask if you have any queries. I love talking cakes and weddings!