Your wedding cake is likely to be the single most expensive food item you will ever purchase. Many people have never purchased a bespoke cake before and navigating the minefield of designs, quality, services offered, and price differences can be challenging and overwhelming! I’m going to break down the process and guide you through that minefield to ensure you get the wedding cake of your dreams!
1- DO YOUR RESEARCH
The best way to start looking for cake companies is to ask your venue if they recommend anyone. Venues run weddings and events every week throughout the year and will have seen hundreds of cakes come through their doors. Speak to your wedding or event coordinator, check the venues website for a recommended or preferred supplier list and attend any open days or wedding fairs that the venue hosts. Wedding fairs in general are a great way to find companies for all services as you’re able to see their work on display and chat to the business owner, the fact they’re at a wedding fair also reinforces their status as a real business. Search engines and social media are a great source for recommendations especially those platforms with review tabs. If you’re in any online wedding groups, ask for suggestions of companies local to you. Speak to friends and family, anyone you know who has recently married. Once you have found a company make sure you read their reviews and look through their portfolio. If they have a website or social media account look at the photos of their previous work, many cake companies will also have display cakes on show at wedding fairs and open days. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2- BE PREPARED
So, you’ve done your research and you’ve found a cake company you like the look of. You’ve checked they are operating legally, they’re experienced and they have excellent reviews with a good portfolio of work. Now what? You need to contact them, an email or a message via their website or social media page is the best way. A phone call can be quicker but having the information written down is easier. When you contact them make sure you have all the relevant information so they can give you as accurate a price as possible. Send an initial inquiry asking if your wedding date is available, there isn’t much point continuing with the process if they aren’t free to make your cake! Once you know they have the availability you’ll need to let them know the address of your venue for delivery, how many guests you have attending and whether the cake will be served as dessert after your formal sit down meal or in the evening once the buffet has been served so they can correctly calculate the size and quantity of tiers needed to serve everyone. If you have a favourite flavour, ask if they offer it on their menu. Have an idea (even a vague one!) of designs and styles of cakes you like. Look at photos on Pinterest and google but also check the cake artist’s previous work for inspiration, convey your theme and colour choices to them.
3- CHECK THEY ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB
I cannot stress this point enough! There are A LOT of cake makers out there and some of them aren’t legitimate. The best way to ensure you’re approaching a legally operating, registered and insured food business is to ask. We won’t be offended and take pride in informing people of our hygiene rating. Much of the general public don’t realise that even home-based businesses must be registered with environmental health, by asking for their status you’re making sure the cake you receive is safe for all your guests to eat. You need to check that the company you’re using is registered with the local authority, holds valid public and product liability insurance and has at least a level 2 qualification in food safety and hygiene with a knowledge of allergens. I know this all sounds rather boring and official but trust me, it is the easiest way to ensure you’re not going to end up with a cake that isn’t fit for consumption! Once you have checked they’re a legal business, check their portfolio of work, ask about weddings they’ve worked before. Check that their style is in line with your vision and taste.
- ARE THEY REGISTERED?
- ARE THEY INSURED?
- DO THEY HOLD A LEVEL 2 HYGIENE CERTIFICATE?
- HAVE THEY DONE WEDDINGS BEFORE?
- ARE THEY AWARE OF ALLERGENS?
- DO THEY HAVE A PORTFOLIO?
- DO THEY HAVE A WEBSITE AND/OR SOCIAL MEDIA BUSINESS ACCOUNTS?
4- BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR BUDGET
Weddings cost money, there is no getting around that! As industry professionals we appreciate how expensive they are, and we know that everyone is working to a budget. We also know and understand that we won’t suit every couple’s preferred price range. If you are clear from the start how much you’re happy to spend on your wedding cake, then we will be honest about what is possible. There are many options out there to suit all budgets. Keep an eye out for special offers on the websites and social media pages of companies you like the look of, some offer special rates if you book at a wedding fair or if you book well in advance. There are also many new companies out there who offer lower rates in order to build up their portfolio, they are genuine businesses so you could get a brilliant deal, especially if you book years ahead and get to see their work over that time.
5- BE ORIGINAL! BE YOU! BE BOLD!
Take inspiration from other designs but do not be scared to be yourselves! Let the artist take your ideas and run with them! Trust them! This is why rapport and communication are so vital. You need to build a working relationship. A good wedding cake designer will be able to suggest ways to enhance and build on your ideas and they will have fresh, original ideas of their own. Your cake should be a representation of you individually and collectively, an edible masterpiece which represents your love and relationship.
It should be a work of delicious art! If you’re incorporating a theme or working to a specific colour palette then take inspiration from that, give your cake designer fabric swatches and colour cards for them to refer to. Make sure that you share the same vision. When it comes to design and style it is so important to make sure you find a cake designer who can make your dream a reality. There is no such thing as too much when it comes to your wedding cake design, you can put as much in to it as you want! There really is no limit!
6- BOOK A CONSULTATION
Most wedding cake businesses will offer you a consultation. Many companies charge a fee for this but will deduct the cost from your balance when you book but even so, be sure that you’ve already ticked a lot of boxes before booking an appointment. When you meet with them, you’ll have an opportunity to taste their cake and talk about the design and finer details of your wedding cake. Consultations are so important, not only do they give you a chance to make sure you like the flavour and taste of their cakes, but you also get to develop a rapport and sense of the person you’re entrusting this huge thing to. Make sure you like them and their cake, they should also have a physical portfolio available for you to look at.
7- ONCE YOU HAVE FOUND ‘THE ONE’ BOOK THEM IMMEDIATELY!
If you have found a cake designer that is passionate, energetic, professional and you love the taste of their cakes then do not risk losing them! Cake companies can get booked up as much as two or three years in advance so as soon as you have found ‘the one’ don’t let them go!
8- CHECK FOR EXTRAS
Most companies will make you aware of these things, but it pays to be in the know and there is no harm in being able to ask in advance. You’ll need to check if your venue has a wedding stand and cutting knife you can use, cake companies some times have stands available for hire at an extra cost if you would like to use one and the venue does not have one available. Also check about any other additional fees to cover delivery and set up of the cake on the day of your wedding although usually these will be included in your final quote. If you would like fresh flowers added to your cake, then check that the cake maker is happy to liaise with the florist or source the flowers themselves if you aren’t using one.
9- GIVE THEM FEEDBACK AFTER – LEAVE A REVIEW
You know how you spent all that time looking for the perfect cake company? And how you were encouraged to contact them after reading the dozens of awesome reviews they have? You know how they went out of their way to make sure every detail was perfect for you? And they replied to every question and query you had? Calmed all your nerves and worries? And they spent an hour or two at your consultation going over the design and flavour options? And they made you those beautiful boxes of cake samples to enjoy? And they meticulously executed a stunning wedding cake which was enjoyed by you and your guests after days and days of baking, decorating and creating stunning decorative elements for the wedding cake you envisioned and loved? Well, let them know how well they did! There is no greater reward than a glowing review and recommendation from a client! Tell your venue you were impressed with them, tell your friends and family how great they were and how good the cake looked and tasted. But tell the cake maker too! We don’t expect a message and review the day after your wedding when you’re recovering from your big day and maybe preparing for honeymoon or already jetting off somewhere. A quick message to say thank you and then a review/recommendation on any or all platforms is most definitely appreciated! Word of mouth is the best advertisement for small businesses and when they do a good job, they deserve to be recognised for it.
10- IT ISN’T ‘JUST A CAKE’ TO THEM AND THEY ARE MORE THAN ‘JUST’ A CAKE MAKER.
When you book a professional wedding supplier you are paying for so much more than you ever realise. The skill of a fantastic cake designer is that they know what you want before you even know what you want! They can take your passions, likes, interests, hobbies, the theme of your wedding, your colour palette and any fabrics or textures you’re incorporating, and they can design a cake that perfectly fits with you and your dream wedding day. They will do everything and anything in their power to ensure that every detail is absolutely perfect for you. Yes, price and budget are factors in determining what is and isn’t possible, but a brilliant cake designer is worth every penny. When determining your overall budget, you need to prioritise the suppliers and elements which are most important to you. For some couples this will be music and entertainment, for others it will be flowers and décor and for some it will be the cake. Don’t underestimate the effect of a brilliant cake artist! If you want quality it will cost but it will be absolutely worth it.
Communication, personality, quality, reliability, likeability, professionalism, work ethic, quality and standard of work, level of skill, openness, enthusiasm, energy, qualifications, reputation, rapport, vision, originality, pride, service, ideas, talent…these are all qualities that make an excellent cake designer and artist. If you find one that ticks every one of those boxes, then covet them!