July 5, 2018
For those who love sweets, choosing a wedding cake is a big deal! But also, how do you know what to choose? And who to choose? That’s why I asked Victoria of The Quintessential Cake (who makes awesome cakes and super amazing, real looking sugar flowers btw!) to help me write a blog post on how to make sure you are choosing the best of the best when it comes to your wedding day!
Wedding cakes have been an integral part of weddings going back centuries. Originally they were not only a sign of celebration but of social status… The more tiers and the whiter the frosting the higher the social standing of the two families. Wedding cakes were said to ensure fertility for the bride and bring good fortune to the couple and all who ate it.
Today, those old traditions are more symbolic, but wedding cake isn’t just about honoring an age old nonsensical tradition, they do still have modern relevance. The cutting of the cake is a rite of passage, it’s the first act the bride and groom do together as husband and wife, and symbolizes unity and teamwork.
A beautiful cake acts as a centerpiece and focal point for the wedding and reception, and last, but by no means least, everyone loves good cake. Cake makes us happy! Anyone who says they aren’t a “cake person” simply hasn’t had good cake!
Having said that though, lets face it, we’ve all been to weddings where the cake was dry and tasteless, maybe it looked great maybe it didn’t, but no-one enjoyed eating it and it ended up in the garbage. These experiences give wedding cake a bad name, but I promise you it doesn’t have to be that way! The key is finding the right cake maker.
First things first, before reaching out to any cake makers you need to nail down the main details of your wedding. You should have your date selected and venue(s) booked, have an rough idea of guest count and have your budget worked out. Cake prices not only vary wildly depending on size and the complexity of the design, but also based on the skill level and experience of the person making it. They can range from $3-$15 or more per serving. You need to have your budget worked out so that you can approach the cake makers who fit into it.
Next ask around for personal recommendations and referrals. Venues often have a preferred vendors list. Also ask your other vendors, we often have vendors that we enjoy collaborating with, but in my experience photographers and planners are all seeing and all knowing, they are on the frontline of every wedding from start to finish and get to experience everything, the good the bad and the ugly! When asking any venue or vendor for a referral, please also ask why they recommend them! Is it because they love the vendor’s work and professional work ethic or is it because they are getting a kick back? (It happens).
After you have some recommendations, it’s time to do some research. Visit the cake maker’s website and check out their portfolio. This will give you an idea of their general style, but most importantly their skill level. You should also find information on their process, menu and basic pricing information. Like what you see? Head on over to Instagram and follow the cake makers who you like and follow them for a more personal look at them and their work.
Check your cake maker is licensed and insured. Many cake decorators work out of their home, without the proper health department inspections. For liability reasons your venue will most likely insist on a licensed cake maker. You don’t want an unlicensed vendor being turned away from the venue on the day of your wedding, and taking your cake with them!
Once you have your list narrowed down to a few choices, it’s time to reach out to them. Many have forms on their websites, or you can send an email. You can call too but to be honest we are often unable to answer the phone in the moment because we are either “in the zone” decorating someone else’s dream cake, or are up to our elbows in flour or sugar!
Now things get more fun! You want to make sure their cakes taste as good as they look so it’s time for a tasting! Assuming the cake maker got back to you with all the pertinent information and you liked what you read, go ahead and schedule a consultation and tasting. There may be a charge for the tasting, which is perfectly reasonable, small businesses can’t afford to be giving product away to non serious shoppers but many cake makers will credit the tasting fee back to you when you confirm an order with them.
Don’t expect to taste their entire menu at the tasting. It’s a representative sample of their menu to give you an indication of the quality of their baking and their skill with flavor profiles. If the flavor you want wasn’t sampled but the three cakes you did try were all moist and delicious, it’s a pretty safe bet all their offerings are equally as good.
Make sure you are clear on all of their policies. Delivery and set-up fees, amendment and cancellation policy. Can you rent a cake stand from them? If so, what is the return policy, etc etc.
At this point you should (hopefully) be feeling pretty confident about your choice. You have received recommendations, made sure they have the appropriate licenses, checked out their portfolio and have a feel for their overall style and the quality of their work, you have sampled their baking, had a chat about design concepts and have an idea of what the cake will cost you (they won’t be able to give you a exact quote until the design is finalized). Hopefully all your boxes have been checked and you are now ready to pay them a deposit. Most reputable bakers get booked up 6 months in advance, even longer during the peak season, so once you have found someone who is a good fit, lock that cake maker in.
Picking a cake is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun! You get to taste test them, but you also need to make sure they’ve got all the right requirements! Hopefully this guest post from Victoria helps your decision making process 10x smoother! And perhaps give her a call, her cakes are not only super pretty but good too! 😉
Victoria’s love for cake started a very early age when her mom would make her and her brother fun, creative birthday cakes. Once she was old enough, they cooked side by side, Victoria soaking in all the that she could learn. After a move with her husband from England to New York, Victoria took up culinary school and graduated in 2002. After that she worked in restaurants, event spaces, and print magazines. It wasn’t until 2008 when she found her way back to cake when she made her twins their first birthday cakes and she was hooked again! She’s now the proud owner of The Quintessential Cake, premier cake studio in the Chicago suburbs specializing in delicious and beautiful cakes for weddings and other celebrations. With creative, handmade designs and exquisite flavor pairings, each cake is made entirely from scratch and individually designed to reflect each of their client’s unique style and taste using all premium, all natural ingredients! Their philosophy is that although cakes can be works of art, they should taste just as good as they look!
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