1.Use a Real Bakery.
A Real Bakery
- has a commercial kitchen – no pets or children allowed
- has insurance
- knows food safety and has a health department certificate
- has a team, so if one person is absent you know you are still going to get your beautiful, great tasting cake. If you choose a one person shop, you are taking a risk on your special day.
- will be there on the stated date and at the agreed upon time
- makes moist tender cakes from scratch (no mixes allowed), and they do it every day
Note: Try to avoid caterers and venues that coerce you into buying your cake from them as part of their “package”. This is usually done by quoting an exorbitant “cutting charge” if you bring in an outside cake. Caterers and venues are not Real Bakeries and will probably make your cake from a mix, even if they say they won’t.
2. Setup a FREE tasting appointment on a weekday.
Be prepared to give the following:
- the name of the bride and groom
- a cell phone or home phone number (not a work number)
- an email address (Important: make sure your email account is setup to accept emails from vendors and doesn’t send emails you want to junk mail)
- the name and address of your reception venue (you need to book the reception venue or you most likely do not have a definite date)
- an idea of when you would like to come for a visit (date and time of day)
- the number of guests at the reception (how many will be eating cake)
- a tentative decision on whether you want both a wedding and groom’s cake or just a wedding cake
3. Prepare for the appointment
- take some time to look at cakes on the internet (View our photo gallery). Looking at cakes will help you decide if you like square, round, multi-shaped, traditional or contemporary; if you prefer all white or want a spot of color; if you want columns or stacked or both; or if you want a totally different type of cake.
- think about whether or not you want flowers on your cake. If “yes”, do you want sugar flowers or fresh flowers? Also, whether sugar or fresh, you will need to decide on the flower variety or varieties, and the color or colors.
- choose your colors. Even if your cake is all white, it helps the bakery know who you are in the cake world. If you have any special fabrics, bring a swatch, or a picture of your dress. The cake designer gains inspiration from all of these items.
- decide if you want a groom’s cake. If you bring your groom and want to talk about a groom’s cake, tell him in advance what it is. A groom’s cake can be as simple as a sheet cake with a sports logo or it can be more elaborate and say a lot about his personality. A groom’s cake (if it is a simple design) is a good way to meet the number of serving required while reducing the overall cost by reducing the size of the wedding cake.
- decide how many servings you want. This usually corresponds to the number of guests at the reception, but can vary depending on whether you are having a seated dinner (where the cake is plated and served) or a dessert bar (where guests pick from a variety of desserts).
- decide if you want the cake to be of a certain size, for instance especially tall. Cakes can be made to look larger by using one or more dummy layers at the bottom. (Important: Although dummy layers reduce the number of cake servings so cake is not wasted, dummy layers take just as long to decorate as real cake layers.)
- decide on fondant or frosting. Many designs can be done in either fondant or frosting, but if you want a cake that approaches perfection, choose fondant. Some designs do require fondant, for instance if you want the cake to be painted. Fondant will also protect the cake to a limited degree if the wedding is outside. (Note: cakes do not do well in temperatures above 75 degrees.) Remember, fondant is a very thin layer that is applied over two or more layers of frosting so it has little effect on the overall cake experience. Good fondants, like Satin Ice and Choco Pan, actually taste good. A knowledgeable Real Bakery will not charge more to cover a cake in fondant.
- have a budget in mind. A budget is a guideline for the bakery to keep your appointment on track and help you choose something that is appropriate for you. Most wedding cakes fall between $4.00 and $6.00 per serving, a price similar to buying a piece of cake at a restaurant. So, depending on the design, a cake for 100 guests might be between $400 and $600. Cakes with very complex designs can be significantly more. If the overall price sounds expensive remember the analogy of serving cake to those same guests at a restaurant.
- keep in mind your wedding day is a one and only special day. You are buying a memory - the cake is the second most photographed item at the wedding, after the bride.
4. Enjoy the appointment
- the tasting appointment should be a pleasurable and memorable experience. A Real Bakery will have samples to choose from that are representative of how your cake will actually taste. Keep in mind, your guests will remember how your wedding cake tasted. All wedding cakes look beautiful, few taste as good as they look.
- designing the cake should be informative and fun. The designer should talk through the options and give you ideas that fit with “who you are”.
- by the end of the appointment you should have a pretty good idea of the design for your cake(s) and the price.
If you followed ALL the guidelines above you’ve found a great cake. Make sure it’s part of your wedding by doing the following:
- choose your flavor(s). When you’ve found a bakery that makes great cakes don’t hesitate to have multiple flavors in your wedding cake.
- give the bakery a deposit; 50% is most common. The deposit ensures that your cake will be made for your wedding date. Note: Ask about the bakery’s deposit refund policy. Reputable bakeries will refund your deposit (minus a $50 administrative fee) up to about a month before the wedding date.
- make sure you have a list of items you may need to bring to the bakery, such as a topper or ribbon, and the date by which the bakery needs the items.
- make sure the bakery has all your contact information, especially a working email address.
Finally, remember your wedding day is a special day, no matter what - relax and enjoy it!