Join us as Kent-based baker, Lou Finn of Bake to the Future, takes us through a handy step by step guide to the world of big-day bakes.
Your wedding cake is likely to be the single most expensive food item you will ever purchase. Many people won’t have purchased a bespoke cake before and navigating the minefield of designs, quality, services offered, and price differences can be challenging and overwhelming. So, allow me 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 a cake company is to ask your venue if they recommend anyone. Venues run weddings and events every week throughout the year and they’ll have seen hundreds of cakes come through their doors. Speak to their coordinator and attend any open days that the venue hosts. Wedding fairs in general are a great way to find companies as their work is on display and you can chat to the owner. The fact they’re at a wedding fair also reinforces their status as a legitimate business.
Google and social media are also a great source of recommendations. 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've found a company you like, have a read through their reviews and browse their portfolio. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2. CHECK THEY'RE QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB
I cannot stress this point enough! There are A LOT of cake companies out there and many of them aren’t legitimate. The best way to ensure you’re approaching a legally operating food business is to ask. Most people don’t realise that even home-based businesses must be registered with environmental health, you want to be sure the cake is safe for your guests to eat.
For quick and easy reference, check out my checklist!
3. HAVE THE RELEVANT INFO – BE PREPARED
- Are they registered?
- Are they insured?
- Do they have a level 2 hygiene certificate?
- Are they aware of allergens?
- Do they have a portfolio of work?
- Do they have a website and/or social media business accounts?
Once you’ve done your research and found a company whose style is in line with your vision and taste, get in touch. First and foremost check that your wedding date is available, there isn’t much point continuing with the process if they aren’t free to make your cake! Once they confirm your date is free, they’ll need the following information:
4. BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR BUDGET
- The address of your venue for delivery, along with contact details.
- The number of guests you have attending.
- Whether the cake will be served as dessert after your meal or in the evening. This is 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, no matter how vague, of designs and styles you like. Look at photos on Pinterest and Google, check the cake artist’s previous work for inspiration and outline your colour choices. If you have a theme let them know as they'll have ideas you can’t imagine!
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're clear right from the start how much you’re happy to spend on your wedding cake, then we'll be honest about what's 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 your preferred companies.Some offer special rates if you book at a wedding fair or if you book well in advance. There are always new companies out there who offer lower rates in order to build up their portfolio. They are legitimate and legal businesses so you could get a brilliant deal, especially if you book two years ahead and get to see their work over that time.5. BE ORIGINAL! BE YOU! BE BOLD!
Take inspiration from other designs but don't be scared to be yourself. Let the artist take your ideas and run with them. Trust them. This is why rapport and communication are so vital. A good 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 both individually and collectively, an edible masterpiece that represents your love and relationship. It should be a work of delicious art! Make sure you share the same vision. When it comes to design and style it's so important to make sure you find a cake designer who can make your dream a reality.6. BOOK A CONSULTATION
Most cake artists will offer you a consultation, they may charge a fee for this but will deduct the cost from your balance when you book. When you meet with them, you’ll have an opportunity to taste their cake and discuss the design and finer details of your wedding cake. Feel free to bring along any fabric swatches or photos you like. Consultations are vital, not only do they give you a chance to make sure you like the flavour and taste, but you also get to develop a rapport and sense of the person to whom you’re entrusting this huge task. Make sure you like them and their cake!7. ONCE YOU'VE FOUND ‘THE ONE’ BOOK THEM IMMEDIATELY!
If you've found a cake designer who's passionate, energetic, professional and you love the taste of their cakes then don't risk losing them! Cake companies can get booked up as much as two or three years in advance (I currently have bookings in to 2022!) So as soon as you've found ‘the one’ don’t let them go!8. CHECK FOR EXTRAS
Most companies will inform you about extras, but it pays to be in the know and there's no harm in asking. You’ll need to check if your venue has a cake stand and cutting knife you can use – cake companies usually have stands available for hire at an extra cost if the venue doesn’t have one. Also check about any additional fees to cover delivery and set up of the cake on the day, although usually these will be included in your final quote. If you would like fresh flowers added to your cake, 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? 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? They replied to every question and query you had? Calmed all your nerves and worries? Spent an hour or two at your consultation going over design and flavour options? They made you those beautiful boxes of cake samples to enjoy? And they meticulously executed a stunning wedding cake 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? Let them know how well they did! There's no greater reward than a glowing recommendation from a client! Tell your venue you were impressed with them, tell your friends and family how great they were. But tell the cake maker too! A quick message to say thank you and then a review on any or all platforms is most definitely appreciated. Word of mouth is the best advertisement for small businesses and when we do a good job, we love 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 will do everything and anything in their power to ensure that every detail is absolutely perfect for you.
The average three-tier wedding cake (100 servings) takes around six hours to prep, mix and bake, this is before any decorating happens! Even the simplest of cakes can take 16 – 20 hours to complete and most wedding cakes are created over a four-day period. This doesn’t include time spent designing, consulting, researching, shopping, stock taking, cleaning…the list goes on!
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 the qualities that make an excellent cake designer and artist. If you find one that ticks every one of those boxes, treasure them!
Check out some of Lou's creations and get in touch at www.baketothefuture.net