By Janecia Britt
For most people, their favorite part of weddings is the cake.
I myself have been guilty of sneaking a few extra pieces home for an after-party of one.
Wedding planning can be a stressful time, and choosing a cake is another item on the list of hard decisions.
Here’s every question you’ll want to ask yourself before looking at vendors:
What is the theme of the wedding?
This greatly impacts the type and style of cake. A whimsical wedding, for example, might call for cupcakes instead of a standard tiered cake — or a fun rainbow cake or a mixture of many cakes.
Do you have examples of what you’re looking for or will you want them to design from scratch?
Make sure you have pictures or drawings of what you’re looking for. This will help manage your expectations from your baker and make sure you get exactly what you and your partner want. Some bakers charge more for design work, so check on that.
What is your budget for the wedding cake?
Cakes are not cheap, especially when they are made of expensive ingredients such as fondant or marzipan. If you have budget constraints, your baker can recommend cheaper alternatives, such as fresh cream or a naked cake. Some vendors price by the serving, some by the layer and still others by the flavor/filling combination.
How many guests are you catering for?
The more guests you have, the larger the cake and the bigger the budget. Perhaps you’d like to mix it up — a single-tiered cake for the ceremonial cutting with an additional tower of cupcakes, or sheet cake.
Do you want something edible or ornamental?
If it is an edible cake, let your baker know the wedding location — indoors or outdoors. You wouldn’t want your cake to be melting under the scorching heat!
What flavors would you like? Do you want multiple flavors?
The sky’s the limit where flavors are concerned. Popular ones are vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, lemon and carrot.
Do you have any allergies or dietary restrictions?
You’ll want to order your cake 6-to-8 months prior to your wedding date. If you or someone close to you has a food allergy, you might also want to do an ingredient check while you’re there. Maybe they’ll throw in a special cupcake for your gluten-free bridesmaid.
Here are the questions you’ll want to ask all potential vendors:
How many wedding cakes do you make a year?
You’ll want a baker who has a lot of experience in making wedding cakes. Making a birthday cake or cupcakes is a different process than creating layered and tiered centerpieces. The construction and transport are just as important as the flavors!
Are you licensed and insured?
Most venues will require the wedding cake vendor to be insured by the state and the health department. It’s a good idea to check that box early, especially if they’ll be delivering your cake on the day of your wedding.
How soon before the wedding will my cake be baked?
If your baker is making multiple wedding cakes in a weekend, they might bake and freeze the layers a few days in advance, then assemble your cake closer to your wedding date. You won’t want your cake in the freezer for more than a day or two as this can really dry the layers out.
What flavors and fillings do you offer?
You might be able to save money by choosing one overall flavor for your cake, or by having a small cake for display and the cake cutting accompanied by a sheet cake to serve to your guests.
Is a tasting included in our fee? If not, how much will it cost?
Many bakers do charge a fee for a cake tasting, but they will then apply that amount toward the final cost of your cake if you sign a contract.
Will you do a tasting consultation, or will we simply be tasting the cake on our own?
Some bakers will do a consultation that includes a tasting of a number of flavors, plus a discussion of your cake design, while others will simply provide you with the flavors for you to taste on your own, then discuss design after you’ve signed the contract.
Did you make all of the cakes in your portfolio?
Make sure the inspiration images your baker presents are of cakes he or she has made (and not just images pulled from Pinterest), so you don’t fall in love with a design he or she has never made before.
We’d like to use fresh flowers on our cake, can you work with our florist to do so?
Connect your baker and your florist to ensure the blooms you want on the cake are included in your wedding order. Your cake will be delivered without decorations, then your baker will apply the fresh blooms on-site.
Can we freeze the top tier? Will you provide a box so we can save it?
A lot of vendors include the top tier (the tier the bride and groom usually freeze for their first anniversary) at no cost. But that’s not always the case. Find out their policy — and whether they’ll include a box to take it home. Let your baker know if you plan to save the top tier of your cake — and don’t forget to tell your caterer not to slice it!
If we are renting items from you (like a cake stand or topper), how and when should they be returned?
Some vendors include day-of cake stands and toppers at no additional charge. If you need to rent a topper, cutting knives, serving utensils, etc., find out their pricing and when/how they need to be returned. If they have a relationship with the venue, they’ll often work with them directly to retrieve the items.
What delivery services do you offer? How do you deliver the cake? What do you do if it is damaged in transit?
You’ll want to find out when and how your baker will deliver your cake, and make sure the cake table is set up before he or she arrives!
Other Questions to Keep in Mind
- How long have you been in business?
- How many cakes do you deliver on the same day?
- Do you have a set menu of flavor combinations, or can we mix-and-match cakes and fillings?
- What flavors are your specialties?
- What kinds of ingredients do you use? Do you offer organic, vegan or gluten-free options?
- Do you have a portfolio of past designs we can look at?
- Do we need to choose from a set selection of designs, or do you create completely custom cakes?
- We have a few inspirational ideas, can you recreate them?
- We have no idea what we’d like, can you offer some design suggestions based on our budget and theme?
- Are your cakes finished in buttercream or with fondant?
- Can you make sugar flowers?
- What size and shape should the tiers be to feed our guest list? How big should our cake be?
- How will the cake be displayed? Do you provide or rent cake stands?
- How do you price your cakes?
- Do you have a minimum cost?
- Are there additional rental fees we should be aware of, such as for cakes stands, toppers or cake knives?
- Is there a delivery fee?
- How much is the deposit? When is it due?
- When is final payment due?
- What is your refund policy if we need to cancel our order?
- When should we expect to receive a contract?
- How far in advance do we need to order our cake?
- When does our order need to be finalized?