08 Feb 2016
A guide to ordering your wedding cake: what to ask and when
I was meant to be posting about chocolate this week, but as we are increasingly being contacted by brides asking for last minute wedding cakes (due to being let down by their baker), I felt there is a great need for a comprehensive guide into ordering your wedding cake.
So, you’ve got the ring, the venue is booked, and now you’re thinking about the cake: the delicious showstopper that will tie in with your colour scheme, reflect your personality, and provide your guests with a slice of sweetness. How soon ahead should you be booking? Well, this all depends on your baker of choice, so make enquiries early and find out what their lead time is. Here at Vanilla Nova, we book up quite far ahead so we usually require 12-18 months notice. However, as with many bakers, if we can fit you in, then we most certainly will do. Even if you’re having a last minute wedding, call your local bakers and check: for example, we once had a lady call for a wedding cake at two weeks notice, but it was not a problem as we had other cakes going to that geographical area that day and were able to rearrange our schedule to fit it in. If in doubt, don’t assume you can’t be helped, give your bakery a call.
Now for the nitty gritty: you’ve found a bakery you like the look of, they’re local, and they seem reasonably priced. Check their photos online and make sure they have a comprehensive portfolio of work. If a business seems too good to be true, take one of their photos and do a reverse image search on Google to ensure it is actually one of their cakes. Sound extreme? Perhaps, but one of the most common complaints we hear are from brides who have seen a picture online, ordered it, and the resulting cake has looked nothing like the photo and has been of poor quality. This is because, sadly, there are many people out there who will take photos from other websites and post them on their own, usually under the tagline “here are examples of cakes we can do” (so they’re not stating that they made them themselves, just that they possibly could). I cannot count the number of times I have found Vanilla Nova wedding cakes on other websites claiming they are their own. If in doubt, get them checked out.
Any baker worth their salt, regardless of whether they have a shop front or are a home business, will have cake display dummies as examples of their work. Be careful if you find yourself dealing with someone who won’t show you anything or tries to conduct all dealings over the internet without ever meeting in person. I would strongly advise not handing over a penny until you have met your baker and are satsified with their work. Most bakers will offer you cake samples when you order, or there will be an option to buy a sample box (usually this will be deducted from the cost of the wedding cake). All professional bakers have to be assessed by their local authority Environmental Health department to ensure cleanliness and procedural compliance. A quick Google search will show how the local authority has rated your baker. If no rating is shown, they are not registered as a food manufacturer and have not been assessed.
Now on to the nice part: design! When you have your design consultation, take along any inspiration pictures, swatches of fabric (for colour matching), and anything you would like considering for the design. Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts are excellent for demonstrating to your baker what you are after, so don’t worry about taking too much information (the more, the merrier)! Never feel silly asking for anything: as bakers, we have seen it all, plus this is your wedding, what you want is completely up to you! Work with your baker to create a design you are happy with, confirm your flavours, and that’s it, you’re done! If you are unsure/not bothered about your design, I would advise that you still sit down with your baker and draw up a design rather than leaving complete free reign: we were once asked to make a cake on the day of the wedding as the Bride had requested a “decadent chocolate cake” from her baker only to have a chocolate cereal cake delivered on the day. If you don’t know your baker well, then don’t leave all the details to them without checking over the final design first.
When it comes to delivery and set up, it is always worth asking your baker to do that for you. For the sake of an extra few pounds, you don’t have to worry about transporting a seriously expensive dessert, or carrying it into your venue. Pretty much all bakers offer this as an option and will set the cake up for you on the day. Please note however, if you are getting a cake delivered from M&S or similar, these cakes arrive undowelled and not stacked. Dowels are essential for stopping your cake from collapsing under the weight of itself, and many venues are now refusing to dowel cakes that have been sent direct from supermarkets (which is highly reasonable given the time it takes to do and the liability it places on them). If you are having a supermarket cake delivered direct to your venue, please contact your wedding coordinator ahead of time and ask if there is someone willing and able to stack your cake for you.
Well, that’s pretty much it! I know this post may appear to break down the cake ordering process a little too much, but I wanted to highlight the areas of the ordering process that can sometimes go wrong. Wedding cakes are expensive, and if you’re paying someone upto £1000 to bake a cake that you will not see until the day of your wedding, then a couple of background checks are most definitely the right thing to do.
Wishing you all a great week.