With the wedding show season still going strong articles in the news are popping up everywhere regarding planning for, budgeting for, and designing the perfect wedding…specifically the perfect wedding cake. For some it’s the centerpiece for the entire feel of the evening, for others it’s a tasty dessert to round of a spectacular event. What these articles fail to mention is the flexibility brides & grooms need to have in order to do all the above mentioned planning. With wedding cakes especially, clients should do research & be mentally and monetarily prepared to be flexible.

Expectations

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Couture is great, couture is fancy, and with that clients should expect couture to come with a price tag. Today’s bride does not have the same expectations or ideas of the bride from 18 years ago. Professionals who have been in the industry that long can & should attest to this. With the mass communication social media has brought with it, sharing ideas & designs is merely a few clicks or swipes away. We’ll touch more on this below but the ideas that are present have a ‘wow’ factor that a decade ago wouldn’t even be fathomable. The issue here is seldom do these virally shared ideas share the price along with it. When researching, whether you have a budget set up or not, don’t be afraid to ask for the cost of exactly what you want, then ask for design options for alternatives. Often times a small change in design can yield some per slice savings. Better to be open-minded with your ideas & flexible with your designs than to get locked into the “it’s either this or nothing” mindset.

Vendors

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Researching doesn’t just stop with the products. It’s important to get to know the vendors you want to help make your day awesome! There are many types of vendors out their (e.g., store-front, home based, professional, amateur, and corporate) & it’s important to visit & ‘vet’ your vendors. People who want your business will be glad to supply/show you examples (or even samples) of their work. Bakeries usually offer tastings (either in-store or kits that clients take with them), restaurant based caterers may offer sample dishes to try, and venues can give tours of their facilities. Each business is different. Some companies offer complimentary tastings/samplings while others may charge a small fee that is given back as a credit if you book. In either case, it’s worth the time & cost to try them out. The work they do should be of their own caliber, with past events giving you an idea of what they can accomplish. Take the time to visit vendors at their place of work and see their portfolios & menus. This is a great way to compare “apples to apples” & not just base things solely on price.

Social Media

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The double edged sword of the cake world. Between social & image sharing sites like Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., the ideas & designs are virtually endless. Brides could fill their weeks with just assembling a myriad of photos of design aspects they love. The flip side to that is the ideas generally don’t come with any further information, especially price. Also, with the quick availability of uploading photos, anyone around the world can post…which is the point. Again, the flipside to that is if a bakery somewhere in Europe created a lavishly decorated couture cake for a prince’s coronation…that won’t be captioned on the Pin. A bride may look at that and fall in love with the design, then get sticker shock when she hears the price tag. This is where research & flexibility are paramount. Of course use social media as a brainstorming tool just keep a realistic frame-of-mind. What may “look” simple to the client may be incredibly time consuming to recreate for the designer. As a general rule of thumb, the more labor involved the higher the cost. So ask your bakery/bakeries questions & be ready to change a few things up if your design goes over budget.

Keep it Real

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Saying it again for emphasis, today’s designs aren’t yesterday’s designs. What can be done with flour, eggs, sugar, & butter is vastly different from what was done in the past. It’s your special day, and everything should be as perfect as it can be. That means keeping realistic time-lines, event size, and the word of the day budget. You may want to throw a 150-200 person wedding, but that also means a larger venue, more food, more decorations, and (of course) a bigger cake. If you have been as flexible as you can with your budget & still find yourself overspending, then you have to be realistic with what you may have to cut out or reduce. Maybe just having a 100 person wedding is enough to put things in place. Perhaps changing your cake design to reduce the size or cost per serving would be just enough to keep you on track. Again, be realistic…if something needs to happen then be pro-active and do it. Reduce that guest list, change that cake design, or simplify your menu. Being honest with yourself about the changes that need to be made can often times be enough to not only give you the perfect day without going overboard, but give you a piece of mind as well.

B.U.D.G.E.T

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No, it’s not really an acronym…does look more important now though, right? That’s because it is. We’ve talked a lot about being flexible but some might think they can’t. “This is our budget & we’re sticking to it!” That is perfectly fine! Strict spending is a great way to keep things in perspective as long as your perspectives are real. If your budget allows for a 3-tier cake with an intermediate design then stick to that idea. Browsing for designs is great for brainstorming but sometimes you can get idea-logged & then find something you just absolutely have to have not realizing it may cost double or even triple what you set aside for. If that’s the case, then its best to just delete that 4-tier fondant covered with bling, drapery, and sugar work photo from your mind before you get locked in. Stick to the designs you think/know are in your budget and talk to your baker about what can be done. Having an open & flexible mind while being receptive to alternative ideas will save you a lot of headache. Budgeting isn’t just about the item however. There are plenty of other factors that brides tend to forget about when crunching the numbers. In the cake world, don’t just plan for the cake itself. What about delivery cost? Cake topper? Will you be renting a fancy cake stand? Do you want silk/fresh flowers as part of the design? These all should be incorporated as part of your budget. This is just one for instance. Here is a blog, from WeddingWire.com, exampling even more line items clients tend to forget. This is a great additional resource in prepping for an accurate wedding budget: http://ht.ly/IYh5Y

Regional Value

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This may seem a bit out of left field but it really does tie everything together. Most people think where they live has a greater effect on cake & service pricing than it actually does. To a point this may be true; e.g. cakes in Hawaii may be more expensive on the whole since most ingredients need to be shipped in from the continental U.S., but the labor in creating designs are virtually universal. If you have a 4-tier fondant iced cake with extensive sugar/design work, whether you live on the West Coast or the East Coast labor is the key. Granted, certain places may have a slight decrease or increase in per serving cost but it’s not that drastic, nor should it be. This isn’t just eggs, flour, sugar, and icing you’re paying for; it is art. It takes skill, it takes time. More importantly it takes patience & talent. Someone may have the skills needed to put a cake together but designing one takes creativeness & talent. All that costs money. You wouldn’t expect to take your car to a repair shop and NOT have to pay for their skill & labor; cakes are no different. Regions have only a small effect on the value of things. Ability, labor, and time make up the rest…and that’s a fact no matter where you live.

 

So remember, when planning for “the big day,” keeping things realistic, doing research ahead of time, and proper expectations can & will save you a lot of stress & time. Your event can be as perfect as you want it to be, but perfection comes at a price.