THE Wedding Cake – When Do I Need to Book One?
Exactly when do I need to arrange myself a cake maker? Some guides will tell you that 6-9 months is enough to book your wedding cake… now, this might be okay to try if you are marrying ‘out of season’* or mid-week but you need to contact your wedding cake maker asap as every day the diary’s a-fillin’.
(*nb: every season is wedding season if you’re a sought-after cake maker ;o))
Diary Alert- If you have chosen May – October, Bank Holidays or somewhere the around school holidays you may find that those dates have been booked already, even well in advance (some of the more sought after cake creators can find themselves booking 18 months to 2 years ahead!)
So in order to clear up a bit of cake Q&A I’ve prepped a little guide to those newly engaged or looking to mop up wed-min pertaining to an as yet un-ordered wedding cake.
When Should I Book My Wedding Cake? As soon as possible in all honesty, it’s not a clever sales ploy it’s just bald reality. I’ll break it down:
Time & Space: Most of us artisan bakers will be self-employed with families to take care of and we are working from home. In my case I am very fortunate to have a second kitchen from which to work from, but there are only so many orders we can ever take. Yours could be one if we know about it in time and we can create space in a busy kitchen for you.
‘Sorry I’m Full’: Not of cake – yet… I have met beautiful folks with fantastic ideas at some great wedding fairs. When we meet and talk, I can email you, give you a quote and follow-up. If you don’t come back to me, I don’t know that you would like me to bake for you.
I had a real-life scenario a couple of years back when I met a bride-to-be at a show, we talked, I quoted, we corresponded then lost contact. I received a call 10 days before the wedding from the B2B asking ‘what time would I be there on the day to set up?’ She’d assumed that because I’d been in contact with her that I’d just take care of it all and had the wedding cake booked in.
Luckily for her I had some availability and with planning and experience was able to work it. Good times. Had I already been totally crammed with cake that weekend she would have been looking for cake-maker REALLY short notice. Bad times.
Design Meeting: I love a design meeting, I really think this is a massive go-for-it opportunity when choosing your baker. I love getting together with couples (and sometimes meeting the entourage), discovering their personality and essence, then working with the couple to create something really ‘them’. I find a lot of the smaller details you wouldn’t think to ask by email get sorted out quickly at a meeting, more than if we just corresponded just by email. Facetime or Messenger videocalls work just as well, especially as some of my clients are out of the UK at time of booking their wedding cake. Saying that we’ve had a couple from Dubai in the kitchen recently – I don’t think I was their primary destination but we’ve nailed their UK wedding cake for next year!
Dietary Stuff: I’m a confident baker with gluten-free and dairy free but these are definitely requirements we like to bake for with time on our side to ensure no cross contamination. I have ‘ingredient ommiters’ in my family and friend circle and I’m proud to say they don’t get side-lined with a shop bought or *gasp/horror* get left out of the wedding cake fun entirely.
Do you use sugar flowers or fresh? I am a fresh girl every time. Every time. Sugar flowers are beautiful and a truly skilful thing to make. I just prefer the velvet of a fresh rose petal, the newness of rose buds and lisianthus heads, the smell of rosemary and lavender and other botanicals. For me, you can’t beat the heavenly gloss of a verdant palm, the tiny budding olives on a cut sprig or the little yellow pompom heads of crespidia.
If God made it that good, who am I to think I can make it better? I can assure you that I carefully clean, wire and tape all of my flowers, I work with your florist to ensure we have synergy with your bouquet and buttonholes and bring it all together beautifully.
Too Late: also known as ‘Not enough time to tweak’: If we have your design in early enough, we can accommodate changes to your order. We can nip it here and there or add in special touches or personalise things for you. If we get an order to later it all feels a bit generic and rushed, we like to give a little pizzazz and think outside the box for you every now and then.
One I pizzazzed earlier – venue The Bank House Hotel
Adapting your initial design: All the wedding cakes I create are bespoke. Once you have firmed up your booking, you have a written copy of what I am going to provide for your wedding day. At this stage you will often get back to me with requests to tweak, adapt, add, remove. On booking your wedding cake well ahead of time, you allow yourself plenty of time for the design to evolve until it really is perfect. Sometimes it takes 2 iterations, sometimes a few more….
Flavours: You can have a different flavour for each tier for sure. We don’t have a list per se as our wedding cake combinations are individual. Some of our most popular flavours are lemon meringue and lemon curd, salted caramel, chocolate orange, gingerbread and cream-cheese buttercream, chocolate and raspberry, orange and almond, Victoria always does a turn too. You can recommend a bake you love and we can create just for you. Buns of Fun Bakery has been in business for 9 years, there’s not many things we haven’t put in our cake-hole!
Tasting: Yes, it’s all tasting great here, would you like some? I hold consultation days or design meetings, which ever you like the sound of throughout the year. Look out for these on FB and IG as the slots go quickly. These are one-hour slots here in our kitchen in North Norfolk, we provide tea, coffee and a cake samples box, magazines and goodies to take away. In that valuable hour we can design and dress your cake, fine tuning as we go. I only bake freshly (no defrosted slices here!) for these events so if you miss these wonderous dates then I can do other days which aren’t as elaborate but we still get the cake design nailed! I bake only for the design meetings as you would only get fresh cake from Buns of Fun Bakery for your wedding cake and not something from the freezer. Brr. No cold shoulder here.
Do you deliver? Yes, I have a mileage calculator for delivery so once we have your cakes destination for the Big Day, we can quote for you. I also bill for time to set up for which allow an hour on site to locate your cake table, transport cakes from car to table, set up the tiers and stand, ‘frame the piece’ (more on that below) and handing over to chef or wedding coordinator. I’ve been known to help set up tables and iron table runners on my last delivery if I have time too.
Do you have stand rental? I have stand rental and I have stands that I sell, loads of options for you and we can help you think thorough a few fresh and original ideas too. I can help source stands or toppers through a number of fabulous makers I’ve had the pleasure of working with if you want something ‘you’.
Getting ahead of price hikes: Now that just sound plain scary like we’ve going to add masses to orders and penalise you if you’re not booking with us. No, no, no nothing like it. We order and schedule waaay ahead of your date and if we know there are bargains and discounts to be had we can make that work in your favour. I work with some specialist suppliers for some the smaller things and they are tricky to price but with a heads up I can make it work in your favour.
And saving the best until last:
What makes your cake maker unique? Ooh-ooh! I can answer this one!!
- I hand draw your cake and label it with flavours and fillings for your guests to salivate over, you get to keep this as a little keepsake. I know of brides wanting the dimensions so they can buy a frame. Cute.
- The other unique-y thing I do is to create a ‘space’ for your wedding cake to inhabit. Using elements of the cake decoration, confectionery and floristry we carefully trail out either side of the base of your cake to keep the eye moving around the cake area. After all, if you’ve paid a decent dollar for your cake you want to have folks really pay it attention.
What to do now: As soon as you have a date and venue confirmed we should talk cake. We’ll arrange a date and time to meet and design for you. Firming up your booking well in advance doesn’t mean that you have to pay for your cake in full at the time of booking. Cake makers each have their own terms and conditions around this. I ask for a deposit only, with the balance payable 6 weeks before the Big Day. I offer a “save the date” option as a deposit of £100. This allows you to book your date, giving you plenty of time to sort out the minutiae of the cake flavours and design.
I am currently (at time of writing in Jan ‘19) booking into July 2020 – I love my work and I hope to see your ideas and get talking to you soon.
Enjoy it all xx