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Cakes in Virginia. What to expect.

January 2, 2018

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Cakes in Virginia. What to expect.

January 2, 2018

Cakes in Virginia. Delectable-Desserts

So you finally did it!  After spending an untold number of years in the dating pool, you finally found the right one and said yes.  Now comes an exciting and nerve racking time filled with details upon details of planning.  You'll get advice from friends, family and maybe a wedding planner.  You'll spend time looking over wedding magazines as well as performing online searches to ensure you get everything planned.  Many hours will be spent deciding on the dress, venue location, invitations, flowers and theme.  You'll at times feel overwhelmed.  But with all the details you will be agonizing over, don't forget the cake!


So many couples will get wrapped up in all the minutia of planning the event they will sometimes forget a very important part of the day until last minute, the wedding cake.  So what's the big deal, it's a cake right?  You see them everywhere so it shouldn't be a big concern.  Or should it? 


Ask most people what they remember about a wedding and they will say its all about the bride.  They will talk about how beautiful she looked and how stunning the wedding dress was.  They may talk some about the ceremony or location but after the bride most people will talk about the wedding cake.  A wedding cake plays a staring role at the reception and is final memory to the end of a wonderful day.  So what should you expect as a couple when deciding on a wedding cake and decorator?


Finding a baker and decorator.  Unless you have a family member or friend who is experienced in creating cakes you'll need to begin a search of professionals in your area.   A great starting resource is online.  Try googling cake decorators or bakers near you.  This can provide you bakeries or private decorators who have an online presence.  Another great online option is via apps such as Thumbtack Professionals.  This app allows you to enter basic information that will go out to professionals in your area who will then respond with an initial quote.  This and other similar apps are a great way to get a conversation going with decorators.  If you prefer going old school with your search, try going around to local bakeries and see if they offer wedding cake services.   Not all bakeries will have a wedding cake decorator on staff.  If you are utilizing a wedding consultant, ask if they work with any bakers that they can recommend.  You can also ask your photographer or florist if you have already hired one.  Quite often, small independent businesses will work events with other professionals and exchange contact information for referrals.  


Meeting your cake decorator.  Now that you have located a professional, what should you expect?  Your first contact or meeting should mostly be a sharing of information between you and the decorator.  It may be done online electronically, over the phone or at a location convenient to both you and the professional.  Expect to answer basic questions to help the decorator start to form a plan and design.  He or she should ask you the date, time and location of the event.  This should be one of the first questions asked to determine if he or she is available to work your event.  


After determining availability, expect to provide basic information about the cake.  You may not have your guest list completed but expect to provide a range of expected servings.  This is crucial in determining the amount of cake that will be needed.  Some professionals quote charges by servings while others price out based on design and amount of work and skill level required on a cake.  When discussing servings, you should know that a wedding cake serving is smaller than the big wedge of cake most people cut for themselves at home or at a party.  A standard wedding cake slice is typically 1 inch wide by 2 inches long by 3 or 4 inches tall.  Look at a business card or a credit card.  These are roughly the width and length you will see.  If you have a number of tiers of cake you would like, discuss this now with your decorator.  You may want a 5 tier grand cake but the number of servings your requesting will not allow for it.  Your decorator will discuss options based on servings and tier sizes to come up with a number of tiers needed.  He or she may indicate more or less servings will be provided if your looking for a volume of tiers.


Flavors.  Now days there are a variety of flavor profiles from the basic to exotic.  Wedding cakes can be one flavor thru-out or multiple flavors, a different flavor for each tier.  The cake can be one flavor wile the filling or icing is another.  You can have different icings from a buttercream to a fondant or a ganache.  Each icing will have different qualities to bring to the cake that your decorator will discuss with you. Fillings can range from buttercreams to compotes or jams, fresh fruit, or mousse filings.  Again your decorator will discuss pros and cons as you decide on your flavor profiles.  Some fillings tend to be soft and may cause the cake to slide or slip if there is a lot of weight stacked above it.  Other fillings may require refrigeration for health safety reasons so may not be the best option for a cake that will left out for long times especially in summer months. 


One last item I would feel remiss if I didn't mention about choosing the flavor profile of your cake.  Consider your guests.  This may seem to be an obvious statement but is often overlooked.  What do I mean by this?  Often a couple will decide to make a bold and adventurous statement with their wedding cake.  They choose to have exotic or unusual flavors thru out the cake.  It makes a great statement they think.  But sometimes that statement is opposite of what they meant.  After all the time and effort and money spent on the wedding cake, they choose exotic flavors they think would be great to have only to see or hear their guests complain about the cake and not eat it.  Consider that your guests may not be as "flavor forward" as you are and an exotic flavor profile may turn off your guests.  Many people tend toward the basics, vanilla, chocolate, or other flavors in preference.   If your choosing a exotic or unusual flavor, consider limiting the amount of servings of that and provide for other "standard" flavors for those guests who may not like to be as adventurous.  


Theme.  Your decorator will ask you if you have a specific theme or color pallet chosen for your wedding. Do you have specific flowers you will be using?  Are you looking for a whimsical theme?  Is it an outdoor wedding or a nautical wedding? Victorian lace?  Your cake decorator will work with you to match your cake to your event.  


Other considerations.  You will be asked if you will have a cake topper and if you plan to save the top tier for your first year anniversary.  Do you have any special requests or needs such as omitting ingredients due to allergies?  Do you want a grooms cake or a dessert bar? Cupcakes? Will a cake stand be required?  Do you need the cake delivered or will someone pick it up? This is also the time for you to pose questions.  You should leave your first meeting confidant that all of your questions were answered and that you have made the correct decision on choosing this person to make your wedding cake.


Tasting and design consultation.  The next time you meet with your cake decorator should be for a cake tasting if needed.  This is often used by couples to determine what flavors they want if they were previously unsure. This meeting will also provide the decorator a chance to present design ideas and sketches based off the information gathered from the initial contact meeting.  He or she may also show a portfolio of work previously done to help the couple determine what design they would like for their cake.  Most decorators will allow for a certain number of servings at the tasting consultation and will have a fee for this service.  This is usually a nominal fee to cover time and ingredients to make the tasting for you.  Some decorators will waive the tasting fee if you hire them and place a deposit at this time.


Once the design is determined, you will be presented with an estimate your designer anticipates your cake to cost.  He or she should review the quote with all associated charges and fees.  You should be given a contract to sign which will spell out procedures to have changes made to the cake, payment schedules, late fees, as well as cancellation and refund policies.  You may also be asked to sign a release of responsibility for damage done after delivery acceptance, allergen waivers, or other such forms.  These forms are to protect you and the cake decorator from any unforeseen issue that may arise.  You will also be asked to place a deposit.  The deposit amount may vary however it is often 50% of the charge.  This will reserve the date of your event in the decorators schedule.  It may be no-refundable or may have partial refundable conditions attached.  This should be in the official contract so there is no misunderstanding between the decorator and the client.


If all goes well and no changes are needed, the next time you see the decorator is when he or she delivers the cake on the day of your event.  If there is a long period between when you hire your decorator and when the actual event is, he or she should contact you as the date approaches just to reconfirm details and answer any additional questions or concerns you may have.  As a professional, he or she should always be approachable and respond to your concerns.

Wedding cakes in Virginia.




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