What to Think About When Hiring a Dessert Vendor
For over fifteen years, I have been providing wedding cakes and desserts through Soft Peaks Cakery. I have seen a LOT of changes over the years. Thirty years ago when my husband and I got married, we spent $300 for the complete day (Equivalent to $1,000 in today’s money). We had lunch, cake and beverages for 75 people in our backyard. Like today, our family and friends helped with the food. I made the cake, we purchased the beverages at the local Costco and we wrote our invites on a brown paper bag, copied them at Kinko’s and mailed out the “lunch sack” invitation, food dish and RSVP. There was a 100% response and 95% turnout. We chose the date, planned and finished with a three day honeymoon in less than 30 days. It was a special day we will never forget.
Fast forward to the productions of today. It is amazing to me that things have moved to a much more coordinated production to celebrate two people’s love and commitment. It definitely has helped my business grow, made a lot of couples and families happy and has built an industry in Lane County that was not there in 1988.
So you have decided on a date to marry your best friend. Now what? Your cake plays three primary roles at the event. 1. Centerpiece of the food. 2. Photo-op for your event, and most important to me, 3. Dessert and the tradition of “cake cutting.” You can also have your desserts be your party favors, just make a sweet little to-go box!
Give your cake as much attention as you would your table centerpieces or the colors of your invitations and it will be so much more coordinated and easy. One of the many things on your list is to choose someone to provide the desserts and/or the wedding cake. Not all bakers are wedding cake designers or providers; choose a wedding cake specialist, in the long run it is worth it. Here are a few things to consider when you are thinking about your cake or desserts for your wedding:
#1 Consider your options.
There are so many options that will make it very hard to decide on what you would like. Decide on a budget. What kind of taste or preference do you have? What kind of personality do you want to work with? Do you have referrals? When choosing a designer/baker, ask yourself: Do I like this person and trust what they say they can do? Can they really provide the cake in the Pinterest photo? What kind of reputation does the baker/designer have? There are many people who will be able to, so make sure you see their work, get referrals and taste their products.
As a baker and designer, I have had many couples very surprised when I offer a free cake tasting at my studio. I believe that if I can not invest time and effort in getting the potential clients to taste my baked goods, spend time with them to hear what they want and share my work with them, how can they decide to pay such a price of a dessert that is to be delivered just hours before the big moment? I want every couple I work with to have a secure feeling that I will deliver the design I promised and that all guests will have not only enjoy a beautiful display but have the best tasting desserts they have had at any wedding.
#2 Bring your inspiration and never be afraid to ask questions!
The next hint is to make sure you know what you want for your reception style, your thoughts about timeline, colors, designs and your budget. Depending on your style and desires for your wedding reception, you will need to make sure that when you do choose a baker, you know what you want. Ask if you are not sure! Remember that a wedding baker has done several weddings and should know what is currently happening with this year’s local weddings. We work with the caterers and their menu offerings to curate the whole experience for you.
#3 Have a budget.
For your budget, look at the overall value that you are being quoted. In Lane County, the average cake or dessert bar should range from $4.00-$6.00 per person for a very nice event. Remember that a wedding cake is usually a constructed piece of cake. It will have internal supports and extra sturdy cake boards to support the weight of a three or four tiered design. All of these extras will increase the price of a cake. I suggest to only order enough cake for 90% of the confirmed guests; this is a great way to save money. Also, make sure to ask and understand what the pricing represents. Buying cake by the serving will vary from baker to baker. Ask to see the size of the serving. I personally offer servings 2” x 2” by 4.5” tall; a little larger than normal. It does not have to be a deal breaker to choose a wedding cake specialist, however, if you chose to work with someone who works with weddings every weekend, you usually get an overall better value for your money when you consider the peace of mind you get knowing that things will be done right.
In my business, I break out each cost and let you pay for what service you would like. For example, if you want to pick up a cake, I will make it so it can be safely transported, and I will not charge you for that. If you want it delivered and set up with flowers applied, I can do that at a very reasonable price while bringing my expertise to make sure your cake or desserts are exactly what you ordered. I can order cake flowers, or you can, I can make gumpaste flowers for a keepsake or not, your choice. Round, square, both? It is your choice. Fillings, buttercream, fondant, your choice with no extra charge.
#4 Reserve your baker in advance.
In general, it is best to interview, decide on and reserve you baker at least six months before the event date. I have done wedding cakes for couples in as short of time frame as five days, but that is not the best idea if you have something you have your heart set on. Most of my clients work with me over a five to six month time frame in order to allow time for me to help them decide on what it is they really want and for them to think and change their minds without the stress of last minute decisions. To reserve a baker, you should not have to have your final plans done six months in advance, you should be able to pay a deposit and reserve that date for their services. Over the planning process you or your coordinator should be able to set up an initial cake tasting and consultation, if not, this may not be the baker for you. I do not charge for this. I believe that if a client can taste and see my cakes and desserts I have a good chance they will book with me, if we do not match that is okay too. My goal is to provide what the party wants, not what I have to offer, that is the essence of a custom bakery like Soft Peaks Cakery.
#5 Hire a planner or coordinator.
Whether it be a family member or a professional event planner, you need to have someone who you can bounce ideas off of, help you decide on style design, keep all the moving parts in place and trust to make sure your vision is being brought to a beautiful finish. Too many times the cake gets put off and not considered to be a critical part to the overall vision. Many events have some sort of decor focal point, and your cake or dessert table will be the most approachable for your guests. When it comes to the cake, sometimes less is more. One or two focal points at your reception can make a big statement. Your coordinator should be able to help you with this and put it all together. The kind of flowers, the table arrangement, coverings and tableware for your cake table really make the cake become a centerpiece to be admired.
#6 Baker for all events!
Lastly, when you are happy with the desserts for your wedding, do not forget that your bakery is likely to be able to provide you with custom desserts of all kinds. Now that you have found a custom baker who you love, stick with them for all your dessert needs from a simple pie to your next big event such as an anniversary or bridal shower!
Author Bio: Hello, I’m Shelly! I own Soft Peaks Cakery, a custom baking business established in 2004. SPC is currently a full time bakery serving the greater Lane County with all types of freshly baked goods. My philosophy: highest quality ingredients and fresh fruits along with the small batch process that make each handmade item extra special for each customer. Freshness and taste is the main ingredient. This is achieved by taking one order at a time, ensuring that it is just what the customer is wanting for their event and budget, even if it is a batch of cookies, one pie or a fully catered dessert bar with a wedding cake. Dedication to this ensures only the best for each customer.
I started baking as a little girl with my Grandma that invested the traditions, old school richness and the love it takes to create the hand crafted baked goods of times past. With fast paced lifestyles, not many people have time to invest in the learning curve it takes to produce that full, rich taste of days gone by. Easy as pie, isn’t quite true unless you are willing to commit to that learning curve. Decorating cakes and cookies takes a little more than watching a Youtube video, picking up a piping bag and creating your vision; it takes years of practice.