One of the top 3 wedding related questions
I get asked at wedding fairs is
“How long in advance should I order my wedding cake”.
(and favours. Or wedding dessert table)
My answer is always the same: Do it as early as you can. Obvious, I hear you think. Nice sales speech Mrs cake maker.
But you’re wrong.
It makes less difference for me than it could end up making for you. I have taken the example of my business below, but I’d think this is true for a lot of other wedding cake makers. Here’s 9 reasons why you should book your cake maker as soon as you can:
Sorry, I am fully booked
A few months ago, I had to turned down a lady called Aurelie about her wedding cake. Aurelie and I met at a wedding evening in October last year. She was keen on having French inspired details throughout her wedding. We started chatting about “piece montee” (or croque en bouche, the typical French wedding cake choux pastry tower). I took her details down. After the evening, I followed up with her a couple of times but heard no more. Now I do understand that your life, and workload does not stop because you are planning your wedding. Nor do I like to feel like I am stalking people. So I left it at that. Then in February this year, I got a phone call from Aurelie asking whether I would make her croque-en-bouche. I really wanted to, because it’s not everyday I get asked for a choux tower and I love them. But I had to turn Aurelie down because by then, just a few months on, I was fully booked for that date.
Now I do say it on my website as plainly as possible, and it is true. Most of the wedding cake commissions I get are booked months in advance. Summer months, Bank Holidays and Saturdays always go first. As early as 2 years ahead (Fact. It’s currently June 2017 when I am writing this and I have opened my bookings for summer 2019. Only a handful of dates but they are in there). There’s only me at Fairy HQ (as it might be the case for a lot of Artisan cake makers). Hence there is only so much work I can take on per date in the calendar.
I understand you might not want to, or be able to pay for your cake that long in advance. Good news is, you don’t have too. I explained more about this a little further on.
Beat the price hike
Pastry ingredients and equipment regularly go up in price, like the cost of living. Every 3 months, I review and adjust my costs. Inevitably, each time, some go up. If you leave it an extra 6 months to book your cake and confirm your quote, I’ll use the most up to date (and generally higher) pricing grid I have. It might not save you hundreds of pounds, but it all adds up. And if you know what you want, why wait? As we say in France “Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras” (Something about a bird, a hand and a bush in English I think?)
Make the most of my savings
I work with a handful of specialist suppliers, especially for my bespoke chocolate wedding cakes ingredients and equipment for my chocolate sculptures. A few times a year, they might offer early bird promotions and end of line sale. If you love the design I created for you but need to trim a little of the cost, I often can help making this happen by using one the products I know is or will soon be on offer and grab it for you at a better price, passing on the saving to you. But I will only order it if you have confirmed your order, as I might end up with redundant stock otherwise.
Wholesale versus retail prices
I place wholesale orders (at prices significantly lower than retail) for my next 3 or 6 month worth of work. Especially for boxes, cake boards, and other structural equipment. Why that long ahead? Wholesalers do offer better prices, but have a higher minimum order I can only reach by ordering several months of stock worth. If I need additional items for shorter leadtime orders in between…I hit my local cake equipment shop. And pay the retail price, and any cost difference ends up in your quote too.
Limited “Live” stock
One of the big wedding trends for the past 2 years (I am talking to you from 2017 here if you are reading this from the future) are edible organic flowers. I love them! You can totally transform a plain wedding cake into a whimsical Enchanted Forest creation with them, or a romantic English meadow. You can apply primary colours, pressed spring flowers to a ganache or buttercream tiered wedding cake creating a colourful sea of edible confetti for a barn wedding. Don’t get me started on the magic of crystallised fresh flowers. The point here is, this trend is growing. Specialist suppliers are far and few in between in the UK. They can only grow so much. With organic edible flowers, I reserve my order as soon as you confirm it to be on the safe side. If you wait too long and all the stock is allocated, there is little I can do aside from changing your design.
Better creative value for money
One of the most recent commission I have been asked to create is a 5 tier wedding cake combining white chocolate, characters from Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter, Shaun of the Dead and Spiderman; packs a punch in attitude whilst remaining elegant. Not all my cake commissions are that quirky. But each one is individual and requires creative inspiration. With the creative side, generally the more free flowing thinking time, the more inspiration I find for you.
Adapting your initial design
All the wedding cakes I create are bespoke. Once you have firmed up your booking, I’ll paint your cake design idea as a watercolour sketch. So you can really picture it. You may look at this sketch, take a few weeks or months to think about it whilst you start bringing more elements of your wedding together. At this stage you will often get back to me with requests to tweak, adapt, add, remove “ceci et cela”. When you book your cake nice and early on, you allow yourself plenty of time for the design to evolve until it really is perfect. Sometimes it takes 2 iterations, sometimes it’s taken 10.
Adding extra touches
The right cake stand and “mise en scene” (staging/styling) can transform an already beautiful cake to an incredible one. Whether it’s a “tier” of flowers sitting between your cake, stand and table. Accessories, a custom made cake stand or stands in the case of a wedding cakes table. If you want to source and buy your props at the best price, it takes time and you really need to know what your cake looks like first for this. If you want to hire them from your cake maker, they might, like me, only have a limited stock, especially of custom made, or “brocante” French vintage finds. The earlier you get in , the best pick of the bunch you get.
Oh this is so important. Customers tell me all the time how the cake tasting is one of the wedding planning bits they look forward to the most. Book early and you’ll have more flexibility about when to have your tasting, making it an even nicer moment.
There it is. As you can see, whilst I can work around all the above requirements quickly when needed, the more time you allow with your cake maker, the more you’re likely to get out it.
One last tip
Firming up your booking well in advance doesn’t mean that you have to pay for your cake in full earlier. Cake makers each have their own terms and conditions around this. I ask for a deposit only, with the balance payable much closer to your wedding date. And for wedding booked over a year in advance, I offer a “save the date” option for under £100. This allows you to block your date, giving you plenty of time to sort out cake flavours and design.
Was this useful? Which tip in particular make you go “I never thought of that”? Leave me a comment below and let me know or get in touch by email or through Twitter @lauremoyle.