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Wedding Cake Ordering: 101

The info you need before you go, the important questions to ask, and how to create your dream cake!

By Kelly McGeehan - January 26, 2018

Planning your wedding or any large event can be stressful and overwhelming. If you have never done something like this before, sometimes you don’t even know where to begin! Since we are in the prime time for cake and dessert consultations, I wanted to write this blog to help alleviate any fears and answer any questions related to ordering a wedding cake or dessert display. After all, this will most likely be the most important dessert you ever order!


Pre-consultation: the important information you should know before you sit down for a cake tasting.

1. A basic idea. Sounds easy enough, right? You would be surprised on how many people don’t have a basic direction as far as design or style of their cake. There are SO MANY different styles for wedding cakes, so having an idea of the way you want it to look is really helpful. Ask yourself these questions: Is our wedding contemporary or more traditional? Is a pure white wedding cake what you want? Is height important? Do you prefer buttercream or fondant? Do you want to incorporate fresh florals? Should the cake tie in with the overall theme of the wedding? Do I want all guests to have a slice of cake or offer other desserts with the option of cake?

Knowing the answers to these questions before you head into your consultation will really help your cake artist understand the look and feel you are going for. It also eliminates time wasted on scrolling through photos and feeling uncertain. 

2. A budget. This is one of the first questions I ask all of my clients. It is a waste of everyone’s time if your cake artist is trying to “sell” you something you could never afford. Be honest and most pastry chefs will be happy to accommodate you. At Honeycombe, I will ask for a budget or price range and after the consultation, I will come back to the client with 3 different options. One on the lower end of the budget, one on the higher end, and one right in the middle. Remember that there will usually be a delivery fee and potentially a set up fee depending on the intricacy of the design. 

3. Discuss ideas with fiance. This may seem obvious, but I have had a lot of experiences where one person is completely in the dark as far as design. As with all aspects of your wedding, both parties should be on the same page about the design and budget, so that you don’t end up bickering in front of your cake artist....(yes, this happens)

4. Guest count and other venue/timeline information. Most consultations are done months and months before the RSVPs are due, but having a range of the possible guest count is a must! Cake for 75 people is far different than a cake for 200! Having a venue locked down and a preliminary timeline helps your cake artist plan their delivery and set up. Always give them contact information for your coordinator, venue point person, florist, and any other important people associated with your big day!


During the consultation 

1. Ask questions. Pastry chefs are very familiar with French terminology and other pastry techniques and styles. Not everyone knows those things, so if you don’t understand something, just ask! 

2. Bring inspiration. While most cake artists never want to copy another chef’s cake design, having some photos to show is always a good idea. It helps your artist visualize your look and it helps the client be able to show what techniques or design elements they like without knowing the proper terms for them.

3. Look through your cake artist’s photos. Every artist will have their own style! Most pastry chefs will say they can make any kind of cake or utilize any technique, but I believe you can really see their style through their photos. If you are looking for a very contemporary, cutting-edge, stylized cake, you want to make sure your artist is capable of that type of work. Some chefs hate fondant and others love it, while some chefs specialize in buttercream only creations. Always pick the artist that you feel most comfortable with and you feel confident that can create the design you are looking for. 

4. Taste everything. This will most likely be one of very few tastings you do. Your cake artist does them all the time. If they take the time to prepare something, at least give it a try! You would be shocked at how many times clients look at me funny when I hand them a peanut butter and jelly French macaron. But once they taste it, they are hooked! Sometimes, what you end up choosing is not what you expected at all. That’s part of the fun!


After the consultation 

1. Discuss with fiance. Some clients like to put down a deposit immediately, but it’s not always necessary. I encourage my clients to discuss everything in private while I compile a few scenarios for them that include pricing and serving sizes. I will always let my clients know if I have other inquiries for that same date or weekend. It is a first come, first serve type of scenario though, so don’t wait too long, especially if you are getting married during a very popular wedding month, like June or September. 

2. Confirm flavors, design, etc. If you have decided to book, provide what flavors you would like and the design of the cake. If necessary, ask for sketches from your artist to ensure you both have the same vision. Most artists will allow changes to be made up to a certain date. Major changes to a 4 tier wedding cake cannot be made 2 days before your wedding. At Honeycombe, all servings sizes and design aspects are set in stone when you make your final payment, which is 2 weeks before the wedding date. By then, you should have all your RSVPs and feel completely comfortable with your design.

3. Sign a contract. As with all wedding vendors, it is important to have both parties review and sign a contract. Be sure to carefully read the refund/cancellation policy. Request an electronic copy for your records.

Deposits and Payments

While every bakery requires different things, most will require a deposit to “Save the Date” This means that once this deposit is received, you are guaranteed their services on that day. Chefs base their incoming orders based on if that date is saved or not. Some bakeries may be able to take 5-10  weddings for the same weekend, but some may only take 1-2. So this is a fairly important step. If you delay putting down a deposit for too long and another order comes through for the same date, you may need to make other arrangements. Honeycombe will always contact the first client to see if they wish to put down a deposit and let them know there is another inquiry for that same date. 

Honeycombe’s deposit and payment information is as follows:

$100 “Save the Date” is due as soon as you know you want to book with Honeycombe. (Nonrefundable)
50% Deposit is required 2 weeks after the “Save the Date” payment. Changes to design and servings can be made between this payment and the final payment.
Final payment is due 2 weeks before the wedding. All details are now finalized, including the delivery.

Lastly, enjoy this part of your wedding planning! Eating cake definitely beats picking linens and plateware, so have fun and don’t be afraid to eat dessert for breakfast!