By, Cherry Tree Cakerie.
I know, I get it. Even for the laid-back among us, wedding planning can leave you a little tense can’t it? I was fortunate that being a PA with a penchant for spreadsheets had its benefits when planning my own big day, but one thing I definitely wasn’t prepared for was the budgeting. I mean, how did we know how much all these things should cost?
So off I went online to search for budget advice but there sure is a difference between a high-end luxury affair and a DIY ‘do’ so reading about average costs didn’t really help. At the end of the day, only you can place value on what’s really important for your big day. Where you place your budget is your prerogative and you will be happy to forgo things that aren’t on your must-have list to make way for those most meaningful to you and if that means spending thousands on a designer wedding dress but hand making your own table decorations to balance the budget then that’s all good!
This brings me conveniently to wedding cakes. As a bespoke cake designer, I’m one of those annoying people who just can’t give you a final price straight away. Yes, I know how irritating it is but, as my product is designed uniquely for you, it will completely depend on the size, finish and level of detail required to create your dream cake. What I can do however is give an insight into what goes into making a wedding cake so that when you do come to planning, you will have a better understanding of what it entails and realise that a professionally made wedding cake is more than just the ingredients it’s made from…
Take your store cupboard essentials
I’m not talking flour and eggs here, I’m going back to the business basics. Quite a few bakers are small businesses who are home-based but there are still the monthly outgoings such as insurance, utilities, website hosting, accountant fees (aka the boring stuff), and wedding fairs, styled shoots and marketing costs etc., all of which exit the bank account whether we’re baking or not, low season or high season.
Weigh up the ingredients
When it comes to responding to your initial enquiry, it’s not just me firing back a generic email. My service to you starts here and it’s my job to guide you with the options available and make you feel as informed and confident in your decision as you can be.
The enquiry, consultation and tasting stage is just as an important part of the process as actually making your cake and I take time and effort to make it an easy and enjoyable experience for my couples. Let’s add in the baking and preparation of your tasters (which can take a whole day!), not to mention the clean and tidy-up of the house before you arrive for your consultation, and it’s quite an investment of time dedicated to your wedding cake experience from the word go.
Preheat the oven
So this is where it starts to heat up (boom tish!). You loved the tasters, we got on like a house on fire and most importantly, my work speaks to you and you’re confident that I can create your cake of dreams. Hurrah!
Now I get down to the exciting stage of researching and designing your cake. A colour sketch of the design wings its way to you along with a quotation; cue excitement and a resounding yes and we’re on to the practicalities of your contract and invoice. You pay your deposit to secure your date and off you go, another fab supplier under your belt. All this and I’ve not even lined a cake tin yet!
Prepare the ingredients
A wafer paper or sugar rose can take around an hour to make with each petal hand cut, coloured, veined and shaped into a spectacular lifelike bloom. Eight roses later and you’ve done a day’s work so preparing in advance is a must and you can appreciate just how much time goes into making beautiful decorations and, as such, the investment required is going to be reflective of that. Along with sourcing and procuring equipment and supplies, being prepared means I’ll have everything ready to go when it comes to adding the final flourishes to your cake.
To give you an idea, making a simple 3-tier wedding cake will take a minimum of three full days, which includes baking (using quality ingredients, free range eggs and real butter), torting (that’s cutting each cake into layers), filling them with Swiss meringue buttercream, trimming, crumb coating each tier with a layer of Belgian chocolate ganache, covering with top quality Swiss fondant and finally, stacking and decorating. Let’s not forget to mention the washing up element of this whole process…it’s perpetual!
If you’ve ever seen Driving Miss Daisy then you’ll appreciate how slow I actually drive with a wedding cake on board. The delivery stage of the process is possibly the most stressful part and not a worry I’d wish to impose on anyone who isn’t well-versed in carrying delicate cargo. Also, for some cakes, I will actually transport them in separate tiers so they will require time to stack and decorate at your venue.
The secret ingredients
No, I’m not talking about a top-secret blend of herbs and spices, I’m referring to the magic ingredients. The ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes your wedding cake special. If you’re looking for a cake from me then it will be because you like my style, creativity and ability to turn your ideas into reality with skills that I have spent years developing and perfecting. Add in a huge glug of passion for creating beautiful works of edible art, a kilo of patience and a warm, personalised service and you’ve got a recipe for a showstopping wedding cake.
The last crumb…
Hopefully this blog has given you a better understanding of the process and skills that go into making a wedding cake and that you’re not just paying for ingredients but a huge amount of time and skill. If your wedding cake is important to you then investing in a quality, professional cake designer should probably make it on to the must-have list too!
Photography by Nicola Dawson Photography
If you would like a chat with Charlene from Cherry Tree Cakerie, please visit her website for more details.