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What you should do before you meet your wedding cake designer

If you are a bride whose dream wedding vision includes a towering, magnificent and spell-binding masterpiece cake, detailed wedding cake plans are on your list of must-do’s!

Your cake designer is the single person who can bring your perfect wedding cake to life. However, she needs your ideas and inputs to execute the plan to perfection. Although she may have her own suggestions and ideas, it may not meet your expectations unless you provide her the blue print to plan her cake around. This simply means that you cannot start with a blank slate. You need to first do a list of things, before you meet with your cake designer and discuss the cake design. Let us take a look at this list now.

Get inspired

Just like with wedding dresses, there is a whole world of fabulous wedding cakes waiting to be discovered. You will find drool-worthy pages and pages on Pinterest, in bridal magazines, on cake websites as well as on our own wedding cake gallery. Your first step to planning your wedding cake, is identifying what you want. Begin by setting up a wedding inspiration board (read all about it on our previous post here), and adding pictures to it. If you find interesting pictures in magazines, collect them too. Begin at random, by just dragging any picture that appeals to you onto your inspiration board. Once you have a number of pictures, edit out the ones that do not seem as interesting as they did initially. As you do this, you should see a pattern emerge, and this will help you identify the factor that appeals to you. It could be the color combinations, style, texture, the decoration used, shape, size or any other factor. Once you recognize what it is, it will be easier to refine your board and eliminate those that do not feature this factor. This will bring you closer to your final idea of how your wedding cake should be.

Research your options

Once you have narrowed down your choices to just those that would be ideal for your cake design, it is time to research and identify what would work. For this, consider the various details about each of the cakes you’ve shortlisted. Some questions to help you in this direction are

  • what are the ingredients used in the frosting—fondant, buttercream etc?
  • What techniques may be involved in making the design?
  • Is there any special work involved?
  • How are the special touches done?
  • Are the accessories you like ready-made or custom created by the baker?
  • Why do you think you like a particular detail?
  • What would be the features you could eliminate, if required?

Match it to your wedding

Your wedding cake, as much as it is an entity on it’s own, still has to belong to the wedding. For this, you should match it to the wedding theme. This would be in terms of colors, features, style and size. Where cakes are concerned, your options are numerous. You can have a wedding cake with as many layers as you want, without all the tiers actually being “cake.” Or, you can have a couture cake that is impressive, and serves for the cake cutting, while the guests are served with sheet cake slices in the same flavor. This brings down the cost, which is a very important factor in making your final cake decisions.

Determine your Budget

The quantity of cake you need depends on the number of guests at your wedding. Before meeting with your cake designer, you should compile information on the guest count, and calculate your cake budget. This will help you decide on the possible options, so you have enough cake for all your guests, while also meeting your expectations. Once you know the maximum you can afford to spend on a cake, it will also put you in a position to shortlist a suitable cake designer who will do the job for you within your set budget. This also gives you a general idea of the little extras that you can afford to have, without eating into other aspects of your wedding.

Consider aesthetic aspects

LilyGarden cake

The main factor that influences your choice for the cake is how it will finally look. Here are the aesthetic factors that you should consider.

  • Wedding theme: There are different ways in which you can integrate the cake into the wedding theme. This could be using the colors or similar details that are part of your décor.
  • Wedding colors: A talented and experienced cake designer should be able to create your cake in any color of your choice. She may also be able to suggest colors that work together, or tell you if something you suggest will not look good when executed. While all colors are possible, it is best to remember that appetizing cakes are usually done in light, breezy colors. So, you may like to stick with the lighter colors in your palette, for your cake.
  • Shape and Size: This article should help you understand the different cake shapes you can have at your wedding. This includes both traditional and contemporary styles, so you know abut all the choices you have. If you have a limited budget, remember that simple shapes like round and square cost less, while the topsy-turvy shape or irregular ones will usually cost more. Where the size of the cake is concerned, you can have a huge-tiered cake, with faux tiers in between as a budget-friendly option. Or, if this is one area where you don’t mind splurging, go with the real thing all the way.
  • Cake accessories and decorations: You can dress your cake up easily, using suitable accessories and decorations. You have plenty of options, including fresh blooms, sugar flowers, plastic figures and other accessories. Think of what you would like to have on your cake. Would you prefer elaborate embellishments, ready made cake decorations or ones made from fondant or sugar?

Taste options—what should you consider?

Just like with the aesthetics, the taste of your cake is equally important. Do this correctly by paying close attention to the following factors.

  • Shortlist the flavors you like

You will be overwhelmed with the flavor options available. Avoid confusion by shortlisting a few of your favorites, before you even visit your designer. You can then look at these flavors and anything similar that may suit your palette. Once you narrow down your choices, your cake designer can arrange for the chosen flavors at your tasting session. Although you can always go with a bold and unusual choice, remember that if you stick to common flavors, it will most likely be liked by all. Your cake should also be soft, spongy and moist.

  • Discuss your filling choices

The overall taste of the cake will depend on the filling that you choose for it. So, decide whether you want something fruity, creamy or chocolate. You can make this decision based on your personal preferences, or by looking at what is easily available and budget-friendly.

  • Choose your icing options

The icing will not only determine the finish of the cake, but also the taste. Some bakers specialize in fondant, while others are experts with butter cream. It is best to choose a vendor who has enough experience in working with the medium you prefer, for best results.

Check with your venue for any restrictions

Some venues have restrictions on what you are allowed to serve at your wedding. Some of them require you to use their in-house bakers itself, while others allow you to bring your own cake designer for an additional fee. Considering health and safety requirements, it may be necessary to go with a licensed professional for your wedding day. So, you should check for this factor with the venue manager in advance, before scouting for a vendor.

How will the cake get to the venue?

fresh flowers on cake

Getting your cake to the venue without damage is very important. If your cake designer will not be working onsite, you will have to check for the transport arrangements to get the finished cake to your venue. Will your baker arrange for this, or will you have to make transport arrangements yourself. If it has to be transported, the size of the cake will determine whether it will have to be transported in one piece or, if it will be assembled on-site. An experienced baker will normally have the provision to supply your cake to the reception venue. If this isn’t available, and you have to transport it by yourself, make sure you will be able to do it efficiently. Discuss the details about how it has to be transported as soon as you settle on the design.

The flexibility factor

Cakes in magazines and pictures may not always be easy to replicate. Each baker will have their unique style. As creative artists, they will appreciate a certain level of freedom, so they can contribute in their own way. If you are very particular about replicating certain aspects of a cake, make sure that you look for a cake designer who is equipped and experienced in working on that aspect. Moreover, replicating a picture entirely doesn’t make the design your own. So, we suggest you keep your options available to discuss what can be done to make a cake design that is your own. Also, keep the actual logistics in mind when you choose to go for a cake design you pick from a picture. The replication may look different in color, or the details may differ to a certain extent. Your cake designer will give you a correct idea of the extent to which your ideas are practical, and what changes would give you better results. Be open to such suggestions, and it will be a lot easier for both of you.

Create your list of preferred cake designers

Based on reviews, recommendations and your own research, you should shortlist the vendors who would be good candidates for your job. Make sure you have more than just one option, in case the person you want is booked already, or you aren’t satisfied with what they have to offer when you actually meet. In all cases, it is advised to first start visiting with vendors you like most. So, if you find a cake designer who you like, you can immediately finalize the deal without having to check on any more vendors.

Discuss your plans with your fiance first

Unless your fiance doesn’t really care about how your wedding cake looks, it is necessary to gather his inputs as well, before you come to a final decision. Before you meet a cake designer, discuss the design together and come to an agreement on what you both like. Both of you should be happy with the design, flavor and other details.

Once you have a clear idea of all the above mentioned factors, you are ready to visit your cake designer and discuss your ideas. It is much easier for a cake designer to give you what you want, when you have a very clear idea of what you would like. Nevertheless, be open to ideas and suggestions, as your cake designer is an experienced professional, and can give you valuable inputs on making the cake that is just perfect for your big day.

For more inputs and great inspiration for your special day, visit our online cake gallery at Best for Bride. Apart from delicious and great looking cakes, we also offer brides many more wedding services. With an impressive inventory of dresses for the wedding party and an exquisite designer wedding dress collection, we are the one-stop destination for everything a bride needs, when planning the event of her lifetime. You can also find wedding stationery, wedding favors, décor accessories and beautiful accessories on our website. Visit us online today, to see what we can do to complete your wedding day.

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8 ways to make the most of your wedding cake budget

Most guests will look forward to enjoying that delicious sweet last course of wedding cake at your reception. Wedding cakes are works of art, created with finesse and customized with unique details of unparalleled beauty. Most wedding cakes today are not only a treat for the taste buds, but are a sensationally striking too. However, these masterpieces of sweet indulgence take time, effort and resources to create. It is no wonder that they are pricey and take up a chunk of your wedding budget.

Fortunately, there are creative ways to have your dream wedding cake without breaking the bank. This is what we will look at today. Read on to find out ten different ways to slice your wedding cake budget, and still get what you want.

#1 Choose a simple cake

love pinch couple figurine

It is the time and effort that goes into creating your wedding cake, that translates into a higher cost. Agreed that hand-crafted details look fabulous, but they will cost you accordingly. Fine lace-like details and intricate motifs will cost more than plain designs or those that are easy to do. Almost every design that you want on your cake will have an equally appealing alternative that costs less. Just make sure you ask your baker and find out.

For example, instead of individual sugar flowers that have to be made one-at-a-time, and perfected to the last detail, you can choose flat flowers of a single solid color. This saves your baker several hours of time, and you will get it at a much lesser price. Similarly, consider stencil prints or monograms instead of hand-piped details. Accessories like satin ribbons in a chosen color can instantly dress up a cake, and are easy on the pocket.

#2 Check out the budget-friendly options if you must have sugar flowers

fresh flowers on cake

Flowers are a trending favorite, and most brides choose to have at least few flowers or floral motifs on their wedding cake. Sugar flowers resembling real ones are very expensive, as your talented baker has a difficult job perfecting it. Each flower that is a replica of a real model involves several details, and depending on the complexity of the design, can take hours to do. Luckily, you have some equally attractive options to obtain the same effect for far less. Here they are:

  • Choose real flowers: Check with your florist for seasonal flowers that are non-poisonous and can be used on your wedding cake. It will cost less, and it will look splendid. All it takes is a little planning and organizing to get the flowers on time and set them up right.
  • Choose flat flowers or painted flowers for a similar effect: Flat flower designs without many layers, or those that are painted on to the cake cost far less than sugar flowers. So, this may be the way to go, to help your budget.
  • Choose simple designs: If you still want sugar flowers without the outrageous price, choose simple designs like lilies that are easier to make, than roses or orchids.
  • Keep it to a minimum: To avoid the hefty price tag for decorating your entire cake with it, choose a design with a cluster of flowers on just one tier instead. You could restrict the flowers to just the top tier or use it as a stem along the side of the cake, and decorate the rest with other inexpensive accessories.

#3 Opt for the economical option in frosting

buttercream cake

Fondant cakes are a delight, with their clear and remarkably soft texture, but they can be expensive. Fondant is considered the best cake decoration material for creative designs like ruffles and little figurines, with the added advantage that it has a marshmallow taste that almost everyone enjoys. If you choose a complicated design, or want the cake to look smooth and polished with a glazing finish, your baker may ask you to go with fondant. Although fondant gives the cake a refined finish, and it is easier to work with for precise measurements and details, it can cost several times that of butter-cream. This is why—to create a fondant covering for your cake, your baker has to first slather layers of butter-cream on the cake surface. It is to this that the fondant adheres. So, this means that you will be paying for both the butter-cream layer and the fondant topping.

Another factor is that fondant, whether made by the baker himself, or bought, is always costlier than butter-cream icing. The soft butter-cream is usually made from scratch, and is easier to do, and so the lesser price attached to it. Don’t think that you will lose out on taste or look by choosing it. It has been the traditional choice that has never disappointed. It can also be done in different colors, and a skilled cake-maker can design it to look as attractive as a fondant cake. Another budget-friendly option is to go with the current trend of naked cakes. Here, the cake layers are not frosted, and it is sparingly decorated with cream, fruits and berries for a natural, refreshing look.

#4 Make friends with faux tiers or choose a smaller display

wedding cake

If you always wanted a big cake, you can have it without paying for all those extra tiers. After deciding how many tiers are actually needed to serve your guests, you can ask your baker to do some extra tiers that aren’t made of real cake. It will still be iced and decorated to match the design you have chosen for your cake, and nobody will notice the difference. As long as all your guests get a slice, who cares whether the rest of the tiers are real or not. Let it be your own little secret!

The other option is to choose a spectacular, but smaller display cake with one, two or three layers that look great. Couture cakes done on small scale are fantastic, and can look sophisticated and stylish. Keep this for the display at your reception. For the actual cake service, order kitchen cakes that will not be decorated, but will taste exactly like the original. This will be cut and served to the guests. This way, you will have to spend less, but your guests will still get a fantastic dessert. This article on the Bridal Guide website suggests that you can save up to fifty per cent by going this way, than choosing a big cake.

#5 Opt for smaller servings

slice of cake

Have you ever noticed how many of the guests leave a lot of cake behind on their plates, especially if there are other desserts too? Avoid wastage by asking your caterer to size the slices to three-fourth or half the original serving size, and serve it along with the other desserts. You can also have the cake slices placed in a buffet, instead of serving it at the table. This way, only those guests who actually want cake will take it. When you choose to do so, you can place the order for less than the actual head count, as it is pretty certain that not all your guests will want cake. The answer to this reader’s question on the cost of wedding cakes on the Knot suggests that for 300 guests, you can order just 150 slices of cake, and serve all your guests half-slices.  Again, if your wedding reception is for 300 guests and you are serving cake in a buffet setting, you can place the order for just 250 guests and it will most likely be enough.

#6 Choose the shape and flavors wisely

The most budget-friendly cake shapes are square and round. Square cakes are easy to section into equal portions without wastage. It is also comparatively easy to make. Most bakers can easily frost square cakes, just like they would with round cakes. So, that shouldn’t be a concern. If you choose any unusual shape for one or more of your cake tiers, you will have to spend more on it. Topsy-turvy cakes are the most expensive of the lot, since it not only takes a lot of effort to create, but there is a lot of wastage in setting up the tiers. So, either go with the square or circular cake and decorate it to meet your vision. Use options like varying the heights of the various tiers to obtain an equally interesting effect. Cakes that are shaped like real-life objects, like cars or books can cost extra. The alternative is to make the cake in a standard shape, and have the picture of the object printed on it in edible ink. It may not look the same, but neither will it be as expensive.

The other thing that can make a difference is the flavor. Standard flavors like vanilla and chocolate are loved by all, and cost much lesser than gourmet choices like carrot or cookies ‘n’ cream. Similarly, sponge cake is cheaper than fruit cake, but delicious. If you must have a premium flavor for your tiered cake, consider doing it for the smaller tiers and choosing standard fare for the larger tiers.

#7 Be creative with your decorations and display

butterfly cake

Remember how we suggested ribbon and fresh seasonal flowers for quick, efficient and attractive decoration? There are several other similar options that will help you have a beautiful cake at a budget-friendly price. Here are some of them:

  • Chocolate covered berries are delicious and look tempting, while the cost is almost insignificant
  • For a vintage theme, you can use ribbons and a decorative brooch for the cake decoration
  • Simple criss-cross designs on the cake surface with tiny edible silver dots are inexpensive, yet classic
  • Instead of fondant figurines, choose plastic figurines as cake toppers, and it will serve as a keepsake for the future as well
  • Choose inexpensive cake toppers like the butterfly toppers featured in the cake in the picture above, or try your hand at making a cake topper yourself, for a fraction of the cost of doing it in sugar
  • Instead of a tiered cake, you can have the separate tiers placed using pillars. This is usually much cheaper than a single tiered cake. It is also easy to set up and distribute

You can also cut a few corners with the way you set up your dessert table. Have a dessert station set up and spread the different desserts out for maximum effect. By varying the size and height of each platter, it will look abundant and interesting. Also space the desserts to look as though there is more than you actually have. Many couples splurge on an attractive cake stand, but you can get creative with this as well. If the venue has wedding cake platters and stands, use them creatively. Dress up the table with an attractive table cloth, interesting food labels and an interesting backdrop or buntings, so the focus is not on the cake stand. You can also go with unusual choices like distressed and weathered wooden crates for relevant themes. Just let those creative juices flow, and you will find several ideas that won’t cost you too much.

#8 Book early and get your cake at a better rate

pillar cake

Don’t delay your cake choices till last-minute. Start your search early, and you will most likely be able to snag a bargain or make use of a discount. Check if you can get a better deal if you make a full payment, or if you place your booking early. If your wedding day is after several months, booking your cake early may even allow you to lock the price at the current rate, before any price increase takes effect. It will also be one task off your list, so don’t delay. If there are any bridal shows in town, try to attend them and check out whether there are any cake makers offering attractive offers. Lastly, don’t forget to check if your venue or caterer offers a discount package on the cake, if you order it from them.

Now that you know all about how to get the best from your wedding cake budget, all you need to do, is to get started. Check out our list of cake vendors and their fantastic designs on Best for bride for some valuable inspiration or to place your orders, by clicking on this link.

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The essential guide to tipping for Wedding Services

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Is it obligatory to tip every vendor at your wedding? Or is it alright to assume that the vendor charges cover their services and you needn’t add gratuities into your already-stretched wedding budget?

Wedding tipping is a tricky area, with no set rules on what is right and what isn’t. More often than not, it is up to the couple to decide whether they want to tip a vendor or not. If you aren’t really sure of what to do, this guide will help you recognize who you should tip and who you can skip.

Ground and set-up staff

These people do most of the hard work, like moving or setting up equipment and furniture at the venue. So, they deserve a tip for their efforts. You can budget roughly $10 per person. This list also includes anyone who delivers gifts or the important items from your baker, florist etc.

At your reception venue, unless you have taken an all-inclusive package, you will have to pay the staff in charge of serving wine or cutting cake, separately. In both cases, it is common practice to tip these attendants, and you can put aside roughly 15% of the food expenses for this purpose. To avoid double-tipping, check your contract for whether it includes service charges and make your decision accordingly.

Hair and Makeup

Similar to when you visit a beauty salon, these staff expect a tip for the service they provide. How much you pay will depend on how well you think they performed the job.

Florist and Baker

It isn’t usually necessary to tip your florist or baker, as their rates normally include gratuity. One way to know whether it would be appropriate to tip the person you are dealing with, is to read your contract. If it includes service charges, you do not have to tip again. Another thing to remember is that you needn’t tip a vendor who owns the service, but it is alright to tip employees.

Wedding planner

It is optional to tip your wedding planner, but you can always do so if you appreciate the effort the team put in, to make your wedding a success. You can also show your appreciation by giving them a nice gift instead of cash. Don’t forget to send a thank you note to your wedding planner if you loved what they did, and make sure you do this soon after the wedding. A good review and photos for their portfolio would be nice too.

Photographers and Musicians

It is optional in both cases, but if you are happy with their service or if they exceed your expectations, don’t hesitate to tip them. Again, if the photographer is the owner of the business, you can always skip it. For the musicians, if they did a splendid job and kept the evening alive and active, you can tip them.

Apart from the customary tips, you should appreciate anyone who has made a special effort to do the job well. Don’t think of the rules if you think they did a splendid job, and also send out a thank-you note afterwards. In a business where customer satisfaction decides a vendor’s business prospects, it will be well-appreciated if you can provide them a good online review or recommend them to your engaged friends

To obtain more wedding advice and tips, and also find everything you need for your wedding, visit us at Best for Bride.