Questions to Ask Your Wedding Cake Designer

Our Destination Wedding Cake

The wedding cake – arguably one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your destination wedding reception.  Not only is it dessert, but it sets the tone for your reception’s decorative style and can help contribute to the overall tone of your reception (formal, fun, whimsical, etc).  While wedding cakes can come in an infinite combination of designs and flavors, it’s important that you do your homework and make sure to ask lots of questions of your cake designer and bakery.  To help with this, we’ve gathered some of the questions we thought most pertinent when we went hunting for the perfect cake for our wedding.

If you’re curious, we ended up having our cake (shown to the right) made by Mason’s Bakery.  The chose a 3-tier, buttercream-iced white cake with white chocolate accents and a combination of two fillings:  white chocolate with fresh strawberries, and raspberry chambourd.  We also had them create our wedding favors – “dusted” white chocolate starfish, bagged with brown sugar “sand.”  We highly recommend them!

The Basics:
As you begin talking with different bakeries and cake designers, you’ll want to start with the following questions to get the basics covered:

  1. Is the date of your wedding available?
  2. How are cakes priced?  (some will go “by the slice”, and others “by headcount”)
    1. What is the minimum price?
    2. Does the price vary based on the flavor(s) chosen and/or design?
    3. Is there a delivery/setup fee?
      1. What happens if the cake is damaged during delivery?
      2. Can the cake be delivered at a specific time, or will it be delivered during an arbitrary time-frame (i.e. “sometime between 1PM and 3PM)?
    4. Will they provide a written quote with details of the design, flavors, delivery time, etc?
  3. Will the bakery decorate the cake table as well?  For instance, can they add “sand” to the table?
  4. Does the bakery provide and/or rent cake toppers, cake-cutting utensils, stands, etc?  What are the fees for these items?
  5. How far in advance should you order your cake?
    1. Is there a deposit required and when is the deposit due?
  6. When is the final payment due?
    1. What is the refund policy if you’re not happy with the cake and/or need to cancel your order?
    2. What is the refund/credit policy if the cake is damaged during delivery transit?
Get to Know the Bakery:
Take your time when you’re talking with the bakery representative or wedding cake designer.  Get to know their experience with making a wedding cake, and see if they can successfully articulate your vision into a design.  Make sure you tell them your budget, and feel free to ask them for ways they can maximize your budget!
  1. How long has the bakery and/or cake designer been in business?
  2. How many wedding cakes have they done in the past year?
    1. Do they have a list of recommendations and/or pictures of cakes they’ve recently done?
    2. Did they design and make all the cakes personally?  If you like a particular cake in the portfolio, who designed and made the cake?
  3. Do they have any design specialties?  For example, the bakery we chose (Mason’s Bakery) specialized in creating a “fondant look” on a buttercream-iced cake without the use of fondant!
  4. Can the bakery custom design a cake to match your decorative theme and/or color scheme?
    1. If you don’t have a clear idea of the type of cake you’d like, can the bakery and/or designer give you some suggestions that will fit your budget?
  5. If you provide a picture of a cake you like, can the bakery match it?  In our case, Mason’s created our cake based on a photo we found.  We still altered the photo to make it “ours,” particularly in our use of chocolate seahorses as our cake topper instead of an actual cake topper.
  6. What are the cake, filling, and icing flavor options?
    1. Are there any particular combinations that are popular and/or seasonal favorites?
    2. Can the bakery make recommendations on flavors that may clash (particularly if you’re doing multiple tiers and/or looking for something to compliment the various flavors in your dinner selections).
  7. Will the bakery allow cake tastings?
    1. Is there a charge?
    2. How many flavors are you allowed to taste?
  8. Will the bakery preserve your top tier (and/or make you a new one at your 1-year anniversary)?  In our case, Mason’s Bakery will re-make our top tier free-of-charge at our 1-year anniversary!
  9. Can the bakery make “Groom’s cakes?”
    1. What is the pricing and flavors?
  10. How far in advance of the wedding will the cake be made?  You don’t want it made too far in advance or it will dry out!
A Few Extra Tips:
Based on our experience, we have a few tips we’d like to share that may help you during your own destination wedding planning!
Our Wedding Favors!
  • The bakery can help you with more than just your wedding cake!  Kelly and I were big into helping make our wedding/reception unique and very “us.”  As we both like chocolate, we found in our discussions with Chris at Mason’s Bakery that he could create our wedding favors!  Rather than ordering some useless trinket from the Internet, we had Mason’s create white chocolate starfish (shown to the right).  Mason’s also did all the work for us:  coloring, bagging, and tying.  We thought they looked awesome, and they were definitely tasty!
  • Meet your cake designer in person!  When we met with Chris at Mason’s Bakery, we were able to tell him what we liked in his design portfolio, and talk him through the designs we had already found online.  This allowed him to start drawing the design of our cake on-the-spot, and within a half hour we had the entire design hammered out to what you see as the finished product above!  I couldn’t imagine it being that easy if we were doing it over the phone!
  • Try as many flavors as possible!  We had NO CLUE what to expect from our tasting.  We knew we wanted to stay “light and citrus,” so with some help from one of Chris’s coworkers we narrowed the flavors down to the following before we arrived:  raspberry chambourd, white chocolate strawberry, kiwi/strawberry, orange cream, and lemon zest.   Prior to the tasting we were leaning towards orange and lemon, but changed our mind based on the tasting as the raspberry and strawberry flavors were “lighter” and more to our preferences!
Some Useful Accessories:
While planning our own wedding, we found some whimsical cake toppers that you may enjoy for your own cake.  You can find them by clicking to our Wedding Store!

Anything to Add?

If you’ve recently been planning your own wedding, feel free to leave comments if you have any tips to add to the list.  Future destination wedding brides will appreciate your candor and suggestions!

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About Rob

A northerner that recently moved South! My newlywed wife and I are long-time vacationers around southwest Florida, and our hearts definitely belong on Sanibel Island!

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