As a wedding cake maker, I know that there are tens of other cake makers within a few miles. Some of them specialise in weddings, and others provide cakes for all types of celebrations. Most importantly, they are all different. Some differences are positive, in terms of different styles, flavour options, and price ranges. Other differences are not quite as positive, with some cake makers operating illegally (without EHO approval) and without any insurance. With wedding cake makers sharing their work on social media for their potential customers to see, there have also been a few reports of unscrupulous cake makers stealing others’ photos. I’m sure you’ve read stories about the wedding cake that never turned up, was collapsing or just completely wrong!
So, how can you be confident that the wedding cake maker you are booking is a professional who will deliver everything, as promised, on the day? Here are my best tips and questions for finding a professional, reliable wedding cake maker.
First things first…
Before you even think about enquiring with a wedding cake maker, make sure you look for information or ask about:
- Their food hygiene rating
- Their insurance
Food Hygiene Rating
Although you might not have realised it, you will already be really familiar with food hygiene ratings (otherwise known as ‘scores on the doors’). Think about some of your favourite cafes and restaurants, and the green signs they have in their windows. From 0-5, these ratings tell you how confident the local authority is about this supplier’s ability to produce food safely. It centres around 3 things:
- How they handle/prepare food
- The layout/cleanliness of the property
- The processes they use to ensure food safety and cleanliness
The higher the better. Lots of wedding cake makers will advertise their rating on their website, or studio window, but if you are in any doubt, and/or want to verify it yourself, you can always check the Food Standard Agency’s website. These food hygiene ratings won’t tell you anything about how delicious a cake is, or how beautiful it will look, but it is the best way to ensure that your wedding cake is safe to eat.
For wedding cake makers, there are 2 types of insurance you should be looking for: public and product liability. Most cake makers will have the first, and some will have both. There’s a slightly blurred line between the two, but I’ll do my best to explain them both clearly! Public liability insurance for cake makers essentially insures them, should their cake or business cause any damage to a third party e.g. their cake stand falls over and damages a wall in the venue, or they trip someone up whilst setting up a cake. Most venues will expect public liability insurance from your suppliers, and may even ask to see certificates. Product liability insurance is there in the event that the wedding cake itself injures someone or makes them sick.
Picking a quality wedding cake maker…
Once you know that your wedding cake maker is operating legally, the most important thing that you need to know about your cake maker, is whether they can deliver a delicious cake, that will be beautiful, look as good as you imagined (and talked about) and still be standing by cake cutting time! Now, this all sounds like a given, but everyone’s standards will differ, and everyone’s skills will differ. So here are my best tips, things to look out for, and questions to ask of your wedding cake maker:
- Make sure you have a consultation and taste samples with your cake maker. Everyone handles these differently, with some being free (once booked) and others being paid for. Then some cake makers offer samples in a set choice of flavours and others let you pick. Ultimately, you want to sit down with your wedding cake maker and have a conversation with them. You want to know that they are someone you trust to be a part of your day, and that their cakes taste good enough for you.
- As you’re talking through wedding cake designs with your cake maker, make sure you ask to see some of the cakes they have made for ‘real couples’. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, if they have made cakes, for real couples, you know that they are being booked regularly by other people. The more information they can give you about each wedding cake (e.g. couple, venue, flavours, sizes), the more likely it is that they actually made the cake they are showing you – remember those unscrupulous cake makers? Secondly, lots of cake makers will produce dummy cakes – these are what you see at wedding fairs and styled shoots. These often look perfect, because they are easier to cover than real cake, and you can spend forever decorating them. You can learn about a cake maker’s ability from these, as well as their style and the techniques they use. However, you can’t tell how perfectly they can create a simple, structurally sound wedding cake. Asking to see photos of real cakes will fill in that gap for you. Finally, you also want to see examples of real cakes that match the wedding cake designs you are looking at. You might not see an exact match for the cake you want, especially as new techniques evolve all of the time, but you are looking to see examples where they have created a similar style on a cake.
- Ask around! If you’ve been to weddings where you’ve loved the cake, ask the couple who they used, and what they thought. Speak to your venue or wedding planner, and see if they have worked with this wedding cake maker before. If they have, ask about other couples’ feedback, as well the venue and wedding planner’s own experience. Sometimes the venue or your planner will taste the remaining offcuts of cake (sorry, insider secret!), so they can tell you whether the cake was good or not. Lots of venues also have preferred or recommended supplier lists of wedding cake makers that they have worked with before, who they trust and would be confident in recommending to other couples. Do have a look at your own venue’s list, or have a look on the cake maker’s website to see if there are any venues where they are recommended.
- Take a look at their ‘online’ presence. You probably wouldn’t order anything from someone whose website looks like it was built in 1999, so why choose a wedding cake maker whose website is out of date and looks unprofessional? Good websites are informative, easy to navigate (i.e. find the information you need), show lots of photos of the cake maker’s work, and are visually appealing. After all, decorating a wedding cake requires some strong art skills in terms of coming up with a creative vision, and turning that into a reality. If they aren’t able to do that on their website or social media, you might have picked the wrong person. Have a look at the cake maker’s Facebook page or Instagram. What pictures are they posting? Do they match the skill and quality of pictures they’ve shown you? Do they match the style you’re aiming for? What do their reviews say? What are the comments saying?
- Finally, think about the customer service you receive during the initial enquiry stages. You’re looking for a professional wedding cake maker, so you should expect the process of booking to be professional too. You should expect to receive polite, courteous and prompt emails. If you ask a question, you should expect the cake maker to answer it clearly, or point you to the right answer. You also shouldn’t be pushed to make any payments. Most cake makers will charge a small deposit to secure the date, and/or for a consultation. However, without having met the cake maker or tasted their cake, you shouldn’t be expecting to pay out large amounts of money upfront. Most importantly, a professional wedding cake maker will have clear terms and conditions. These protect both you and the cake maker, and help you to clear up any issues, should they arise.
Weddings are stressful enough, without you having to worry that one of your suppliers won’t deliver on the day. If you do your homework in the beginning, then you are going to feel relaxed and comfortable throughout the process. Hopefully I’ve given you enough tips and insights to help you pick reliable professionals who will make your wedding planning less stressful, not more! If you are looking for a reliable wedding cake maker in Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire or Sussex, please head over to the contact page and get in touch! Good luck and happy planning!
With love from lila xx