Amongst the many boring and stressful wedding tasks, wedding cake tasting is the least boring one. It's the most fun and exciting part. You get to spend a couple of hours tasting and satisfying your sweet tooth craving whilst playing around with different flavors.
Wedding cakes take the spotlight of any wedding. They have to look good and taste the best, hence they have to be made after careful consideration and thoughts. They need to be made by someone experienced, that has insight into all aspects of the process, from the baking stage up to the delivery details.
However, when you go for your wedding cake consultation and are enjoying your wedding cake tasting, there are several things you have to prepare yourself for. You cannot just go in empty-minded and blank without any preparation. So let us list down a few things you should do before having a wedding cake tasting:
DO YOUR SHARE OF RESEARCH
Like any other task in the entire world, you first do your research. Learn about the bakeries that specialize in making wedding cakes in your area or the area near the venue and list them down. Surf their social media handles and look through their portfolios. You can also ask and take help from friends and family who have just had their big day celebration. After all, they have been done and dusted through this phase, they will know what goes in and around!
LIST DOWN YOUR BAKERY OPTIONS AND BOOK CONSULTATIONS
When you are done with your cake bakery research, start shortlisting them. You have sifted through their previous works and portfolio so make your judgment on the base of that.
Now, book a cake tasting session in those bakeries. Remember to not book more than a single consultation in one day. Span your session over several days or your palate will get overwhelmed with the sweetness and you will be left confused.
While booking a consultation, ask about the consultation fee. Inquire whether they do free wedding cake tasting or if it is charged. You do not want to end up with a surprising bill at the end of those couple hours you just spent.
KEEP A BUDGET TO STICK TO
This is the most important bit of any wedding-related task. Before you go forward with the consultation, make sure to set aside a budget for the wedding cake with your spouse. Do not hesitate in communicating your wedding cake budget to your baker so they are aware of your limitations. Once your budget is known to your baker, it will be easier for them to give you only those options and selections that fit your budget. You will not end up tasting something sweet that you may like but are unable to opt for, given your budget limitations.
COLLECT YOUR INSPIRATIONS
You may have your wedding theme sorted out. Based on that, collect everything that inspires you for your wedding cake. Whether it is Pinterest mood boards, pictures you have taken of something or someplace, a cake you have seen somewhere, or someone who reminds you of your wedding cake. Always remember, that inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime. Also, look for a picture from the portfolio of the baker you are having a cake tasting session with. This will help the baker give a much clearer picture of your ideas.
If you have nothing and just a set of ideas and imaginations, no worries! Convey those ideas to the bakery to the best of your abilities and the bakery will sketch up your cake imagination into a confectionery visual representation.FAVORITES AND NOT-SO-FAVORITES.
During your consultation, make sure that you have communicated strong restrictions and preferences to your baker. Tell them about any medical condition or allergy that you or any family member may be facing to any kind of food. You would not like to take care of a sick family member on your happy day, right after being served with dessert.
Inform your baker about any preferences or favorites you might have, or if there are any wedding cake flavors you have in mind, before you book your tasting. Also, tell them about any unusual wedding cake flavors you would like to specifically try out. However, keep in mind that some bakeries have a set menu of tasting options while some customize and incorporate your options into the wedding cake.
Also listen to what your baker recommends. Some couples have a firm mind about what they want but the professional always knows better so give them a chance. A weird combination suggested by them may become a favorable option for your weding.
When you are setting out to book your tasting session, consider your wedding timeline and pay attention to the schedule. You would like to book your wedding cake at least 6 months ahead of your wedding. This is so that your baker has enough time to prep and prepare your cake and also if any more tasting sessions need to be booked. You need to have perfect dessert at your wedding so you might want to have another wedding cake tasting.
6 months ahead is also a favorable time because by then you will have your venue settled down, a confirmed guest list and guest count, and other wedding details. These details give more insight to the baker about the kind of wedding you are going for and the theme. They are then able to incorporate those elements into your wedding cake in a better and smoother manner.
Keep a pen and paper with you and make notes as you go tasting. Note down all your observations and even the suggestions from the baker. This will help you in case you forget your observations. You can always look back at your notes to reference during decision-making. This is also helpful if you have multiple wedding cake tastings scheduled.
WEDDING CAKE TASTING HELPERS
Too many hands spoil the broth! Just like when you are going for selecting a bridal dress, wedding cake selection takes the same level of clarity and decision making. Too many people helping with the tasting will cause you to be more confused than clear-headed because people have much stronger opinions when it comes to food. Set a specific limit and let someone someone like-minded help with the flavor choices. You, your spouse, your wedding planner, and a family member or friend is the ideal way to go. And remember it is your big day, don’t just opt with trying to please other people.
While tasting focuses on different elements separately. Taste the frosting, the sponge, and the cream, each one separately first. Take notes as you go along. When you are done, try them in combinations. Note down their flavors, textures, how you feel while eating and how would you feel if it is there on your wedding day.
If there is anything your baker has suggested, try it too and make its notes. Remember, ALWAYS TAKE NOTES!
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK
Before you finish off and consider signing the contract, ask some of the questions from your baker. Wedding Wire has made a list of the commonest questions you need to ask your baker.
When will the cake be made? Do you deliver? What’s the fee? When will it be delivered?
Note these down so you can include these in your wedding timeline. Schedule the time of delivery in your schedule and inform your wedding planner and vendor manager so they can coordinate and receive the cake.
What is the sponge made from? What about the frosting?
Which decorations cost extra? How much?
If there is an heirloom cake topper or a cake stand you have that you want to use, tell that to your baker. Tell them about your preference for the kind and type of flowers you want. Any extra costs that you will be charged need to be included in your wedding budget.
What’s the difference in price between a sheet cake and a tiered cake?
A lot of couples opt for a slightly smaller display cake and substitute the rest of the servings with a sheet cake, that the guest would never see. Depending on your guest count you could save hundreds of dollars by opting for this option and you could go for a more elaborate design for the display.
How large a slice do you consider one serving?
Every bakery has a different way and size of cutting its slices. If the bakery cuts their slices big, you can order a smaller cake and cut thinner slices yourself. This will save up your budget as well as be sufficient for your wedding.
Will this cake hold up in hot weather?
If you are having an outdoor or summer wedding, this question is important. Buttercream cakes, in comparison to fondant ones, melt in the hot weather so you will need to have extra measures taken to keep your wedding cake intact until it is time to serve it. You also need to ask whether the bakery will provide you with those measures to keep your cake in good condition.
SAVING COST ON YOUR WEDDING CAKE
Saving money in your wedding budget, wherever you can, is important. That money can be used in matters that need more attention. Similarly, during wedding cake shopping, there are some instances where you can cut down wedding cake costs. Like,
Keep your cake simple and consider incorporating mainstream flavors rather than exclusive ones. The more exquisite flavors you want the more exotic ingredients it will need which will rack up a good amount of money.
Cakes with buttercream frosting can be much cheaper than the ones with fondant.
Think simple and minimalist. Avoid having layers of gold foils, multiple tiers, and intricate details. These require much of the bakers’ time and effort and hence cost a great deal as well. The increased number of tiers also needs more managing and careful delivery and effort so these cakes have their service charges and delivery charges much higher than what an average wedding cake costs.
Get an alternative.
One increasingly popular option that couples are opting for at their weddings is having an alternative cake to serve or an alternative dessert altogether.
They get 2 cakes, one of them adorned and decorated for the ceremony and pictures, and another cake, usually a sheet cake, to serve as dessert to the guests. This way the cost of intricately decorating and making a huge wedding cake is cut down to a smaller one.
Some couples also get on board with a new trend that is getting a "naked cake". These cakes do not have layers and layers of frosting on them but are bare. Their layers are visible to see and since there is no frosting or fondant, the cost is reduced as well.
The best thing is to honestly discuss budget with your bakery and chances are they will be able to help you stay within budget and still get the cake of your dreams.