Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is it possible to negotiate your bridal cake price?

Most of the time you can't. For example, if you price a wedding cake from a grocery store or a wedding cake bakery with published prices, typically their prices are set in stone.

Most baker/designers will have displays and photos of their previous work. These wedding cakes are already priced based upon their experience of making those particular cakes.
They have them priced according to a difficulty factor, time and materials.

However, there are two circumstances where you can try to negotiate a price; first, when a wedding cake designer says they can create something “original” for you.
The second way is when you "bring in a photo" from a source such as a magazine, or the web. 
In both of those cases, the wedding cake designer will have to estimate their price based upon difficulty of the design, materials and time.
This opens a window of opportunity to you to haggle with them.
The quotation service we offer at OmahaWeddingCakes.com accomplishes the goal of negotating the price for you. If you haven't already used it, give it a try and see for yourself.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Wedding Cakes: How To Save Money

There are typically seven areas/categories that could change the price of your wedding cake.
Take a look at each category and keep it to a bare minimum.
1)   Size. (Go as small as possible. Get a cake for around 70% of your guests.)
2)   Type or flavor of cake. (Keep it plain, such as all white. (vanilla))
2)   If you want a filling. (Do not get one.)
3)    Type of frosting. (Use whatever frosting the wedding cake bakery offers that does not cost extra. Have your cake frosted in white or if they don’t charge extra for a colored frosting have it colored to match one of your bridal colors.)
4)    How the cake is “set-up;” meaning the tiers could be stacked one on top of another, they could be separated, they could be spread out on a tube stand, or through some other elaborate means. (Get a stacked cake with no separators.)
5)    Decoration. Seventy percent of the price is usually reflected in the decoration.
(Get a design that only takes minimal skills to produce. Use frosting flowers instead of fresh ones. Do not buy a wedding cake topper. Instead, have your wedding cake bakery make frosting flowers.)
       6)  Distance of the delivery.  (Pick-up the cake.)
Here are some other unusal ideas to save money. 
Traditional wedding cakes have evolved over the last 5-15 years from white wedding cake with a classic decorating style into other dessert ideas. In our interviews and research, we found a few interesting ideas to save money and be different. They are:
1)    Buying a smaller wedding cake and having your aunt or grandma make additional sheet cakes to serve.
2)    Buying mini-donuts and piling them up to form a white-looking wedding cake.
3)    Going to McDonalds and buying hundreds of their 2 for one dollar apple and cherry pies as a dessert to be used in place of a traditional wedding cake. The cost, .50 per serving.
4)    Buying Twinkies at the day old store. You sprinkle powdered sugar on them and place them on trays. The cost, about .35 per piece.
5)    Serving plain frosted cupcakes, notice I said plain, not decorated, and placed on a cupcake stand that can be rented at a rental store. The cost about .75 per serving.
6)    Serving cookies with your initials on them. The cost, as low as .75 per serving.
7)    Placing a plain 8” cake on each table or grouping of 10 people. The cost, as low as .75 per serving.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is it okay to get price quotes over the phone?

Well sort of…here’s what I mean. I want you to think about buying a wedding cake like shopping for a car.
Let’s say you call a Hyundai dealership and start asking them how much they charge for the different models they have on the lot and you are told they vary between $14,000 and $36,000. Then, you call a Ferrari dealership and they tell you they vary between $125,000 and $335,000.
You begin to think, how can there be that much price difference?
Don’t they both have an engine, four wheels, and a CD player?
Are you getting my point? Wedding cakes are the same. There are Hyundai’s and there are Ferrari’s. Which can you afford? So, to answer your question, calling on the phone for prices is only a good idea to the extent it allows you to know where you should shop.
You must go to the different cake shops and SEE what they offer. The visualization of seeing their work and speaking with a person to understand what they offer is not only far superior to asking for prices over the phone, but a mandatory step you must perform.
Otherwise, the price you receive over the phone leaves you sort of clueless.
This answer is a clear illustration of why I began OmahaWeddingCakes.com. Now, you can send photos to our service and receive prices for actual wedding cakes you like, instead of asking for general prices.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why do prices vary among wedding cake bakers?

This is the second of four consecutive articles about Omaha wedding cake pricing.

In a minute I'm going to illustrate a real case study based on only one of what are many reasons.

Due to my research for WeddingCake.org, this answer gives you insight beyond the obvious and helps you realize most wedding cake bakers are not out there purposely over charging you.

My point is, there are various ways and reasons bakers come up with their particular wedding cake prices.  

Instead of comparing two bakers in Omaha, I'm going to use the larger wedding cake market of Dallas, Texas to demonstrate my point.

We compared two wedding cake bakeries with only one expense; leasing rates.  

Wedding cake baker #1 is paying $3,500 per month for 4000 square feet and Baker #2 is paying $8,000 per month for about the same square footage.

Who do you think had the higher priced wedding cakes? Who do you think was making a larger profit margin?

As it turns out, baker #2’s prices were 26% higher than B/D #1. (e.g. A wedding cake that costs $500 at baker #1, cost $630 at baker #2.

Even at $130 less, baker #1 was surprisingly making 18% more profit.

So, who had the appearance of gouging their brides?

We didn’t research other expenses, but it illustrates how and why wedding cake bakers charge different prices for basically the same wedding cake.

It isn’t that baker #2 is greedy; they simply have much higher expenses and need to price their wedding cakes accordingly. In fact, you could make the case baker #2 was charging a lower price compared to what it cost them to make it.

In this case, “you usually get what you pay for” doesn’t apply.  Both of the wedding cake bakers are very skilled craftspeople and satisfy hundreds of brides every year. In addition, they both price their wedding cakes fairly.

My example illustrates why you need take more into consideration than just the final price.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wedding Cake Prices: 2 ways of pricing

This is the 1st of 4 consecutive posts discussing Omaha wedding cake prices.
For this 1st post, I'll discuss two ways most wedding cake bakers price their cakes.

About 85% of Omaha wedding cake bakers charge by the slice, while 15% charge according to time and material or what is also referred to as total servings.

"Charging by the slice" is a simple way for you to understand pricing and it keeps it simple for the wedding cake designer.

As an example, if you are undecided about getting a cake that serves 75, 100, or 150 servings at $5 per serving, you can quickly calculate prices of $375, $500, or $750.

If a wedding cake bakery charges by "Time and Material" or "Total Servings," the calculation of cost for the same three cakes of 75, 100, or 150 servings could be dramatically different.

For example, the cake could start out at $5 per serving for 75 servings as in the first example, but at 100 servings the price drops to $4.50 per serving and at 150 servings, the price drops to $4 per servings.

So, 150 servings from a time and material baker for the same cake in the first example would be $600 instead of $750, a savings of $150.

Their prices drop as the cake gets larger, because a 150 serving cake does not take twice as long to produce as a 75 serving cake. In essence, they feel it's more fair to you. 

To put this example into perspective; a 75 serving bridal cake with a moderate amount of decoration may take 4 hours to create, while a 150 serving bridal cake with the same decoration may only increase the overtime time by 1-2 hours for a total of 5-6 hours...not 8 hours.

I'm not saying that the first type of wedding cake designer is overcharging you. I'm simply pointing out the two main ways wedding cake bakers in Omaha charge for their wedding cakes.

The bottom line: Whether they charge by the slice or time and material, it's still the final price that matters. 

Have a question about wedding cake prices? Post it here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Omaha bridal shows for wedding cakes?

I bring this up because there are a couple of bridal shows on September 8th at the CenturyLink center presented by the Omaha Bridal Showcase and Wedding Essential on October 21st at the MidAmerica Center. 

So, why do I pose the question? I don't want you to be disappointed. Here's why.

When we surveyed wedding cake designers across the USA (through WeddingCake.org) to see if they were involved with at least one bridal show per year in their trade area, 80% said no!
This means you won’t see or meet 80% of the Omaha wedding cake designers at any shows.

Let me give you a little inside scoop about bridal shows. The smallest Omaha wedding cake bakers or the ones whose sales are slacking the most are usually the ones you’ll find at smaller bridal shows.
Why? For two reasons; first, they don’t have a way for most brides to find them. Many of them work out of their homes, a shared catering facility, or small shop.

A bridal show brings you to them. They cannot afford to pay $1000 or more a month for yellow page advertising, advertising in local bridal magazines, local Internet sites or PPC with Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Larger Omaha wedding cake bakeries typically represent themselves at larger or major bridal shows.
Their strategy for being in larger shows is to “brand” themselves.They don’t get that kind of “bang-for-their-buck” at smaller intimate shows.
They want you to remember them when it is time to start shopping for your wedding cake. They know it is hard to sell you at a bridal show, so they try to entice you to come in and visit with a wedding cake consultant at your leisure.
As I stated at the beginning, I don't want you to be disappointed over the amount of wedding cake designers you'll meet at the bridal shows. So, now you know, you’ll have to combine this method with other search methods to seek for a more diverse selection of Omaha wedding cake designers.
Please share your experiences with any wedding cake designers you met at one of the bridal shows.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lighting in the room will affect your colors

Yes, lighting affects colors on your wedding cake. This is a common and overlooked item for any inexperienced wedding cake baker.

The most common three sources of light for an Omaha wedding cake will be:
·         natural sunlight
·         fluorescent (those long tubes lights)
·         incandescent (what you think of as a common household light bulb).

Most Omaha wedding cake designers work under fluorescent lighting. That means when they mix your colors they are being mixed and matched under fluorescent lighting.

If your reception uses incandescent lighting, the colors on your cake may look anywhere from one shade off to the next color most closely related to it on the color wheel.

As an example, if your color is peach and the designer mixes the color under fluorescent lights, the color could appear to look pink under incandescent lightening.

In another example, the wedding cake baker mixes a dark red frosting under fluorescent lighting, but it could appear to look like burgundy under incandescent lighting.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you a catchall blanket answer for this question. There are so many different types of lighting that give off different casts of colors, no one can predict with certainty how your colors will look with 100% accuracy.

This is an area where you need to cut your wedding cake designer some slack. They will mix your colors as close as possible to the swatch or other item you bring them.

Please keep in mind, they do not have any control over the lighting at your reception site.
If you have a question regarding the colors on your wedding cake, leave me a comment.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wedding Cake Topper: Is it too heavy?

Yes, there is a chance your wedding cake topper could fall. On the other hand, “if” your wedding cake designer knows what they are doing, you shouldn’t have to worry.
Any Omaha wedding cake baker who has experience with large and heavy cake toppers knows how to properly support it. 

If you didn’t purchase the wedding cake topper from the cake artist who is decorating your bride’s cake, always—always bring it to them to show them how large and heavy it is.

Here is a check list of what your wedding cake designer needs to know: a) how tall it is, b) how wide it is, c) how heavy it is, and d) what color it is.
Let me explain the “why” behind all four of these questions.

1)    How tall is it? If it goes on top of the cake, a really short or tall wedding cake topper can look odd and improperly sized. If it goes in-between the tiers, you need to know it will fit. All too often a bride will buy a topper that is 12” tall, but it needs to fit in-between 10” pillars.

2)    How wide is it? If the base of your topper is 8” wide, but the top tier of your wedding cake is 6” wide, you have a problem. If your wedding cake ornament is going in-between the tiers, your baker needs to make sure it will fit on the plate that separates the tiers. 

3)    How heavy is it? This is a concern when your topper is placed on top of the cake. If your wedding cake ornament is heavy, your baker will put some sort of support in the top tier to accommodate the topper’s weight. Without support, your topper will most likely dig into the cake resulting in cracked or bulging sides. Or worse, your topper could slowly lean to one side until it falls off.

4)    What color(s) is it? There are usually two reasons your Omaha wedding cake designer wants to know the color. First, they want to match the color of the frosting on the wedding cake to the color of the topper. This is usually the case when the color of the topper is all ivory. The second reason, when they want to match colors on the topper to the colors being used for hand-made flowers on the cake.
Some brides do not feel comfortable leaving their topper with their wedding cake designer, which is understandable.

The 3 top reasons are:

·         Because it is a family heirloom.
·         It is very expensive.
·         They simply prefer to bring it to the reception site themselves.

Just remember, if you decide not to leave it with your wedding cake designer always make sure they see it at least a couple weeks before your reception. This gives them adequate time to address any of the four check listed items.

Do you have a question about your wedding cake topper? Leave it in the "post a comment" box.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wedding Cake Toppers: Ugly or Nice?

Whether a wedding cake topper is ugly or gorgeous is for you to decide.

As a veteran of the wedding cake business, I can tell you wedding cake toppers have improved immensely in looks and quality since around 2005. 

There must be at least “30” times the companies and individuals that produce toppers prior to 2005.

On the web you can find everything from traditional couples, to gay couples, to themed couples such as western wear, military uniforms, and motorcycle riding couples. You can find cutesy pigs, cows, ducks, bunnies, and Ma and Pa Kettle couples.

The popular trend over the last 5-7 years has been monogram initials, either one larger one for the couple’s last name or three initials, two for the couples’ first names and one for the last name.

The vast variety of options is bringing brides back to using wedding cake toppers. If you look, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
WeddingCake.org even has a whole list of places for you to look.

My suggestion: Anyone can put fresh flowers on top of a wedding cake and make it look beautiful. However, to have an unusual topper that is interesting and unique can be memorable and create a “WOW” factor.
If you have any questions about wedding cake toppers or any other wedding cake related topic, please post a (question) comment under any of my posts and I'll repeat the question and answer it in a dedicated post. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hiring a friend of a friend to do your wedding cake

Here are the details straight from a bride I interviewed right here in Omaha. Pay close attention if you're considering hiring someone that does it...on the side.

“Hi, my name is Ashley. I would like to share with you my personal disaster story. Let me begin by saying, do not bend to any pressure to keep the peace with anyone you know.
Hire a licensed professional who decorates wedding cakes in Omaha for a living, not on the side or as a part-time hobby.

I am going to tell you what happened to me in no certain order. This is like a comedy of errors or horrors…
·     I could never reach her when I wanted to. She always called me back when she got around to it.
·     Her oven wasn’t big enough to bake the bottom layer of my wedding cake, so she pieced together smaller cakes to make a larger bottom cake.
·     The frosting was crusty and tasted like it had granules of sand in it.
·     She bought monogram initials for me to put on top of the cake, but they were the wrong initials.
·     Since my wedding was close to Christmas, she decided to decorate the cake with live Poinsettias. Afterwards, I found out they are poisonous and you never place them in contact with food.
·     She didn’t have anywhere to store the wedding cake the night before the reception, so to keep it cold, she kept it in the trunk of her car.” 

Now then, what can I add? This story illustrates the all too common, but…I’ll save a $100.
After all, she’s a friend of my neighbors daughters brother-in-laws sister’s aunt.
If someone says they know someone through someone who…DON'T even think about it!
If you're looking to save $100 on your wedding cake, you'll save more than that by using the quote service on OmahaWeddingCakes.com.
If the bride in this story didn't give you enough reasons to pause, consider one that could cost you thousands; make sure they have commercial liablilty insurance. Otherwise, you're taking  a chance far beyond saving a couple tanks of gas.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

If I cancel my wedding cake, will I lose my deposit?

Yes, you will! As soon as a baker takes your deposit (many bakers are now calling it; nonrefundable retainer fee) they have committed to making your wedding cake in return for your commitment to receive a cake on a particular date. Your deposit (retainer fee) represents an earnest payment toward an outstanding balance.

Your wedding cake bakery will now turn away other orders if they are completely booked for that particular date. After accepting your order it can be difficult to replace your order if you cancel. In addition, they already have a time commitment and possibly a materials commitment in arranging your order.

For these reasons, most wedding cake designers will not refund your deposit (retainer fee) or “initial payment.”

According to our last 112 surveyed bakers (WeddingCake.org), 86 said if you cancel your cake under any conditions, you would not receive any of your deposit back. The 26 exceptions were from wedding cake bakers in smaller communities.

We found some bakers who had “minimum fixed deposits” as low as $25. Most of them had “minimum deposits” between $50-$100.

Also, there are bakers who make you pay a deposit based upon the total price of the order. These designers typically charge you a percentage between 10%-50% of the total amount due.

To put this into context, if you place an order for a wedding cake with a baker who has a deposit of 50% and the wedding cake costs $1,000, you will need to put down $500. The $500 represents your nonrefundable deposit. If you cancel for any reason, be prepared to forfeit the entire $500.

If paying a large up-front deposit is a concern for you, put this question on your list to ask in your preappointment planning.