For some of us, dessert is the most important meal of the day and no wedding is complete without cake.  Times are changing though and many couples are choosing to have a small cake for the ceremonial cake cutting along with a selection of other desserts.  It’s all about what you like and what you can afford.

According to Wedding Wire, couples tend to spend between $300-800 on cake/desserts.  Making a beautiful wedding cake takes a lot of time and talent, so you want to make sure it’s exactly what you want.

Remember, regardless of how delicious the treats, the proper presentation can transform even the more mundane baked good into a work of art.

As you start to look for the perfect wedding cake, you’ll wan to start by asking for referrals, reading reviews, and taking a look at all of the photos you can find from your initial bakery choices.

Referrals: Most venues have a list of vendors they trust and like to refer.  Knowing the vendor will show up and do their job well may be good enough for you if you just want to offer something sweet after dinner.  But for most couples at Stonegate Manor & Gardens, the cake and dessert table has been an important part of the overall atmosphere and look of the wedding.  It’s an opportunity to use food as a decoration.

Reviews: Not only do referrals speak to the reliability, but sometimes you can get a glimpse into the personality of the reviewer and have a sense their tastes mirror yours.  Their recommendations carry more weight.

Photos: Be sure to check out the vendor’s website and social media pages for photos of their cakes! Do they show the level of detail you are looking for?  Do you get the impression this person can create what you want or do they have a specific or signature look that shows up in each creation?

After doing all that, what are the next best steps to follow?

Things to think about or do when choosing a baker

Having an incredible sweet-tooth, I’ve eaten a LOT of cake and desserts through the years. I’ve had some that made my eyes roll back in ecstasy and some I didn’t think were worth the calories. I asked for advice from some of the bakers who have provided Stonegate Manor & Gardens with some truly amazing and memorable sweets and here’s a list of things to do in your quest for finding the perfect wedding cake for your special day.

1. Set up an appointment to do a tasting

This may seem obvious, but it is important and often forgotten. Ask if they have a specialty they are known for or they love to make.  It might be a good idea to check those out if it sounds like something you are interested in. Do they have gluten-free or other allergy options if needed?

My input is always remember it is impossible to make just one or two samples of something.  Even if you are tasting just a few bites of cake, they had to make a big one.  Tastings can cost the bakers a lot of money, time, and effort.  Be respectful and don’t ask to taste things you know you aren’t going to serve.

2. Compare apples to apples

Make sure the items you are tasting are the same as what will be served at your wedding. When they get busy, do they make their cakes weeks in advance? Many bakers freeze wedding cakes so they are easier to frost. That’s not a bad thing, so don’t be put off by this. But a day or two is not the same as weeks. Do they use pre-made frostings or make their own? Are baked items made from scratch or from mixes? All important questions you shouldn’t be afraid to ask!

3. Have a conversation

You are hiring them for their baking skills, not their personality, but it’s important to have someone you feel you can communicate with.

4. Know the look you want

Have an idea for either your cake or the dessert table as a whole. But be flexible.  Remember, this is not their first rodeo. You are consulting an expert who may have incredible insight and ideas you never thought about.  Maybe even so cutting edge they haven’t hit Pinterest yet!  Pictures are a great way to make sure you both know what the other is talking about.

5. Establish logistics and get them in writing

Do they deliver to your venue and what is the charge? Who will be setting up the cake? Will they set up the entire dessert table? By what time will they be there?  We once had a baker frantically setting up a cake as guests milled outside waiting to get into the Riverside Room. You want to avoid a situation like that!

Does the cake (or desserts) need to be refrigerated?  How long can they be out if the venue is or isn’t air-conditioned?

If refrigeration will be needed, don’t sign a contract until you know what refrigerator capacity the venue has or if it is air-conditioned. I was at a wedding in August at a venue without air-conditioning.  The buttercream melted and the beautifully decorated cake toppled. Tasted great, but what a mess!

There are no guarantees in life but if you take these suggestions to heart, I suspect you will have a delicious and beautiful cake and/or sweets table!

Thank you to Courtney at C’est Le Vie Cakes, Elvie at Mimi’s Cupcakes; Davone at The Painted Horses Bakery, and Jessica at Bit of Swiss Bakery for all their excellent ideas and suggestions AND for making some of the most delicious treats I’ve ever had!  😊

By Prudy Barrett Nelson

As the manager of Stonegate Manor & Gardens, Prudy (aka The Stonegate Wedding Fairy Godmother), has helped guide many couples to some fantastic vendors.  Her expertise in this topic comes from decades of eating as much cake as possible. If you’re planning your special day, why not consider a Michigan wedding!