Caller: "I'm getting married next month, and the person who was going to make my cake backed out. I need a cake."
Me: "When is the wedding? Can you tell me where the reception is going to be? And about how many guests are you expecting?"
Caller: "Gives date (about 2 weeks out) and place (local venue)."
Me: "We are available that day, about how many guests are you expecting?"
Caller: "I'm not sure, we didn't ask for RSVPs."
Me: "OK, how many people are you buying food for?"
Caller: "We're doing heavy hors d'oeuvres for about 150 or so. But I don't want to run out of cake."
Me: ...slight pause while I calculate in my how much cake that might be, which is about three tiers... "Ok, what did you have in mind?"
Caller: "I saw this cake on Pinterest. Can I text you the picture? It's six or seven tiers, lots of bling... And I need it as cheap as possible because I've already overspent my budget."
At this point, we're having a conversation no baker likes to have with a prospective bride two weeks before her wedding -- as we try to explain the reality of making her dream cake.
So, a few lessons can be learned from this conversation.
The main difference between a professional baker or cake decorator, and a (very good or even outstanding) home baker is the set of resources available to the professional that the home baker simply does not have. If the caller had engaged a professional bakery in the first place, this conversation probably wouldn't be happening.
First, most professional bakeries employ more than one decorator and/or baker. We don't have the luxury of being able to say "sorry but we cannot make the cake you ordered because I have to go out of town, broke my arm, had a death in the family, my child is sick, or whatever." We took your order and we will find a way to make it happen, even if it means paying for another baker/decorator/bakery to help us in an emergency. And we won't bother you with the details or the behind the scenes drama needed to make it happen.
Second, most professional bakeries have large mixers, large ovens, freezers, and the ability to have extra cake on hand should something go wrong, or come up at the last minute. Any good decorator can make a beautiful cake when everything goes right. Unfortunately, it doesn't always. At Mary's Cakes, we HATE cake drama, especially on wedding days.
Professionals know that reality shows are not real. Not only does it rarely happen the way it appears, but did you ever notice that the price of the cake is never mentioned? Same with Pinterest.
It takes more than an hour and two people to make those cakes. And they cost thousands of dollars. We know a few "celebrity" bakers and reality show contestants. It's scripted entertainment, not reality. And Pinterest? Just google "Pinterest fails" and you'll get a more realistic version of those great ideas in the hands of an ordinary person.
And finally, let's chat for a second about "cheap" and "budget."
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING bothers a professional baker or decorator more than calling the work they do 'cheap.' We do this for a living. While we love what we do and are passionate about baking, this is not a hobby to us.
And, in order to make the customer's experience positive and drama-free, we pay for business licenses and insurance, payroll taxes and worker's compensation insurance, health licenses, tools, equipment, rent, utilities, equipment maintenance and repairs... Sometimes it seems the list of expenses never ends. Very little of this has a direct "return" and NONE of it is cheap.
When we bake cake, we make sure it is properly cooked, moist, and fresh. Our icings are made from scratch, and we don't skimp on the ingredients. You eat first with your eyes, but we want our cakes to taste as good as they look.
If you ask, we will gladly suggest less expensive ways to serve cake to your guests (compared to the six tier bling cake on Pinterest), and how to get the most value for your money. We don't need to sell you an expensive cake, but we won't sell you a "cheap" one either.