Finding the perfect vendors from a distance can be difficult. You don't have the luxury of shopping around in person and much of your planning is being done on your laptop. No worries, follow these top tips for finding the perfect bakers, even if you're planning your destination mountain wedding from a distance.
1. Ask if you’re allowed. Firstly, does your venue even allow for an externally-made cake to be brought in? Similarly, do they demand that you use a vendor on their preferred list? If they answer yes to one of theses questions, it will limit your options but also make it easier to check “book wedding cake” off of your list of things to do.
2. Revisit your priorities. Refer back to your initial list of priorities. Where is the cake? High or low? Let it remain where it is. If it’s low on your list, you may feel comfortable with cupcakes or a sweet and simple Southern-style cake, rather than an elaborate, multi-tiered confection festooned with delicate sugar flowers. If your cake was lower on the priority list but you’re feeling pressure to move it up, read this post on wedding cake priorities. Do it now, I’ll wait right here.
3. Ask your planner for guidance. If you’re planning a destination mountain wedding, hire a planner. Full stop. Your planner will have worked with the majority of vendors you’re considering, and will be able to help you find the perfect baker for your style and budget. In addition to your planner’s suggestions, you can also check out local wedding guides for a list of bakers.
4. Ask other vendors for recommendations. This is where the rubber meets the road. Vendors work weekend after weekend with each other and often see things the bride does not (professional attitude, grace under pressure, workmanship, and so on.) Ask your other vendors who they like to work with and who they recommend.
5. Look at cake bakers’ websites. Pay close attention to their gallery. Are the cake features the same style you’re looking for? If you’re looking for a modern, sleek, fondant covered, multi-tiered confection with bold lines, don’t hire the baker whose gallery is filled with single tiers and fluffy, rustic-inspired buttercream cakes.
6. Pick up the phone or email them to ask some preliminary questions. Contact the baker and make sure they are available on your wedding day, are within your budget, and are capable of making the cake you want (custom design, gluten free, paleo, et cetera.) Ask if the baker meets the State requirements for health inspection and is licensed and insured. (This last part is especially important because many venues don't allow outside cakes from someone who isn’t licensed and insured.)
7. Schedule a visit or get on Skype. Ideally, you’ll be able to meet your baker in person for a tasting. You want to make sure you feel comfortable with your vendor. If you can’t meet in person, schedule a Skype call. Take notes on their communication style, their appearance (is it professional and clean?) and how well you feel like you “gel” with them. Take notes of the meeting and don’t feel pressured to book a baker on the spot. Take some time to compare notes, review website portfolios and think things over. And be sure to take the time to check references!
8. Look at reviews and ask for references. Check out online reviews like Yelp, WeddingWire, The Knot and Here Comes the Guide. Also, ask for both bride and vendor references from potential bakers. You need more than two or three. Ask for five to seven of each.
9. Contract basics. When signing a contract be sure the that following items are in place:
- Name and contact info of both you and the vendor;
- Wedding date, time and location;
- When, how and where the cake will be delivered (or picked up);
- A detailed description of the cake ordered, including design, flavors, fillings, frosting and size;
- A list of anything you’re renting (cake stand, toppers, knife, et cetera);
- Delivery and set up fees;
- Total price;
- Deposit amount;
- Balance and due date;
- Cancellation policy, and
- Cake designers signature.
10. Beware of no-review clauses. Read your contract carefully. There is a growing trend for vendors to include a clause in their contract saying that you will not post a negative review online. If you find one of these, I recommend saying, “thanks, but no thanks” to the vendor. Reputable vendors who offer excellent work and services are not typically so concerned about negative reviews that they contract your silence. For more information about this new trend, see this article by Offbeat Bride and this one on The Knot.
Wedding Cake #1: Cake ~ Honey Crumb Cake Studio // Photography ~ Kerry Jeanne Photography via Bajan Wed | Wedding Cake #2: Cake ~ Andrea Kargl // Photography ~ Peaches and Mint via Swooned | Wedding Cake #3: Cake:Gaggui // Petra Veikkola Photography via Ruffled | Wedding Cake #4: Cake ~ Megan Joy Cakes // Photography ~ Connie Whitlock Photography via Hey Wedding Lady | Wedding Cake #5: Cake ~ Sweet Treatz // Photography ~ C. Hope Photography via Glamour & Grace