Choose the best bakery for your wedding cake with this simple guide to the 10 top questions you should ask with advice from Knoxville bakery Sweet Beginnings by Elaine.
Your wedding cake will easily be one of the most eye-catching ornaments at your wedding reception, but it’s also one of the most labor-intensive pieces to your wedding’s puzzle! Make sure you’ve found the right wedding cake baker for the job with these quick questions, featuring commentary by Elaine of premier Knoxville wedding cake bakery, Sweet Beginnings by Elaine!
1. Are you available for my wedding date?
Okay, so that probably wasn’t a surprising question to ask. Before getting into the details and before getting your hopes up, make sure the baker of choice (or any other wedding pro, for that matter) is actually available for your wedding date first.
2. Where can I view a gallery of your work?
Wedding cakes are known for their artistry. You need to be confident the baker you’re interviewing can produce a beautiful dessert for your guests!
“You should absolutely request to see their work,” Elaine details. “You need to know that you really like and have confidence in their style.” I agree!
3. Can I sample your cakes before placing a deposit?
Elaine states that you should absolutely require a cake tasting prior to signing a contract or placing a deposit. She sends brides and grooms a full list of flavors and fillings, and they choose 3-4 flavors they’re most interested in trying. Then, she pairs those flavors with fillings and icings, creating around 7 different varieties for the couple to sample prior to choosing.
So what happens if you’re torn between flavors? That’s not a problem for Elaine! She often does different flavors for different tiers of cakes.
“I really focus on making the tastings wonderful,” Elaine details. “It’s where I get to learn who the couple is and where we first get acquainted.”
4. Do you freeze your cakes for long periods of time prior to delivery?
Elaine also cautions brides to investigate this prior to deciding on bakers. Although, it’s important to note that wedding cakes take at least a few days to complete, so many bakers keep the product chilled prior to delivering. However, full-on freezing for a number of days will result in a diminished flavor to your cake that might sport a little freezer burn. Guests won’t enjoy that, and neither will you. So make sure you get an honest answer from your baker on this matter.
5. How long have you been baking, and what kind of credentials do you have?
Obviously, you won’t want your wedding cake to be the first wedding cake your baker has ever done. Knowing they’ve had prior experience with wedding cakes not only will help you avoid disasters, but it’ll also help you understand the limitations or strengths of the baker (because they already know what they can and cannot do!).
“Don’t just ask about length of time or credentials,” Elaine elaborates. “Ask exactly how many wedding cakes they’ve done!” She went on to detail little things that amateur bakers may not catch in time, such as a leaning cake. “More experience genuinely gives you a better cake,” she adds.
6. Are your cakes entirely from scratch, or do you opt for store-bought ingredients?
For a one-of-a-kind, unique flavor to your wedding cake and the highest end product, you’ll want to know that your cake is at least mostly made from scratch. Store-bought ingredients may help reduce the amount of time needed to produce the cake, but the flavor, consistency, and look may suffer.
“I absolutely agree with this,” details Elaine. “I use all fresh ingredients and only pure flavorings in my cakes.”
One additional thought to consider is how much more control the baker has when making the cake totally from scratch. Otherwise, it can be hard to tell when a certain ingredient may have components which are not edible for guests with dietary restrictions.
7. How are your cakes priced?
Many bakers have a different way to price their cakes. Some prefer to price on a per-serving basis, and others charge a base cost, which is then added to the number of hours the design took to complete. Whichever way your baker charges, it’s definitely something you need to discuss prior to signing a contract.
Elaine makes sure to send a price info sheet to her potential clients before the consultation. That way, they’re able to get a rough estimate on what their cake will cost from her, so there’s no wasted time or surprises about price from the beginning.
8. Do you deliver?
Brides, if you have a multi-tiered masterpiece ordered for your wedding day, you need to opt for the professional to deliver it. Nearly every baker I’ve ever spoken to does this either for free within a certain radius or for an additional nominal fee. Ask during your consultation!
Sweet Beginnings by Elaine does indeed deliver cakes above two tiers in size. Clients are welcome to pick up smaller cakes for personal delivery.
9. What items do you supply or offer for rent?
This could include anything from cake serving utensils to cake risers and stands. Renting or selecting these options directly through your baker cuts down on the need to coordinate the items’ delivery with a rental company before the baker arrives. It’s a major stress-saver for both you and your baker!
Elaine details that she offers cupcake stands to brides as well as pedestals for tiered cakes, and she even has a few rustic wooden options too.
10. Are you licensed, health-department certified, and insured?
Basically, this question ensures that you’re dealing with a legitimate business. With regard to any food item at your wedding, for your protection and the protection of your guests, you need to require proof of this prior to signing a contract.
Sweet Beginnings by Elaine is indeed licensed, insured, and health-department certified, which means she’s more than ready to serve you with the highest quality wedding cake available!
Elaine has been baking since she was a little girl and learned while in the kitchen with her mother. She has apprenticed under some of the highest regarded professional bakers in the country and has been a member of the International Cake Exploration Society since 2010. She works from her home in West Knoxville and only takes 2-3 weddings max per weekend. This fact is why she says you should book your wedding cake baker ASAP after getting engaged! Dates go quickly.
“My business is small, but you get great customer service from me from beginning to end because of that fact,” Elaine details. “I’m here immediately whenever you need me.”