There Has To Be A Limit

Ah, choosing the wedding cake...One of the best parts of planning a wedding. Who wouldn't love tasting lots of cake and having people wait on you and your friends as you have a little cake party?

Well, the people who are providing the free cake, for one.

My mother was a violinist who played a lot of weddings. When she met with a client all she had to do was grab her violin and go to the meeting. It isn't quite as easy for bakers. We have to prepare the samples, which takes time and costs something to do.

We also can't make just one cupcake for people to try, so preparing for tastings isn't cheap.

I've written about whether people should or shouldn't charge for wedding cake tastings before, but it seems that a lot of people are now moving toward charging for them, for a number of reasons.

I don't have any plans to start charging for tastings, but I do set some limits.

First, I choose what flavors I'll have available. I bake everything fresh for the appointments, so I just do some basics plus extra of whatever I'm baking for weddings that week. If you pay for the cake you can tell me what to make. Otherwise, I choose.

Second, I limit the number of people who can come. My clients are the bride and the groom, so there's no need to bring nineteen random people with you. One baker said that she had a client call and say that the families were going out to dinner, and they wanted to come and eat dessert at the shop for their cake tasting. Needless to say, the baker told her that wasn't possible.

Third, I have set times that I do tastings, I don't scatter them in with other things. If someone is coming in from out of town or something like that I'll try to be flexible, but in general I do all my appointments on one or two days a month. That helps me be able to bake everything at once and not have to interrupt myself when I'm doing other things in order to do random tastings.

Fourth, the initial tasting is free of charge. After that, clients can either buy a cake to sample or wait until I happen to be making some of the same thing and come by to pick up a specific flavor. Since I bake everything from scratch and I don't just start with yellow cake mix and add extracts for different flavors, I can't make ten flavors form one batch of cake batter. It's much better for how the cake tastes, but it makes it difficult to provide samples of specific flavors at all times. Also, I've had people call after a tasting and say that they want to try the vanilla and the chocolate cakes again. Well, they still taste like vanilla and chocolate, so I don't really understand why you'd need to try those twice, know what I mean?
Every business has to set limits for themselves. I try to be accommodating, but I've found the way that I can work tastings efficiently and keep my costs down so that I don't have to pass the increases on to clients. I want to help people choose the cake flavors that they like, but I also want to keep my sanity and my finances intact in the process.

What limitations do you put on tasting appointments or other client meetings?

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com