The result of all of this timeline advice seems to be that people either panic and think that they have to get everything done right away, or they wait until the timeline tells them to do things, at which point it’s usually too late to get the vendors they want.
I get brides who call me two years in advance for tastings. They don’t have a reception site yet, but they’re in the process of booking everything at the same time.
I also get people calling three months beforehand, which is what the magazines say to do. That’s fine if you intend to hire someone who does 30 cakes a week, but smaller operations like mine have a much lower limit, so we tend to book up faster. Three months is usually too late, unless it’s a really slow time of year.
I tend to start getting inquiries for tastings about 10-12 months ahead of the wedding dates, depending on the time of year. More popular months book up farther out.
I’ll book dates a year or so ahead of time. I have no plans on closing my business anytime soon, so that isn’t a concern for me. I go through my calendar on a yearly basis and close out weekends that I’ll be on vacation, so that I can keep some time open. (The words “I’m sorry, but I’m closed that weekend” are very important to learn if you don’t want to lose your mind.)
I’ve booked cakes more than a year out, especially if it’s a popular month. October is so popular now that I tend to book it up farther out than I book up for June. If you do book this far ahead, remember to factor any price increases that you have planned into your estimates.
The most important thing to emphasize with people who want to book way in advance is your deposit and refund policy. If someone gets buyer’s remorse, or decides that their friend will make their cake, they need to understand what, if any, of the money they paid you up to that point will be refunded.
Also realize that if something comes up in your life that interferes with a cake that you are contracted to make, you’re still under contract regardless. If you’re not comfortable booking way in advance because you don’t know what your plans will be, don’t do it.
Decide what you’re comfortable with and stick to it…you might end up losing a few eager brides who want to book everything way ahead of time, but there will always be late-comers to take their places!
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com