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Wedding Cake Vendor | Gardenia’s Custom Cakes & Catering

Desmond Pringle of Gardenia’s Custom Cakes & Catering is here to provide you in-depth insight on selecting a wedding cake vendor.  Enjoy this guest entry!

Gardenia's Custom Cake Bar

Gardenia’s Custom Cakes & Catering is all about Weddings! There’s nothing more fun than when two individuals come together to promise, love and share the rest of their lives together. However, before this “Happily Ever After” even begins, there’s so much excitement and congratulations around the engagement, and an eager anticipation of what this special day will be, how will it look, and who will be invited. Yes, details, details, details do matter and can be overwhelming at times but with patience and proper guidance selecting a wedding cake vendor can truly be a memorable experience for all involved.

Gardenia's Custom Cakes

When looking for your wedding cake vendor you’ll spend a great deal of time scouring magazines, reading wedding blogs, and seeking advice from former brides; particularly what vendors did they use for their weddings; and oftentimes it’s their vendor recommendations that many couples will trust for their special day. Trusting others can be a wise decision when planning your wedding, but even with a recommendation caution should always be taken when meeting with a particular vendor. Even if you don’t hire a planner (I strongly recommend that you do), your vendor selection is one of the most critical parts of your wedding. And with that being said, one of the most memorable aspects of planning a wedding other than selecting your dress, is the wedding cake. Brides today are seeking cake bakers that can do both great design and fantastic cake flavor. Often, this is a crutch to cake bakers as there’s a perception that a beautiful cake will look good, but not taste good.  Selecting a wedding cake vendor that can do both will make a world of difference.

My name is Desmond Pringle. I’m the owner and Executive Pastry Chef and creative director of Gardenia’s Custom Cakes & Catering, LLC (Columbia, SC) , a small artisan style boutique bakery specializing in all things sweet. I have been professionally producing both wedding and celebration cakes since 2009. We meet clients by appointment only and take great care, ensuring our clients have the best experience from inspiration to the final design conception. At Gardenia’s our motto is, “Where Grace, Meets Southern Hospitality.” It’s our aim that every client is treated with respect, and their satisfaction with the products we create is guaranteed.

Gardenia's Custom Cakes

Gardenia’s Custom Cakes & Catering has met with many brides/groom’s over the years and it has been interesting to say the least. Gardenia’s Custom Cakes & Catering understands how much work goes into planning a wedding and selecting vendors. The task can be overwhelming when it doesn’t have to be. These are tips and pointers for selecting a quality, professional cake baker for your wedding and here are my top tips.

Gardenia's Custom Cakes

  • Ask Friends & Family. As mentioned above word-of-mouth carries tremendous weight and oftentimes this is where many couples will start when trying to select vendors. When inquiring of friends and family ask questions. Ask how do they know this vendor? Have they personally used this vendor or attended an event where this vendors work was displayed and they’ve sampled the products? This information can be a good starting point in developing a vendor list, but don’t let this be the final say in which baker you select, as you know what they say about opinions, enough said.
  • When to Select a Cake Baker. Cake bakers, like event venues book quickly. I recommend booking your cake vendor 3 to 6 months, up to a year in advance of your wedding. This is critical if you have your heart set on using a particular cake baker for your special day.
  • Research your Vendor. Once you select a cake baker, (I recommend selecting no more than 3 cake vendors to visit), research them. The internet has put real time information at our fingertips. A reputable vendor will use several social media outlets to promote their business (e.g. a website, Instagram, Facebook) and a host of other media sites.
  • Select your Budget. While this should be established in the beginning, it sometimes not as cut and dry as each wedding vendors pricing is different. In your research you’ll discover if a vendors pricing will meet your budget. However, ask questions as there are many options available to get a beautiful cake without the celebrity price tag. This is where many brides miss out on hiring great, professional vendors as they fail to ask realistic question with respect to budget, so please think about questions to ask your vendor, before contacting them.
  • Pinterest. As a cake baker, we understand the plethora of inspiration Pinterest affords the modern bride, but please use caution when creating your wedding cake around Pinterest photos. Pinterest should be used for inspiration alone, nothing more. While the cakes you see on this site are beautiful, please bear in mind much work goes into these stunning creations, and don’t expect a $500 cake budget will yield the same results. When using Pinterest, I recommend that you write down what you like about the cakes, because oftentimes it’s the detailing elements and not the entire cake that draws your attention.
  • Scheduling you Appointment. Now that you’ve done all the research and assembled your top 3 cake vendors to visit, it’s time to schedule the appointment. A reputable cake vendor will want you to try their cake and you should demand it. At Gardenia’s we create all of our samples fresh for the clients to try and for this reason we offer tastings once per month as we want you to sample cakes how you will experience it on your wedding day. I would be very cautious if a cake vendor doesn’t offer cake tastings. The cake tasting will clearly give the couple an opportunity to ask additional questions and taste some, hopefully very yummy cake. Also, remember there is usually a fee for the cake tasting so please inquire before setting your appointment. Ask, how the tasting fee will be used towards your order. Also ask the cake baker how many samples will you try and what flavors will be on the tasting assortment. Most importantly disclose to the cake baker if you have a food allergy or gluten allergy. This will protect you, the client and the baker. There should be no surprises at the tasting.
  • Ask to see cake photos. When you’re at your tasting a reputable vendor will have not only cake samples for you and your fiancé to sample, but also have albums of his/her work to view. This is a collection of what the vendor is cable of doing. When looking at cake photos, look for consistency in the vendors work. Never select a vendor who shows you cake photos of cakes they’ve never created. I caution this as each cake designer’s talent and artistic hand is different and one will never truly recreate the exact look of another bakers work. So please, use caution when selecting a vendor who is not able to display photos of his/her work. And if your baker is truly a professional they’ll let you know what their skill level is and not promise something they’re not capable of doing. Honesty, goes a long way and an honest baker will let you know and show you what they’re capable of producing.
  • Prepare a Design Kit. This is essential when meeting with your cake baker. A design kit is rather simple to prepare. I ask potential clients to bring pictures of cakes they like (preferably printed photos), color swatches, flower selections for the bouquet and reception tables, pictures of the bride’s/bridesmaids dresses, the groom’s attire, and photos of the venue. These are all essential to the baker to produce a cake that fits the venue setting and overall look for the wedding. Your cake should accentuate your presentation, not be separate from it.
  • Good Cake ain’t Cheap, and Cheap Cake ain’t good. This statement holds more truth in weddings than any other event I’ve had the pleasure of creating a cake. We know, with weddings sticking to a budget is paramount. However, if you have a vision for your special day you can have exactly what you want, it’s all about planning. Many professional bakers will allow you make payments for your cake over the course of the year. Remember, just because the price is right, doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. Great care goes into creating quality wedding cakes and you should never leave your wedding to chance just because the price looks good. So please before meeting with your potential cake vendor ask questions and even ask about a quote before setting up your appointment.
  • Fondant isn’t Bad. I hear this all the time when meeting with potential clients. Fondant is horrible, I don’t like it. The reason you probably don’t like it is because of the application of the fondant. So many people has mention that the fondant was too think and there was very little buttercream under the fondant. When done properly fondant is a very enjoyable part of the cake and actually tastes really good. I explain to my clients the proper way fondant should be used and most understand and have a deeper appreciation for the medium. Education is key and I like to educate my clients on the baking process as you rely on our professional knowledge to help you make the best decision in selecting a cake baker.
  • Get a Contract. When all has been said and done and you’ve selected your dream cake baker, now make it official. The contract, no an invoice is essential to protect both you, the client and the vendor. A contract will spell out all the details regarding your wedding and will list all the information that’s essential to your special date. And I stress this point, PLEASE READ THE CONTRACT COMPLETELY. Take your time to read the contract, and write down questions as you read the contract and ask your vendor for further clarification before signing. It’s your day, know what you’re signing your name to. There should be no surprises with what your cake will cost and look like on the day of your wedding.

Contact us today if you or your fiancée/fiancé  are decides to hire Desmond as you wedding cake vendor; $100 off Collection C if you hire this professional (restriction apply).  Offer expires January 5th, 2017.  I love working with professionals.  If you like this blog, please share it with your friends and family!  Found an error with this blog?  Email us and we will give you 10% off your next portrait session with us.

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