Written by Castoff Cakes...
Once upon a time, a groom contacted me about two months before his wedding date. When I took the call, I was heading out the door for a week long electronics-free vacation, so I said congratulations, took down his info, and promised to call him back as soon as I returned.
One week later, I called his cell phone and left a message. I waited a few days... No reply. I called again and after a couple rings, it went straight to voicemail. Again, left another message. A week after that I called and left a message again and said if I didn't hear back soon, I couldn’t hold the date for their wedding, and best of luck finding another baker. The next morning, I get a call from the bride saying that they've been meaning to contact me regarding the cake. I mentioned that I had left several messages on her fiancé’s phone, and she responded by saying that he never got the messages or hadn’t told her about them. That should have been my first warning.
She said they were getting married in five weeks, and that she wanted a beach theme. Apparently the venue was in a location that could only be reached by boat. I recommended cupcakes since it would be easier to transport and if she and her fiancé really wanted a cutting cake, then I could provide a small 6” round for the top of the stand. The bride was fine with that. I asked her for more information about the venue, number of guests, confirmed the theme (beach/ocean) and suggested beach-themed cupcakes. (I had made them for another event and forwarded her photo.) She loved the idea but wanted to check with her fiancé.
After not hearing back from them a few days later, I emailed to check in. No response. I sent another message and left a voicemail saying we needed to finalize the order soon as her wedding was quickly approaching. The next morning I get a call from the bride, profusely apologizing for the delay, giving excuses and telling me about drama from her neighbor (none of my business but I listened politely) and finally said she and her fiancé were still interested but were on a budget. I had quoted them a very fair price, and given that we had less then four weeks to the wedding, I was now in the position to have to rush order a few things to guarantee delivery date.
At this point I'd prefer to have a deposit and signed contract, but I was trying to be accommodating and professional. The quote included the price for the cupcakes, a small cake for the cake cutting, the stand rental, and transportation. I only charged for the boat tickets (for myself and my assistant), parking by the docks, and not a penny more for the transport. She told me that she'd get back to me after discussing the details with her fiancé. Of course, a couple days go by, I shoot her an email saying as soon as we finalize this I'll order what I need, please let me know as quickly as possible.
The response email said that their budget is about $XXX less than I quoted them, and asked if one of the bridesmaids could come with the photographer to pick up the cupcakes and stand and cake to save on the transportation costs. I responded by saying:
1) I would need a signed waiver from her fiancé and from her stating that once the baked goods were out of my hands, that I was not liable for any damage or destruction. Photographs of the cupcakes and small cake would be presented when the bridesmaids arrived for pick-up, proving that said baked goods were in perfect condition, and that she and her fiancé would pay for a refundable deposit on the stand since I would be there to set up and take it back.
2) The cost of some materials were higher because of the rush sourcing and shipping, so if she wanted to skimp out she might not get the exact colors she wanted depending on my current inventory.
3) And that the cake for the cake cutting would be slightly smaller given the amount they wanted to spend.
Within an hour of my terms stating I wanted a written acknowledgement relinquishing my responsibility since I wasn't transporting and setting up, possible slight color fluctuations, and a 2" reduction in the cutting cake, I got: "This is unacceptable. We're not going to be on the same level," and said that they could just go to Costco to get cupcakes... What?
I tried my best and went out of my way to give them great customer service and offer a good deal given the circumstances. I don't know if it's because of WeTV or whatever, but it's starting to be a common trend for brides to ask for so much and are willing to pay so little. I was slightly suspicious that the bride was adamant on having her friend pick everything up, and as a bridesmaid in other weddings, I know for SURE you have a lot of your own crap to carry, so how could she or the photographer take all the cupcakes and the stand pieces? Maybe they were counting on having a "disaster" so they wouldn't have to pay for the cupcakes at all but balked when I requested a waiver? I don't know.
A suggestion to brides-to-be: if your actual budget is so low that you don't want to pay for proper transportation and set up, then reconsider wasting everybody’s time before having a vendor devote tons of time and effort on you. Great vendors and venues stay in business because they offer quality services/products, good customer service, and fair prices. So please don't expect gold when you're only prepared to pay with pennies.