Closer's Amy get's married!
Saturday 12 May 2012
While there are some beautiful wedding cakes available, sometimes it’s difficult to understand why - like most other wedding-related wares it seems - they can cost so much.
So when Victoria Watkin-Jones started following me on Twitter, I thought I’d take the opportunity to bug her about it!
Hiya Victoria, please tell us a bit about your business…
I launched Victoria Made (http://victoriamade.com/) full time in May 2011 after making cakes for friends and family for a number of years before. I had learned how to bake with my nan as a child so although I had numerous non-cake jobs in the meantime, it wasn’t too much of a leap. I specialise in very modern and contemporary cakes and feel I offer something different to a market that can trend towards traditional ‘ribbons and bows’ styles.
Every cake that leaves my kitchen is made by me, so from cracking the egg to delivery it’s a very personal service! I much prefer the small volume but exceptional quality in terms of design and ingredients as I feel it gives me more time to work on the creative - it also means I can give each bride and groom more time. Although I’m quite young as a business I am a preferred supplier to venues such as Le Manoir, Raymond Blanc’s Oxford venue, Blakes and the Dorchester in London and Arley Hall in Cheshire. To be acknowledged as being good enough to be recommended by these is an absolute honour.
Straight to the point, can you give us a little insight as to why wedding cakes tend to cost a fair bit?
To start with you are paying for an expert - wedding cakes involve many elements at the top end of the scale and it’s not as easy as you may think! You should be paying for someone to research and come up with an original design, you should be paying for top quality ingredients, lots of equipment and sundries such as boards/craft equipment etc.
For me (working alone) each tier consists of two separate cakes so if I’m making an average four tier, that’s eight different cakes to mix, bake, cool, layer with butter cream (chill and do again), marzipan layer, smooth icing layer and then skilfully stack - this is where it can go really wrong if you do not know what you are doing! The bigger the cake the more complicated to get straight and stable.
You are now already looking at a couple of days. Decoration can then take days, especially if it is very intricate. I did a five tier version of a cake covered in flowers and it took me over 16 hours just to make and attach all the blossoms. Add onto this consultations, catch ups, ordering, liaising with venues, stand hire, samples, delivery, set up on day etc and you are looking at around four to five days for a medium to large cake and a lot of hard work at skilled level.
Saying all that I have seen cakes that from a professional level I know haven’t taken that much effort but still have the price tag…
Do you keep your prices for wedding cakes in line with your prices for cakes for any other occasion?
Depends on the cake really, but as soon as it goes above two tiers it gets more complicated and much more time consuming. Other celebration cakes tend to be less fancy in terms of decoration and to be honest it just IS a lot more stressful getting a cake ready for someone’s big day - delivery alone is a whole different ball game with a cake that big, and set up can take a while if things need to be finished off. ‘Wedding’ does just take the cake to another level I’m afraid!
What should brides look for in a good cake supplier? What should give you confidence when booking?
Recommendations are good - possibly from a venue rather than just a note on a website that could be anybody. Samples are a must - I sometimes even do a small mock up so that you can get an idea of how the cake will look. I wouldn’t pay a deposit until you have at least had samples. You need to be able to get on and have a good relationship with them too - you need to be comfortable saying you don’t like something!
How far ahead should brides order their cakes?
As soon as they can really (three to six months before at the latest), especially if the vendor is well known. You can always pay your deposit but discuss design etc at a later date.
What are your favourite type of cakes to do?
I enjoy the very modern cakes such as this one.
What’s the most satisfying part of the job for you?
The creative side of it and of course when the bride and groom LOVE what you do for them!
Have you been asked for anything out of the ordinary?
I did a birthday cake for someone with IBS that was the shape of a poo…
Any hints and tips for brides and grooms looking for something a bit different with their cakes?
Be creative - you don’t have to have a traditional cake. One trend is the dessert table where it’s a display of different desserts/sweets and maybe a smaller cake for cutting. The croquembouche is making a comeback too. I think a trend for classic patisserie may gather pace.
In your opinion, can budget-conscious brides still get something striking for their money?
Of course - again it’s about being creative. See what other elements you can use to add to the overall feel, you could even dress a plain cake with flowers you find (non toxic of course…) There are lots of blogs now that have loads of ideas, the homemade trend is well catered for!