I know this may seem like a "duh" post, but you would be how many vague, last-minute, interesting, etc calls/emails I get. Plus I remember when my husband and I ordered the groom's cake for our wedding... we went in told them the date of the reception, what cake flavor we wanted, and handed them the funny bride and groom topper. I remember them asking if we wanted a square cake, but that is about it. I am sure they asked a few more questions, but I gave them no design ideas. Of course that was before cakes became the "in" thing.
So to save yourself and some cakers out there some grief, make sure you do or have thought about the following items before contacting someone to order a custom cake.
1. Budget - Think about this before you even start contacting folks about estimates/ordering. Custom cakes do cost more than grocery store cakes. Remember that the more complicated and/or time-consuming the cake, the more it's going to cost. The more servings you need... the more it is going to cost.
2. Check Websites - So after deciding on a budget, I recommend going to custom bakers websites. You can see the type of work they do and whether or not you think you will be happy with their work. You may also be able to see some prices, learn about the baker, and some other important info. Not all cakers are created equal!
3. Order Early - I have talked about this one before... the earlier you can order the cake the better. Calling me late on a Sunday afternoon and asked me how early a cake can be picked up if it was ordered today isn't going to work (Yes... this is a phone call I got today). Some large custom shops may be able to accommodate orders with only a few days notice, but why risk it?
4. Give the Specifics of the Event - Nothing bugs me more than an email telling me, "I need a cake for my daughter's birthday. Can you help?" Well maybe... it might help if you tell me when you need this cake, how many people you need to feed, whether the cake will be indoors or out, etc. To me, the more info you can give me the better.
5. Have an Idea of What Kind of Cake You Want... both inside and out - Half of the people that contact me are really good about this and send me a picture of the inspiration item or the cake they want replicated. The other half... well... have no idea. While I appreciate allowing me to be creative, I need some sort of direction. Colors, interests, hobbies... something to go off of... You also need to think about the style of cake you would like... 2 or more tiers, topsy turvy, carved, sheet, etc? Fondant covered or iced in buttercream? What cake flavors and fillings? I need to know all these things to give you a price range for you to make a decision and hopefully make you cake.
6. Be Prepared to Pay - Most custom cake designers do not take orders without at least a deposit, and some require payment in full. And most of us do not consider a cake to be "ordered" until payment is received, so have a credit card ready or a pen and paper (for those of us who use PayPal to process credit card payments or accept checks).
Well there is my PSA for the day... hopefully it reaches the masses :)