So, how long does it take to make a wedding cake? This is a question I get asked a lot by clients, fellow wedding suppliers, family and friends, and like a lot of questions I get asked about my bespoke wedding cakes, it’s not a straightforward one to answer. Hmmm, where shall I start? How long is a piece of string?
We can base it on Malarkey Cakes 3 tier average-sized wedding cake with a standard amount of decoration and time devoted to it. This is tricky though as every cake I make is completely bespoke.
I also pride myself on the fact that I offer a wedding cake service which provides my couples with so much more than just a wedding cake. My service includes a tasting session where I share my years of experience and guide my couples on things to consider for their wedding- not just about cakes. I also design all the wedding cakes I create from inspiration provided by my clients, so no copying other cake makers designs here. I produce digital designs sketches for all my couples so that they can visualise how their cake will look on the day. There is a lot more that goes in to making a wedding cake than meets the eye. Plus, have you ever tried to deliver a cake?!
Bespoke, unique wedding cakes
All the wedding cakes I make are bespoke, from the flavours, down to the fine, intricate details, meaning one cake will never be the same as another. A lot of forward planning is involved in creating the wedding cake and baking and cake decorating are the parts people see and assume are what I do all the time. But actually, as a cake designer, most of my time is spent working towards the baking and cake decorating part.
The average number of hours spent emailing a client over the period of time from initial enquiry to final delivery of the cake is higher than you might think. The whole process includes discussing ideas, arranging a cake tasting and design consultation and answering questions as well as hopping on a call to clarify anything for potential clients. This process also involves discussing a client’s budget and taking on board their ideas.
Tasting and Design Consultation
Once a date has been arranged, I get to meet potential clients for a tasting and design consultation. It’s so fun discussing the details of a couple’s big day and looking at all their inspiration and ideas, venue, florist, bridesmaids dresses or stationery. At our meeting we put all these ideas into a rough sketch and the couple taste 4 out of my menu of cake flavours and choose their favourites. The consultation usually lasts 1-2 hours.
Designing the Cake and Costing
Following on from meeting potential clients, I create mood boards taken from a couple’s inspiration for the cake and create sketches of initial wedding cake ideas with costing options for each. These are then sent over to couples as an initial wedding cake proposal so that they can choose their favourite design which I then tweak until it’s exactly as they want it. Then, I create a final costing for the cake design based on all the details involved in making it and time it will take to create. This is then sent over to the couple as a final wedding cake proposal for them to agree before a deposit payment is made. This process can take place over a period of weeks, but I would estimate it can take 1- 2 days total time to complete this part of the cake process.
Prepping and sourcing ingredients and equipment
I like to make sure I am well prepared as far in advance as possible for the week of making a wedding cake, so this includes sourcing any new equipment I might need to order for a specific cake design. Cake boards and boxes have to be kept in stock as well as other non-edible essentials and also sourcing modern bespoke cake stands that fit with specific cake designs and sizes. Then, shopping around for the best ingredients for my cakes and ordering them in happens the day before I start baking. This can take me from a few hours to half a day.
Baking and cake decorating
Before this can even begin to happen, I have to make sure my kitchen is clean, then cake tins have to be prepped and lined. Baking the average 3-4 tier wedding cake can take anything between 8-12 hours depending on how many different flavours I need to bake, which ingredients I am using and what extra prep is involved, not to mention time spent cleaning up in between bakes and at the end of a busy baking day. I always leave cakes to rest overnight so they are ready for cutting, levelling, filling and covering the following morning. Depending on the design of the cake, the whole of the second day can be spent covering cakes in ganache and then fondant and then the following day, any extra decoration can be added including wafer paper and chocolate decorations. On this third day, I also dowel cakes in preparation for stacking them at the venue and finish the decorating process with all the fine details.
Liaising with Suppliers
To arrange delivery and set up, I speak to a number of suppliers to make sure timings for delivery work around them. This can come down to making sure I deliver and set up the cake at the same time as the florist if flowers are needed for the setup, arriving after any carpet of special flooring has been laid, decorating has also all been done before I arrive and confirming with planners and venues that a table will be available and set up for the cake to be displayed on. For some weddings there is a big number of suppliers involved, so this is like being part of a military operation!
Delivery and set up
Although most of the cakes I make are for delivery to venues in London, I also deliver cakes as far awa as 3-4 hours away (bear in mind that I also have a return journey!). Setting up a wedding cake can take anything between 1-3 hours. It depends on the decoration that needs to be added at the venue. Sometimes the set-up of the cake depends on other suppliers, I need a table to pout the cake on, some venues will need to have the table dressed for when I arrive and for some set ups, I am asked to dress the table and arrange candles, flowers and foliage around the cake, in which case I’ll need to make sure I arrive at the same time as the florist for the event. Once the cake is set up, I can breathe, step back and take a moment to appreciate the finished article. This is my favourite bit, as well as seeing photos of my couples with their wedding cakes.
So, the process of creating a bespoke wedding cake from beginning to end can take place over a couple of years. All in all, if I were to put the hours and days back to back it would equate, on average to around 5 days. That’s including everything involved in the process. Are you surprised? Did you think it would be more or less? I’d love to hear more from you in the comments.
And if you’d like to learn more about my wedding cake making process, whether you’re getting married, or you’re a cake maker yourself, get in touch.