Thursday, June 21, 2012

All Fired Up!

Cake designed by Elizabeth Hodes, Photography by Craig Paulson
Every morning my routine starts something like this.  Get up, take the dogs out, come back inside, pour myself a strong cup of Pilan coffee and turn on Good Morning America.  I love watching GMA, they are funny, informative and the morning crew gets me motivated to start my day.

However, this morning I nearly spit my coffee all over my computer screen when I heard their tease on how brides can shop for their wedding cake at of all places the grocery store!  My first thought was "you've got to be kidding me"!

I have to tell you I completely disagree with the segment.  I was so fired up I didn't need that second cup of coffee to get me up and out the door!  And after a heated twitter exchange with a few follower,s I realized I couldn't get my thoughts or message out in 140 characters, so I felt the need to express my thoughts here…

You might ask why does shopping for a wedding cake at a grocery store upset me so?  I have 7 very good reasons:

1. Grocery stores don't know brides
Chances are you when you step up to the bakery counter at your local grocery store you are dealing with someone who does not have the first idea of what it takes to throw a wedding, much less how to advise a bride on her wedding cake.  Bottom line, brides want to be educated.  That person could be a high school or college student making minimum wage.  For them the most important thought on their mind is when they get to clock out so they can study for their mid-term.  Don’t' get me wrong, they are probably hard workers, but do they really understand that for a bride choosing vanilla over chocolate or roses over daisy's it's a matter of life and death?  Do they understand most brides spend hours poring over photos of cakes?  To a bride the way the cake looks and the way it tastes is more important than the stock exchange dipping below 600?  Do they understand any of this?  Chances are NO!

These workers are not trained to properly deal with bride’s emotions.  They are not trained to truly listen to what the bride is saying.  They are not trained to guide her and to educate her.  They are merely trained to bake a cake, slap some frosting on it and send it on its way.

2. Quality of work
The quality of the work is so important when it comes to a wedding cake!  The cake artists (that is what I call them because that's truly what they are) I know have been trained for years to hone their craft.  When you work with a grocery store you are most likely working with someone who took a two hour course at a community college.  Again, nothing wrong with that….But do you want an artist or an apprentice making your cake?  All the brides I know want someone with experience who is going to take pride in the end result.  When you work with a grocery store are you truly going to get level of service your wedding cake deserves?

3. Taste
Sam Champion said it this morning, taste is just as important as the look of the cake.  All the grocery store cakes I've had have been dry and taste like card board.  Remember, besides the bride in the white dress the cake is the second most photographed item at a wedding.  And it's the last bit of food a guest tastes.  If the cake is not good then people won't eat it.  If that's the case why spend the money at all?

4. Service / Customer Care
I don't know about you, but anytime I've had issues at a grocery store with the quality of service it's like a ghost town…no one in sight.  I've become resigned to the fact grocery stores want to make money, but they don't necessarily care about customer service.  I hardly ever get "did you find what you're looking for".  So what makes you think the level of service is going to be any different when shopping for your wedding cake?  Are you going to be able to do a cake tasting to decide what filling goes with what cake flavor?  Are you going to have someone who is able to sketch your cake for you?  And most importantly who is going to deliver your cake on your wedding day?  We've all seen the cake shows and how quickly a cake can turn to mush with one quick push of the brake pedal.  Do you really want to have to worry about that on your wedding day?

5. Accountability
When something does go wrong with your cake who is going to be accountable?  What if the grocery store has 50 cakes and your cake is the one that is not designed correctly?  Who is going to fix it?  What if the only cake designer is tied up and you have to take your cake as is?  What if they hired a teenager to deliver the cake and they get lost?  What if you can't get the same person on the phone twice?  Who is accountable?

6. Sacrificing service for price
Weddings are amazing as the party of a lifetime and I couldn't be more honored to be involved in creating someone's special day.  However, with the economy the way it is, brides are often sacrificing quality service for a lower price.  Do you know why?  Because companies think they can undercut the competitor, get more volume without worrying about the quality of the work.

This is perhaps my biggest pet peeve in the wedding industry today.  Up until about 5 years ago, the industry was lightly peppered with individuals that truly knew what they were doing.  They had a handle on the industry, but everyone quickly thought planning weddings was easy.  They thought creating invites was easy.  Baking a cake was easy.  Doing photography was easy.  Working with brides was easy.  The truth be told none of it’s easy.  It takes experience, dedication and drive to do what wedding professionals do.  And just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

What's happened is the wedding industry has become so saturated brides are sacrificing good service over a lower price.  As a result, the bar is being set so low that when they see good quality they can't understand the correlation to the higher cost.  Thus they go with the less expensive vendor.  The result is a lower quality product.  And the vendor that charges more has to work harder to maintain what the less qualified vendor makes.  Remember, the old saying - you get what you pay for. Well it's true!  Just because the price is lower doesn't mean you are getting better product…

7. Using professionals
A grocery store should sell groceries and everyday needs.  A caterer should not try to do floral design.  A lighting company shouldn't try to be a caterer.  I always say stick with what you know and leave the rest to professionals.  What most people don't realize is that the wedding industry is made up of mom and pop stores.  In fact, almost the entire wedding industry is made up of entrepreneurs that have worked years to establish themselves as the best in the industry.  So when a grocery store says it can do a wedding cake for less while undercutting what is a true art form and a source of income for folks I know.  I get a little testy and fired up.  Again, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Remember when you work with true wedding professionals they will know the right questions to ask thereby educating you on what's right for your wedding.  All wedding professionals I know take pride in what they do and thereby it makes them much more accountable than a grocery store any day.  So the next time you want to cut corners on your wedding ask yourself.  Is a lower price really worth the peace of mind?

Until next time -



  1. Amen to that Shawn! I actually just read a great article from a UK wedding site suggesting that as an option. The article was great but that point horrified me frankly. I could never fathom suggesting that a client of mine go to Wal-Mart, Food Lion, Publix, or anywhere else to buy a cake; I certainly wouldn't! We can be fired up together 'cuz that's a hot mess!! #daweddings

  2. i saw that today- thank you for your post!
    glad sam champion said he could taste the difference!

  3. I am totally agree with all of your ideas thank you for post..

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