How Can Home Bakers do Wedding Cake Tastings?
I work from home and don't have a "real" bakery but since I do wedding cakes, I'm often asked for tastings. I've been asked how I handle such requests so I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of what I do!
First, YOU CAN DO IT! But tastings must be scheduled ahead of time. Since weddings are almost never booked last minute, I tell the brides which week or weeks are good for me and often try to get them to agree to do the tasting on a non-busy day.
I sometimes simply hand off the cupcakes to the bride and let them take them home to taste. Or other times, I meet them at a local restaurant or the library and combine the tasting with a consultation where I look at their ideas, give them approximate quotes, etc.
Why cupcakes? I don't have cakes sitting around in multiple flavors all the time and I can't really sell a half-eaten cake, so I allow the brides to choose up to three flavors of cake and frosting from my menu and I actually bake them as cupcakes. Then I sell all the extras (I'll get to that in a minute)!
Also three flavors gives the bride 4 cupcakes of each flavor - so they can let the groom, their mother, their best friend, etc. also taste!
If they want to mix/match the flavors of cake and frosting, then I send them with plain (unfrosted) cupcakes and I put the frosting in small disposable cups (I get 4 oz. plastic cups with lids here). I pipe it into the cups to make it look pretty and use a Sharpie to write the flavor on top.
Do I charge for tastings? Yes and no.
If the bride has already paid a (non-refundable) $100 save-the-date deposit, the tasting is free (and I usually can sell at least part, if not all of the extra cupcakes to absorb the cost). Since wedding cakes usually run hundreds of dollars, the free $20 of cupcakes is worth it to me.
If they bride has NOT paid a deposit, the tasting costs $20. If they want to try more flavors, I charge accordingly. I've never had any complaints or any brides cancel the tasting because of the charge. If they ask, I tell them that baking multiple flavors of cake is an expense to me since my recipes often yield 30-40 cupcakes and they only want/need 3-4 of each flavor.
Most brides immediately understand. A couple of times I've had them hesitate and I've offered to apply the $20 to their cake total IF they end up ordering from me and that seems to bring them over to my side and they pay the $20 😉
Either way, I don't mind. As I said before, usually wedding cakes are hundreds of dollars so the $20 discount is no biggie, but I've truly only done that twice maybe?! Most of the time they either go ahead and pay the $100 deposit to book their cake or pay the $20 for a dozen cupcakes without complaint.
What do you do with all the extra cupcakes from each flavor?
I sell them!!
I have a local Facebook group where many of my local clients are members. When I have extra cupcakes on hand (or if I know I'm going to ahead of time), I post them on that page and can often pre-sell or sell all of the extra cupcakes!
Since my tastings are definitely scheduled, I post on my "local clients" page that on Tuesday (or whatever day) I'll have flavors x, y, and z available. I tell them approximately how many dozen I anticipate having and that they can message me or comment to reserve some (on a first come, first served basis). If I have 5 customers comment that they want a dozen and I only end up with 2 dozen extra, then the first 2 to comment get them.
I also offer them as variety boxes or let them choose the flavors they'd like. Does that make sense?
I charge $15-20 per dozen and make back the money put into the tasting, to cover the boxes and ingredients, plus a small profit. It works beautifully for me and often ends up giving me a little extra cake money in my pocket once or twice a month.
Sometimes I just cover what I've baked and made my money back, but I've often made $200-300 extra in a week where I sold my extra tasting cupcakes because I'd announced a few days before and then I'd get enough orders to bake more than one batch of each flavor.
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Does that help? Do you have other questions? If you're a home baker, I'd love to hear how YOU handle tastings!! Do you charge for them? Do you bake cakes or cupcakes? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!