Five signs your cake negotiation is going wrong

Hello, cake prospects! This is for you, and I’m sorry but this is a nasty subject. This is also for other cake artists out there who struggle or have struggled with these issues. Some (ahem, ALL, I say under my breath) of these things have happened to me, and I’ve wanted to say this before, but have just acted nice out of professionalism or friendship.

These are the things I would love for anyone who wants cake to know. So here go five signs that your cake negotiation is going wrong:


Some things you say may not sit well with your baker…

5. You want 5 different flavors, one for each tier.

Well, tiers are usually in descending sizes (or ascending, depends on your positivism). So if you want your top 6″ tier to be red velvet, I’m gonna have to waste half a recipe. And your 14″ bottom strawberry shortcake tier will need two recipes, and I’ll have some left. And, do you really want your guests to be annoying you on your special day about what flavor would you please have them served? In short, it can be done, but I’m definetely gonna quote you in a way that you wanna go running in the opposite direction. And I’m gonna be hoping for it.

4. You want this from this cake, this from that one, and then a special tier that is half this and half that, divided by a stack of CDs and an Aquaman figure with a rose bouquet sticking out the side.

What? Draw me a map, please. Have you thought of how that’s gonna look? Come on, be classy. Less is more. And that takes me to…

3. You want an exact replica of another cake artist’s creation.

First of all, it’s not going to happen, my friend. Cake artistry is like a fingerprint: there’s no two hands that work exactly the same. Also, it’s likely the portions on the cake of that Pinterest photo won’t match your guest count, which means I’ll need to add tiers to compensate or, if you need less, make them out of a dummy, which won’t bring your price down considerably, since they are as hard to decorate as real ones. Better yet, think of the idea of having a cake designed exclusively for you! One that other people might want to copy… Doesn’t that sound more exciting? Plus, doing it is simply copyright infringement.

2. You tell me: “I want this done by a friend.”

Because I’m a friend, you’ll probably want a cheap pricetag. I, your friend, have to eat and pay gas. Strike one. Because I’m a friend, it will probably be a headache to get your payment. Strike two. And because I’m a friend, you’ll probably feel entitled to get special treatment, last-minute changes, and then trash talk me if I don’t give it to you. Strike three. So, no, thank you; I want to keep on being your friend.

1. The conversation starts with: “OMG, these people are crazy with what they’ve been quoting me! Can you quote this for me?”

Woah! What made you think I can give out cake for free? Because for what you’re willing to pay, I probably won’t have any earnings. Cakes are a luxury, as my good friend Natalie once made me realize. But that is a topic for another time, since I don’t want to ramble on too much in this short post.

Phew! That felt good… Now, seriously, the thing that has made me handle these situations with a smile on my face is when the product is done and people finally show appreciation for the hard work.  That’s what keeps us going back to baking and decorating.

Do you think there’s more no-no’s in cake negotiating? More comments or requests you just can’t cake? I sure think so, and someday more inspiration will strike. Go ahead and comment below!

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