"get your hands off my cake"

1,640
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Joined Mar 6, 2001
This is part of the "what do you think" thread. Panini posted he doesn't like anything to do with florists when it comes to his wedding cakes. I thought I'd add my 2 cent and start a new thread.

Over the years I've come to really really not trust florists ability to place the flowers on my wedding cakes. WHY? Many reasons.
What happens in my experience....

1.They don't really know what the bride wants on the cake. I go thru the time of finding out the specific look they want and the florist doesn't know, no one informs them. Even when I call them to make sure they'll have the right amount and type of flower they seem to ignore my conversation and come un-prepared.

I've had so many cakes that looked horrible because of the flowers... I did the M.S. cake that has NO decorations, only a top and bottom border. In the center between each cake gets perfectly stacked roses (angry did this too)....well the florist I had for this one just stacked the flowers loosely into the center. They kept falling out ruining what was supposed to be a perfectly clean lined cake. The look was so loose, totally not similar to the photo. I even brought out the picture of the published cake to show the florist. Finally I consented to let them poke the flowers into the cake (I had all my servings in the back so I was covered), they really messed up my cakes. If they knew what the cake should have looked like, they should have arranged sizes and heights with me then placed the roses into pre-done rings placed on a plate between layers.
I can tell you tons of stories where the florist just totally missed decorated what the bride wanted. How about those god aueful perfect carnation tops that are a perfect rounded mound???, YUK! And then their either too large or too small in proportion to the cake.

2. They decorate the cake last after their done with 'their' part, (the cake isn't their part).... I've had florists that didn't even have flowers left for the cake (which was previously arranged). Oops, they ran out. Then I have to go around and steal from other arrangements WITH their help. Or all they have left is greens for around the base....then1/2 the time it's the wrong type of greens for the situation. Like poofy ferns that hide the whole bottom layer of a small cake or the opposite when your using a stand they provide 4 flat ferns that don't cover the base as planned.

3. Timing. They are either running late and your waiting for them, or your late and they left.

In my brocure I've written this "Flowers can be provided through your florist, although I prefer to place them on the cake myself, to maintain the integrity of your design." I guess I'll see how this goes. I know EVERY, EVERY baker around feels just the opposite. They'd rather do the cake and run, wash their hands of the florals. But I have too many cake photos that would have been beautiful if the flowers had been right, and they weren't. I figure if I want a good rep. then I need to be certain the cake is totally finished according to what the bride wanted.

P.S. That all being said, there are a couple different florists that are GREAT, WONDERFUL where I couldn't possible do it better. BUT they're the minority. I stand back and let those people totally decorate the cake.
 
2,938
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Joined Mar 4, 2000
I'm right there with ya, Wendy. I will insist on placing the flowers on the cake, and sometimes, the florist actually puts up a little resistance. You have every right to want to finish the cake. After all, you planned it from the beginning. I have never had a florist ruin one of my cakes, but you never know...they could if I let them.
 
1,403
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Joined Jan 1, 2001
Back when I had a wedding cake business, if a bride wanted fresh flowers on her cake I insisted on ordering the flowers from her florist to be delivered to me the day before the reception. Then I would take them with me to set up and finish the flowers myself. I specified to her and the florist how many stems of which flower I would need to complete the design. Never had any problem with brides or florists.
 
2,518
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Joined Nov 20, 2000
If it really has to be done, I've always preferred to take the time the day before and get the flowers I needed myself from the florist. I would have had a prior conversation with the florist so there were no surprises. I am doing the cake, I will do the flowers on the cakes as I have discusssed with the party. They don't do the food with the chef, they don't do the cake with me.
 
5,192
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
oh well, here I go, I hope I don't rock the boat.
We have provided our brides with all types of alternatives to fresh flowers, we do any type of fondant,sugar, etc. flowers they like. We charge around $5.oo per stem, same as fresh. If they insist on fresh flowers it is at their own doing and they arrange that between them and the florists. I can't count the times I have waited on florists and all the other horror that go with florists.
Most of our brides use a design group which includes floral. The hickey the florist charge is incredible, designer at 75. per hr. which is usually the driver who leaves the cake flowers under the table.
Our deliveries are one right after another. If I had a decorator spend an hour setting up the cake with flowers I would have to charge a fee. Our cakes are boxed and delivered to the property and the decorator is usually one stop behind them. He or she sets and moves on. Someone, my wife, myself or my production manager gets to see each cake set up, at wich time we photo. and usually fix fresh flowers.
In this great state we are not allowed to have fresh flowers in a food cooler. So delivery the day before is out, not only that but the flowers are usually unopened and crap, oh don't get me started!
There are two schools of thought and we chose the latter.
panini:chef: :D :rolleyes:
 
1,640
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Joined Mar 6, 2001
So didn't you say, your people are the ones putting the flowers on your cake, Panini?

Well it's nice to read others with similar thoughts and experiences. But we must be the exeptions because as I've been gathering info. from tons of other decorators everyone states 'the flowers will be arranged by your florist' type info. Actually I have had florists that were resistant to me placing them on the cake, like 'are you sure you can do it", HA. But in time working with the same people (the better florist are always cool)respect grows and I've had florist come and watch me too.

O.k. so we agree, but what about charging....or you build this into your costs for the sake of doing a job well? It seems painful to absorb the hours if you have to run around collecting flowers or even if their delivered and your re-doing the arrangment.

I love the way you did it footnfoto. I'm wondering how I could follow your lead. I live min. 40 minutes away from any florist contracted from the brides I'll be soliciting. Wouldn't I have problems trying to get a delivery out of them? I could arrange to buy them through my own florist but that just not a good idea (for several reasons).

I'd rather not totally make the top piece (usually they just need to be fluffed and loosened up). Did you actually assemble top pieces footnfoto?

P.S. Just curious, how come you switched from cakes to styling footnfoto (if you don't mind me asking)?
 
5,192
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
oh no, I'm sorry. We never touch fresh flowers. In fact it is inbold print on our contract. This is not only for the customers but mainly for the florist, who charge a great fee and then say they can't come back to do the cake. We fax them a copy of the contract also. We are hated by most florists inthe area, but the feeling is mutual. I can't tell how many conversations we have had with florists stating " I can't send a designer back to do the cake, it will cost me to much" well, why should I pay my decorators to do it after the florist has charged?
Wendy, don't go by us, we do all mousse cakes and our window is small for delivery. Most places drop the cake while the florist is there.
On our follow up we sometimes have to fix fresh flower disasters.
One thing, don't think small in terms of your business. If you spec yourself to do all of the work, you will not grow. There will be a time when you might have multiple cakes at the same time and can't do flowers. Just a thought and the only reason I mentioned it. GTG to work
jeff
ps My neighbor at the shop is a florist (top ten in Dallas) we work very well together, and there is 1 or 2 more.
 
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Joined Nov 27, 2001
I do not have a business as large as Panini but I offer a choice. I will not pick the flowers that go on the cake nor will I be responsible for the poisoning of any guests. I prefer NOT to have fresh flowers because of the pesticides and explain this to the bride. I will however place the flowers for an additional fee. So far, no one has asked me to do this. And, co-ordinating times is difficult- usually not at the fault of myself or the florist, usually some snafu at the location (such as no table, or skirting, or indecision as to where the cake belongs). If I was as large as Panini, I think I would have to go his route and refuse to do it.
 
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Joined Jan 1, 2001
Since you live so far from the florists, W., I'd suggest that you ask the florist to deliver the stems (specify how many of each) to the reception site for you to finish on the cake when you set up. This way, the extra flowers you need are just added to the bride's bill for florist services. Take some time to talk to the florist about what kinds and colors of flowers the bride is using and how many stems you will need to decorate the cake. Make sure the bride understands during your planning meetings that this is how you work it.
Give yourself an extra bit of time to set up and take a class or read some books about simple flower arranging. Maybe even offer to work for the florist at no charge to gain some skillsin this area. The designs for cakes are usually based on a triangular or pyramid shape. I had some training in flower arranging, so I found it an enjoyable part of the deal.
I made top pieces and center pieces by piling up small meringues in a pyramid shape (for lift), then piping a bunch of buttercreme over it and poking the flowers into the buttercreme. If you can chill the cake layer once the flowers are arranged, they set up well, but it's not generally necessary.
I changed from wedding cakes to styling because it's more lucrative and my expenses are paid. I still style cakes frequently and plan to make a wedding cake for my nanny's wedding in September. The other problem I found with the business of weddings is two-fold. 1) Each sale is a new account-there is no repeat business. Thus, you invest the same amount of your time ($$$$) in meeting and planning for each job and can never reach critical mass and efficiency. 2) I became very weary of listening to hour upon hour of brides and mothers yammer on and on about their romantic wedding fantasies clipped from magazines and romance novels. "Wind blowing my veil over the hillside with pretty violets drifting by on the breeze". Honey, you need a set crew and a wind machine to affect that look!
One note, I always charged full price for any hardware used to transport and set up the cake such as base plates, seperaters and risers. I never got all my pieces back and had to replace pieces each time.
Good Luck.
 
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Joined May 29, 1999
after paying $50 once for a cake topper of roses i decided to make my own. i place my own flowers on the cake and usually deliver a finished product. i do set up on pastillage or flying butress cakes. i have many florests to work with and will order on line if i have to.
proflowers.com has a box of 2 dozen roses at a good price if it is a problem to find any in your area.
 
1,640
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Joined Mar 6, 2001
Once upon a time I took a flower arranging class. I understand the basics and more....

But I would like to know more about flower centerpiece pricing. I don't have the time to mess with alot of phone calls right now. It's not so simple to find pricing, at least not from the good florists. It's all so customized.... But I'd like to know firm averages on different types of centerpieces.


This relates back to a thread going at a cake decoration site about centerpiece cakes. I kind of have a couple ideas up my sleve I've been thinking about for a couple months now. But I not going to play them out until I spend some real time selling wedding cakes.

Any leads on sites where I could see flowers in centerpieces with prices????

Also when you go into a restaurant or club they all have fresh flowers (rather simple) on each table. I know at my old club they used a florist and the florist used a seperate delivery service to pick-up and drop off. Anyone have a idea what that costs? I know it can't be too much, they were simple flowers and the club was very cheap when it came to buying florals.
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2000
I don't know the answer to this, but I'm guessing that centerpieces are priced according to how many are being purchased; i.e., 1 piece would be more expensive than 1 in a batch of 20.
 
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Joined Nov 27, 2001
I worked as a floral designer about 18 years ago (gasp). I can not give you current pricing on centerpieces but you may want to try www.ftd.com or something similar. I do know that most at that time did not give volume discounts- if you buy one or 20 they are same price. I did do a little research a couple of years back when I was trying to determine the price of my gumpaste flowers. Roses were going for $5-$9 each unarranged. Typical floral arrangements (not necessarily bridal) were an average of $50 for mixed flowers. And I know of one wedding I did where the arrangements were $150 each (talked to the florist). And this wedding was the epitome of what all wedding vendors dream about- extravagant, no holds barred, only daughter of an immigrant realizing the million dollar American Dream. HTH
 
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Joined Jun 28, 2001
I meant to reply to this thread a long time ago, but I had some problems trying to post on here (problems are now obviously solved; thank you hubby for clearing the cookies). So I'm baaaaaaack!

Anyhow!

I always had the understanding that it's best to let the florists take care of the flowers. After all, they're the flower experts right? They're the ones with the flowers to match the centerpieces or bouquet or what have you and have that flair, right right right??? When I did my first tiered cake (for a large birthday party), the florist took a garland and stuck it around the base of the cake. Granted it was a little TOO BIG, but otherwise, it looked pretty darn good. Then, when I did my first fresh flower cake, this theory of "let the florist handle it" was further proved correct. I set up the cake (3 tiers with pillars between them). They made a topper and put flowers between the tiers and decorated the table. Oh my, it left me speechless as I stood on the side lines watching the two ladies work their magic. The bride who was my friend had insisted on an UGLY design and the flowers made the cake beautiful.

Time passed. Then last fall, I had another wedding cake to do (4 tiers, direct stack) where the couple wanted a fresh flower topper. I mailed the ceramic base to the florist then called him to talk details. "Ok, now the groom told me they want the topper to match the centerpieces and peachy/champagne colored rose petals sprinkled around the table." His response? "Yeah yeah lady... topper to match and peach rose petals! We got it, ok?" Well, SOOOOOREE for double checking!

Well, I got to the site and by then, the florist had left. He left the topper on the table NEXT TO instead of ON the ceramic base. The topper was in oasis that was profusely taped to a shallow container of water. It was done in such a way that I could not remove the container. Lucky for me, my husband had his Leatherman and we had to poke holes at the bottom to let the water drain out and to attach it to the base. Of course some tiny trickles were still coming out no matter how well we tried to drain it so they made their way onto the top tier. The way it was arranged, you could see the oasis and the plastic container. Not to mention, you could tell the flowers were left overs b/c they didn't match the centerpieces AT ALL and they were wilting and brown around all the edges. I tried to pick them off, but if I had done them all, the thing would be BALD. Even though I had supports, the topper started sinking into the cake b/c it weighed way more than any cake topper should! It took some fancy fixing but we finally got it to work. There were also no rose petals to decorate the cake table and I'm sure the couple were charged for them.

That's when I decided to have the NO ONE TOUCHES MY CAKE policy. Since then, I have steered brides into just letting me make the flowers from gumpaste or marzipan or I've told them that I will take care of the flowers/greens with their florist and put them on myself (which I charge a fee for). I also tell brides that any flowers that will directly touch the cake needs to be organic (this is when they start to see it my way and go for the gumpaste flowers). Cut flowers are treated with pesticides and all kinds of other fun things like formaldehyde to keep them preserved. There are also people out there who have extreme allergies or sensitivities to these things. I just don't believe they have any place being on something that is going to be eaten.

I've also decided to take a floral arranging class. Whether fresh or gumpaste flowers are chosen, it'll help me be a little more artistic and when the class starts, I'm going to ask my teacher for help with pricing. It doesn't start until April, but I'll post the info here.
 

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