Vanilla Wedding CupcakesI got married in November 2009 on a moderately tight budget (read: I refused to spend a house down payment–no matter WHOSE money it was–on a wedding), and originally I planned to bake my own wedding cupcakes. Well, 4 months into planning that idea got scrapped because I knew it would be too much. Our venue was 90 minutes away, I was already sculpting bouquets and boutonnieres, and sometimes, yes sometimes, a control freak has to let go.

We decided to hire a baker for our wedding. I was upfront about our budget and wanted to work with the second baker we scheduled appointments with to see if we could afford her baking. We decided to order vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream at her base price, and then upgraded them with a chocolate mousse filling and chocolate curls. I also ordered a small top cake to accompany the cupcakes, with the same flavors to be included.

I gave the baker photos of the type of frosting design I liked (tall swirls, like with a closed star tip) as well as a photo of the chandeliers in our venue, that had a specific scalloped design I wanted replicated on the sides of the top cake in chocolate piping. She also agreed to supply a stand for us, claiming she had a perfect one in mind–I trusted her judgment and left the appointment with Ray feeling satisfied. That was easy right?

Well, it may have been, but this is what went wrong with our wedding cupcakes:

• The cupcakes’ frosting was not peaked, but instead somewhat flattened. The frosting was also dry and hard.
• The chocolate curls looked more like chocolate dust and were an odd color, almost as if they had been sitting out for a few days. The cupcakes were covered in this and looked unappealing.
• The top cake was covered in fondant—I had expressed my distaste for fondant during our meeting and had wanted only buttercream on all the cupcakes and cakes.
• The design I wanted for the top cake was completely ignored. Instead there were smallish fleur de lis molded from chocolate.
• The cake stand was plastic, oddly proportioned and looked tacky.
• A number of the cupcakes were dried out and crumbled.

Possibly the most upsetting thing was that a number of my guests thought I had made the cupcakes because they said they looked homemade.

Mel and Ray at their WeddingSo what went wrong? That’s what I was left asking myself all through the reception. If our order wasn’t big enough or as important as some of her bigger weddings, then I wish she had declined booking with us. Instead we got something that looked like not enough time or attention was put into it, and I find that hard to swallow.

So ladies and gentlemen, when hiring a wedding baker, review the portfolio very, very carefully. While I saw plenty of lovely cakes in the baker’s portfolio, I don’t remember seeing many cupcakes. Also, go into the tasting with a clear idea of what you want, and bring photos! (Not like that helped me much, harumph!)

The bottom line: Even if you do all of this (and I did), there is still a chance that your wedding cupcakes will not be what you truly wanted. And that sucks. But even as I looked on my wedding cupcakes for the first time before the ceremony in sheer disappointment, I snapped out of it. There were myriad other things that were way more important than my wedding cupcakes. So I got over it, wrote the requested online review after our honeymoon and then asked for a refund. Because that’s what you do when you’re not happy with a service.