How to choose the right wedding cake and baker

Start looking into a wedding cake after all decisions about dress style and reception decor and colors have been made. These will serve as a blueprint for the design and structure of your wedding cake. A lot of brides choose a cake that’s compatible with the style of the venue, the season, their wedding dress, the flower arrangements and even the menu. If you want colorful accents, give your baker fabric swatches, so your cake truly becomes part of your wedding.

how to find the perfect wedding cake and baker on a budget

A wedding cake tells a lot about your big day. From the flavor, coloring, elegance, and taste, it must radiate who you are as a couple.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT WEDDING CAKE AND BAKER

  1. MAKE A LIST

First, you need to make a list of wedding cake bakers you know, starting with referrals from friends. The idea is to narrow your search by identifying the available bakers around you by price and location.

  1. WORK WITH RECOMMENDATIONS

Stick with bakers having great reviews online. Do a simple google search. Type in the bakery name followed by the word “reviews.” This is one of the most popular, simple and effective ways to find a baker, or anything else you may be looking for. One bakery we love, and have used a few times in the past, is Alliance bakery in Chicago. Check them out. (773) 278-0366. 1736 W. Division street in Chicago. Photos of cakes on this page are from them. Their cakes are delicious works of art and the staff is outstanding.

  1. CHECK OUT INSTAGRAM PAGES

Professional bakers are now harnessing the power of Instagram and other social media to promote their businesses. You can get a feel of the professional bakers on your list by visiting their Instagram page or their website. Check out their baking videos, check out their samples and most important, read comments and reviews about them.

  1. CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET:

If you cannot afford the double high-class bakery, choose from the efficient and relatively cheaper bakers. Generally, three tiers will serve 50 to 100 guests. You’ll likely need five layers for 200 guests or more. If the reception is in a grand room with high ceilings, consider increasing the cake’s stature with columns between the tiers. (A “stacked” cake is one with its layers stacked directly atop each other, with no separators.) Know what you want and don’t stress yourself about a brand name if you can’t afford it. Save money by ordering a small cake that’s decorated to perfection but can only feed a handful, such as just the bridal party. Then, order several sheet cakes of the same flavor to feed the guests. Garnish with fruit for an elegant (but less expensive) effect.

     5. GO FOR TASTING:

As you start setting up appointments, find out when each baker’s next tasting is scheduled. At tastings, clients are invited into the bakery to sample exemplary cakes, ask questions, and review portfolios. This is an excellent opportunity to meet bakers and fully understand the range of their abilities. Beautiful and expensive isn’t always tasteful.

6. THINK ABOUT THE WEATHER

If you’re having an outdoor wedding in a hot climate, stay away from whipped cream, meringue, and buttercream: They melt. Ask your baker about summer icing options. You might want to go for a fondant-covered cake — it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

how to find the perfect wedding cake and baker on a budget in chicago

7. ART VS. REALITY

Bridal magazines have food stylists and photo editors working to keep the cakes looking perfect. These people spend hours fixing the sweating, dripping, leaning or sagging that can happen to a cake after it’s been sitting for a while. They have the luxury of creating cakes from stuff that isn’t edible — most cakes in magazines are iced pieces of Styrofoam, which certainly doesn’t taste very good. Most photos are touched up in Photoshop or some other photo editing program. Although a lot of cake designers are incredibly good at what they do, don’t expect them to replicate exactly what you see in print.

8. GET ARTISTIC WITH YOUR WEDDING CAKE

Your wedding cake will likely be on display before it’s cut and consumed. A round table is perfect for round cakes, but a linear cake design may call for a rectangular table. Once you have a designated cake table, have fun dressing it up. Drape it with sumptuous fabrics and decorate it with motifs, colors and flowers to match the cake (your florist can help).

9. WEDDING CAKE TOPPERS

A wedding cake topper should reflect what the couple is into. It should give some insight into what they are about, at least that’s what I believe. Out of all the wedding cakes I have seen, having been a wedding photographer over 10 years, the most interesting are the creative ones. I have seen anything from the traditional, boring elegant, to the Star Wars Darth Vader and bride cake topper. Use your imagination, get creative and have fun. Here are some wedding cake topper ideas to get you started.

wedding cake knife and server set options during wedding planning in chicago

     10. WEDDING CAKE KNIFE AND SERVER SET

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on an elegant wedding cake knife and server set, as it’s only the wedding couple who will see them. Most wedding cake server sets are very nice and not expensive at all. A lot of places you purchase from will include free engraving, which usually includes your names and wedding date. Check out these great wedding cake server sets. I like to buy most things online, as it saves tons of time. Wedding cake toppers and server sets are something you should buy online, as they don’t require taste testing or sizing.

Lastly, book an appointment and ensure that the baker is free to take on your task!

Hopefully this article has helped in finding your wedding cake. For more wedding planning tips, subscribe to our blog. Thanks for reading!

INFO AT A GLANCE:

Check out these great wedding cake server sets.

Here are some wedding cake topper ideas

Alliance bakery

1736 W. Division st.

Chicago, IL, 60622

(773) 278-0366

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How to plan your own wedding

HOW TO PLAN A WEDDING ON YOUR OWN

Congratulations! The man you have always wanted to spend the rest of your life with just went down on one knee to pop the big question and you are basking in euphoria. Your big day is a few months away, and you want to handle things by yourself because you can never trust someone to oversee things the way you would or you are trying to cut cost by employing a professional wedding planner. If you are the bride to be, relax! You can handle things yourself and plan your dream wedding just the way you always envisioned it.  No jokes, planning your own wedding can be really overwhelming. Here are some very helpful tips that will ensure the success of your wedding. After the euphoria of being engaged has toned down, you may want to inform your folks and closest friends about the big news. After celebrating with them, you have to get to work on planning your wedding. Since you are the only one planning everything, it’s advisable you start very early. Planning early helps to avoid setbacks associated with last minute plans. Churches and especially reception halls get booked way in advance, as in months, so you need to act fast. These are some helpful tips;

how to plan a wedding on your own in chicago

Talk ideas about your wedding

Drag a seat and rub hearts with your fiancé. Remember, your wedding involves the both of you. Let him know what your ideal wedding will look like and ask him how he would want your wedding to be. This is also very important if you and your man are of different ethnicities. You both need to have a safe landing to avoid the clash of interests. Discuss the type of reception venue you want, the number of guests, the food, the colors, the type of music and also where you will like to say your vows. Just exchange ideas so it can give a picture of what you want to bring to fruition. Don’t bring the financial implications of all these yet.

Mark out your wedding date

Bring out a calendar and highlight the date you will like to have your wedding. This might not be finalized, but it is important you do this so that you know the particular date you have to plan around. Do you want to tie the knot during the winter months? Or you want the brightness of spring to usher you into a new chapter of your life? Circle the date you want and organize things within the planned date.

Wedding To-do list

This is the biggest step.  Get a wedding journal, as it will be very important to write out your to-do list and ask yourself questions to help narrow down your options. Questions like, where do you want to exchange your vows? In front of a clergyman or just a court wedding with a few witnesses? Who are your wedding vendors? What kind of décor do you want? Do you want an elegant ballroom reception décor or an intimate reception with just family members and close friends in attendance? What kind of wedding gown do you want? A mermaid gown or a ball gown? Which brand of wedding gown would you like to wear on your wedding day? Are you buying or renting your wedding dress? Do you want a buffet wedding? A three-course meal? Do you want to employ the services of a make-up artist or you would rather opt for a close friend who can apply lipstick here and dab face powder there? When all this is done with your wedding date set in place, write out a planned budget for each wedding vendor and tailor from there.

how to choose a wedding vendor in chicago

Take action

After writing your wedding to-do list, swing into full force. Get in touch with a videographer and photographer. Get recommendations from friends or family members and pay upfront if possible to secure your date. Contact your caterer and see how you can work around your budget. Have a taste of the meal and peruse the menu to see if you can strike out some extras. Visit the venue with your wedding decorator and let her know how you want the space to be arranged. Have follow up dates with them. When shopping for your wedding gown, remain stoic. Go with your mom, sister or best friend or all three of them so they can decide what fits you better. They have an idea of what suits your personality. It’s advisable to set aside some money for miscellaneous costs like transportation and lunches during the whole wedding planning time.

Avoid impulse buying

Wedding budgets expand bigger than you can ever imagine. Monitor how you spend. Do not be tempted to buy what you do not need. Avoid buying that extra flower that looked ‘bored’ on the shelf where it sat. If you really need something last minute, you can borrow from a loved one or let it go completely if they don’t have. You will do just fine. One thing that saves a lot of money is not including the folded cloth around each chair at the reception. Although the colored cloth – draped chairs look beautiful, they charge a lot per chair. You don’t need them.

Thanks for reading this post and have fun planning your wedding. Subscribe to our blog for more wedding planning tips.

 

How to choose a good wedding planner

HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD WEDDING PLANNER

So, your prince charming just proposed with your dream ring and you are giddy with happiness. You are getting hitched a few months from now, and you need to start sorting things out for your wedding. You have busy schedules, and you are not very good at planning events. You want the day you tie the knot with your better half to be remarkable, but you are at a loss for what to do. Your best bet is to hire a wedding planner. A wedding planner is a professional who structures, coordinates and manages the wedding of his or her client. Professional wedding planners give the ‘Midas touch’ to your event. Want a hassle- free wedding and a wedding planner that will make your dreams come true? Here are some tips to consider when picking one.

how to choose a good wedding planner

Referrals

When it comes to picking a Wedding Planner, nothing beats asking your married friends about who oversaw their wedding planning. Good old word of mouth is one of the best ways to getting a wedding planner because it is based on recommendations from friends or family members on whom they have tried and trusted. Also, you can visit some public fora like Pinterest, Reddit or Instagram to go through customers’ testimonials or honest reviews from those who have patronized the services of the wedding planner. You can get their honest opinions and ask them to send you their photos of the wedding planner’s work. Remember, wedding planners always put up their best jobs on the internet. This is a very good start as it will help you track how consistent the planner is.

Check the wedding planner’s portfolio

In this jet age, wedding planners have upgraded their skill set. Many wedding planners have websites for their businesses. Kindly visit their website and peruse the planner’s portfolio. Check out the pictures of previous jobs to have a feel of the planners’ style of designing. What do you think about the color coordination? Décor? Lightning? Does the wedding planner have a signature design that stands out and you love? Do you desire small and calm wedding as opposed to the planner’s extravagant ones? If yes, this wedding planner may not be who you are looking for. If you like the ambience of the wedding planner’s works, you can throw in the towel. If you have a fantasy on how you would like your dream wedding to look like, you can give a vivid description of it to the wedding planner.

how to find a good wedding planner in chicago

Have a meet

Now you have already gotten a referral from Instagram or your bestie and you have sent a mail to the recommended wedding planner, and you have gotten a reply. What is your next line of action? Have a date! Ask for a meet up with your prospective event planner so you can assess the person on a personal scale. You should have a concise list that has details of the scheduled date of your wedding, the number of guests you are inviting and the total cost you have in mind. At the meeting, lay out your terms and see if the planner can work around what you have on your wish list. Tell the planner about your likes and dislikes and some other things he/she should know about you to avoid a clash of interest. Questions like “How long will it take you to execute your plans? How can I be of help to ensure that everything runs smoothly? What is your flat rate? ,” should pop up. It is always advisable not to go with the cheapest option because it is not always worth it.
Try to see how compatible you are with your planner. You must be very comfortable and feel relaxed around the individual that is going to manage your big day. It is imperative. Ask light questions like why and when they delved into wedding planning. Try to get them to tell you about the highest and lowest points in their career. You should have an idea of their experience in wedding planning. Experienced wedding planners always deliver top-notch services.
Ask for a vendor list from the planner. A professional wedding planner always works with trustworthy caterers, florists, decorators, and photographers. Check in with the vendors recommended by the planner and do a background check on them to see if their customers were impressed with their services. After this meeting, you should be able to decide if you click or not. This is the person you will spend the next few months of your life communicating with every day.

Follow your instincts

If after meeting a professional planner that ticks all your boxes, you still feel something in your gut, like something doesn’t add up. It’s best to halt. Seek out another planner; it is better to start from the scratch than to have a disastrous wedding.

For more tips on wedding planning, subscribe to our blog. You will receive an email each time a new post is added.

Here is some additional reading from some great books on How to find a wedding planner or how to plan the wedding yourself.

 

5 Tips for planning your wedding on a budget

Planning a wedding will be stressful at times, especially when you need to follow a strict budget. As your wedding day approaches, your heart will no doubt be racing with excitement and anticipation. This is going to be one of the most memorable days of your life. The overall beauty and success of this event depend largely on careful planning.

What if you are on a budget but still want to have that remarkable wedding? You can have an inexpensive wedding that has all the glitz and glamour of a $75,000 wedding — without getting into debt! The following tips could help achieve just that.

planning your wedding on a budget

  1. STICK TO YOUR BUDGET

Be frank about what you can realistically spend for your wedding ceremony. Stick to your budget, but be flexible as prices go up. Also, make room for unanticipated costs.

  1. SCHEDULE YOUR WEDDING FOR THE OFF-SEASON

Planning your wedding to take place before April or after October could potentially save you cost on venue and catering services. You are likely to get better rates by having your wedding on a weekday rather than on weekends.

  1. CUT DOWN ON YOUR WEDDING GUEST LIST

Fewer guests mean fewer expenses. Do not feel pressured to invite everyone on your guest list and do not allow guests to come along with other uninvited guests. This way, everyone present will be well taken care of.

  1. SHOP ONLINE FOR A BETTER BARGAIN

 Shopping Amazon or eBay could save you a few hundred bucks on your wedding dress or accessories. Be sure to buy from only top-rated and trusted sellers who will deliver on time.

  1. ASK FRIENDS FOR HELP

Rather than paying for every form of service needed for the wedding day, ask reliable friends and family to assist with services like decorations and transportation. They will feel honored to contribute to your success.

There you have it, five vital tips to ensure you don’t punch a fat hole in your savings to do a wedding and still have it all shades of elegance and vogue. We hope you find them just as useful.

If you’ve got any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Kindly leave a comment below and we’d get back to you as soon as possible.

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How to find a wedding photographer in Chicago

How to find a wedding photographer? It’s not hard if you follow a few simple tips. The cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago and most cities is all over the map. Being a professional wedding photographer (who also photographed bands, models and architecture), I want to shed some light on facts regarding wedding photography in the Chicago area. I hope these tips help you find a wedding photographer. I’ve been a wedding photographer since 2005 so I’ve seen a few weddings. 

chicago wedding photography vendors

So what is the average cost of a Chicago wedding photographer?

Chicago is a big city and offers plenty of options when it comes to wedding photography. Well, maybe unlucky actually, since there are way too many options to choose from, and many are bad. Now check this out. From recent college grads to enthusiastic amateurs, to weekend shooters, to large national studios and independent photography studio owners like myself, the market is beyond saturated. People looking to make extra money will go to Best Buy, buy a camera package, and start placing ads for their wedding photography business. These people should not be advertising themselves as wedding photographers.

I took this line from a Chicago photographer studio’s website. I couldn’t disagree more:

As a general rule of thumb, experienced photographers in Chicago tend to start anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000+. Within the under $3,000 range you can find large corporate studios or less experienced weekend wedding photographers.

REALLY?! Listen up brides, and anyone else looking for a wedding photographer in Chicago! This statement cannot be further from the truth. Most photographers I have seen, who charge in the range of $3,000 and $5,000, are garbage. You heard me right. GARBAGE! Either their personality or work is faulty. Just because they charge high prices does not make them good. I charged under $2,000 for most weddings because I wanted to work and undercut these big studios. I know how to work my camera. I know what aperture and Fstop means and how to white balance and when to use various settings. I never shoot in full auto. Most of these “photographers” shoot in full auto and hope for the best. They’ll take 2,000 or more photos, hoping to get 500 good ones. That’s called the shotgun approach. That’s truth. I’ve been into photography since I was a kid and learned how to shoot early on, develop actual film in a darkroom, and work with studios all by the age of 19. Do I sound bitter? You bet. I get very upset hearing about wedding couples spending lots of money on garbage photography or bad wedding vendors in general. I’ve had many brides tell me their wedding photographer horror stories. I heard these things when I was photographing their friend’s wedding. This is what happens when you hire a big name wedding photography studio or someone looking to make a fast buck. Please don’t hire a studio because they have been around forever. Most studios worship the ground you walk on until you sign the dotted line. You will wait MONTHS to get your wedding photos. A friend of mine waited 18 months before seeing their photos! 18 MONTHS! I wanted to photograph his wedding but he insisted I enjoy myself that day as a guest. Fair enough. My average turn around for a fully edited set of 1,000 or more wedding photos was around 8 weeks. I’ve had friends who worked as video editors at a couple big name wedding photo and video studios. Not only were the working conditions bad, the pay was poor, and they constantly fielded phone calls from upset customers.

finding a chicago wedding photographer

Don’t meet your photographer on your wedding day!

Unfortunately, picking the photographer who shows up to capture your wedding when working with a large studio is like picking a name from a hat ranging from a bad personality to the inexperienced photographer. You don’t know what you’re going to get most of the time. You don’t get to meet your chosen photographer before your wedding day. Who wants that? I saw this photographer show up at a wedding once with the unbuttoned shirt, black chest hair and gold chains. He was a “Joey Cologne.” So embarrassing.

The key is to know what you’re looking for in a photographer, compare portfolios online, read lots of reviews and pick the best choice based on how important photography is for your wedding day. The best news is that in a city like Chicago there is a photographer for every budget and every style, so that no wedding will go undocumented! Not all big studios are bad but I wanted to shed some light on this.

beautiful chicago bride

 

All great photographers start out with no clients. The key to finding any wedding vendor is personality. When I was getting married and looking for a DJ, I hired my DJ while working the same wedding with him. I didn’t see how he worked a room and I didn’t have to. Within 5 minutes of meeting him at the reception hall we were both working, I hired him on the spot. I continue to refer only him and we’re still friends to this day. Personality is the largest part of everything, then comes experience. There are 2 types of photographers. Those who take photos and those who make art (with a personality.)

 

So, my wedding photography tips are:

  1. Surf around the web and look at work and pricing. If you can’t afford it, it’s pointless to meet with them. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
  2. Once you narrow it down to at least half a dozen in your price range, see what work you like best, what style, etc. and talk with them on the phone. I am a firm believer in reading people and going with your gut. Talking over the phone is a great start and will show you who they are.
  3. If you like them after steps 1 and 2, meet up. Again, go with your gut. Be honest with them and let them know you are looking.
  4. Don’t be afraid to look at craigslist if you want. I even placed ads on craigslist.
  5. Have fun.
  6. A fun thing to do is purchase instant / disposable cameras and leave them at each table at the reception. Have your wedding guests take photos and leave the cameras with you at the end of the night. It’s a lot of fun to see all the hundreds of photos taken by guests from their perspective.
  7. Another thing you can do is create an instagram account and have wedding guests take photos and upload to that account. Make sure everyone has the username and password. You can put these credentials on the wedding invitation. People get a kick out of this. If they post online make sure they use a hashtag that everyone knows so they can go out and search.

So get creative! Here are some cool books and resources to help you out with your wedding day. Don’t rely solely on your wedding photographer to capture your day.

Am I available to photograph your wedding? You bet. Although I don’t advertise anymore, I still love photographing Chicago weddings and couples. Get ahold of me if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading this blog on how to choose the right wedding photographer for you. Subscribe to this blog to get notification when a new post is up.

Steve