Monday, July 27, 2009

Sign a contract?? But it's "just a cake"!

Why do we need a 3 to 15 page contract for “just a cake”?

It seems nice and simple. If you pay me to deliver a cake, or a set catering menu, then I need to deliver that cake or buffet. And if I deliver said cake or buffet, then you need to pay me. Right?

You’d think it should be that simple. But over and over, we vendors run into situations that cause us headaches and stress, so we just decide its one more thing that we have to spell out in triplicate so people get it.

Want some examples? I have plenty. These are ALL true stories.

Wedding cake is set up at venue. All is fine and cake designer leaves. Small children begin running thru the reception room and start using the cake table as home plate, jarring the table over and over as they run up and grab the table at full speed. Cake falls. Mother of the bride calls cake designer and demands a full refund because the cake fell. (I guess it’s considered bad protocol to sue Cousin Sarah because she refused to discipline her unruly child who caused the cake to fall!)

So since other people are irresponsible, we cake designers have to put in our contract that if little cousin Jimmy runs up to the table and jars the table which causes the cake to fall down, it’s not the cake person’s fault!


Bride orders cake for 200. Cake designer makes cake for 200. Bride’s best friend, who swears she knows how to cut a wedding cake, cuts the cake into brick size pieces, instead of proper wedding portion pieces and only 125 people get served cake. Bride wants to sue cake designer for not providing enough cake.

So since someone else cut the cake wrong, we cake designers have to put in our contract that if there is a shortage of cake due to improper cutting by someone not employed by the cake designer, then it’s not the designer’s fault if bride runs out of cake.


Bride invites 300 guests and orders cake for 300. Cake designer tries to convince bride that all 300 will not show up and she can safely order cake for 200 to save money. Bride is confident that she is the most popular person on the face of the earth and pays for 300 cake servings. Bride has 175 people show up (note: See my blog entry on Debi’s 60% Rule!) and when she has a lot of cake leftover, she goes into buyer’s remorse and starts crying how the cake designer cheated her by “forcing” her to buy more cake than she needed.

So since a bride won’t believe she’s not the center of the universe, a cake designer has to put in the contract “Bride was advised 300 servings would be too much cake and bride declined to reduce order” to show that it’s not the designer’s fault if there is too much cake leftover.


Bride plans an outdoor reception. Cake designer tries to tell her that cake icing made of butter doesn’t fare well in the 90+ degree heat in August, but to no avail. Before the cake can be served, the icing is melting and the buttercream roses are falling off of the cake. Bride wants to sue the cake designer for RUINING her wedding!

So since a bride can’t comprehend that butter based materials will melt in hot temperatures, a cake designer has to put in the contract that if the bride places the cake in improper temperature setting, it’s not the cake designer’s fault if a butter-based icing melts in warm temperature.


So when you hear of someone who is appalled at the long contracts that must be read and signed with every wedding vendor they come in contact with, you might remind them of this article. You might explain they have to sign a large contract because the clients who have gone before them have created problems for the vendors with illogical assumptions and silly actions.

I started out with a simple one page contract. Because of “lessons learned” like those cited here, I’m now up to 3 pages of little tiny font.

And it grows a little bit more each year.


  1. Wow, fascinating info, Debi! Just discovered your site through one of your other followers. I will most definitely be back!


  2. Appreciate all your useful articles, so much info and... thank you a lot!