I belong to a cake decorator's website where I am in conversation with cake designers (and some caterers) from all over the country. And periodically the topic of "Sponsored Weddings" comes up.
In case you don't know what it is, it's the idea that a bride will get vendors to "sponsor" her wedding by doing the cake or the food or the DJ'ing for free in exchange for advertising, like listing your company name in the program, and the promise of "all of those guests who will see your cake!" (or eat your food or hear your music).
This is not a new concept. It surfaces about every 7-10 years. This is my third or fourth round of dealing with the concept in my cake-making lifetime. But everytime it surfaces, people think it's a new idea and think they are so original for thinking of it.
Will I sponsor a wedding?
Let me make it perfectly clear. No.
See, I still have a daughter at home and she's kind of used to having 3 meals a day and sleeping in a home with heat and running water. I haven't figured out how to get the power company to "sponsor" my monthly electrical usage, so they expect me to send them cash every month. Walmart won't sponsor my grocery bill, even if I promise to tell everyone that I buy my groceries from them.
I've also figured out that all of the wedding guests will see my cake and eat my food whether it's paid for or if it's donated (aka "free"). So I don't see the benefit at my end.
I've had a number of brides list my company in their program and THEY paid full price for their cake and catering. Again, I don't see the benefit for me to be listed for a FREE cake as opposed to a paid cake. (By the way, I don't expect to be listed, so my extreme thanks to those brides who went above and beyond by thanking their vendors in this way.)
If I can't afford my grocery bill, I have to cut the amount of groceries I buy, or I have to have Mac-n-Cheese and hot dogs for dinner, instead of steak on the grill with lobster tail on the side. If I can't afford my electric bill, I need to buy energy efficient lights and make sure if no one is watching TV, that it's turned off.
It's considered an oddball idea, but hey, brides, try this one. If you can't afford the party for 250 guests, try trimming your guest list or having a luncheon instead of a dinner. But please don't play the poverty card with me and try to get me to take food off of my family's table in one breath, then turn around in the next breath and tell me you're planning a party for 250 of your "closest friends"
It doesn't fly with me ... and it doesn't fly with other vendors either. I am not here to subsidize your grandized dream wedding. I'm in business to make a living to feed my family.
What usually happens is the free advertising we get is "call Debi ... SHE does free cakes!" I can't afford that kind of advertising.Now before you think I'm a big Scrooge and can't sympathize or emphathize with those who are trying to have a nice wedding on a tight budget, let me assure you that I HAVE done free and donated weddings. We dont' advertise it (well, until this blog post, I guess!) but once a year I pick a couple and just decide to do their cake or food for free.
Being a military mom, it's usually a military couple. I don't tell them ahead of time. I just surprised them by telling them "Keep that check .... today's event is free."
And I'm not the only one. Read this newspaper story where a number of us pulled together for a Valentine's Day wedding for a groom who was shipping out to Iraq just 72 hours after his wedding. http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/articles/2009/02/14/news/01.txt
We work very closely with our brides to cut their costs as much as possible. We coach them on how to get control of their headcount. We have flat pricing for our cakes, meaning we dont' charge extra for every little thing. We offer suggestions on whether they need appetizers or if they can skip spending the extra $1000-$2000 or not. We're already working to keep your costs down because we respect the fact that no one has unlimited funds and they are spending a lot of money on this event.
Please respect the fact that I can't afford to do free cakes. That's not why I went into business.
Debi Brim can be reached via email at email@example.com