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Question for wedding cake bakers/designers

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
We were recently married, and we had ordered a 3-tier cake decorated with gum paste flowers. When it came time to cut the cake, the caterer told us that the baker had told her that the flowers were to be saved and returned to the baker. The baker had not discussed this with us when we ordered the cake, and it was not mentioned in the contract we had with her. Is this normal policy, to take back gum paste flowers from a purchased wedding cake? It seems bizarre to us, so I wanted to check with those of you in the business to see if we have a legitimate complaint or just a misunderstanding of industry practices. Thank you!
post #2 of 15
I can not imagine doing this to a bride! I make gum paste flowers on a regular basis - the bride purchases them. After pouring alot of love into them it is a shame to just throw them away - that is why I tell my brides to keep them. They can be kept in a glass case forever or until you get tired of them!

Maybe she considered them like a use but not keep. Look at your contract (if you had one) and look to see if you were charged for them. If so, ask the decorator for them. They are yours!

PS. That was MASSIVELY tacky of her!
post #3 of 15
I agree. Once gumpaste flowers go on a cake, they are theirs to keep! I'm imagining the baker wants to re-use the flowers, and that's just......well....not right! That is NOT the standard, to ask for the decorations to be returned!

The only thing I tell my clients to return is the heavy duty bottom board that the lowest tier sits on. They know about it upfront, and get a $25 deposit back once they return the board.

Although gumpaste flowers are technically edible, no one really eats them. Still, they are considered "food" and for the baker to ask for them back is like giving a basket of bread to the next table that the first table didn't eat. Very distasteful....very tacky!
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much, both of you! We will be writing her a letter asking for some compensation, and maybe she will know better next time.
post #5 of 15
No, not acceptable. By taking them back I would assume they flowers will be re-used, not a very sanitary option. IMO you were probably paying for recycled flowers from someone elses cake. In 20 years I have never heard of someone doing that.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
Fluctuat nec mergitur
post #6 of 15
Yikes!!! On your wedding day the last thing anyone should ever do is to divert any attention from your joyous day!! I agree it was tacky, rude and unacceptable. I would request compensation, or I would write a letter to the local newspaper, warning potential brides and grooms as to this policy.

Hope your wedding was spectacular, this aside. :)
post #7 of 15
Since you ordered this custom cake with gum paste flowers, the price quoted to you was for what you ordered unless specified in writing elsewhere. Having been in catering industry many years never heard of such a thing. If the caterer purchased a tuxedo and when he picked it up was told the buttons do not go with it they have to be returned to the tailor what would he do????????
You are entitled to compansation.
post #8 of 15

I have made cakes for many, many years.. I have never heard of someone wanting the decorations back..

Don't forget to feed the pig...


Don't forget to feed the pig...

post #9 of 15
My best friend ran into the same thing. The top tier of her cake was fake (it was a crazy nouveau cake which totally defied gravity) and she knew ahead of time it had to be returned along with the bases of the other cakes. I agree with all the posts regarding how tacky, gross and just plain WRONG that is.
post #10 of 15
If the question is, was the baker within her rights to ask for the flowers back, then the answer is "she was certainly entitled to ask."

If the question is, did the baker have the "right" to force you to return the flowers, the answer is more complicated.

If the question is, now that you've returned the flowers are you entitled to some form of compensation, the answer is "probably not."

A contract is an agreement between parties, following a fair negotiation, in which one party agrees to provide goods and/or services to the other in exchange for some form of valuable consideration.

One of the elements of the contract that lawyers look at -- even in the biggest cases -- is the intent of each party as the nature of the actual agreement -- especially if something is left unsaid.

Your particular case is difficult to analyze from because the facts are ambiguous. It seems the flowers were not mentioned in a writing, since you were suprised; but it also seems as if the baker was in the habit of getting her flowers back since she informed the caterer, probably when the cake was delivered. This was somewhat late notice, but to my mind it can be argued that it reflects the bakers probable contention that the failure to include the flowers in the writing was an accidental omission.

That your caterer did not inform you until you were ready to cut the cake, is the fault of your caterer, and was a display of incredibly bad timing -- but it's not part of the contract analysis. If the circumstances allowed a more competent caterer would have informed another member of your family, your mother for instance, and asked her to tell you about the flowers. Sometimes that's not possible; sometimes the first time the caterer has a chance to talk to anyone is the bride at the cake. But not usually.

Back to the contract analysis: When you returned the flowers, you understood that you were giving them back to the baker and would not be receiving any further consideration from her. Whether or not they were yours or hers at the time is questionable. Whether or not they are yours or hers now seems less so since you implied acknowledgment of her rights by returning the flowers. The best you can say is that you were distracted, mistaken, pressured by the caterer, and negotiations regarding your flowers to the extent they occurred at all were one-sided and unfair. Thin. Too thin to win in a small claims court which is where the matter would go. You'd do better if this was about diamonds than gum flowers.

It's unlikely you have any rights reserved under the contract.

You may or may not want to get to the bottom of the whole mess by asking the baker what her usual practice is.

I'm not giving you legal advice. You're probably not in my jurisdiction, and even if you were it's not a matter for a lawyer. I agree with the other posters that the practice of taking the flowers back is a bad one. But as one person to another, I think putting the whole thing behind you is the best idea.

post #11 of 15
:suprise: WTH?
1) the contract is a legally binding document. Unless it so states specifially in exact language, you are not obligated to return the whatevers or do anything else the caterer wants.
2) In my years, I have NEVER heard of such a thing. All of the gunky deco stuff on a cake is always the property of the customer: take it, have it, and enjoy it in good health.
3) I would just ignore this bit of unpleasantness, but make sure that you cross of that caterer of your list of go-to food service pros
4) BTW, IMHO what you describe is totally NOT professional.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 


We ended up writing a letter to the decorator, and we asked for a partial refund. A week or so later, we received a box that contained the flowers. They were placed in one of those plastic organic greens boxes, not individually wrapped, so they banged all around against each other in the box and shattered. However, she had packed around this plastic box carefully with newspaper and foam, so I think in a strange way she was trying to be careful with them.

There was a letter enclosed. It said that there was a miscommunication -- she didn't mean to keep the flowers from us. It's just that in this world there is too much waste, and she just didn't want them to go to waste. So, she decided to keep them for use on one of her display cakes. I'm not sure how she "knew" we were going to "waste" them, but then again, I am about as privy to her personal thoughts about gumpaste flowers as she was to ours.

It also said that the flowers on the picture we had given her looked like buttercream, but she wanted to make our cake "even more spectacular" by using gumpaste flowers. This is not true, because the cake in the picture we showed her was very obviously covered with gumpaste flowers and could not be mistaken for buttercream. We had explicitly discussed this fact at our initial meeting, so there could be no ambiguity on this point.

It went on to say how amazing and beautiful the cake was, how it was her favorite, and how when she saw the letter was from us she was excited to hear our praise, but then was embarrassed to read what we wrote. She expressed that the fact that we weren't happy with her taking back the flowers took away some of the joy she had experienced in creating the cake. (I only wish the cake had been as beautiful and amazing as she felt it to be -- the fact that it looked almost amateurishly done and used a completely different color palette than the one we showed her made the cake a disappointment, even without the flower incident. However, it did taste amazing!)

In any case, we are now the owners of a plastic box full of broken gumpaste flowers, and a guilt-trip :rolleyes:. I think she is someone who genuinely meant well, but whose judgment is just off somehow. We're going to let the whole thing go at this point.


Just to clarify: we did not return the flowers to her willingly -- they were taken, against our clearly expressed wishes, by the caterer, who for some unknown reason was acting on behalf of the cake decorator. It's certainly not worth a small claims court action (!!), but it's worth pointing out to her so that she does not do something like this again.
post #13 of 15
The most important thing is you're married. I don't want to take the legal analysis any further than I already have for what you're paying me. I understand what you were going through at the time; identify and agree with you completely; and believe the caterer was an officious little witch. Not only was it something the caterer should have stayed out of entirely, but her timing gets the oscar for "worst ever by a caterer."

My legal advice is to never use the word "classy" with the names of the baker or caterer in the same sentence. Or even on the same day. If there's justice on earth, they're booked to do the GOP convention.

Best wishes,
post #14 of 15
Congratulations on your wedding!!
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you mpeirson, and thank you everyone for your input!
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