No matter how experienced or for how long any professional or hobby baker has been baking wedding cakes, the transporting of a decadent and intricately designed and extremely carefully made wedding cake will always be nerve-wrecking. I’d be lying if I said even after 7 years of wedding cake making we didn’t get nervous about sending our precious multi-tiered cake-cargo off on its way to its wedding venue – we do, and it’s because we only want our wedding cakes to reach their destinations in pristine condition for our brides and grooms to enjoy!
While I may never be completely nerve-free, what I have learnt is how to minimise risk in the crucial part of the wedding cake making service, which is delivery. I say minimise, purely because there is ALWAYS an element of risk because you cannot control factors out of your hands such as accidents and emergencies or third party handling, but you can certainly mitigate everything else that could go wrong.
Here are the things to consider in ensuring all has been taken care of in terms of delivery and transport of the cake from production or collection site to its final destination:
Ready-Assembled vs Assembly-on-site
Highly decorative, and extremely heavy and fragile tiered cakes should ideally be delivered in parts to be assembled on-site. Extremely heavy AND fragile cakes are doubly hard to lift and manoeuvre by one or even two people. There are hazards in lifting and loading into the car and out, let alone navigate through numerous doors and gates to the actual cake table at the venue. It could also potentially lead to injuries of your lower back or ankles which could put you out of work for some time and hinder your activities (if you have back-to-back wedding cake orders…you risk letting your other customers down!).
I would consider delivering any cake that is above 10kg in parts, where each tier is packaged in its individual box, and assembling on site where the tiers can be stacked and finishing touches added. Make sure to pack all the finishing touch elements, as well as have a tool-kit ready including piping bags fitted with tips, palette knives, paintbrushes and ingredients such as royal icing, edible glue, sprinkles, or buttercream.
Lighter, sturdier or smaller cakes can be easily delivered ready-assembled. By easily I don’t mean you have the free reigns to do whatever you please with it, OBVIOUSLY you have to be mega careful, but you do have the option to deliver it ready assembled without having to plan assembly on-site.
Stacked and dowelled buttercream cakes can be frozen overnight so that they are more resilient in their travels and thaw en-route. However, fondant covered cakes can’t as the fondant would absorb moisture and soften or discolour.
As mentioned above, if you’re delivering an extremely heavy or highly decorative cake then it is best to package each tier separately in its own box. Otherwise taller ready-assembled cakes can be packaged in tall/deep cake boxes and box extensions can also be used to add height and support for the lid. You could also double up on deep box bases for the lid. You will need tape to secure the extenders and lids.
Make sure to cover any gaps left by extenders either with board extenders or cling film.
There is some debate around rigid box versus standard cake boxes. While a rigid box can certainly help against some minor bumps, in my opinion, it offers limited extra protection and a false sense of security eg: when handing over a cake, the recipient might assume the box is strong enough to withstand any shocks, which is far from true. If there is a road incident and the driver has to make a sharp break, no cake could withstand that, whether it is in a standard box, rigid box, or a titanium container for that matter.
Whichever vehicle you choose to deliver in, the cake is best placed on a flat surface with void gaps filled around it and free of any free-moving items that can roll towards the cake. I’ve heard of too many sob stories from cake makers about their customers chucking the cake onto the back seat and finding a smashed up mess on arrival. Always, ALWAYS, on a flat level surface.
If it’s a hot summer’s day, whack on the air conditioner and try to aim for an early start to avoid being in transit during the hottest time of day and be so very wary of leaving the car in direct sunlight during any service station stops or the likes.
And I hope it goes without saying, but DRIVE CAREFULLY - sharp turns and hard breaks or not slowing down for speed bumps could really cause some damage.
This is possibly one of the MOST important aspects of delivering a wedding cake. I’m not joking, but I’ve heard of cake makers who have gone through all the hard work of designing and creating a bespoke wedding cake with a couple only to be in an absolute panic on the day as they did not have the full correct details of delivery and were unable to get in touch with the bride and groom on the day (duh!).
Here is the list of the basic details you should have prepared in advance:
- The full and correct delivery address – to double check, enter the address in google and see if it checks out in the maps and Google earth view and if there is a website for the venue for more details.
- Contact details for people who can help with any queries beforehand eg: bride, groom, wedding planner, venue manager, as well as on-the-day contact.
- Logistics – instructions on parking, loading restrictions, and road conditions eg: steep/bumpy roads etc.
- Assembly and storage - clarification on if you would require any assistance with placing or assembling the cake when on site such as time, a trolley or availability of electrical sockets and a sink.
After having read all of that, you’ll notice that none of this is ground-breaking. It’s just common sense, that sometimes isn’t as common as you’d think! If you have any other tips or questions regarding transporting or delivering wedding cakes, please do drop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you on it.
Keep calm and wedding cake on!
Lots of love,