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The Art of Baking | Interview with Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria | Wedding Secrets Unveiled! Podcast  

Today, we’re chatting with Randi Smith, the owner of Sugar Euphoria in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s sharing her story: from baking with her grandmother every Saturday to baking magnificent wedding cakes for modern couples. We’ll discuss how the post-pandemic wedding boom affects the baking industry and where to begin when finding your wedding cake designer. Today’s episode is sure to inspire your creativity and help your wedding cake be the part of your day that people won’t stop talking about! 

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Meet Randi. 

I’m the owner of Sugar Euphoria, a boutique wedding cake and dessert company. We’re located in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina and we serve couples who are looking to infuse both art and sweetness into their wedding cake and desserts.

Explain what you mean by art and sweetness! That sounds amazing. 

I always thought that cakes had to be either beautiful or delicious. So, I set out to merge the two and let people know that you don’t have to choose between them. You can truly have a cake that looks like a work of art and can infuse different aspects of your overall design so your cake is the focal point. But, you can also have something that tastes really, really good. 

Yummy! Tell me a little bit about how did you got into all of this.

That’s a great question. I actually grew up baking with my mom and my grandmother almost every single Saturday and Sunday in the Bahamas.  I was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas. And we made things like traditional Bahamian foods like guava dove and like coconut tarts, but we would also try our hand at different cakes and cookies and tarts and things like that, too. My grandmother and her sisters used to make wedding cakes back in the 70s and 80s. I kind of inherited the love for baking from her. But I went off to school in North Carolina and I did not pick up a whisk the entire four years. It wasn’t until I was in grad school and all my friends had left me that I used to sit on the couch and binge watch Cake Boss. And I thought to myself “if these big burly dudes can make these beautiful cakes! What’s stopping me from doing the same thing?”. From there, Sugar Euphoria was born. 

There’s trends in the cake industry. What are you seeing right now? It seems like the bigger, the better – grand cakes are coming back.

Grand is coming back, and I don’t know if that’s just a function of the pandemic and all the micro weddings people were having, or what. But we and by we, I mean cake designers all across the world, are seeing the return of larger cakes with that old school piping detail, that old school swag with the pillars. I’ve even seen some with LED lights and waterfalls… but yeah, the grand cakes are making a comeback. Like you said, its cyclical. 

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What do you think about hanging cakes? 

So we have done a couple of those for styled shoots. But, I actually like the idea of floating cakes. You just have to be really careful about the design, because if you’re using acrylic spacers, the design could look unfinished. It’s just something to think about. So, I would just caution people to make sure that it looks like a complete cake and not something that’s kind of disjointed.

Let’s break down the process for working with a cake designer. What are the first steps that couples have to start thinking about when they’re thinking about their wedding cake?

The first thing that I always say folks should start thinking about is the very unsexy elephant in the room, which is the budget and headcount. So, when you think about it, consider your venue and how many people they can hold so you know how many people you might be serving. It’s important to think about catering and rental items you’d have to get, too, because you need to consider your cake or desserts in that budget, too. You want to be really clear on how much you have to spend before you even start reaching out to folks to design your wedding cake. So, just like every other thing when it comes to your wedding, the funds matter. 

Question for you: what’s the average budget for cake in your neck of the woods?

Oh, great question. I would say on average, folks are probably spending $650 for a 100 person butter cream cake, because that’s a nice round number. Obviously, you might find someone who’s starting out who could charge $450 or so, that’s what I did when I started. But in my neck of the woods, about $650 is average for that kind of cake! 

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Got it. So then once they start thinking about budget, then what does the couple have to consider?

After that, I would always suggest that they start looking for vendors. I think looking on social media and identifying cake designers or companies that fit the aesthetic that they’re going for. Once you’ve established the theme and feel of your wedding, you want to find people who can immerse themselves in that and will make a cake that’s cohesive. Bakers specialize in all sorts of techniques, so you want to be aware of what kind of cakes they make. Save yourself (and the professionals) some time by honing in on someone who can make what you want, then compare rates/pricing against your budget. 

When should a couple start looking for their perfect baker?

Prior to the pandemic, I would have said maybe 6 months before the wedding would be a safe timeline. But, now that we’re in this wedding boom, I would say 12 months before if you have time. We’re seeing bakers book out to 2023, which is almost unheard of before now as a cake designer. So, the earlier, the better. Most will let you put a down payment to secure your date and you can get some peace of mind. If you see a baker that you like, their price point is good, and the cake tastes great, then go ahead and lock them in. You can always continue your conversations about the budget moving forward! 

I think it’s really important to understand that we are in this wedding boom. And seriously, it’s not too early – ever – to start making those plans. So I assume once you book someone, you could talk more about the design but set up a payment plan or something? 

Yeah, exactly. We’ll talk about the design and guest count. We have a proposal that we sent out, but we don’t really force people to pay the whole thing up front! Once the retainer is paid, we can start to sketch – which we’ll go back and forth on some, because we want people to have their dream cake at their wedding. We continue to have couples pay at certain points in the process so we can purchase what we need up until we deliver the cake. I think that’s pretty standard across the cake industry. 

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

You talked a little bit about earlier that you want cakes to be yummy and pretty. Let’s talk about yummy. Talk to me about flavors, what is a popular flavor or one that you think more people should consider? 

Oh man. I feel like flavors have trends too. That’s kind of what I’ve noticed as I look through the data over the years. I actually looked at this recently – one of our most popular flavors is on the chocolate side, called Jamocha Me Crazy. It’s a chocolate cake with espresso buttercream and dulce de leche. It’s one of the most popular cakes on the menu! For a lighter flavor, it’s our Summer Lovin’ cake, which is lemon cake with lemon curd and quadruple berry buttercream. We also have another popular one, called Tea Time. It’s chai flavored cake – cardamom, cinnamon with a chai syrup and spiced cream cheese frosting. It’s been on the menu for a while but is suddenly gaining popularity. Honestly, I think it’s great for a fall or brunch wedding! 

Those all sound amazing and I love the names! Can you tell me more about incorporating a client’s wedding design into the cake? I know you mentioned you sketch out the designs.

I like to encourage folks to bring a few different design elements to their consultation, whether in person or virtual. It helps us designers hone in on the theme. People can say “boho”, “whimsical” or “earthy”, but until we actually see what they’re planning, it’s hard to really get the feel. Bring your invitation suite, swatches of linens, pictures of your dress or attendants dresses, those kinds of things. If you know your colors, bring the HEX codes so I can use them in my designs. I sketch on my iPad and the couple is able to provide feedback right on the design.

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

That’s great. Can we talk about the things that impact pricing?

Oh yeah, that’s a good topic. So one of the factors that folks want to keep in mind is that choosing premium flavors will impact the price. Some designs may have a premium list versus standard flavors, but that’s something to consider. Size is always going to factor into the cost and the exterior finish on the cake – fondant, buttercream, or other edible components like sugar flowers, edible 24K gold – those will always affect it, too. Another thing people need to consider is if they’re going to keep the top tier. Because, if you’re going to set aside that tier, we need to make a lower layer bigger or have additional servings ready in the kitchen. 

Let’s talk about the alternatives to a wedding cake! 

If you’re a big foodie like myself, you know that there are so many different things that you can incorporate on your dessert table in place of or in addition to your wedding cake. I personally feel like the options are endless. But, some of the trends I’ve been seeing online are macarons. They’re popular because you can change the shell color to match your theme, the fillings are fun, and they’re just so pretty! I don’t know what it is about macarons, but they elevate your table and display so much. Cupcakes are also here to stay. 

Do you find that that’s an alternative to the wedding cake or do you find that sometimes that’s an additional thing?

I feel like folks have those as an alternative to a larger wedding cake. So we usually have people requesting cupcakes or mini cupcakes when they just want to cut a cake for photos but want the guests to have something else. It’s nice because you can give your guests variety in their desserts. Cupcakes are familiar and easy to eat. But, on the down side, they can get pricier than anyone expects. 

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Oh, that’s a surprise! 

ItYeah, it’s hard to budget as hard to figure out serving sizes. Because you want to order more than you think you might need, but not enough you’ll have too many leftovers. You have to determine if you’re a big dessert group. Does your family love dessert? Do your friends love dessert? How do you guys feel about that? Because it kind of gives me an idea. So I would say actually, knowing your guests and their tastes is also pretty important.

Oh, I was just gonna say one other thing to consider when you are thinking about many desserts is the fact that you have to display them somehow. When you start incorporating more desserts, you have to remember how many platters, stands, or whatever you’ll need – and how much that costs. Different vendors may be able to provide them, so have that conversation with your venue, baker, caterer, and rental company. 

Can you tell us a little bit about one of your favorite designs that you’ve ever done for a cake?

Yes, I have to admit that I am a sucker for a dark colored wedding cake. There’s something striking about those cakes! One of my favorite cakes was a multi-tier black cake that had a lot of edible 24K gold and was accented with white orchids. It was a beautiful picture! 

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What are some key points that our couples should be asking their baker when they’re inquiring to make sure that they are working with a professional company, and that their wedding day is going to be absolutely perfect?

Determine whether or not the company is certified. That looks different in different locations, but ensure that they’re certified and have a current license. 

Find out of if the company has an active insurance policy. I hope nothing ever happens, but if someone has a reaction or gets food poisoning or something, you want to be sure that you will be protected. For a lot of venues, they already require this kind of thing before a vendor can work there, but it’s nice to confirm. 

Ask about the company’s delivery process! Make sure they deliver to your venue, how they handle mileage or other fees for delivery. You should also ask what they bring vs. what you need to provide and what gets returned back to them after the event. Don’t forget to ask what happens if your cake is ruined in transit and what their refund policies are for cakes that can’t be served at the wedding because something happened. 

Links Mentioned in the Episode

You can find Sugar Euphoria: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Cake Designer: Tips from Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What We Discussed

The process of working with a baker (7:04)

When to start looking for a wedding cake designer (9:48)

Popular flavors at Sugar Euphoria (12:15)

Factors that affect cake pricing (16:48)

Alternatives to wedding cake (20:08)

Wrap-Up Question (31:39)

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