How To Safeguard Your Prized Props with Very Vanilla

I have invested in quite a few cake stands over the years (a small army may be closer to the reality and I hold Prop Options 100% responsible!). Having had a few near misses in retrieving them (and a handful of mysterious ‘vanishing’ stands), it got me thinking about ways that we can keep them safe or at least cover ourselves financially against losses.

I didn’t come from a business background when I first set up in 2018, and I have certainly done many things that don’t make good business sense! So, in a bid to help others entering the industry and those who may have also come unstuck when loaning their cake stands or separators, I’m delighted to share a little insight from my own experiences, alongside best practice advice from some industry friends too!

Tip One: Communication

When I started out in the industry, I was happy to drive up to an hour to a wedding venue to collect a cake stand after an event. I saw it as a great opportunity to see the planning team again and build a rapport! It may not make the most business sense, but I do think it helped me make an impression in the early stages. However, I’d advise on this with caution as it backfired a couple of times. I also found that the busier I became, the harder it was to fit in a magical mystery tour of the Cotswolds collecting in cake stands!

The first time it went wrong, I’d driven 50-minutes to collect a pedestal stand only to be told that a well-meaning family member had taken it back with them to London! Although frustrating, it was a perfect example of the need for clear communication. And if I had taken a deposit or charged a hire fee (more on this later!), I may not have been as out of pocket, so it really came down to my planning and experience – or lack thereof – at the time!

My advice, if you’re going down this same route, is to communicate your intention to collect the cake stand clearly with your couples and ensure this is communicated with the venue in advance. However, as well-meaning friends and family often come back to collect styling props for couples, this information can still get lost in translation! To avoid this, I always make a point of speaking to the planner in charge before leaving a wedding venue and ask them to leave the stand somewhere safe until I collect it.

Tip two: Hire fees and deposits

It may sound obvious, but knowing the generous nature of us bakers, protecting ourselves or our investments doesn’t always come naturally – I have been in the position in the past where I didn’t take a deposit or a hire fee only to lose a premium glass cake stand that I needed for a wedding the following weekend – cue an express purchase and a quick loss of income.

Laura Jaramillo from Loli Patisserie safeguards herself against this scenario: “I charge a cake stand hire deposit and a cake stand hire fee. The deposit is reimbursed once my cake stand arrives safely and the cake stand hire covers the courier fee back.”

Bec Swan from Home Farm Kitchen, Jess Howells from Flour and Fold, and One Part Love Bakery and Cake Makers Collective co-founder Jess Skinner, all told me that they take a holding deposit, which is issued back to their couples when their cake stands are returned. Jess from One Part Love, added: “The deposit will make sure that you’re covered if anything happens to your stands while they’re not in your care.”

Tip three: Brand your stands

For busy venues with weddings on consecutive days throughout the height of a wedding season, it’s very easy for stands to get lost – and turning up to collect your ‘white cake stand’, only to find that it’s not yours is not so much fun! Adding your branding to the base of your stand or separators makes it easier for the venue to ensure that the correct item is returned to you.

You can purchase logo stickers quite cheaply and readily online or take advantage of Prop Options’ new personalisation service, available across their wooden cake stand range, and have your logo niftily lasered onto the base or plate!

Tip four: Boxes and pre-paid courier labels

Bec from Home Farm Kitchen leaves a box when delivering wedding cakes so that her customers know how to return the cake stand after the event, adding: “I leave a box if they’re posting it with plenty of packaging to wrap it up.” Jess from Flour and Fold echoed this advice as a great way to avoid scratches and damage too. And Jess Skinner said: “Keep the Prop Options boxes and use those for transport, storage and postage back!. This is a great way to reuse packaging, with the bonus that the boxes are made to fit and come with fantastic recycled protective cardboard!

Pre-paid courier labels and scheduling the collection of your stand after a wedding is a great way to ensure it reaches you safely, but always make sure that you check with the venue first and organise collection for when someone at the venue can help facilitate. You can also safeguard your cake stands and separators against loss or damage in transit with insurance add-ons. Parcel delivery comparison sites like Parcel2Go are great for comparing costs and services to find the right one for you.

I hope the above goes some way to helping safeguard your special prop investments this season. Wishing you, and your cake stands and separators a very safe and brilliant summer ahead!


Daisy Pratt, Very Vanilla

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