Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘saving money’

Ultimate Fake Wedding Cake (Polka Dots)In this economy, couples need to find ways to cut corners. What if they want to cut their cake at the same time? I recently met Emily and Liz from Ultimate Fake Cakes. They create fake cakes to help couples save money and still have a beautiful cake to display at the wedding. A sheet cake in the kitchen is ready for slicing, serving and eating. (Keep your fingers out of the fake cake!)

 

Who knew that was possible? I hope you enjoy reading about their Cakes. 

 

***

 

How did you come up with the idea for your company?  

 

I received a couple of requests for foam cakes from teachers at my children’s school.  I made the first cake and Emily and I did the 2nd one together.  It was a few months later that the idea hit us, this could be a business.  We both really enjoyed it and thought why not?

 

Do you create custom cakes to order?

 

We do custom orders.  We encourage our brides to visit wedding cake sites, find that  perfect cake, and bring it to us.  It is one of the perks of our job to see all the different designs that each bride brings to us.

 

 

Do you re-use cakes or is each one new for a new customer?

 

We can reuse them if the cake is returned to us in original condition.

 

What is the best advice (regarding the cake) that you’d offer to a couple who is trying to keep the costs down?

 

The size of the cake is what is going to determine your price.  If they are looking for a lower price a cake with fewer tiers is your better option.  Sugar flowers will cost extra so if you are looking to keep the cost down real or silk flowers are available.

 

What do brides serve to their guests that order fake cakes? 

 

Typically, with our cakes sheet cakes, dessert tables, or cupcakes are served. 

 

Would you ship outside of the area? How would the couple best return the cake to you?

 

Yes, we ship nationwide.  When we purchase the shipping label we can either choose one way or round trip.  If they wish to return the cake we will enclose a return label in the box along with their cake.  They are required to keep the box and all of original shipping packaging to send it back to us. 

 

What would you recommend to the “un-bride”? How could she and her love best incorporate your cakes into a wedding?

 

Our cakes can represent any theme or nontraditional ideas.  We encourage them to bring their idea to us and we will work with them to create their dream wedding.

 

How would a couple handle the cake-cutting ceremony if the cake isn’t real?

 

We have 3 different options.

1.         The top layer can be a real baked cake from your baker.

2.         A slice can be placed in one of the tiers where a cake knife can be inserted giving you the “look of cutting the cake”.

3.         A cake compartment can be placed on the bottom tier in the back where a slice of real cake can be placed.

 

How do you work with the baker? Do you have a preferred bakery that you like to work with?

 

We are willing to work with any baker.

Ultimate Fake Cakes Duo

Thanks to Emily and Liz for the interview!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Gallup Park 2Gallup Park, Ann ArborThere is no question that the economy’s woes are hitting all of us. But that doesn’t mean that we still can’t have some fun and do what we need to do.

 

I have always said that I think a difficulty with American culture is that we don’t talk frankly about money. In Italy, folks would directly ask how much something cost or how much you get paid. It was shocking to me at first, but then I got used to it. It is helpful to have a sense of costs, what other people are paying and if you can do better.

 

I’ve talked about this with Americans and there seems to be a gender difference in the discussion of money. For example, almost everywhere I’ve ever worked, the women bring their lunch in and brag not only about their good cooking, but their cleverness in using the leftovers to create something new. We also talk about the coupons they used to get a bargain when they bought their food. Men don’t seem to be as comfortable doing that and tend to spend more money going out for lunch.

 

These are *huge* generalizations that I would mark down as unsupported claims in an essay I was grading. So prove me wrong. Perhaps the current economy will change how both men and women behave.

 

Here are some things we’ve done lately that were incredibly inexpensive and either useful or just plain relaxing. It helps us with our daily budget and saving for the wedding.

 

Get a haircut at a haircutting school. I went for a haircut at the Douglas J Aveda Institute in Ann Arbor. I made an appointment and paid $16.00 for a great haircut and even a scalp massage. Aveda is a no-tip hair salon, so it was really just $16.00. I love Aveda products and enjoyed the scents of the massage oil and the rosemary conditioner. It took an hour, a little longer than a usual haircut since the instructor checked a few times, but it was worth it. I recommend Stacy, who did my hair with great precision and was fun to chat with.

 

Go to a matinee movie showing. Give up movies? Never. But why not see the new releases at an afternoon show instead of an evening show which may cost a few dollars (or even double) the price of an afternoon show?

 

Sign up for the point programs wherever you go. Sure, it’s tiresome: You don’t want to carry around an extra card or clog up your email account. But, I encourage you to give in and do it. You’ll save and eventually see it as a challenge. For example, we buy bagels at Barry’s Bagels  at the Westgate shopping center in Ann Arbor and we are about to get a free bagel (plus, their “baker’s dozen” isn’t just 13, it is 14! Score.) (Word of advice: some stores have credit cards, not point systems, with their names on them. Be wary of opening up too many credit cards.)

 

Make sure all of your credit cards have a point program. Everything you buy with a credit card should give you points. These points take a LONG time to build up to anything worthwhile, but why not earn a little extra with the money you are already spending?

 

Double your points. We all order online and you can increase (ok, maybe not double) your points. Start by logging into a credit card website and then shopping through their preferred vendor. For example, let’s say you are going to order online with Staples. Log into your credit card company, look for their preferred shopping vendors, enter into the Staples site and then buy something using that credit card and giving Staples your Staples rewards number. Voila! You’ve gotten extra points. Usually, you get more points by ordering through a credit card website than just using the point system set up on your credit card.

 

Look for coupons and sales. I know, it sounds like advice for your grandmother and who buys a paper anymore? But you can look online for sales. If you’ve already signed up with your favorite companies (for points and just to receive notices), the sales will come right to your email in-box. If not, you can look on company websites. Let’s say you have a big purchase coming up at a store you don’t normally shop at. Look on their website and track it for sales. You can even call the store and ask if they know of any upcoming sales. For example, when we moved to Ann Arbor we had some posters we wanted to frame. We went to Michael’s and were quoted a pretty high price, which was surprising since it seemed like an inexpensive framing store. We talked to the saleslady who assured us that sales come around. We signed up online for their coupons and discovered a 50% off framing sale just a week later.

 

Happy Hour. We all know about happy hour, but sometimes forget. Look to see if your favorite restaurant or bar has happy hour or other deals (free dessert on Tuesdays, for example.)  

 

Girl’s afternoon? Stop by the makeup counter in the mall for a free makeover.

 

Go on a self-directed walking tour. Every town has something to see and do. Look online or in travel books for a self-directed walking tour. You’ll see new things and get yourself out of the house. We like to take weekend adventures (ok, we did more of it in the fall when the weather was better) and drive to nearby towns. It is helpful to have a guide to help direct your tour of the town. The town’s municipal website will usually lead you to the right place.

 

Go on a factory tour. We haven’t gone yet, but we can’t wait to go on a tour of the Jiffy factory  in Chelsea, MI. It is closeby and free. (Who doesn’t love those easy to make corn muffins?)

 

Recycle. Some stores offer coupons or discounts for bringing products back for recycling. For example, if you have a Staples rewards card, you can bring back your used cartridges and receive a $3.00 coupon in the mail for each cartridge. I find that most of these deals are with tech products like cartridges, printers, computers, etc.

 

Supermarket sales and local perks. Know your local market. Hillers, a Michigan supermarket chain, offers a 5% discount to anyone with a University of Michigan ID. If there is a sale on a product you buy a lot, stock up. You can freeze it or store it in the cabinet.

 

AAA or other discount programs. If you belong to AAA, ask if museums, hotels, etc. have AAA discounts. We recently went to the Field Museum in Chicago for a reduced rate with the AAA discount (which wasn’t listed anywhere, you have to ask.)

 

Go out for lunch instead of dinner. The lunch menu is usually the same food for less than the dinner menu. Enough said.

 

Go to the library. Do you need to own every book you read? Probably not.

 

Buy used books on amazon.com, half.com, etc. If you must own the book, you can usually buy a cheaper copy of it somewhere.

 

Go to a museum or gallery. Most galleries are free and most museums are inexpensive or have a free night. The Museum of Modern Art has Target Free Fridays which is much cheaper than the usual $20.00 entrance free.

 

Look for free events. Every university, bookstore, Whole Foods, etc. sponsors free events. Go to a reading, food tasting, lecture, etc. and have a good time. The University of Michigan’s MFA program sponsors readings which are wonderful. They want to get you in the store and you want a night out. They will often sell certain products at a reduced rate for the event that they are sponsoring.

 

Enjoy the outdoors. Everyone who knows me knows I’m more of an indoor girl than an outdoor girl. Still, I enjoy a lovely park for a walk. Who couldn’t use the exercise and fresh air (if you’ve already taken that allergy medicine? J ) Gallup Park in Ann Arbor has a great paved path around a lake and welcomes even the most avid indoor person (see the pics above.) Hans and I went there a few times this fall and look forward to returning this spring.

 

Volunteer. There are lots of organizations that make group volunteer projects fun (they want to entice you in, after all.) Look on http://www.volunteermatch.org/ for something in your area.

 

Make lists. Go shopping with lists of what you need and what you might like if it were on sale (the less necessary items.) This will help to ensure that you don’t buy extra and you keep an eye out for certain sales. No impulse buying here.

 

Go out and explore the world! There are times when you must spend money (medicine, rent, etc.), but you can be smart about your day to day purchases. Continue to tip well and help support fellow human beings. Don’t spend money you don’t have unless it is an emergency.

 

When you do come into a little money, remember those non-profits or local stores you visited without spending any money and give them a donation or buy something full price. It is only fair and will help to keep them afloat. They are hurting, too.  

 

 

Read Full Post »