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Should I Tell My Friendor Her Cake Sucked?

She ate a lot at my wedding

Q:Dear APW,

A friend of mine offered to make my wedding cake. She recently graduated from culinary baking school. She does not own her own business. When she gave me the price quote on my cake I was shocked. So, just for peace of mind I got a quote from a professional baker, which was less than what she was charging. Keep in mind she was going to be a guest at my wedding from the onset. She received an invitation and she verbally committed to attending our wedding after setting the cake up at the venue.

Her quoted price included a $50 delivery fee, which I did not dispute even though she was already going to be at the wedding. During the reception the cake slowly began to tilt. She did not leave proper packaging to box the cake up after the reception. She very much took full advantage of the food and open bar. And she did not even leave a card with a heartfelt note in it for my husband and I. How do I convey all of my concerns about this experience with her, especially because she wants to eventually open up her own bakery?

—Anonymous

A:

Dear Anonymous,

Whew. You’re throwing a whole lot at me. But, the very core of all of it is a bad assumption, so let’s start there: your friends do not owe you free stuff. Nope, never. Even if they’re coming to your wedding. Even if they’re just starting out. Even if they eat and drink a lot at your wedding, because that is what you’re inviting them to do (and pointing out how much they enjoyed themselves is just rude. What, you want your friends not to have a good time at an event you’re hosting?).

Pay your friends. Pay your friends because you want to support them. Because small businesses, especially creative ones, especially those owned by womxn, are undervalued and expected to work “for the love” and not for a decent paycheck. Pay them because exchanging money for a service keeps things nice and simple and clear cut.

But because I can’t let it go, the other stuff too, real fast:

  1. Yeah, it sucks that her fee was high compared to others, but you knew that fee and you agreed to it. And who knows, maybe you’re asking some crappy corner bakery and comparing that to her price for artisanal sugar paste flowers, or something, I don’t know! But her fee is her fee, she told you it, you agreed to it. 
  2. No, it’s not outrageous to charge for delivery if she is, indeed, delivering. You said yourself that she had to go set it up at the venue. I’m assuming she showed up earlier than the other guests. And you bet that transporting an actual cake is a whole THING, keeping it safe and cool and delicately going over potholes. That’s worth extra!
  3. Eep, tilting cake is a serious flub! AND she forgot boxes!? But these are the missteps of an inexperienced baker, and you knew from the outset that you were hiring an inexperienced baker. 
  4. I completely understand your hurt that she didn’t bring a card. But untangle that from the rest, because that’s a little bit of valid friendship-hurt, not “wow your bakery business is gonna suuuuck.” And I’ll just ever-so gently remind you that guests don’t owe you a gift, even if it hurts when they don’t think to bring one.

It’s likely she oversold her skills. It’s certain that she didn’t have a grip on what to expect. But you also had some seriously flawed expectations. Before you go around “conveying concerns,” really reassess that first assumption you made. Because friends do not owe you free stuff.

—Liz Moorhead

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