Friday, July 17, 2009


Despite being the most elaborate party we will probably have ever thrown in our lifetimes, not everything about the planning process is fun (shocker, I know, and for more on that, see previous blog on reception site hunting). However, one very fun part is the part where we go through the process of figuring out which wedding cake to get. In our case, the part where we get to stuff ourselves silly with cupcake-y goodness.

I had done a few cake tastings in Ohio. One was at a lady's house who is a friend of my mom's and one at the Bake Shop in Ghent in Bath, OH. The Bake Shop in Ghent makes this amazing date cake with cream cheese frosting and has been a cult favorite in my family for years. In addition to making one of the most delicious cakes I have ever had in my life, the lady who owns the show is also incredibly welcoming, and when Johnny and I originally planned to get hitched in Ohio, we were completely sold on going with this bake shop. As bigger fans of flavor vs. fondant and form, we figured cupcakes would be nicest way to go and the best way to have a little variety. As an added bonus, there's not scary hold-your-breath-and-hope-the-don't-drop-your-super-expensive-wedding-cake moment while you're waiting on the delivery, and cupcakes are (as a general rule) cheaper by comparison.

In any case, the relocation to Chicago meant kissing our delicious cupcake and amazing deal (at $.75 per cupcake and $25 for a smaller cake for us to cut) goodbye.

Following this decision, I did remember the tasty cupcakes I had tasted before had often come from Sweet Mandy B's. Maybe it's because it's in Lincoln Park and a lot of big agency office types commute from there, but in my intern days I remember many a Sweet Mandy B's cupcake making it's way into our office to celebrate everything from birthdays to promotions. It was as good of place as any to start looking.

I made us an appointment and when tasting day finally came, Johnny and I got in a bit of a fight. (Logistics for appointments sometimes put us a little on edge when we have a lot of other stuff going on). Anyways, I ran out to make sure we made our appointment on time and Johnny finished up his sketch for Chicago Independent and promised to head over as soon as he was done.

Having past the shop before without actually going in, the first thing that struck me was how cute the place is. Lots of pastels and the kind of decorating that plays up the inherent cuteness of a place that makes cupcakes and other baked goods. It's probably a weird thing to note, but I was happy to see that the staff was mostly the young and creative tattooed-type. Maybe it's because of the crowd we run in, but that kind of thing makes me feel more comfortable.

Anyways, once I was done gawking at all of the tasty treats at the display counter, I was seated and asked if I would like any coffee or water and presented with 12 cupcakes with various flavors and frosting...

Johnny was still running a little late, so I thumbed through the photo albums of specialty cakes and attempting to channel the willpower to not get started without him.

Since our previous tastings were with people we've met before and since we're not the kind of people who are usually find ourselves signed on for tastings, my fiance and I were not entirely sure how this was supposed to go down. Do we pay for this? How many do we try? What exactly is the etiquette for this? How many can we eat before we get physically ill, that kind of thing. Fortunately for us, Tim, a very knowledgeable staff member was able to walk us through the process with incredible ease.

Among the cupcakes we tried was a seasonal special - Strawberry with Strawberry frosting - one we were informed would be traded in for a pumpkin cupcake in a few months. We dug in, trying get past the initial awesomeness of being presented with so many different delicious options to try to figuring out which favorites we had in common. The Banana one with cream cheese frosting stood out as a favorite for both of us, while the Red Velvet (SMB's knock 'em dead best seller) was a little drier than I remembered it being before. Tim patiently watched us make our way through about six cupcakes, split between the two of us, before we called it quits and presented him with our questions. Here's the scoop:

  • They do not deliver, but most people use Chicago Messenger Service, send their caterer or send someone from the wedding party.
  • The standard cupcakes can come in mini, regular or jumbo and range anywhere from $1.12 for minis to $3.75 for jumbos. "Standard" includes the cost for their cream cheese and a few different butter cream frosting with their standard cake flavors (including red velvet, carrot and banana chocolate chip).
  • Premium cupcakes (ones with specialty flavors and fillings) can be done, but do cost extra. A regular-sized, filled cupcake will cost you $3.25.
  • They can make your cupcakes the morning of your event if you schedule your pick up time for after 2:00 p.m.
  • They will work with you on ideas for new specialty flavors.
As a huge added bonus, once we had all our questions answered, we were told we could take home the rest and given a few extra to take with us. We stumbled out of the shop and went to dinner nearby to avoid slipping into a cupcake-induced sugar coma.

We're not totally sure where we're gonna go for our cupcakes, since we still have to workout a vegan option, but Sweet Mandy B's is definitely on top in the running.

Since the whole wedding is following a Fall theme, here are the four flavors we're thinking about:

  • Chocolate with Raspberry Butter cream Frosting
  • Pumpkin Spice with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Banana (with added Walnuts) and Maple Butter cream Frosting (*this one was not an offering at SMB's, but they did say they could probably work with us on creating it)
Still in the air with the vegan stuff, but probably going to do a carrot cake of some kind. Thoughts? Suggestions? We had thought about going to Bleeding Heart Bakery since they specialize in vegan bakery, but word on the street it they're pretty pricey.

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