Amongst all the stressful decisions you have to make as you plan your wedding (can arch-conservative Cousin Bill sit at the same table with super-liberal Aunt Trisha?) choosing your wedding cake is one of the fun decisions. But even choosing a wedding cake involves some details, some of which may not be obvious. This checklist of questions will help you be sure you are well-prepared when you meet with your wedding cake designer.

1. How much is the cake going to cost?

It's worth getting this one out of the way first, since some of your options will depend on your budget. Wedding cakes are usually priced per portion, with costs ranging from $3 to $15 or more for celebrity designers. The higher priced cake designers are not charging solely based on their reputation ... they are more likely to insist on top-quality ingredients, which obviously increase the cost. As is so often true, you are likely to pay more in major cities like New York and San Francisco.

2. Do you have suggestions for controlling the cost?

One suggestion for keeping the cost down, particularly if you are planning on a large number of guests, is to order a smaller decorated cake for display and for photos, and to supplement that cake with a sheet cake of the same style. There are two additional advantages to this beyond the price. It reduces the delay in serving dessert after the cake cutting ceremony, since the catering staff can plate the sheet cake ahead of time; and for certain cakes it can make the presentation more attractive. Cheesecake, for instance, is notoriously difficult to serve in quantity, particularly under the pressure of time.

3. Do we need to pay a deposit?

In a word: Yes. It is your only real guarantee that you will have a cake on your wedding day, and most wedding cake designers insist on it. Many of them have heard stories of colleagues delivering a cake to a reception, only to discover that the bride and groom changed their mind and chose another designer.

4. How long before the wedding do we need to order the cake?

In most cases wedding cake designers book weddings between three and six months in advance. If your ceremony is planned for the busiest times of year you should definitely allow at least six months, or your chosen designer may not be available.

5. Will the designer be personally involved in delivering and assembling the cake?

Your wedding day will be busy enough without having to worry about the cake arriving safely. It is well worth having the designer arrange delivery, and you should also be sure that whoever delivers the cake is capable of making emergency repairs to the cake decoration in case of minor mishaps during assembly.

6. If flowers are part of the cake decoration, will the cake designer provide them?

Your florist is the best person to supply flowers, because you will want all of your floral arrangements to complement each other. Talk to the wedding cake designer, and provide them with your florist's contact information. They should coordinate floral arrangements between themselves; all wedding suppliers are used to working with other professionals in the field.

As in so many things, you should do your homework before you meet with your wedding cake designer. Stress will spoil the taste of even the most delicious cake. By taking the time to plan out these and any other questions, you will reduce your stress as your wedding day approaches.