Dessert bars are a popular choice for couples who want an alternative to the traditional wedding-cake stand—and we understand why. The dessert table usually ends up being the most frequented spot of the night (aside from the open bar, of course!). These stylish tables full of post-dinner treats are also a great way to inject personality into a wedding. "We are seeing [dessert bars] done in a more thoughtful and impactful way," says Moriah Tulier, founder and baker at Wildflower Cakes. Some couples are including desserts made using family recipes, referencing childhood flavors, and honoring heritages, among others.
Meet the Expert
Moriah Tulier is the founder and head baker at Wildflower Cakes in Denver, Colorado.
Dreaming up the perfect dessert table to best represent a couple is a collaboration. So make sure you communicate your ideas to your baker! "We work with the couple on how they would like it to look," says Tulier. "If the event has a stylist, caterers will collaborate with them to design and set up the display." Still don't know where to begin planning your dessert bar? Here are some elements to consider:
- There's no limit to what kinds of treats you can serve. Pies, brownies, doughnuts, pudding—you name it! All are welcome. Remember: Variety and novelty make a great dessert bar.
- Take the season into account when considering flavors and decor. Getting married in the fall? Consider adding pumpkin pie and apple cobbler to the menu. Meanwhile, for spring, why not incorporate pastel-hued macarons and decorate with fresh blooms?
- Keep the dessert bar in the theme of the wedding. If your wedding is bohemian, consider a more artsy display table. If it's country, incorporate wooden elements.
- To make the display stand out, Tulier advises incorporating bold visual elements like arranging the desserts in a bright color or pattern or adding trendy signages and balloons.
- For a more creative dessert bar, employ display tables packed with personality. Use unexpected fixtures such as vintage furniture, bar carts, and barrels to prop up those sweets.
- Dessert bars can be multifunctional. "Turning your dessert display into a favor stand for your guests is a great way to combine both a dessert display and party favor," says Tulier. Just remember to provide to-go boxes!
- If you still want to serve a traditional wedding cake, serve it right alongside an assortment of other desserts, even other cakes.
Add (Cake) Pops of Color
Bright colors are a fun way to draw attention to your dessert table while cake pops are a great supplement to a smaller wedding cake. Teasing out the bright colors of the two-tier cake, this couple flanked the main confection with cake pops in similar pink and periwinkle shades.
Serve Mini Desserts
Mini desserts and a caged single-tier cake keep this dessert table modest but full. It makes it especially easier for guests to grab bite-sized morsels and have more fun mixing and matching their desserts.
Use Tree Trunk Serving Platters
If your wedding is rustic-themed, why not incorporate earthy elements and tones? You can use wooden furniture and dishware to prop up your desserts. This couple amped up their wedding's rustic, outdoor aesthetic by showcasing cookies and macarons on tree trunk serving platters.
Create a Cream-Puff Tower
This chocolatey croquembouche (cream-puff tower) stopped the show with a few other tarts alongside it. Make the tall tower the focal point of your dessert table and display the rest of the desserts on shorter platters. Add feminine touches to the croquembouche by weaving in pink flowers.
Serve Artisanal Doughnuts
This couple opted for a simple spread of artisanal doughnuts (look at all that frosting!) alongside their mini white-frosted single-tier cake. Keep assorted doughnuts in platters of different materials and colors for a striking visual. This couple combined a gilded serving bowl, wooden chests, and a matte brass shelf to amp up the drama.
Pair a doughnut dessert station with a coffee and tea bar with cute touches like a printed banner and hanging burlap.
Frame Your Cake
A simple backdrop perfectly framed these cakes and pies at an outdoor venue. If you used an arch during the ceremony, you can use a similarly-designed arch for the dessert table. If you want something a bit more statement-making, try blowing up oversized gold foil letter balloons for an eye-catching backdrop.
Represent Your Roots
The more personal touches a celebration has, the more intimate it would feel to your guests. This couple's desserts represented each of their home states, turning the bar into another symbol of their union.
Double Desserts as Party Favors
It seems no brunch wedding is complete without doughnuts—here, they doubled as party favors, with boxes for guests to take them home. Tulier says, "Boxes can be personalized with messages from the couple, custom stickers, and stamps."
If you're planning on doubling your desserts as party favors, invest in customized to-go boxes. "Boxes can be personalized with messages from the couple, custom stickers, and stamps," says Tulier.
Impress With a Pie-Exclusive Menu
This couple, who was inspired by their shared memory of growing up in the Midwest and eating lots of fruit pie during the summer months, opted for an all-pie dessert bar. To make sure your guests will find one they like, diversify these crusted options from fruit pies to banoffees.
Serve Your Childhood Favorites
If you have a sweet tooth for treats other than cake, why not serve a hodgepodge of your favorite saccharine treats? Curate your dessert bar based on your own tastes like this couple did when they served their go-to childhood comfort treats from brownies to chocolate-dipped pretzels.