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."
There's no limit to what kinds of treats you can serve from pies to brownies to doughnuts. Remember: Variety and novelty make a great dessert bar. 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 signage and balloons.
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, consider incorporating pastel-hued macarons and decorating with fresh blooms.
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. If you still want to serve a traditional wedding cake, you can serve it right alongside an assortment of other desserts, even other cakes.
Also remember that 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 proper bags or boxes so guests can take your treats to go.
From inventive pie stations to candlelit doughnut bars, find out you how could end the night on a sweet note by checking out our roundup of inspiring dessert table ideas.
Fill the Table to the Brim
Cupcakes, fruits, candles, and florals absolutely filled the cake table at this Texas reception, creating a colorful and delightful aesthetic.
Curate a Dessert Library
Bookshelves don't have to only hold literary treats. One couple chose to use modern bookcases adorned with florals to house a variety of delicious bites at their Palm Springs nuptials.
Create a Cone Bar
Cones aren't just for ice cream. At this wedding in the woods, an epic dessert bar featured cones filled with delicious fillings like peanut butter, rainbow cookie, and lavender-honey.
Roast Marshmallows for S'mores
Check if your venue allows an open flame. If so, why not replicate a cozy mini bonfire by having a s'mores station? Make sure you include different DIY ingredients and an assortment of condiments!
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 Local Delicacies
If you're hosting a destination wedding, consider serving desserts that are popular in the region. This Athens wedding featured local fruits and sweet treats.
Swap Cake for Churros
Instead of cake, opt for a more unconventional treat: churros. Serve them in cones or sliced up in small glasses. Invite guests to help themselves to a sprinkling of cinnamon powder or melted chocolate dip in a dedicated churro station.
Say 'Oui' to Macarons
For a more unconventional Parisienne-themed dessert bar, why not serve mountains of colored macarons? These pink and white macarons are the perfect romantic option laid out on this elegant, Victorian-inspired, glass top table.
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.
Mix Pies and Cake
Single-serve pies mix well with a classic wedding cake. The rich shades of these pecan and berry pies brighten up a semi-naked, two-tiered gilded cake.
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.
Serve Waffles for Brunch
Don't be afraid to mix sweets, even those that aren't traditionally served at dessert bars. Macarons and small cakes dripping in gold were paired with stacks of waffles to celebrate this Parisian brunch wedding.
Accent With Florals
Fall colors were in full bloom with the floral accents on this spread of whoopie pies, bundt cake, and cookies. Spread varied arrangements of bouquets around (and on) the dessert table for a similar dazzling display of flora.
Have Fun With Fruit Tarts
Want to bring color to your dessert table? Fruit tarts are fun and vibrant additions that your guests will love, like at this Charleston wedding.
Swap a Table for a Cabinet
You don't have to use a table for your dessert bar. These platters of tarts were served in an open cabinet with floral accents.
Mix Modern and Boho
A simple marble cake is accompanied by equally understated whoopie pies. We love how these treats stand out against the shibori indigo backdrop—a perfect combination of modern and boho.
Feature a Wall of Treats
Instead of having a table laid out with treats, why not feature a whole wall of sweet delicacies? Doughnut-lovers will love this particular wall of beautifully-displayed goods. Guests can help themselves to a doughnut (or three). Just remember to label the flavors!
Impress With a Pie-Exclusive Menu
This couple opted for an all-pie dessert bar and sourced them from a local farm. To make sure your guests will find one they like, diversify your crusted options from fruit pies to banoffees.
Nod to Your Heritage
Take a cue from your roots. As a nod to their heritage, one couple created a Mexican Pan Dulce Bar, where guests were free to take home assorted local pastries and cookies. It's a sweet way to feel close to your family at your wedding!
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.
Hire an Ice Cream Truck
Consider hiring an ice cream truck for the day. Outdoor weddings (and summer weddings) could definitely benefit from chilled treats.
Illustrate Your Dessert Menu
Get your guests excited to pick out the desserts by illustrating the desserts on a fun display. It also doubles as a reference board if you choose not to place individual labels for treats.
Make It Summer-Friendly
For a summer-friendly dessert station, why not have a station for chilly treats? Include popsicles, creamy ice cream, gelato, and even alcohol-infused sorbets for a refreshing treat! Your (outdoor) guests will thank you later.
Frame With Architecture
If designing a dessert table, consider where you place it within your venue. At this Italian wedding, the couple decided to frame the display underneath an architectural arch and framed it further with florals and pampas grass.