Your wedding day is bound to be nothing short of magical. And the beauty of planning your wedding is that you and your partner get to choose just how the day will go. You get to decide where your celebration will be held, you get to pick out the florals that will be on display, and you get to choose whether you’ll be dancing to a live band or rocking to a DJ to finish out the night.
Another bonus to planning your wedding day? All of the food and drink choices are entirely up to you, and that includes everything from appetizers and your main dishes to drinks and dessert. And if you’re a true dessert lover, you can opt for more than just a traditional cake. You can go all out with a Viennese hour that offers a sweet surprise for all of your guests.
“A Viennese hour is a decadent après-cake celebration intended to treat guests to the ultimate dessert experience,” says Nick and Aleah Valley, founders of Valley & Company Events.
Meet the Expert
Nick and Aleah Valley are the founders of Valley & Company Events, a wedding and event planning and design company in Seattle, Washington.
Think a Viennese hour sounds perfect for your wedding? Read on to learn all about how to add this sweet component to your big day.
History of the Viennese Hour
As the name suggests, the Viennese Hour, or Venetian Hour, has Italian roots. Historically, a decadent display would be put together during a wedding to offer a plethora of sweet options. For some occasions, relatives may have baked the cookies or other treats, with each family member responsible for adding to the decadence of the table. “Couples can opt to create a Viennese hour that's themed around their heritages or favorite family treats, or something that's rooted in traditional Italian or Parisian fare,” says Nick and Aleah Valley.
When Should You Have a Viennese Hour?
Traditionally, a Viennese hour is held after your dinner and after the wedding cake has been cut. It serves as an ongoing opulent display of desserts throughout the reception, and it offers the perfect treat for guests as the party continues into the evening.
Viennese Hour vs. Dessert Table
It’s not uncommon to find inspiration for dessert tables or sweets tables for your wedding. Those are certainly the ideal option for a couple looking to put on a spread, with treats such as cookies or candy that often match the design of their cake. Typically, a dessert table will be on display at the beginning of the reception, remaining untouched until after dinner. Dessert tables often follow a color scheme or theme, remaining cohesive, with desserts dressed up to match.
While a Viennese hour follows the same simple concept of desserts displayed on a table, overall that concept is taken to a whole new level. “This hour is filled with abundance and offers guests anything they can imagine,” says Nick and Aleah Valley. A Viennese hour will feature a larger variety of desserts, and often they will be much more decadent. The opulent table embraces indulgence without following much of a color scheme. And for many, the desserts served may hold more meaning.
How Much Does a Viennese Hour Cost?
As with any element of wedding planning, the cost can certainly depend on your number of guests and just how elaborate your wedding will be. Because a Viennese hour is all about decadence and a big, full display, it can certainly add additional cost to your sweets budget. “The costs for creating this experience can range depending on the choices and quantities per guest,” says Nick and Aleah Valley, advising that a couple should estimate $10 to $50 per guest.
Of course, this number will all depend on the intricacy of the desserts you select. If you’re able to bake some of the desserts on your own or task a trusted friend or relative with it, you can certainly eliminate some cost of putting together the display.
What Should You Serve During a Viennese Hour?
The options for celebratory confections are truly endless. However, a Viennese hour tends to include desserts with an old-world feel, rather than the more modern options such as cupcakes or cake pops that you might find on a dessert table. You can check with your caterer if it’s possible to include a Viennese hour in your order. You may also consider ordering large quantities of a variety of desserts from your favorite bakery and asking a friend or family member to set up the table for you.
“A Viennese hour is all about delighting the guest experience and peppering in personalization beyond a sweets table,” says Nick and Aleah Valley. “Think about how you might wander into a bakery or cake shop in Europe and order one of each of your favorite treats. This mindset can help couples to pinpoint what kind of Viennese hour they'd like to create!”
The Valleys suggest petite cakes, tea cookies, chocolate truffles, lace cookies, sweet pastries, candied nuts, and coffee and drink pairings. “Couples can also add in rich cheeses and fruits styled to look like cakes!” they add.
Other decadent treat options include napoleons, cream puffs, eclairs, cannoli, and madeleines.
How to Set Up a Viennese Hour
Table décor for a Viennese hour is typically more minimal, as you let the lavish desserts on display do all of the talking! Opt for a long rectangular table, a large round table, or multiple round tables put together to form the base for your spread. Dress the table up with a tablecloth and other linens to add color or texture. Then, use various plates and platters for displaying your desserts, and fill the table to the edges.
Because the Viennese hour spread is most often self-serve, be sure to offer guests everything they need to fill their plates. Serve bite-sized treats on platters or in paper wrappers or cups. Be sure to include tongs, toothpicks, or other serving utensils to finish the display.