Beyond the Wedding Cake: Alternative Desserts

By Courtney Becker, Published Sep 22, 2011

Looking for a sweet treat for guests in addition to your wedding cake?  Maybe you want to do away with the tiered tradition altogether?  Cupcakes, pies, candy tables and tiers of doughnuts are fun alternatives, but let’s face it, by now they’ve lost their uniqueness in the world of weddings.  Below are some of our (not too-overly done) alternatives to wedding cakes.

Milk and Cookies: Perfect for the DIY bride whose mom makes a fantastic cookie, or for the bride with the fabulous baker in their neighborhood!  We’ve seen buffets of cookies, and milk served in shot glasses with individual cookie bites.  One favorite is the cookie buffet; the bride’s mom made all of the cookies!

Cookies and Milk Table by Bret Cole Photography

Photo Credit: Bret Cole Photography

Croquembouce: While this spire of cream-filled-caramel-covered sweetness isn’t new to the world of weddings, it is one option that isn’t too heavily overdone.  It’s a French pastry consisting of a tower of cream puffs drizzled with caramel (that hardens and holds it all together); instead of ‘cutting the cake,’ you just grab a puff and munch!  A fun alternative; instead of puff pastries, use chocolate truffles!


Ice Cream Sundae Bar: Another not-so-novel alternative, this is still one of our favorites.  It allows for guests to be interactive with their dessert, and if you get the right selection you can accommodate for a variety of dietary restrictions: gluten free, vegans, sugar-free, even lactose intolerance if you throw in a sorbet option!  In addition to sprinkles, sauces and toppings, throw in a few bottles of root beer and stout beer.

Ice Cream Sundae Buffet

Photo Credit: Eat. Live. Shop.

Carnival Fare: This is the candy table with a twist; bring all of your favorite fair fare to your guests with a carnival spread!  Cotton candy, caramel apples, elephant ears, popcorn and caramel corn, lollipops, churros…the possibilities are endless!  Create a colorful spread, or keep with the colors of your wedding.  Either way you’re sure to have an array of sweets that everyone will have fun with!

Carnival Dessert from Tasty Clouds

Photo Credit: Tasty Clouds Candy Company

Breakfast Bar: Another of our fave options; stock a buffet full of your favorite breakfast sweets!  French toast, waffles, cinnamon rolls, pastries, and don’t forget the syrup and jam!

Breakfast Options

Photo Credit (clockwise from top left): Becky Luigart-Stayner + Jen Rotenstreich, Ben S, Barbara Adams, Instructables, A Less Processed Life, Pecan Creek Boutique

Fruit: Yep, that’s right, fruit for dessert!  It’s a great way to offer up a light and sweet treat during your reception.  You can always include some sweeter dipping sauces (sweetened yogurt, caramel dipping sauce, chocolate) if you’re worried that fruit won’t be enough, but we love this alternative choice to cake.

Fruit Wedding Cake by Nickles Photography

Photo Credit: Nickles Photography

Cake Centerpieces: Believe it or not, this is a big money saver.  Have your baker make small cakes for each table, and use them as centerpieces!  It will actually save you money in the long run once you consider the money you’d save on floral centerpieces.  This is also a great way to get your guests engaged with others at their tables.  Put different flavors on different tables to encourage even more mingling!

Wedding Cake Centerpiece by Jill Thomas Photography

Photo Credit: Jill Thomas Photography

“Cheese” Cake: For you savory fans, why not have a cake made from cheese wheels?  This will still make Aunt Patricia happy since you’ll still be cutting a cake, and it LOOKS like it could be a real wedding cake.  Serve it with fresh fruit and crackers to round it out.

Cheese Wedding Cake

Photo Credit: R P Davidson

Individualized Desserts: For a more sophisticated alternative, try serving an individual dessert to each guest.  Some fun options to consider?  Try strawberry shortcake martinis, crème brulee cups, or a selection of mousse shooters.  Talk to your caterer about what other inspired recipes they have up their sleeves!

Plated dessert options

Photo Credit (left to right): Colonnade Hotel, Kristin Vining Photography, Yvette Roman Photography


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