While wedding cakes are classic, you might be thinking to yourself, “Why does cake get to have the monopoly on wedding days?”
You know what? You’re right. Cake doesn’t have to be the only choice for your celebration. It’s your wedding after all. You can choose a unique dessert that’s festive and delicious.
If you’re thinking about another alternative, these 11 unique wedding dessert ideas are both memorable and absolutely scrumptious. Maybe one of them will be the right wedding cake alternative for you.
1. Cake Pops
Why does cake seem so much tastier when baked into a ball and stuck on a stick? Who knows, but this dessert option is just so tasty. These bite-sized desserts are fun, whimsical, and offer a ton of room for creativity. Tie bundles of cake pops into a bouquet for the guest tables or choose bright icing for a pop of color. You can even arrange the cake pops stick-first into a stand to create the cake tree of your childhood dreams.
Photo Credit // Natural Wedding at Deity Events & Weddings
2. Build Your Own Wedding Bakery
Have you ever pressed your face up against a bakery’s display case and desperately wished you could try every one of their tasty-looking pastries? Your wedding might be the perfect opportunity to bring the bakery to you (and your guests). Here are a few desserts to consider for your wedding bakery:
Filled Croissants: For a more sophisticated take on a croissant, choose fillings such as raspberry, Nutella, or almond.
Cinnamon or cardamom buns: While delicious for the morning, cinnamon or cardamom buns also make tasty wedding treats.
Tartlets: Select a variety of mini tarts with different flavors.
Sweet Tip: To really transport your guests to the bakery, put a little thought into the wedding dessert table. Display the desserts in stylized glass cases, frame custom menus, and cover the counter area in a classic red-and-white checked tablecloth. You can even try decorating the dessert area like a French patisserie by adding bouquets of lavender, a retro cash register, and antique cookware.
3. Designer Doughnuts
This isn’t your grandpa’s Sunday dozen. Doughnut shops all over the country have transformed the standard raised doughnut into jaw-dropping desserts with incredible icing detail. You’ll blow away your guests’ tastebuds with flavors such as vanilla hibiscus, Mexican chocolate, purple ube, and blood orange.
4. Cookies and Milk
The sweetest things in life are often the simplest. Combine nostalgia with your creative side by offering a variety of cookies and milks for your wedding desserts. Your guests will enjoy exploring the cookie world with flavors such as chocolate and pistachio paired with oat milk, snickerdoodle with marshmallow chunks and almond milk, or even homemade Oreos with classic dairy milk.
5. Candy Bar
Take a page out of Willy Wonka’s book and turn your dessert table into a candy shop. Use glass jars of varying sizes to display the sweets and let your guests indulge in their inner Charlie Bucket (no Oompa-Loompas required).
6. Artisan Toast Bar
Toast might seem a bit basic, but with the right ingredients, an artisan toast bar will be a huge hit at your wedding. Just imagine a toasted slice of fresh rosemary bread with butter melting into its pillowy crevices. Then imagine all of that brightly smeared with rose-raspberry jam. Was that your stomach growling just now, or ours?
Fill the dessert table with a variety of artisanal breads, fresh butter, local jams, and honey. Your guests will love trying different combinations of flavors. Throw in a colorful 1950s toaster for a hint of retro.
Perfect for outdoor or barn weddings, s'mores are a fun and interactive wedding dessert. Making s’mores is a natural group activity and ideal for your two families to get to know each other over a fire (and gooey toasty treat). Don’t forget to have a variety of chocolates, flavored marshmallows, and graham crackers available for everyone to experiment with.
Sweet Tip: Custom s’mores sticks make fantastic wedding favors. Have them decorated in your wedding’s color palette or even add each guest’s name to their stick.
8. Ice Cream
I scream, you scream, we all scream for wedding ice cream! This dessert is perfect for spring and summer weddings. And if your guests are serious dancers, they’ll appreciate the cool treat between songs. Here are some ideas to elevate your wedding ice cream:
A One-of-a-Kind Flavor: Some local creameries will work with you and your partner to design a signature flavor for your wedding. You can even make mini pints as party favors for guests to take home—just make sure your venue has room in the freezer.
Build Your Own Sundae: A sundae bar is a delicious way to give guests creative freedom over the wedding dessert. Think outside of the box with toppings such as pretzel bits, mochi balls, brandied cherries, food-grade glitter, tapioca, or even candied bacon.
Old School Ice Cream Truck: Hire a vintage ice cream truck to serve delicious scoops on your wedding day.
9. Breakfast for Dessert
Embrace the sweeter side of breakfast for your wedding dessert, because breakfast food is perfect food 24/7. Here are some ideas to make the most important meal of the day even sweeter at your wedding reception:
Waffle or Pancake Stations: With topping options such as macadamia nut, chocolate, coconut, caramel, and blueberry, pancakes and waffles will be a wedding dessert delight. Plus, you’ll enjoy the heavenly smell of melting butter wafting through your reception.
Cereal Bar: The sugary cereal you may have loved as a kid always did seem more like a dessert than a breakfast food. Present different kinds of cereal in elegant glass jars and offer bowls in your wedding color scheme, deep cereal spoons, and fresh fruit toppings.
10. Crepe Station
Bring a bit of Parisian street food flair to your wedding day with a crepe station. Hire a professional to craft custom crepes for your guests. You can even include some savory options to the crepe menu for late-night snacks as you celebrate all night long.
11. Carnival Cravings
Is there anything more riotously joyful than a carnival? Absolutely—a wedding reception with an array of carnival treats. Find your wedding dessert with these carnival inspirations:
Funnel Cake: Funnel cake is a sensational dessert staple for carnivals, fairs, and boardwalks, so why not weddings? Elevate this summer classic with sophisticated syrups such as dark chocolate, salted caramel, dulce de leche sauce, or artisanal jam.
Churros: Serve churros drenched in cinnamon sugar or with a small bowl of thick dark chocolate sauce for European-style dunking.
Dole Whip: A Disneyland essential, this cool tropical treat tastes like sunshine. Serve in glass bowls for a hint of elegance.
Deep-Fried Anything: Deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried ice cream, deep-fried Mars Bars... the list goes on and on.
Tips for Choosing a Unique Wedding Dessert
You might feel a bit of sugar rush from all the possibilities for unique wedding desserts. But the most important part of choosing a wedding dessert is making sure it feels (and tastes) right to your unique wedding aesthetic.
Here are some tips to help you choose a dessert that suits you and your partner best:
Work With Your Theme: If you’re working with a specific theme, let the theme tell you what dessert you should serve. If you’re going for a more rustic feel, mason jars filled with cobbler will be perfect for your guests. If you are looking for a fun and colorful atmosphere, cake pops in a rainbow of flavors and icings will add brightness to the day.
Go Back to Your Roots: Does your family have a cherished dessert recipe? Now is the time to share it with your new family. Serve recipes from both you and your partner’s families to symbolize the sweetness of your union. Serving your maman’s baghlava and your abuela-in-law’s alfajores together will be sweet and meaningful.
Stay Local: If you’re planning a destination, do a little research about regional desserts. You may discover that your destination is famous for a fantastic treat you would never have thought of.
Honey, We Shrunk the Dessert Table: If you can’t choose between several dessert options, you can choose them all—just shrink them down. Bite-sized sweets allow guests to pile their plate high with new flavors and favorites.
When in Doubt, Talk to the Vendor: If you found a vendor you love and trust, give them a call and talk them through some creative dessert ideas. They’ll be able to help you choose something that pairs well with the menu and your wedding vibe.
Photo Credit // Melissa Tuck Photography
A Remarkable Dessert for Your Remarkable Love Story
Every love story has its own unique sweetness, one that’s unlike anyone else’s. That’s why you want your wedding’s tasty treat to stand out from the crowd. Your wedding dessert is an opportunity to show your personality and creativity. By thinking outside the traditional cake box, your reception dessert will be something guests ooh and aah over for years to come.
Sweeten the Wedding Planning with Zola
At Zola, we want you to have your wedding cake (or even wedding deep-fried Mars Bar) and eat it, too. To us, that means being able to enjoy the wedding planning process. Zola can help simplify the planning with features such as our free customizable wedding website builder or easy-to-use wedding registry. Keep the wedding planning process sweet from the day you say “Yes” to the day you say “I do” with Zola.
For more dessert and wedding cake resources, see our expert advice below:
- How Big Should Your Wedding Cake Be?
- Most Popular Flavors For a Wedding Cake
- How Early Should You Order Your Wedding Cake?