Wedding guests tend to remember a few defining details about a wedding reception—the dancing, the food, the speeches, and of course, the cake. But after a few weddings, all those white-frosted confections can start to blend together. So why not do something completely different?
Finding an alternative to a classic wedding cake can be an opportunity for creativity, an expression of you and your partner’s personality, and, if nothing else, a memorable (and delicious) wedding experience.
Take a look at these 15 wedding cake alternatives to find your perfect wedding day dessert match.
Photo Credit // David Perlman Photography
1. Say “Cheese” Cake
If you and your partner aren’t dessert fans, try a cheese cake. Nope, not a cheesecake, a cheese cake. Stack wheels of your favorite cheeses in a cake-like shape. Decorate the layers with edible accents such as herbs, grapes, figs, or nuts—anything you would find on a fantastic charcuterie plate. Serve slices to guests alongside artisan crackers or bread for a savory taste sensation.
Tip: If you’re planning on wowing guests with your favorite cheeses, be sure to arrange the layers carefully. Put the firm cheese wheels—aged cheddars, goudas, parmesans—on the bottom and be mindful of stacking the softer cheeses—camemberts and bries—on top.
2. Cream Puff Tower
Also known as a croquembouche, the cream puff tower comes from the extravagant sweet tooths of 16th-century French noblemen. This dessert is often drizzled with chocolate, caramel, or spun sugar threads. It can also be decorated with ribbons, fruit, and macarons for that extra wow-factor. The croquembouche is simply a wedding dessert table showstopper.
Tip: If you’re planning on feeding your partner a creampuff instead of a bite of cake, be mindful of the climate. The creamy center of a cream puff is temperature-sensitive, meaning a bite of cream puff might ooze (and stain) on the first bite. If your venue has a walk-in fridge, keep your tower of cream puffs cool until it’s time to dig in.
3. Dozens of Donuts
Swap the cake for a stylishly stacked pile of doughnuts. You can use an antique tea service, flowers, and icing to create a sweet alternative to a wedding cake. Classic doughnut flavors are always a hit, but don’t be afraid to call your nearby artisanal doughnut shop to see what unique flavors they offer.
Tip: For an American take on the croquembouche, create a tower of doughnut holes. Cover with your favorite icing, edible flowers, and of course, sprinkles.
4. Pies and Tarts
If you’re a fan of fruit-based desserts, you can’t go wrong with pies and tarts. Plus, the beauty of these desserts is in their edible decorations. Think of elegantly latticed pie crusts or a swirling spiral of sliced apples on a tart. Your wedding pies will be just as stunning as a decorated wedding cake, but with a homier feel.
Tip: When choosing fruit-based wedding pies or tarts, stay in season. Check out this list of seasonal pies for maximum flavor:
Spring: Strawberry rhubarb pie is a springtime staple. You can also lean into the season’s floral flavors, such as lavender honey or orange blossom.
Summer: Think stone fruit, berries, and cherries for your delicious cake alternative.
Fall: Apples and pears are at their ripest in the fall, and they make for flavor-packed wedding pies. And of course, don’t forget the classic pumpkin.
Winter: Winter is the ideal season for cranberry tarts and warm flavors, such as pecan, cinnamon, and ginger. Or bring in the bright taste of lemon meringue for a scrumptious wedding pie.
Whenever: Chocolate. Need we say more? Fine, we will—custard, peanut butter, and chocolate-hazelnut desserts are all tasty year-round.
5. A Slice of Breakfast
Are pancakes and waffles really breakfast food? Or are they the perfect alternative to a wedding cake? Stack pancakes or waffles in a cake formation. You can even use whipped cream as icing and decorate with the natural breakfast fixtures—berries, chocolate chips, and syrup.
Tip: If you’re looking to create the illusion of a wedding cake, try stacking Japanese-style souffle pancakes. These giant cloud-like confections will add height to your wedding cake alternative.
6. Wedding Meringues or Pavlovas
Meringues or pavlovas are light, airy, and offer a delicate crispness that your guests will love. These treats also come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so feel free to mix and match to highlight your wedding color scheme.
Tip: If opting for a series of smaller desserts, play around with heights and levels of the display. You can create unique wedding desserts that feel like works of art.
Find inspiration in the land of passion, romance, and fantastic food—Italy. Meaning, “a thousand leaves,” a millefoglie is a traditional wedding dessert. Layers of puff pastry, custard cream, and fresh fruit offer a variety of textures and a fresh sweet flavor profile.
8. Macaron Tower
Macarons are sophisticated, delicate, and flavorful. With an infinite combination of colored icings and almond-cookie layers, they make delicious decorations for your reception.
Tip: Macarons aren’t the only cookie that would make a wonderful tower:
Oreos: So very stackable and so very snackable. Just be sure to serve them with glasses of milk for dunking.
Iced Sugar Cookies: Choose icing that complements your wedding color scheme or even have your names written in icing on each cookie.
An Assortment of Favorites: Whether you’re a snickerdoodle fan or a chocolate-chip lover, you can make any combination of cookies work as a cake alternative.
9. Multi-Tiered Mille Crepe Cake
French for “thousand crepes,” a mille crepe is made by piling light and flaky crepes together for a stunning dessert. Each crepe is bound by a thin layer of filling. And if you’re a fan of crepes, you know that the possibilities for crepe fillings are endless. Here are some ideas for delectable fillings that will make your guests’ tastes buds exclaim, sacre bleu!
Butter and Sugar: Simple but sinfully delicious, a butter and sugar filling heightens the flavors of the crepe batter.
Berries and Honey: Fresh berries glistening with honey lend gorgeous color to your crepe cake.
Nutella and Fruit: Nutella pairs particularly well with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.
Peaches and Cream: Thinly sliced peaches layered on top of whipped cream or mascarpone cream would be lovely for a summer wedding.
Matcha Cream: Matcha-infused sweet cream brings a verdant glow and a sumptuous flavor profile to your crepe cake.
10. Giant Cinnamon Rolls
Giant cinnamon rolls of varying sizes can be layered for a cake effect but with tons more cinnamony goodness. Try pouring icing over the top with your partner and watch your guests start to drool. Bonus? Cinnamon rolls go perfectly with coffee or tea.
11. Champagne Tower
For a dash of Gatsby, swap dessert for a glittering effervescent tower of champagne. Your guests will oooh and ahhh as the champagne is poured. Add fresh fruit to each glass for extra pizzazz.
Tip: Instead of slicing a cake, you can very carefully grab the top two glasses of champagne, hook your arms, and gently tip your glass into your partner’s mouth. It’s a sweet gesture that can signify the intertwining of your two lives and the joy to come.
12. Crispy Rice Cereal Cakes
Bring back a childhood favorite at your wedding reception with crispy rice cereal cakes. The moldability of this treat gives you lots of freedom to experiment with shapes. You can even lean into the nostalgic theme by decorating the cake with other brightly colored cereals.
13. Candy Pyramid
If strolling into the Wonka Factory is your idea of a perfect day, Wonka it up with a candy pyramid. Use classic bars to create a multi-layered cake shape or make a tower of wrapped truffles and bonbons for an indulgent wedding dessert.
How does that line from that movie go? “Leave the cake, take the cannoli.” Yeah, that sounds about right. Line a triple-tier display with these custard-filled Italian favorites. You can even choose three different cannoli-filling varieties to give your guests lots of choices.
While technically a cake, cheesecake has a richer, creamier texture and is less common at weddings. You also have just as many (if not more) flavor options as a traditional cake.
Tip: If you want to layer your cheesecake for that traditional wedding cake height, work with your baker to find solutions. Structural additions, such as dowels and pillars, can give you that great height without risking the cake collapsing.
Treat Yourself to a Fabulous Alternative to a Wedding Cake
When it comes to your wedding cake alternative, maybe you want to do something a little unexpected. Maybe you want to dazzle your wedding guests’ sweet tooths. Or maybe, you just don’t like cake. Either way, wedding cake alternatives will sweeten your special day and make a lasting memory for everyone.
Photo Credit // Hales Studio Photography
Sweeten the Wedding Planning Process with Zola
Make your wedding registry as simple (and sweet) as your wedding cake alternative idea with Zola’s online registry. Our registry features over 800 of the most popular brands and honeymoon funds. Plus, it’s easy to add gifts from other stores to your Zola registry, so you and your guests can find exactly what you’re looking for.
Whether it’s choosing the perfect dessert, the perfect item for your registry, or creating the perfect wedding website, Zola is here to help everything go… well, perfectly.