Every inch of your wedding is another opportunity to show off you and your spouse’s love and creativity. That includes the dessert display—a sugary table of delicious confections will please guests young and old.
But creating a dessert table for a wedding goes beyond just slapping down doughnuts and cupcakes in any old fashion. It doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor though. With the help of a wedding caterer, it’ll be just the opposite. Think of your wedding dessert table as the perfect place to have fun, be creative, and best of all, sample some seriously tasty treats.
4 Steps to the Perfect Wedding Dessert Table
From planning your wedding registry to figuring out the optimal seating arrangement, a quick step-by-step guide is useful to keep everything in forward motion. Here’s how to approach your dessert table:
1. Choose the Desserts
It sometimes helps to remember: This is your wedding. It doesn’t matter that Aunt Kali doesn’t like German chocolate cake or that your nephew Neil doesn’t favor cinnamon. Fill your dessert table to your heart’s (and sweet tooth’s) desire with your favorite confections.
Not sure where to start? Ask yourself a few important questions:
- Do you want a traditional wedding cake?
Many couples forgo the traditional five-layered cake with two tiny people on top for a more fun dessert choice that’s telling of their personality. Doughnuts, brownies, cake pops, chocolate fondue waterfalls, and build-your-own ice cream cookie sandwich stations have all been certified as sweet wedding cake alternatives to enjoy on your special day.
- Do you want your desserts to keep with your wedding theme?
Staying within the wedding theme could be as simple as colored frosting to match the wedding colors. Or it could mean bits of edible gold on the cupcakes to enhance the Gatsby-esque decor.
- Will guests choose their dessert, or will everyone have the same dessert?
Some wedding dessert tables are set up with plenty of different options from cookies for the kids to decadent dark chocolate mousse cake for all the sweet-toothed (soon-to-be) in-laws.
Expert Tip: Speak to the Local Pastry Chef
If you’re planning your wedding locally, now’s your chance to finally bulk order from that bakery down the street—the one that makes your mouth water every time you walk by. However, if you’re planning your wedding in a remote location, you’ll want to ensure fresh desserts are made the day of. If you are unsure of when to order a wedding cake or specialty desserts, speak with multiple different bakeries and local pastry chefs to find one who suits your vision and vibe, and be sure to place your order weeks (if not months) in advance.
2. Arrange the Layout
Once you’ve chosen desserts, it’s time to think about the layout. Be sure to leave room for each dessert to stand out by itself. If you’re offering multiple different types of unique wedding desserts, consider ways to make each dessert option shine.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with different heights. Raised doughnut platters, pyramidal dessert structures, and cupcake towers all create a sense of depth and dimension that suddenly transform your flat dessert table into an inviting sugary heaven.
Photo Credit // Amber Kay Photography
Creative Layout Ideas
Here are some ways to get creative with your layout:
The dessert love map: If you and your spouse have both been bitten by the travel bug, create a map of all the places you’ve gone and have a type of dessert located at each major location.
Play favorites: Split your dessert table in half, placing your favorite sweet treats on one side of the table and your spouse’s favorites on the other. Remember: This isn’t a competition to see whose dessert choices are preferred. Although, if you win, a little victory bite never hurts.
The wedding party: If you simply can’t decide, ask each of the wedding party members to choose their favorite dessert. Not only will this present enough options for everyone to find a treat they love, but you can have each person write why they chose the dessert, plus a little story about the married couple.
Wedding Dessert Table Tip: If your ideal dessert display doesn’t provide room for a lot of desserts, consider separating the dessert section into a display table and a main table. Guests can choose their dessert while looking at the gorgeous spread you’ve created, and from there can be served the dessert of their choice or walk around to grab it themselves. This will prevent overcrowding at your display, while still providing a decorative space.
3. Decorate the Setting
Once you’ve chosen the desserts and arranged them to your delight, it’s time to place themed decorations to help each dessert stand out. Here are some common décor pieces to consider for the dessert table.
The backdrop: Having an inviting backdrop that incorporates your wedding colors will draw attention to your dessert table and enhance the layout.
Flowers: Placing a few floral decorations and greenery around your desserts will keep the wedding vibes strong from beginning to dessert.
Flavors and ingredients: If you have cinnamon or citrus flavored desserts, having the raw ingredients lying around can bring a unique and fun vibe to the dessert bar.
Wedding Dessert Table Tip: Remember that the focus of the table should be on the desserts. Try not to overload the table with decorations—it’ll only steal the spotlight from the sugary delights. A minimalist vibe will allow the colors of the desserts to shine.
4. Create Labels
As the food- and health-conscious society we’re becoming, it’s important to respect people’s different choices and diets. It doesn’t mean that you have to cater to everyone’s palette, but having a little sign to indicate special considerations like gluten-free, vegan, nut-free will definitely help.
For some signage basics, here are a few things to include:
The name of the dessert: You can either keep it simple and straightforward or think of fun, creative names for each special dessert.
The ingredients: This doesn’t have to become an ingredients label on the back of a cereal box. The main flavor influences will do.
Common allergens: Think nuts, dairy, gluten. Anything that you think might be important for your guests to know, be sure to include.
If you want to make each sweet treat a little sweeter, consider:
The dessert story: Is there a reason why you picked each dessert on your wedding dessert table? Use this as one more chance to tell your guests a little more about your love and relationship.
Where the ingredients were sourced: If one theme of your wedding is eco-conscious, you might consider adding the origin of the ingredients. Was it all locally-sourced? Feel free to share this information with your guests.
The physical material of the signage is also a fun way to lean into your theme and help your wedding dessert table sparkle. Get creative with how you display your sugary goodness. Here are some examples to jog your imagination:
If you or your spouse (or both) are teachers, use little chalkboard signs with chalk-like handwritten labels.
Should your wedding theme be a modern—or even futuristic—take, consider having small LED signage that scrolls through the name, ingredients, and allergens.
Is the venue a garden or lake house? Have each sign be in the shape of a little flower or a miniature boat.
Photo Credit // Whitney Brewer Photography
Don’t Forget to Taste Test Before the Wedding
Taste testing is the secret fifth step of crafting a gorgeous dessert table for a wedding. Fortunately for you and your SO, that means taking a few days to taste test all the local bakeries.
Zola: Your Wedding Partner for Dessert Tables and Much More
To make your wedding a little sweeter, consider having an expert by your side. With Zola, you can create a free wedding website, set up a beautiful registry, and pick our brains about all things wedding-related.
We’re here to make your wedding as delightful as the desserts you’re serving. That’s the Zola way.