Looking for a wedding dessert alternative to wedding cake? Couples weigh in on the top wedding desserts to serve in addition to (or instead of) cake.
Wedding cake is, hands down, the most common dessert option for weddings. It may be the most popular wedding dessert—but it’s certainly not the only wedding dessert. In fact, according to Zola’s 2018 Wedding Guest Report, a solid 50% of couples will serve other sweets in addition to cake on their wedding day. So, options abound. Let’s take a look at the top five wedding desserts (besides cake) to deliver an out-of-the-box sugar rush to your wedding guests.
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Doughnuts (or donuts!) are quickly becoming a go-to sweet for weddings—and for good reason! First of all, doughnuts are much more affordable (and easy to find) than many other desserts. So, they’re a great choice for couples on a budget. Doughnuts also add a ton of variety to your dessert table. You can serve different flavors, different toppings, different icing colors, and different fillings. There can be a doughnut for every wedding style, color palette, and taste preference.
How to Serve: There are plenty of ways you can display these tasty treats. A doughnut wall doubles as a fun piece of decor, a doughnut tower makes for an impressive display, or a DIY doughnut decoration station gets your guests involved in the fun.
Complement a slice of a cake with a slice of pie. Pies are a truly unexpected wedding dessert option, but they’re gaining popularity. Pie is the second most popular non-cake wedding dessert (after doughnuts). Details like lattice work and decorative edges and top crusts make for an impressive dessert. Plus, like doughnuts, pie can come in a lot of different flavors—there’s something for every season. Think strawberry rhubarb in the spring, pumpkin maple in the fall, blueberry in the summer, and good, old fashioned apple for a winter wedding.
If you’re having a more intimate wedding, you could even bake the pies yourself. This could help keep your dessert budget to a minimum.
How to Serve: Set up a pie station (complete with toppings like whipped cream, of course!) and let your guests serve themselves. Alternatively, slice up the pies into bite-sized squares, display them on your dessert table, and let guests grab a bite of each flavor throughout the night.
If you want your sweets table wedding addition to come equipped with a nostalgic punch, then you'll definitely want to consider going with milk and cookies for your wedding dessert.
This simple dessert staple is quickly becoming one of the most on-trend wedding desserts of the year. The biggest benefit of serving milk and cookies at your wedding is, hands down, the cost. Whether you buy cookies from a bakery or whip up a few batches yourself, cookies and a few gallons of milk aren’t going to put a dent in your budget. Plus, you can easily serve a variety of flavors for your wedding cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal, and butterscotch brown sugar, for example)—which will keep your dessert table interesting. We also recommend offering a few varieties of milk, as well. Oat milk may up your budget, but only marginally.
How to Serve: If you want to get creative, get mugs for each of your guests, fill them with a few cookies, and display them on a table next to jugs of milk on ice. That takes care of your dessert table and your wedding favors!
Cakes, weddings—these things just go together. You don’t have to go with the three-tiered display in order to serve cake at your wedding. If you want to do something unexpected and a bit more casual than traditional wedding cake, try cake pops.
Cake pops have been having a serious moment for the last few years. They’re easy to make, easy to decorate, and easy for guests to eat. The truth is—and always will be—people love food on sticks (popsicles, corn dogs, etc.). Cake pops require no silverware, they are dance floor-friendly, and they’re also just cute.
How to Serve: Thanks to their stick-centric design, cake pops also offer a wide variety of display options. You can create cake pop bouquets, a cake pop garden, a cake pop wall, and more.
If you want a wedding dessert that’s easy, affordable, and completely customizable (which is great if you have a picky eater or two in attendance), ice cream sundaes are the way to go.
How to Serve: With ice cream sundaes, all you have to do is supply a variety of ice cream and toppings—the rest is up to your guests. Create an ice cream sundae bar and have guests move through it like an assembly line. Start with bowls and spoons, follow up with ice cream on ice, and wrap things up with a wide variety of toppings for your guests to choose from. It’s choose your own adventure: the wedding dessert edition!
These top wedding desserts will serve as perfect alternatives or complements to any traditional wedding cake ideas. There’s no right or wrong way to do wedding desserts—as long as you’ve got sweets on hand, your guests will be more than happy to eat them!
Looking for more wedding dessert ideas? Here are some additional ideas for wedding sweets to get your creative juices flowing:
Cupcakes are a great compromise if you want the taste of cake without the expense. Create a cupcake display with different types of cupcakes (for example, different flavors or toppings, like sprinkles and buttercream) and let your guests choose whichever cupcake looks best to them.
These bite-size desserts are an elegant bridal shower favorite—but they're also the perfect fit for a wedding dessert. These almond-based confection can be baked in just about any color under the sun—so talk to your wedding baker and an array that match your wedding colors.
If you're looking for an impressive wedding dessert, consider a croquembouche. A croquembouche is a tower constructed of cream puffs, dipped in chocolate, and held together by caramel.
Everyone loves s'mores—so why not create a s'mores bar for your wedding dessert? Offer guests the basic s'mores ingredients (marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers) as well as a variety of fun toppings and sauces—then end the table with a tabletop firepit so they can roast away!
Cheesecake is a decadent, rich dessert that's completely customizable; you can incorporate a variety of flavors into the crust, filling, and toppings—making it a great wedding dessert.
Breakfast food also makes for a great dessert—and a waffle bar, complete with different types of waffles, fillings, and toppings, makes for a fun, unique wedding dessert.
If you like the idea of pie as a wedding dessert, but want to have a bit more elegance, consider fruit tarts. Fruit tarts are not only delicious, but you can either make them large (and offer guests individual slices) or individually sized—which gives you versatility in how you serve your wedding dessert.
If you want to keep things simple (and affordable!) for your wedding dessert, consider a candy bar.
If you want a wedding dessert that's easy, affordable, and delicious, bake a few trays of brownies for your guests. (Don't like chocolate? No worries! A tray of blondies will work just as well.)
Cinnamon rolls are another breakfast-for-dessert item that your guests are sure to love. These sweet treats are gooey and decadent—plus, they stay relatively fresh long after they come out of the oven, making them an ideal dessert if there's a solid amount of time between when your wedding dessert is delivered and when your guests will actually be eating said dessert.
If you're hosting a summer wedding, you want to make sure your guests stay cool—and ice pops can be a great way to help them cool off! (Just make sure you have a way to keep the ice pops from melting; for example, you might rent a freezer cart—and let guests open the cart and grab ice pops throughout the evening).
If you're looking for your wedding dessert to please a crowd, you'd be hard-pressed to find a guest that wouldn't love these Mexican cinnamon and sugar-covered fried treats. Serve them with a variety of dipping sauces (like chocolate and caramel) to up the delicious factor!
If you want to infuse the spirit of Italy into your wedding dessert, consider gelato—which is similar to ice cream, but has a richer flavor.
If you want to offer guests a healthier alternative to ice cream, consider sorbet. It's light, it's refreshing, and it makes for a delicious (and healthy!) wedding dessert.
Another light and healthy wedding dessert option? Parfaits. Layer yogurt, fruit, and granola in clear, decorative glasses. Not only does it taste great, but it makes for a visually impactful dessert option!
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