If you are trying to save money while planning your wedding reception, consider having a dessert bar. A dessert bar could potentially replace having a full size wedding cake (you can have a smaller one to cut or none at all) and you could provide a dessert bar in lieu of serving a meal. Wedding sweets to stock your dessert bar cost much less than having full meals prepared that need to be served warm. You can even work with your bridesmaids, mother, and grandmother to make your own desserts which could cut a huge chunk out of your wedding costs! By providing gift boxes and bags for your guests to fill up with leftover treats, you can save yourself even more money because your reception food can double as your wedding favors.
Ideas for a Wedding Dessert Bar: Types of Desserts
There are many great types of desserts that can be part of your dessert bar. Generally, desserts that are individual servings work best because they will maintain their appearance and make less of a mess. You should choose around 5 different options from the list below. The more options you choose, the more likely it is that you will become overwhelmed, especially if this will be a DIY project.
Alternate Wedding Cake for Bride & Groom to Cut
If you choose not to have a full sized cake, but still want to follow through with the tradition of the bride and groom cake cutting ceremony and feeding each other cake (or smashing it on each others faces) then you will want to have a small cake to be your wedding cake. It can be a boxed cake mix layer cake or you can go out and splurge on a beautiful, intricate design.
There are a wide variety of choices if you want to serve cookies on your dessert bar. You can choose traditional varieties of cookies such as chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin and/or sugar cookies. You can even get a platter of these types of cookies from Subway if you don’t feel like making them yourself. Another option would be to opt for cookies that are personalized with your names or monogram and wedding date.
You can get special cookie cutters to make decorated sugar cookies such as this 9 piece wedding cookie cutter set for $9.99 which includes a champagne flute, bride, heart, heart with an arrow through it, a groom, a dog, a wedding cake with a heart on top, a wedding bell, and a diamond ring. Pick out frosting that matches your wedding colors and you can decorate them in frosting with your monogram.
Of course a natural choice if you will not be serving a wedding cake will be to serve cupcakes. You can choose multiple flavors which will help make sure everyone is happy. See the recipe section at the end of this article for the recipe to make tie dye cupcakes to match your wedding colors, for the recipe for 60 calorie vanilla cupcakes with raspberry frosting from Curtis Stone that was seen on The Biggest Loser, and more. If you have diabetics in your family, Pillsbury makes a sugar-free cake mix that you can use to make special cupcakes for them as well.
I first heard about cake pops from the Bakerella website. The basic idea is that these are a bite of cake on a stick that has been dipped candy melts. They come in loads of different styles and flavors, there is even a Cake Pops book out now that gives step by step instructions on how to make 40 different styles of these sweet treats.
You can serve up full sized pies or make them bite sized (recipe for tiny, personalized pies at the bottom of the article). Another option is to serve them on a stick similar to cake pops. Pie pops can even be made in a heart shape!
According to NYTimes.com, “Food historians believe whoopie pies originated in Pennsylvania, where they were baked by Amish women and put in farmers’ lunchboxes. Tired from a morning’s work, the farmers purportedly would shout “Whoopie!” if they discovered one of the desserts in their lunch pails.” Now they are a popular treat for weddings. They look just like Oreo Cakesters.
Dessert shooters are like cupcakes in a shot glass. To make your own cake shooters you will need clear disposable plastic shooter cups (50 for $14.95), plastic tasting spoons (500 for $29.99 – get tasting spoons because full size plastic ware will not fit into the shot glasses), thin sheets of cake, and frosting. Use on of the shot glasses like a cookie cutter to cut circles out of the sheet cake. Add one circle to the bottom of each shot glass, pipe in some frosting, add another circle of cake, then top off with some more frosting and sprinkles or a cherry if you want.
Chocolate Fondue Fountain
Set up a chocolate fondue fountain then surround it with treats that your guests can dip into the chocolate such as fruit (strawberries and bananas), Rice Crispy treats (you can even make them with Franken Berry or Boo Berry cereal to make them match your wedding colors or Cupcake Pebbles cereal), pretzels, or marshmallows. You could also consider providing sprinkles, colored sugar, and/or coconut for your guests to add on top of their dipped treats.
French macaroons are becoming wildly popular wedding food. They are tasty and photograph beautifully. You can even make mini-macaroons which are great for a dessert bar since your guests will have tons to choose from and might only want a small portion of each item.
Other Types of Desserts
Ideas for a Wedding Dessert Bar: Display
You will need to create different heights for your displays. If you simply put everything out on flat platters it will not look as nice and it is more likely that your guests will inadvertently touch other items when trying to pick up the one that they want. Try to find plates, platters, cupcake stands, and cake stands that match your wedding decor and colors. If you want to use vintage cake stands, try searching on Etsy. If you are having a rustic wedding, you should check out Once Wed’s DIY Rustic Wedding Cake Stand tutorial. Amazon has some great choices also: Rosanna Medium 10 1/2 Inch Pedestal for $44.95, 23 Count Cupcake Stand for $22.68, and Individual Cupcake Stands in pastel colors for $16.95 each which would be good for displaying your smallest desserts. If you will be serving cookies, a cute idea would be to have a platter with shot glasses full of milk and put a cookie on top of each milk shooter.
If you have smaller items, make sure you provide spoons or tongs so that everyone knows that their food was not touched by every single guest attending your wedding reception. On Etsy you can find Alice in Wonderland “Eat Me” toothpicks to help your guests pick up their food (plus they are extremely cute). Keep items that contain allergens such as peanuts and tree nuts separate from your other desserts to prevent a disastrous allergic reaction. Every single item should be labeled so guests know exactly what they are getting; this will ensure that there are no allergic reactions, diabetics know what they can safely eat, and if you are providing vegan desserts your vegan friends will know what treats have been made especially for them.
Don’t forget covers for your cake plates if you will be holding your reception outside!
Ideas for a Wedding Dessert Bar: Favor Boxes
Provide favor boxes for your guests to take home whatever leftover treats there may be. The most popular choice for your favor boxes would be Chinese Take Out Food Boxes. You will need to make sure you provide more boxes than there are number of guests because items like cupcakes that have frosting on them cannot easily be packaged with candy and other less messy items.
Ideas for a Wedding Dessert Bar: Dessert Bar Recipes
-How to Make Rainbow Tie Die Cupcake Creations
-French Macaroons from Martha Stewart
-To Make: Tiny Pies from Not Martha
-Profiteroles Recipe from Thursday Night Smack Down
-Easy Oreo Truffles from Kraft Foods
-Curtis Stone’s recipe for 60 calorie vanilla cupcakes with raspberry frosting from Episode 4, Season 10 of The Biggest Loser
-Pie Pops Recipe from How Sweet It Is
-Vegan Dessert Recipes from ChooseVeg