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DIY Wedding Dessert Bar

Casey Sasser

Ok, I'm just going to say it: I have a lot of feelings about wedding cake. It can be really good, really bad, sometimes it looks beautiful but tastes like cardboard...and it can be expensive! Something I'm seeing more and more couples do is a dessert bar instead of a wedding cake, and I am totally on board. A dessert bar is a great way to break with tradition, let your personalities shine through, and give your guests lots of options. Plus it's often a lot more cost-effective which is always a bonus.

Neither my husband nor I are huge fans of cake, so for our wedding we did a potluck-style dessert bar. We absolutely could not have done it without the help and generosity of several family members: my mom, grandma, aunt, great-aunt, grandma-in-law, and even my younger brother and his girlfriend contributed. Not to toot my own horn but it turned out great, so I thought I'd share some tips on how to DIY your dessert table.

Here are some ideas for desserts to include:

  • Cookies: chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, sugar cookies, macarons
  • Brownies and bars: chocolate brownies, pecan bars, blondies, seven layer bars, rice krispy treats 
  • Chocolate truffles in various flavors 
  • Chocolate dipped pretzels
  • Pastries: mini fruit tarts, mini lemon meringue tarts, hand pies or regular pies, cream puffs, eclairs
  • Cupcakes: mini or regular
  • Donuts or donut holes

Breaking it down:

For mostly one- or two-bite desserts, you'll want to make sure you have enough for everyone! Granted, you can't predict which items will be the most popular, but having 3-4 mini desserts per guest is a good rule of thumb. And of course, you want to make it look pretty! Having a variety of platters and cake stands is visually appealing and helps guests zero in on what treats to pick. Just make sure to have some cake plates and napkins on hand so people don't have to juggle handfuls of cookies!

Pro tips:

For the day of the wedding, make sure anything that is prone to melting can be stored in a refrigerator or cool place indoors. If you're having pie or cake as part of the dessert bar, it can be helpful to have it pre-sliced so guests can easily serve themselves. 

I really wanted to make pie for our wedding, so about a month in advance I made several pies and put them in the freezer unbaked and tightly covered in layers of plastic wrap. One of my awesome foodie friends was in charge of baking them the morning of the wedding - they just took about 20 minutes longer than normal to bake since they were frozen. Your freezer is your friend - brownies and cupcakes (unfrosted) as well as pre-scooped cookie dough will all hold up well in the freezer for a few weeks to a month.

Finally, it's totally ok to source desserts from non-traditional places! We had a cheesecake from Costco (spruced up by putting some fresh berries on top) as our "cutting" cake and it was perfect.

All photos by the amazing Christina Richards