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How to Create the Perfect Dessert Bar at Your Wedding

(Florals: Compass Floral; Planner: White Lace Events & Design; Photo: Shane + Lauren Photography; Sweets: Sweet Cheeks Baking Company)

By Becca Jones

The desserts at your wedding should be as sweet as your “I dos.” Pecan diamonds, cheesecake shots, and pop tarts, all of these tasteful treats can be the star of a dessert bar—and Sweet Cheeks Baking Company has whipped up them all.

Here, Elaine Ardizzone (“The Right Cheek”) and Lauren Rennie (“The Dessert Temptress”) sweet talk us about how to design an irresistible and totally Instagrammable (and, importantly, functional) spread for your best day ever. Let’s dig in!

Think quality not quantity

A cake buffet is a wedding staple, usually styled as a large cake at the center of a table with various treats staged around it. These displays, however, can get tricky depending on the number of items you select. At Sweet Cheeks, Ardizzone and Rennie encourage clients to opt for “more quality and less options.”

If you’re hoping to create an extravagant dessert bar, you want to be sure all guests can sample what they please! If you have 15 different types of dessert, but only a dozen of each, the display will lack fullness and you are prone to running out. The display needs to be cohesive, balanced, and beautiful, which is why Ardizzone and Rennie recommend selecting only five to six desserts to highlight.

And to satisfy guests with different taste buds and preferences, Rennie suggests including all of the following: chocolate, something pie-like (this includes pastry type desserts!), a fruity treat, some type of cookie, and your classic cake.

Let them eat cake… or don’t

Don’t “cake it out!” If you’re already planning on featuring a sizable cake, fill the rest of your dessert table with non-cake items. This might sound like a no-brainer, but a lot of desserts have cake-like qualities in them (cupcakes, lemon pillows, cake shots).

Although cake is the golden standard, many brides and grooms today experiment with playful installations, like the iconic Pinterest donut wall. Ardizzone and Rennie, however, stress the wall’s lack of function, as many guests assume the wall is there for looks alone—“Are those for us? Are we supposed to touch them?”—leaving the donuts out to dry. This waste is a tragedy none of us can bare. So, if you’re a donut connoisseur, consider making them your take home item. Cookies or other yummy desserts piled high look inviting and are great alternatives.

Nature works

Bakers at Sweet Cheeks recommend some element of nature in every dessert backdrop. Consider: a beautiful, natural wooden table in front of a lush, green hedge, or a giant pergola complete with a floral installation—something like lilac or climbing jasmine covering the structure, and a cake featured with the spread of desserts underneath.

But be cautious of the elements

Temperature and direct sun can present a huge issue, especially in San Diego! It’s important to consider how long your dessert items will be in a warm space. Desserts using cream cheese or curd shouldn’t sit out, as it heightens the risk of melting desserts or even making people sick. If your dessert table must be outdoors or in the sun, consider pecan diamonds, pop tarts, or other fun pastries that can sit out really well. For cakes or cream-based items, work with your wedding coordinator to keep these in a cool space for as long as possible. Bringing out a large dessert midway through the reception is always a special surprise for guests!

Know that the “install” is a team effort

Companies like Sweet Cheeks work with full-service rental companies to bring your Pinterest dreams to life. It’s a group effort, working in tandem with wedding coordinators, florists, and the happy couple. At Sweet Cheeks, their goal is to make desserts a centerpiece of the reception versus sticking them off to the side on a 6-foot table with a white linen. Working with a variety of companies allows a bride or groom’s vision to come to life. Mentioning, here’s a few examples of Sweet Cheeks’ collaborations:

(Florals: With Flourish; Photo: Dear Lovers; Sweets: Sweet Cheeks)
(Florals: Organic Flora; Planner: Couture Events; Photo: Sara France Photography; Sweets: Sweet Cheeks)
(Florals: Vaso Bello Celebrations; Photo: Ashley Paige Photography; Sweets: Sweet Cheeks)

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