Friday, January 18, 2013

The Wedding Part 4: The Dessert Bar - How To

I know, I know, at this point you're probably about as sick of hearing about my wedding as my husband is of hearing my mother and I talk about it. BUT there is a "How To" tutorial involved in this post, and let's be real, it wouldn't be a proper wedding series without discussing the cake. Or in this case, the cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, and doughnut holes.
Oh my!

wedding dessert bar

I knew from the get go that I didn't want a three or five layered cake. Not knocking them, just the idea didn't appeal to me. We're not big cake people to begin with, so doing something a little different felt right to us. Plus I love having options. It's an indecisive girl's dream.

cutting the cake

But we did pick one cake to be our main cake. We choose the flavor strawberries and cream because Adam doesn't like chocolate (weirdo, I know!) and because we both like strawberries. And strawberries translate into pink, so I could have pretty pink ombre layers inside. That was the main reason. I mean look how pretty it is!

pink ombre wedding cake

 I loved our "official" wedding cake. It was simple, yet beautiful and was insanely good. It was vanilla and strawberry cake with fresh strawberries in between the layers, and a buttercream frosting that was not deathly sweet. It was perfect. And pretty. Oh, have I already said that it was pretty? Well it was.

pink ombre wedding cake

I really loved my cake toppers as well. They are from Ready Go Wedding Co. on Etsy. You can customize the coloring and outfits. They also offer pets! We of course had to get a little Penny with a pink bow. And they donate $10 of the purchase of a pet animal topper to a local animal shelter. How great is that?!

custom drawn cake toppers

But like I said it was dessert bar and here I am going on and on about just one cake. I get a little carried away when it comes to wedding stuff. (As if you hadn't already noticed.) So here are the other cast of characters at the dessert bar.

chocolate rosette cake

 A gorgeous Chocolate Bavarian Cream cake that I unfortunately did not get to taste. But I heard it was good. How you could bring yourself to cut into those pretty rosettes, I don't know.

fancy pumpkin cheesecake

The most AMAZING brown sugar salted caramel cupcakes EVER!! So insane. Believe me when I tell you brown sugar cake with a creamy salted caramel center and some kind of subtle salted caramel frosting will make your knees buckle and have you begging for more. Unfortunately for me, my knees really did buckle, I missed sitting down in my chair and dropped half my cupcake. THE. LAST. ONE. Luckily, my dress offered lots of padding for my behind on the concrete landing, and I don't think too many people saw... BUT, back to the desserts. Also we had a pumpkin cheesecake! Pumpkin pie is Adam's favorite dessert, so we decided to class it up a little for the wedding with this snazzy pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel drizzle and walnuts. Sadly though, I don't think Adam got a piece. Oh the woes of having a wedding.

wedding cupcakes

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, because I wasn't kidding that Adam loves pumpkin. And our wedding was in October so it kept with the theme. We also had pumpkin beer.

white ruffle wedding cake

Finally to round out the cakes and cupcakes, we threw in some cake pops (strawberry and lemon) and some pumpkin doughnut holes for good measure. 

crepe paper streamer backdrop

Creating a dessert bar was a fun and easy project. Maybe one of my favorite of the wedding! If you are feeling conflicted about the kind / flavors / type of dessert you want to offer at your wedding, a dessert bar is a great option. And they are fun! Here are some tips on how to DIY your own dessert bar.

1. Figure out how many guests you think you will have and do the math. One dessert for each guest at the very minimum, meaning one slice of cake, one cupcake, one or two cake pops (or other smaller items). Now add a little to that, or a lot. Remember that when presented with multiple options, most likely your guests are going to grab more than one. Here is what I did for 120 guests. One 10 inch cake (think about 24 slices), one 8 inch cake (about 14 slices), one 10 inch pumpkin cheesecake (about 24 slices), 30 cupcakes, 30 cake pops, and something like 30 - 40 doughnut holes.  How do you determine how many people a cake can feed? Check out this cake serving guide to get an idea. We had enough to feed our guests and a few leftovers, but I wouldn't have minded having more. Particularly of the brown sugar salted caramel cupcakes. Then I could hoard them in the ruffles of my dress and eat them later.

2. Figure out how you are going to procure the desserts. Are you thinking about taking on the baking yourself? (If so, big props to you! But remember that undertaking fresh baked desserts will make the already stressful days before your wedding even more stressful. And yes, those days will be stressful if you are a DIY bride.) Maybe you have friends that each want to contribute something to the dessert bar? This would be a great way to do a dessert bar on a budget. Assign trusted and talented baking buddies to each make a dessert for your big day. Or maybe you just want to hire a professional to do the baking. That's what we did, we hired a professional baker to make the 2 cakes, the pumpkin cheesecake, the cupcakes, and the cake pops. But the doughnut holes, we just went to a grocery store and picked them up the day before the wedding. And guess what? They were a huge hit, and no one was any the wiser. So don't be afraid to think outside the box and remember to work within your budget. You could hire a professional to do the main cake and then maybe just pick up some other treats from a local bakery / grocery store / friend that makes awesome cookies or treats.

3. Plan the look. How do you want to present the desserts? I chose vintage cake stands. I collected various cake stands from friends and relatives and even thrift shopped a few to create a look I loved. I brought them to my venue and my cake guy set them up when he brought the desserts. Check with your venue to see what they can offer or bring in your own supplies. I kept the decorations minimal for my dessert bar. There was suppose to be succulents at the base of the cake stands, but they seemed to never make it to the table. No biggie. It still looked beautiful to me. Especially with the back drop. Which brings me to number four.

4. Create, or select, a great back drop for your dessert bar. You will be photographed in front of it and you want those photos, like all the others, to be beautiful. I made my streamer back drop and it worked perfectly to cover up those hideous pool warning signs, since we had a poolside reception. You can create your own fringy streamer back drop in whatever colors you like by using my tutorial.

5. Label your desserts so your guests know what they are eating. It's no fun biting into a cake pop not knowing it's lemon flavored if you hate lemon. My labels were simple to make. I printed the names on kraft paper that I found at Michael's and then cut and folded them. After that I glued some leftover magnets I had on the inside of them to give them some weight so they wouldn't blow over or move around.

Creating your own dessert bar is easy, fun, and can be very cost effective! 

What are your thoughts on dessert bars at weddings?

**All photos by Jeff Janke Photography
**Cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops by Cake Appétit

Love, Luck, and Happiness!


  1. Hi Michelle! Ok, you need to maybe go into wedding planning or maybe just event planning in general. Not for huge weddings, but for smaller, more intimate and fun wedding and events. You have such unique ideas and your enthusiasm is contagious. People would love you! Have you seriously thought about that? If not, then maybe you should.
    I love this dessert bar idea. Genius, seriously! It's way more fun than the traditional wedding cake, and I LOVE those streamers. I also so want a piece of that bavarian chocolate cake. Oh my goodness. See, I would just go crazy at your dessert table and try a bit of everything :) Great post and really helpful for those out there that are planning a wedding. xoxo, Jackie

    1. Thank you Jacquelyn! That is so sweet! I've considered the wedding planner thing... just not sure where to get started! I'm glad you liked everything. It's so nice to hear that when you put so much time into planning something!

  2. You are making me so hungry! I love your main cake, those pink layers are adorable :)



    Southern (California)Belle

  3. You are drop dead gorgeous! LOVE your dress and your hair! And the dessert bar too! So pretty. I'd have to taste one of everything. I'm such a little piggy.

    1. Aww, thank you! You are so sweet! I wish I got to taste everything!!

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