Text by Kristen Castillo | Photos by Megan Welker Photography

Dessert is a sweet way to end any meal, and a wedding is no exception. But who says you have to just serve cake?

Wedding cakes date back to ancient Rome when — for good luck — a cake of wheat or barley was broken over the bride’s head. The bride and groom then shared the crumbs.

Over time, cakes have gotten sweeter, and now they’re not even the only treat dished out on the big day. Here’s a look at the sweet indulgences making a statement at wedding receptions and dessert tables.

Pie, Please!

Many couples and their guests are saying “yes, please!” to pie for dessert. Pies are the opposite of the overly formal, too-pretty-to-eat vibe of traditional wedding cakes and are a natural fit for rustic, Bohemian weddings. Pies make a nice presentation, too; there are great color combinations by alternating fruit pie, such as apple or cherry, with rich fillings such as chocolate or banana. Plus, you can make your own pies or buy them.


Doughnut displays have been all the rage at weddings lately and for good reason. They’re budget-friendly and taste amazing. Plus, they photograph well. Instagram and Pinterest are filled with images of impressive doughnut walls. Hint: Search #DoughnutDisplay.

While the doughnut walls are easy to make with pegboard and loads of round doughnuts, your dessert table isn’t limited to circular sweets. Set up a plate of doughnuts as a practical centerpiece for each table. Or use tiered plates to create your own delicious doughnut table featuring a variety of your favorites such as glazed crullers, doughnut bites, chocolate-frosted with sprinkles and, yes, powdered doughnuts. (Note to brides: White sugar will blend right in with your dress; just be careful with that jelly filling!)

DIY Desserts

Wedding guests love an experience. Interactive dessert stations, ranging from build-your-own ice cream sundaes to candy tables to make-your-own s’mores are gaining in popularity. Other out-of-the-cake-box dessert ideas include cotton candy, mini cupcakes, tarts and pastries.

Having variety gives guests options to customize their treat — so instead of (or in addition to) the traditional wedding cake, put together a dessert bar. Similar to the dessert bar, a table can be full of a number of your favorite sweet treats. Make it especially memorable by adding a personal touch — such as a San Diego bride who wanted boardwalk-style treats for her dessert bar, an homage to the her summers spent on the Jersey shore. The dessert table featured waffles with ice cream and displays of the bride’s favorite candies, as well as a chocolate fountain with a variety of fresh fruit for dipping.

Farewell Sweets

Often, brides and grooms offer their dessert to go. This is especially nice if you’ve just served a huge meal and guests aren’t quite ready for more. Try making a macaroon cookie tower that guests can grab from on their way out of the party.

Not a Cheesy Idea

Customized cheese plates are a sweet (and often savory) option for wedding desserts. While the display doesn’t need to be extensive, it should feature a few varieties of cheese, including ones most appealing to all guests, such as cheddar, Gouda and Parmesan. Add in some of your other faves such as Stilton, brie or manchego. Pair the cheese with nuts and fruits — the perfect mix of sweet and salty.