When I was building my Pinterest board for my wedding, I noticed over and over again that the dessert table really seemed to set the tone when it came to the theme for the wedding. A small table with a lone white cake said “I’m a traditional bride”, a cake surrounded or accompanied by a candy bar said, “You are at the wedding of a fun, modern bride!”. A dessert table full of pies? This was the wedding of a bride who preferred homestyle comfort over glitz and glamor.
Because the theme of my wedding was Vintage Romance and my colors were blush and bashful*, I decided to go with a dessert table covered in pink treats served in floral china, pink depression glass and mercury silver. Our simple wedding cake was surrounded by pink rose cupcakes, heart-shaped pink mini cakes, and other assorted pink dessert goodies.
How you might ask, did a girl on such a strict budget afford such an extravagant looking table? Below are my tips for creating a super Fancy dessert table without spending a super Fancy amount of money. Some wedding cakes cost between $500-$1000 alone. I spent less than $600 on my entire dessert table, food, decor and all!
Ideas for a pretty but affordable wedding dessert table
Just say NO to a giant expensive cake! If your cake is simply decorated and you want basic flavors, like chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream, do NOT be afraid to get your wedding cake from a grocery store. Grocery store bakers make some really nice cakes these days. Stop by your local store and ask to see a portfolio. The price difference between a grocery store bakery cake and boutique bakery can be a hundred dollars or more! Of course, most grocery stores only do the basic flavors, so stick with a small, boutique bakery cake for more complex flavors and be sure to use the rest of my money saving tips in this post! We got our cake at a local boutique bakery called the Chef Sugar’s because I found out they had been on the Food Network, so I knew they make amazingly delicious cakes. They were more expensive than grocery store bakery cakes, so we ordered a small cake that would serve about 40 people and three dozen cupcakes. I also ordered the customized wooden bird and heart cake sticks below to incorporate the kids into the wedding more. Trimmed in matching pink paint, the cake picks made what was a very plain cake so much more special- and they were only $20!
What they don’t know…can be delicious! I saw some pink, heart-shaped Little Debbie snack cakes for $1.67 a box (for 8) at Walmart around Valentines Day and thought they would look adorable on my dessert table. To make them last from February to May I stuck them in my freezer until the day before the wedding. They defrosted perfectly and still tasted amazing. Everyone loves those snack cakes and because they were not on sale in Walmart in May, no one (that I know of) put two and two together and realized they were eating a $.25 Debbie snack cake instead of a Fancy bakery treat!
Fancy dishes and plates make unfancy food items fancier. I spent months searching thrift stores for pink and cream floral china bowls, as well as pink tinted glass bowls, to hold my dessert table items. I never spent more than $3 per item, whereas I see fancy cake plates and serving dishes at stores like Home Goods and Target for around $20 each, and THAT is considered a bargain!
Fancy style doesn’t have to cost a fancy fortune. I would much rather hear, “Oh how clever and cute!” than, “That must have cost a fortune!” I want to be remembered and admired for my craftiness and ingenuity, not my ability to make it rain money for stylish moments to occur. Case in point: I found these french fry boxes at Michaels and remembered seeing someone on Pinterest put cotton candy in them for a little girl’s birthday party. When I bought the Valentine heart cakes I also saw some pink cotton candy in plastic tubs and of course my ‘dessert table idea wheels’ started rolling. I bought about ten of the cotton candy tubs, ordered some pretty monogrammed stickers for the french fry boxes, and voila…single-size servings of cotton candy in chic, adorable boxes…and the cost was pennies per serving!
Less is more is less. Listen, the whole point of a dessert table versus a cake table is to avoid the insane $4-5 per slice price of most wedding cakes. If you have one or two small wedding cakes and surround it with a lot of smaller and more cost effective dessert items, you are not only saving money, but you are also giving your guest more options, which is great for the pickier kids. It also gives you more options and a greater opportunity to bring your theme home with a bang!
I bought some pink bubble gum balls at the last minute at Party City as filler for a pretty porcelain floral bowl I wanted to include on my dessert table (lower right side of dessert table photo above). They were super cheap compared to the cost of the cake and cupcakes, but they turned out to be the most popular item with the kids that attended the reception. I kept hearing, “Are there anymore more bubble gum balls? They are sooo good!” LOL…Who would have thought? Just keep a jar of peanut butter on hand for any hair mishaps. No one wants a crying child and a cross parent dealing with a “bubble gum hair” incident at your reception…
The dessert table is just one small component of your wedding reception or really any large party, but it is nonetheless an important part. People love dessert. If your reception is fun and cool but has a gross dessert (or worse no dessert) guess what is everyone going to remember? That’s right, the gross dessert. But as I have shown in this post having a fabulously Fancy dessert table that’s as pretty as it is delicious does not have to cost you an arm and a leg, or even an arm…or any body parts at all! Use my tips above at your next large event and watch the savings (and compliments) roll in!
*Note: If you do not get the “blush and bashful” reference above, be sure to watch the movie, Steel Magnolias. Soooo good.