As a professional wedding planner, I feel it’s my duty to share traditional wedding customs with my clients; however, they often ask, “Is it ok if I don’t do that?” Absolutely! As wedding customs have evolved and become more elaborate, so have the expenses, and the wedding industry has become more diverse as customs change. I believe the wedding celebration, or reception, should reflect the couple and their personalities. While the wedding cake has always been a focal point of the nuptial festivity, couples may choose to follow tradition, incorporate a non-traditional dessert display to reflect their tastes, or a combination of both!! Regardless, as coordinator, I help them make their reception “sweet”, in their own way!

Cake Taste – Layne / Myers Wedding

I’d like to share some non-traditional dessert options we’ve used in weddings coordinated by Michelle’s Main Event. Each one was incorporated differently and had meaningful reasoning behind it.

Cookie Favors – Mason / Terry Wedding

First, one of the easiest ways to include an extra sweet option is through favors! The traditional wedding cake is still the dessert focus, but the favors add an extra treat, something guests can take away, and often adds a personal touch to the table setting. I could do a whole blog on favors themselves! They are simply a special gesture from the newlyweds to guests for being part of the occasion. Favors should not drain the budget; however, if they are going to be given, they might as well be meaningful! To this day, one of my “fav favors”, was from a June wedding. The bride loved DONUTS! A well-known local business would set up a trailer, only certain days throughout the week, to sell these amazing donuts! We were able to secure over a hundred donuts delivered on her wedding day. A group of her friends and I individually packaged them, added a burlap tie, and topped them with a personalized label. One donut was set at each place…..and a few may have been eaten along the way ;). I can tell you by the end of the night, the search for extra donuts or favors left behind was quite comical, and definitely taken to the after party! I’ve also seen this same scenario done with cookies! This is also appreciated for children, young guests, and guests with special dietary needs. The baker should be informed of the needs in advance, and likely can make a cookie to meet those needs, specially packaged for the coordinator to place knowing the seating arrangement.

Donuts & Packagers – Miller Wedding


Pie Table – Dearing / Caldwell Wedding

The next move is a little more gutsy…no cake, but a non-traditional replacement reflecting the tastes of the bride, groom, and/or their families. The best I’ve seen was a pie table from a September wedding coordinated by Michelle’s Main Event. Guests placed pies on a designated table upon arrival. The bride’s family provided pie table décor, signs, and all necessities (plates, servers, knives, napkins, to-go containers, and of course WHIPPED CREAM!). A family friend assisted with the table, arranging and cutting the pies throughout the evening. Guests could eat their pie at anytime! Some had it as an appetizer, some following dinner, some later in the evening…. side note – guests do not like to be hungry and guests like choices (don’t we all?). The pie table provided guests with the freedom tohave their sweet treat whenever they wanted it, and there were so many options, I’m certain there was something for everyone. Additionally, a special pie was set aside for the bride and groom so that they could do the traditional art of cutting the “pie”, first bites, and wedding “pie” kiss; therefore, tradition was not abandoned. This method also served as the favors! In the to-go containers provided, guests could take a slice or two of their favorite pie or pies home….and have it for breakfast ;). Another scenario I’ve seen is to do something similar with cupcakes! Cupcake displays can be very creative and quite amazing!! Another really fun option for young guests too.

Chocolate Fountain – Christmas Wedding

Brides and grooms really can have it all!! Many want the traditional wedding cake focus while providing another dessert option as well. Maybe the bride and groom aren’t big cake eaters, but want to stick with tradition? My favorite addition is the chocolate fountain or fondue station! I have to admit, I had it at my own wedding, and it’s always a hit! This station is also great for children and non-cake eaters of all ages. Typically, I see graham crackers, pretzels, marshmallows, pineapples, and strawberries at this station, along with the chocolate of course. All of those items are great kid foods, which aren’t often found on wedding buffets. So unless a special kid meal is planned or provided, this may become a great dinner option for children. And…who doesn’t like a little chocolate? I’ve also seen what’s been called the “Pittsburgh Cookie Table”. This is along similar lines to the pie table mentioned above, as guests bring the cookies, to-go boxes are provided and can be used as favors, and cookies can be eaten before, during, or after dinner; however, the difference is it’s in addition to the cake, not a replacement. The Groom’s cake may also be a second dessert. It’s often a chocolate cake, iced in chocolate, or baked in a shape, such as a football or racecar, that reflects an interest of the groom. Having a special groom’s cake is a charming personal touch.

Traditional cake cutting

The final option is also an addition to the traditional wedding cake. I saved it for last because I’ve only seen it done once, in an October wedding I coordinated. This extra treat really is a TREAT and becomes a timeline event in itself during the course of the celebration. Are you ready?…. piñata breaking!!! At first, I was skeptical, but I can say with certainty all guests enjoyed this sweet addition. There were actually two piñatas; one for adults and one for kids. I suggest the adult piñata first, mainly to model for the children the entire process, such as forming a line, keeping appropriate distance, how to hit it, and what to do when it breaks! This definitely takes some organization. The adult piñata contained mini liquor bottles… you want to see adults scramble?? Then, of course, the children’s piñata contained candy. I’d also like to add this reception took place in a barn and the piñata was hung in advance. The setting would need to be appropriate, with planned set up, planned clean up, and assigned duties for coordination and assistance throughout the process; however, when pulled off properly, it is a BLAST! I absolutely love how my October couple included this addition!

In closing, I do not doubt that we could come up with more ways to make the wedding reception sweet and personalized! That’s what I love about working with each of my clients! Every bride and groom teaches me something new, has an interesting idea or request, and I help them bring that to life! I recently ran into the “pie lady” who helped the bride and family with the pie table I mentioned, which inspired me to write on this topic. Our lives become richer with the experiences we have and the people we meet. Always allow yourself to be open to the “new” and embrace people and their ideas….it will make your life a little “sweeter”.

Specialty Donut – Naughty Girls Bakery