A Modern Twist On Tradition: Cake Alternatives

First of all, Happy Birthday to my sister!  She’s 21 today, not like that changes anything 😉

It’s an obvious tradition to have a wedding cake.  For some people, it’s too obvious and too traditional, and that just won’t do.  If that’s you, there are a couple of ways you can go that are gaining steam in the wedding world.


Some people like the idea of cake, without having a full-blown cake.  For those couples, cupcakes are an easy way to go.  You can have the exact number you need (or really close to it) and have several different flavors for your guests to choose from(want something crazy but don’t think everyone will like it?  Poof!  Instant solution!).  Cupcakes can be set out on a table in rows, or can be organized to form a picture (by using different colors) or a phrase.  Want some height?  Display them on a cupcake stand or cupcake tree!  The only real limitation with cupcakes is that you have to scale your decoration ideas down to that scale, and there are details that work on cakes that don’t work so well here.  When it comes time for the traditional cake cutting, you can either cut a cupcake in half, or just feed each other a whole cupcake!  Warning: doing a whole cupcake gets awfully messy.

Cupcakes can make it easier if you (or a friend) are wanting to make the “cake” yourself, but keep in mind this means you have to allow enough time to bake and decorate dozens upon dozens of them without starting so far in advance that the first batches go stale before the wedding.  Enlist the help of several friends and several kitchens to make this doable.


Not quite keen on having 150 some cupcakes to keep track of?  Minicakes are a nice compromise.  They’re mini compared to traditional wedding cakes, but aren’t small compared to a “normal” cake.  Doing this still gives you a substantial cake to cut, and it allows for more grand decoration schemes.  If you go with a “have them all on a dessert table” route, you can pick multiple flavors (so long as you have a good amount of “regular” cake for the non-adventurous folk).  You can display them of a variety of cake stands at varying heights to add some interest to the table, and you can use the various palettes to incorporate several different decoration themes.

Many couples are also using minicakes as centerpieces, giving each table a small cake that’s large enough for them to split.  Going this route means you not only don’t have to buy centerpieces, but you can also provide take-home boxes for the guests at each table to take their leftover cake, and you have instant favors!  If you use the cakes as centerpieces, it’s best to make all the cakes the same so no table feels left out or jealous over what they did or didn’t get (the exception to this is the head table…you can have whatever cake you wan!)  Minicakes aren’t usually that much cheaper than doing a full wedding cake, but they’re easier to execute (which is a plus if you think you or a friend are going to go all “DIY” with the cake).


That’s right, you heard me.  Pies.  Pies are actually becoming a more and more common thing, because a surprising number of people don’t like cake.  I myself cannot imagine not liking cake, but hey, to each their own.  Pies severely limit your decorating ability, but they like you cover any range of flavors you can think of.  Fruity cakes are hard to pull off, so if you want something a little tart in your day a pie is where it’s at.    It’s not recommended to use these as centerpieces since they sit low and usually have soft (and sometimes open) tops.  The hardest part here is being sure you have enough, and not covering such a vast range of flavors that your guests feel put off by what they’re choices are by the time they hit the table (if I walked up and all that was left was lemon meringue or key lime, I’d be a little sad).

Dessert Buffet

Can’t decide because you want a little of everything?  Have a little of everything!  Dessert buffets are showing up more and more because they let you have anything you can think of.  Grandma a fan of brownies?  Have some brownies!  Uncle Bob nuts for cheesecake?  Have some cheesecake!  Having a dessert buffet leaves you with a good deal of planning (“how much is enough?” is a tough question you’ll have to answer), but it also leaves you with relatively endless possibilities.  You can also skip a cake cutting altogether here, or have fun and cut something random from your selection of goodies!  The dessert buffet also gives you the opportunity to leave out some take home boxes for your guests to snag some last-minute goodies to serve as favors.

Candy Buffet

The dessert buffet’s younger sibling, the candy buffet is a more favor oriented dessert option than  “give your guests some dessert”.  Here you set out candies and nuts and whatever other small sweets (or salties!) you can think of in jars and dishes (jars are better since they can be sealed) with small bags or boxes (clear cellophane bags look pretty).  Guests grab a bag and fill it with their choice of goodies to take home.  You can get a surprising array of candies in specific colors, so you can make a really pretty display in your wedding colors by filling clear glass containers with the candies.  You can have anything from sour candies (like lemonheads, sour patch kids, or warheads) to chocolates (M&M’s, sixlets, wrapped squares) to nuts (chocolate coated in colors like Jordan almonds, candied, or plain) to mints.  It’s really up to you, just make sure you have scoops for people to get the candy out!

Of course, there is no rule saying you have to have dessert at all, but it is nice to give your guests the option of something sweet.


Posted on January 19, 2012, in Food, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. we are having a cake buffet and enlisting friends and family to bring homemade cakes to put out on a huge display! yum!

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