Sweeten Your Wedding With an Awesome D.I.Y. Dessert Table

Sweet dreams do come true.
wedding cake spread wedding signage
Photos: Amber Schoniwitz of Schyne Photography


With single-tier wedding cakes already the to-do they are—they can cost more than $500 even without any fancy sugar flowers, hand-painted ombre effects or edible gold foil—going nuts with an entire bar can be daunting. Don’t let it be! With the right resources, a solid plan and dedication, you can pull off a dessert bar as your big wedding D.I.Y. project, easy as pie. OK, maybe not quite that easy—but it’s definitely doable.


Warning: Don’t attempt this big wedding D.I.Y. project if you’re already building everything else and the kitchen sink from scratch. Constructing a homemade arbor on the day-of with found driftwood? Preparing to string your own lights the morning before nuptials? Assembling every flower arrangement the night before? If so, do yourself a favor and let someone else—a professional baker, maybe?—take over the sweets side. Even better if they deliver.


Have support

Still with us? Woohoo! Dessert bars can be a ton of fun, for you and for Team Wedding. You’ve probably gotten at least a few friends and family asking how they can help, and dessert bars are a fun way to get aunts and besties involved. Distributing the work among multiple helpers means easily digestible bits for everyone. If you get three aunts and two pals to each make three pies, you’ve got a full bar right there! Assign each gal one of your favorite pie flavors—or let her pick her own favorite to make—and all you need to do is bring pie servers the day of. Another alternative: On the day of, have each of the gals pick up preordered pies from your favorite bakeries around town. Pro tip: If you’re going for a range of cakes, avoid inflated wedding costs from upscale custom bakeries; instead, select some one-tier, from-the-case flavors from your favorite bakeries. We love Saint Germain’s guava chiffon, Liliha Bakery’s haupia, chantilly from Ted’s Bakery and Diamond Head Market and Grill’s lemon crunch cake.


Have a plan

Which brings us to the most fun part of the prep process: the theme! Of course, décor is huge here: Wooden crates as risers work great with organic, rustic galettes and pies, and trolling garage sales for pretty cake tiers and dessert stands would add a lot to your table. You can even ask your florist to save some loose flowers to scatter around, blooms to top your dishes or a special arrangement to grace the edges of the table.


For dishes, the simpler you go, the easier things will be. Skip cake altogether and go with a variety of pie flavors, or uber-easy-to-pull-off cookie bars, with different flavors of cookies in jars. Bonus: Cookies keep well, so you can make them farther in advance. One of our favorite affordable trends right now? All doughnuts! Need more? Try a spread of your favorite dessert items, secret family recipes, childhood favorites or location-specific delicacies. What’s possible for you depends on the resources you have available. Which brings us to …



There are definitely a ton of moving parts to keep in mind. How many items will be in your bar? It could be as little as one dessert pick from the bride and one from the groom, a handful of items total, or an all-out spread complete with candy jars.


Our advice? Don’t go overboard. If you already have a massive feast planned, people aren’t necessarily going to go to town with 12 desserts each. If you only have 30 guests, a huge undertaking may not be worth your time.


Some other questions that will help you: How far in advance can you snag these sweets? Who’s going to pick them up and transport them the day of? Where will you be storing them at the venue? Do they need refrigeration? And, since you’re doing this sans caterer, don’t forget the little necessities: plates, napkins, serving ware, cake platters, a garbage can with liner for guests to dump their trash. Do you have items that require spoons or knives? Will you need individual pastry or dessert cups for dishes such as mini mousses or parfaits? Did you factor all of these into your budget?


Phew. It looks like a lot, we know! But take a deep breath, start early, go through your options and delegate tasks early. Piece of cake. 


Read more stories by Natalie Schack