9 Decadent Alternatives To Wedding Cakes

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Photo: Nick J Webb/Flickr

Multi-layered, beautifully tiered cakes are focal points of wedding receptions across America. For decades, brides and grooms-to-be have laboriously tested and tasted endless varieties of dark chocolate ganache and vanilla bean buttercream to find the perfect moist and cakey combination with which to ring in their “I-dos.”

But while wedding cakes remain non-negotiable staples for some couples, others are taking less traditional (but equally sweet) routes.  

Here are 9 alternatives that don’t necessarily involve mounds of froofy white frosting, but will surely satisfy the sweet tooth of each and every wedding guest.

An Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Ice cream lovers rejoice because now this cold, creamy treat is cropping up more and more frequently at wedding celebrations across the country.

A lighter alternative to dense, butter-packed cakes and pastries, ice cream is a refreshing treat at sweltering summer weddings or after an intense spell on the dance floor.

Consider a sundae bar where guests can re-live their childhood years by loading up on their favourite flavours and toppings, or go simple and decadent with dishes of Italian gelato, frozen yogurt, or sorbets.


Who says pie is just for holidays? With so many seasonal options and tasty varieties, weddings are the perfect occasion to whip out those pie pans and get baking.

For cold-month receptions, experiment with nutty, chocolately, and spiced varieties like rich dark chocolate, sweet pecan, or pumpkin, while fruits like lemon and strawberry can make their appearances at spring and summer parties.

Top each dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of cream to give guests an extra special treat they will surely remember.

Make Your Own Crepes

You don't have to claim French heritage to appreciate this light, elegant dessert.

Made from three simple ingredients (milk, flour, and eggs) and paired with your favourite fruits, syrups, and whipped cream, this elegant and inexpensive-to-make sweet treat is guaranteed to please even the pickiest of pallets.

Crepes can be artfully stacked on platters or made fresh and served table-side to guests. Provide a toppings bar and watch party-goers get creative with yummy and irresistibly sweet combinations like honey and lemon or chocolate and banana.

A Cannoli Display

This hard-shell, ricotta-filled pastry has been a staple at Sicilian celebrations for centuries and is now becoming the go-to finger dessert for wedding planners across America.

Cannoli come in hundreds of varieties, from dark chocolate and pistachio to orange and cinnamon, and are easy to transport, arrange, and stack.

Serve them individually to guests or as part of a larger, more elaborate display. Cannoli (or cannolo in the singular) are sure to be a hit at any wedding reception.


If the surge in cupcake shops across the United States is any indication of the way Americans feel about these pint-sized pastries, it's easy to see why brides and grooms-to-be are OK with swapping out over-the-top cakes for more petite alternatives.

Typically served individually to guests, in tower form, or as part of a larger pull-apart display, cupcakes are undoubtedly the most popular wedding cake substitution on the planet.

Their manageable size and vast array of flavours easily let wedding-goers have their (cup)cake and eat it too.

A Self-Serve Candy Bar

A self-serve candy bar would be the sweetest possible way a bride and groom could ring in their special day.

Stocking up on romantic favourites, like Hershey Kisses, Sweet Tarts, and Red Hots is a fun way to let guests share the love. Or, take a more sophisticated route with elegantly wrapped Ghirardelli or Dove chocolates.

Pick serving bowls that match the wedding's theme or hues and buy in bulk because a dessert this sweet is bound to go fast!

A Cookie Buffet

Nothing spells out love better than an endless buffet of cookies and finger-desserts. The only real problem will be deciding what to include!

Pick favourites like rich dark chocolate chip and white chocolate macadamia to please every age group or go simple and elegant with varieties such as Italian wedding cookies and dipped brownie bites.

If you really want to score a home run with party-goers, provide vanilla and chocolate ice cream so guests can make their own cookie ice cream sandwiches.

Sweet Coffee + Fixings

Die-hard dessert fans might feel somewhat shafted if all they get is a plain cup of joe after the wedding dinner. Lucky for them (and you!) there are hundreds of ways to spice up a regular cuppa to make it a rich and indulging treat.

Pour light roast espresso over melted dark chocolate and add a splash of whole milk to make a decadent after-dinner beverage. Just the right amount of sugar and caffeine will let guests skip the post-dinner stupor and hit the dance floor with renewed energy.

Pair your favourite coffee beverage with chocolate-dipped biscotti or crunchy ginger cookies to really get the crowd going.

An Assortment Of Tarts

The wonderful thing about dessert tarts is that a little bit goes a long way.

The flaky, buttery shell is substantial and satisfying while the fresh fruits, custards, jams, puddings, and other fillings are sure to satiate hankerings for a sweet after-dinner treat.

Provide an assortment of favourite flavours and let guests decide for themselves between varieties such as lemon chiffon, sour cherry, and toasted almond.

Add a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of chocolate to make this dessert extra special and sweet.

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