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Is a Dessert Station Right for Your Wedding Reception?

Discover five things to consider before finalizing your sweet treat offerings.

Wedding cakes are an iconic part of the wedding day, but one of the most popular ways to include sweets is by providing a dessert station or similar specialty area to offer more variety for guests!

bridal-shower-dessert-table-with-three-cakes-and-heart-shape-merengue-sweets-veuve-clicquot-champs
Photo: Melody Melikian Photography

Dessert is an essential part of any celebration – especially one where you’ll likely be serving a meal. Just like birthday cakes are a given at a birthday celebration, wedding cakes are an iconic part of the big day; however, aside from the standard wedding cake, one of the most popular ways to include sweets at your nuptials is by providing a dessert station or a similar specialty area with your favorite treat. Some dessert stations are kept more minimal and only feature one type of dessert like donuts for example, whereas other wedding dessert stations offer guests a variety of candies, chocolates, cookies, pastries, and more.

If you and your groom are mad about donuts, consider having a spread of various types and flavors to add a bit of your personality throughout the evening. Do you both love ice cream sundaes? Family and friends will have fun creating their own concoctions from a dedicated table of ice cream and toppings. Did you fall in love in Paris? Then a French macaron station might be the right fit. We’ve seen couples offer mini pies, collections of cheesecake bites, chocolate fountains, and so much more – a wedding dessert bar is truly one great way to customize your wedding to represent the two of you.

Destination wedding reception dessert bar in Mexico
Photo by Paul Barnett Photography; From Real Wedding: Oceanfront Ceremony + Sunset Reception in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Guests of all ages with a sweet tooth will enjoy being able to serve themselves dessert at any time throughout the reception festivities, and they will also be thrilled that they are able to select what flavor they want or how small – or large – of a helping they’d like. While a wedding dessert table can showcase your favorite sweets as a couple, it also gives your guests the freedom to treat themselves to whatever they'd like, making your big day that much more special for your loved ones.

On the other hand, not everyone has a sweet tooth or desires dessert beyond the wedding cake, so if you don’t think your attendees will be excited by the extra choices and would rather be on the dance floor all night, then maybe the money would be better allocated to a live band or a great DJ for an after-party. If jaw-dropping florals are what you’re really after, then certainly don’t feel pressured to follow the dessert bar trend, and go with what feels right for you.

If a dessert station is something you have in mind for your wedding reception, there are a few things to consider before finalizing your decision:

1. Create a spending limit for the station.

Money can be an overwhelming factor for some couples planning their wedding, so a budget will clarify if a candy bar or dessert table is affordable for your celebration. Some desserts are more expensive than others, so take time to look into which kinds of sweets you want to showcase on the big day. Also, consider that you will need additional linens, trays, serving dishes, napkins, utensils, and flowers or some other décor element to complete the look of a dessert table.

2. Decide on how many desserts you would like.

Do you want wedding guests to have more than enough sweets to take home, or would you prefer no leftovers after the day is over? Do you want to provide small bags for candy or tiny boxes for pastries, so guests can take them home? It’s a nice gesture to offer a carrying case of some sort; however, wedding guests may take it as a cue that it’s okay to leave for the night... and if you’re hoping for a party that goes into the wee hours of the morning, then steering clear of a take-home option might be the best bet.

3. Think about the wedding favors.

Look at what your wedding guests will already be receiving to find if a dessert bar is necessary. Some wedding favors include sweets, so you might feel that a dessert station or candy bar, along with the wedding cake, is more than enough to provide a sugar fix. If you are not planning on giving wedding favors to your guests, the dessert station is a great substitution.

4. Consider your wedding guests’ preferences.

Maybe the majority of your attendees are addicted to chocolate, or maybe they prefer semi-sweet pastries. If you are unsure about specific preferences, get creative and feature multiple types of desserts to appeal to all. It is easy to want to star your favorite dessert – and you certainly can, but think about whether or not everyone will enjoy the same treat, especially if you plan on ordering a large quantity. Another great idea if you’d like to keep the dessert station personal is to have the baker of the family create small versions of the “famous family chocolate cake” and guests can enjoy these miniature versions at their seats or in take-home boxes.

5. Expect that not every attendee will have desserts.

As delicious as your treats will be, some wedding guests just might not want any. The same is true for your wedding cake. It is impossible to please everyone, so do not feel discouraged if there are some unexpected leftovers. Even if some of your guests don't have a sweet tooth, they'll appreciate the gesture!

Dessert stations are a wonderful addition to any reception, but your special day will still be beautiful with or without it, so do what's best for you. For more inspiration, view these dessert towers and stations, and discover 21 nearly guilt-free wedding desserts.

Photo by Melody Melikian Photography; Floral & Event Design by Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle and Design; From Bridal Shower: Stylish Bridal Shower with Pops of Punchy Shades & Lovely Florals