A Vienna cake from Shamane’s Bake Shoppe is surrounded by seasonal mini pies. Courtesy Chris Loring Photography

It’s likely that no one present the first time a bride said to her baker, “It’s beautiful, but shouldn’t it taste good, too?” Since that auspicious moment, however, the wedding dessert industry has embraced a variety of changes that have incorporated flavors and fillings and then expanded to include cupcakes, macarons, cream puffs, cookies, mini pies and much more. No matter how lovely a large, traditional cake might be; the pros of choosing a dessert bar are many.

“Dessert bars provide a fun opportunity for couples to further personalize their wedding day,” says Sara Brown, owner of Sara Brown Weddings. “For example, some couples opt to share a favorite or memorable option with guests. Think: donuts because their first date was a breakfast date or peach cobbler because the groom grew up in the South.” Brown recently worked with Shamane Simons of Shamane’s Bake Shoppe in Boulder on the wedding of a couple who had a favorite dessert in common: banana pudding. The final spread included mini banana puddings in graham cracker crusts and seasonal pumpkin, blueberry and pecan mini pies in addition to a smaller wedding cake. “Not only did this make for a fun display,” says Brown, “but guests loved coming back for multiple bite-sized treats all night.”


Shamanes’s Bake Shoppe; Courtesy Chris Loring Photography

Like Brown, Happy Bake Shop’s Lizzy Wolff says incorporating your personal style is a big plus when it comes to choosing a selection of smaller desserts. “You can choose a collection of your favorite cookies, go partially gluten-free or vegan without forcing every guest to do so, or add custom fondant decor to each cupcake,” she says.

Simons says her company is doing a lot of dessert bars these days with macarons and tarts topping the list of requests. “We do a lot of farm weddings,” she adds, “which keeps us in tune with things that are going on locally, what’s in season.” In addition to choosing seasonal ingredients, Simons says another important consideration is your location. Does your dessert of choice have structural elements that have to withstand the hot sun or a precarious position? A selection of smaller options eliminates the chances of a tiered cake melting and sliding.

A dessert bar also vastly increases the variety of flavors and textures that you can offer your guests. “We often create smaller one- or two-tiered cakes for the happy couple to cut for their pictures,” says Brooke Smith, co-owner of The Dessert Stand. “And then we create a beautiful table filled with a variety of desserts, including cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies, mini pies, cake pops, dessert parfaits and cookies.” Another hot wedding trend Smith mentions is having a cake table with several varieties of smaller cakes so guests can choose their flavor. “Our couples and their guests love all of their choices,” she says, “and it creates an impressive display.”


The Dessert Stand; Courtesy Mallory Munson Photography

Emily Pahl of Whipped Bakery echoes the idea that a small cake to be cut for photos is nicely accompanied by a selection of smaller bites. “These grab-and-go cookies, brownies and cupcakes,” she says, “are perfect for guests who want to mingle and dance and not be tied down with a traditional piece of cake, plate and fork.” Wolff adds, “Some couples really want their guests to keep enjoying themselves instead of having to go back to their seat for a bite of sugar. I mean, you paid all that money for the best DJ you could find; why interrupt the momentum he’s created?”

Another consideration is price. “Having a dessert bar or cupcakes at your wedding is less expensive nine times out of 10.” Wolff says. And Smith adds that in addition to money, it saves the couple from dealing with a lot of leftover cake.