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Alternative Wedding Cake Ideas

Updated on August 30, 2017
Butterfly Wedding Cake
Butterfly Wedding Cake | Source

Find Great Ideas for Wedding Cake Alternatives

I recently got married and like many other brides, I faced the ultimate wedding cake decision: traditional or alternative? There is a huge trend for couples offering alternatives to the traditional white cake at today's weddings.

Being that I had to make an informed decision on which route to go in regards to our wedding cake (or not), I did some research on both ends of the spectrum. Since it took me quite awhile to compile my research, I have provided my findings and also some really great alternatives to help out you brides out there deciding on going the alternative route.

I have made a list of 7 different wedding dessert alternatives to give you future brides out there some food for thought. I've also included some great money saving ideas for each idea as well! I hope you find the information I put together helpful and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

Have You Ever Attended a Wedding with No Cake?

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Wedding Cake Poster
Wedding Cake Poster | Source

The Traditional Wedding Cake

Cake has been present at weddings for centuries, all over the world. The traditional wedding dessert usually entails: white icing, white cake, and tiers. This specific tradition has actually only been around for about 100-150 years. Queen Victoria popularized the use of white on wedding cakes, as she felt the cake should symbolize the purity of the bride.

Today, the traditional wedding cake comes as simple or as elaborate as you like. According to, the average cost per slice is $5.00 to $7.00! This average is for a basic, white cake with minimal "bells and whistles," and includes the cost of the cutting of the cake, display stands, and other associated costs.

For brides who have a tight budget, a traditional cake can monopolize a large part of their funds. Alternatives have sprung up over the past decade to combat high prices and also to add a bit of creativity and fun to the festivities.

Image: By Scott T. Smith from All Posters

The Wedding Cake: Traditional or Alternative?

Do You Have a Preference?

Wedding Cake Alternative Ideas

Clever Cupcakes
Clever Cupcakes | Source


Today, cupcakes are the most popular alternative to wedding cake. Many couples choose to serve cupcakes to their guests and purchase a small cake in addition, for the cutting of the cake tradition. Most often, these yummy cupcakes are displayed on tiered stands or as centerpieces on guests' tables and become another beautiful decoration to add to the overall atmosphere.

Some Reasons to Choose Cupcakes

  • Variety. A variety of flavors and toppings can be offered for guests to choose from.
  • Less Expensive. According to, the average price ranges from $1.60 to $8.00 per cupcake, depending upon the fillings, toppings, and bakery.
  • Economic. There will be fewer leftovers at the end of the night. Guests are more likely to snack on leftover cupcakes throughout the reception and it is much easier to persuade a guest to take home leftovers than extra slices of cake, for portability reasons.

Money Saving Tips

  • Homemade. If a friend or family member or even you, have an aptitude for baking, save some major cash by making your own cupcakes.
  • Basic Flavors. Gourmet fillings and toppings can increase the cost per cupcake. Keep your flavors simple to save a buck.
  • Use as Centerpieces. Place a cupcake stand in the middle of each table and use your pretty cupcakes as a centerpiece. Then centerpieces are one less item you have to spend money on!

I Love These Cupcake Accessories from Amazon

I really love shopping on Amazon because this website caters to all tastes and offers so many beautiful options and at an affordable price. Even just browsing through the products can give a future bride some really great ideas and is even helpful to gain a clear picture of what she wants the atmosphere of her wedding to be like.

Wilton 307-651 Cupcakes and More 38 Count/5-Tier Metal Dessert Stand
Wilton 307-651 Cupcakes and More 38 Count/5-Tier Metal Dessert Stand

I absolutely love this cupcake stand. The style is very elegant and while cupcakes are beautiful on their own, I think this stand showcases them to enhance that beauty. This would make a great wedding centerpiece or would go great on a dessert table.

Wilton Dessert Decorator Plus Cake Decorating Tool, Cake Icing Tool
Wilton Dessert Decorator Plus Cake Decorating Tool, Cake Icing Tool

Decorate your cupcakes like a pro! If you're looking to keep your wedding costs low, this great decorating tool will help you create gorgeous, frosted cupcakes yourself!

Dessert Bars
Dessert Bars | Source

Dessert Bars

Offering a variety of dessert bars and even chocolate covered strawberries at weddings is gaining popularity. Most local bakeries and grocery stores offer large varieties of tasty dessert bars at a reasonable price. Serving these yummy bars at your reception can be beautiful too; you can display them on pretty trays and platters or even on some tiered stands.

(I decided upon this choice for my own wedding, so I may be a bit biased!)

Some Reasons to Choose Dessert Bars

  • Cost Effective. Dessert bars are very cost effective because most places will charge per tray of bars, rather than per bar. My local grocery store bakery offers homemade dessert bars for $32.99 per tray, which equals out to 35-40 bars. (Less than $1 per serving!)
  • Variety. You can choose to offer a variety of different flavors for your guests to enjoy.
  • Simplicity. Ordering trays of bars from your local bakery or grocery store cuts out the need to set up a delivery or hire someone to cut and distribute cake. You can cut these bars yourself and have your guests choose which they prefer. Less hassle for you!

Money Saving Tips

  • Toppings Buffet. Order simple dessert bars with minimal decoration. Set up a small toppings buffet and let guests top their own bars with chopped nuts, whipped cream, fruit, etc.
  • Bulk. Avoid bakeries that will charge you per dessert bar. Choose a bakery that will allow you to buy in bulk and that charges per tray instead.
  • Display. Check out eBay, Amazon, and Etsy for some unique, yet inexpensive display platters instead of spending extra on dessert tiers.

Candy Buffet
Candy Buffet | Source

Candy Buffet

Candy buffets at receptions are gaining popularity. These sweet treats create a feeling of novelty for your guests and they make beautiful, whimsical table displays. The best part is that the sky is the limit with how creative you want to get with your variety of candy. These interactive treats will have guests paying the candy table a repeat visit throughout the night! The leftovers at the end of the night make great favors to send home with your guests as well.

Some Reasons to Offer a Candy Buffet

  • Appealing. Candy of all sizes and colors can be found to match your wedding theme perfectly. The glass dishes and jars displaying the candy can be arranged with varying sizes at many different levels to create a very appealing display.
  • Unique. While Candy Buffets are gaining popularity, this concept is still novel and unique. This alternative choice will not soon be forgotten by your guests.
  • Creativity. Arranging a Candy Buffet can be a fun project for any bride, especially those who enjoy being creative. While some of your candy can rest beautifully in its jar, the creative possibilities are endless for the rest. For example, use lollipops and create bouquets or create multi-colored layers within your vases.

Money Saving Tips

  • Thrift Stores. Don't pay full price for apothecary jars to house your candy, visit your local thrift store to find a variety of vases and candy dishes instead. Thrift stores are always overflowing with such items.
  • Bulk. Buy your candy in bulk online. There are many websites that offer deals on candy purchased in bulk and also that offer a wide range of colors to choose from, making it easier to tie in to your wedding palette.
  • DIY. Rather than purchasing stands and risers to rest your candy jars on to create a variety of height and depth in your Candy Buffet display, cover phone books or cardboard boxes in wrapping paper or fabric that matches your theme.

Find Great Deals on Candy Buffet Jars & Dishes on eBay

When I started doing my research on the best places to find apothecary jars at an affordable price, I almost fell out of my chair. Expensive! However, after doing some more searching, I did find a few options to get a great deal on these pretty jars you just can't do without if you are planning on putting together a candy buffet.

I found that eBay is the BEST place to purchase apothecary jars. eBay offers the best deals and you get the best bang for your buck. You can find both new and used jars at prices you won't find anywhere else.

Cake Pops
Cake Pops | Source

Cake Pops

Yet another trend that is "popping" up more and more are the use of Cake Pops as an alternative. In case you have never heard of a Cake Pop, they are balls cake mixed with icing on a stick, usually coated with some type of chocolate. The beauty of serving these treats is that they can be as simple or as decorated as you like. There are even stands available that display mass amounts of these yummy, bite sized, morsels.

Some Reasons to Choose Cake Pops

  • Unique. Even though more weddings are featuring the Cake Pop, they are still out of the ordinary and sure to wow your guests. These treats can be displayed on a tiered stand made specially for Cake Pops or arranged in vases, similar to flower bouquets.
  • Light. These "Pops" create a perfect bite of delicious cake after a big meal. Many guests have filled up on your delicious dinner and a small treat may be more welcome than a big piece of heavy cake.
  • Variety. With these sweet treats, you are able to feature more than one flavor for your guests' tasting pleasure or preferences.

Money Saving Tips

  • DIY. A friend, family member, or even you, can make your own Cake Pops. There are a lot of Cake Pop Makers out on the market right now that make it easy to create perfectly round pops for your big day. (The average Pop costs between $1.50-$2.00 a piece from most bakeries.)
  • Display. Instead of purchasing Cake Pop stands to display your wedding dessert, fill jars with sand and stick the pops in so they stand up. These arrangements could also be used in place of centerpieces as well.
  • Simple. Keep the decorations on your Cake Pops simple. There are loads and loads of "bells and whistles" that can be added as decoration. Avoid those extras that can bump up the cost and let the novelty of the Cake Pop speak for itself.

A Couple "Must Have" Gadgets if You Plan to Make Your Own Cake Pops

If you plan on making your own cake pops for your upcoming wedding, I would definitely recommend checking out Amazon for your supplies.

BabyCakes Flip-Over Complete Cake Pops Maker Kit
BabyCakes Flip-Over Complete Cake Pops Maker Kit

This new and updated Cake Pop maker has received FABULOUS reviews from other customers. Given that this new model rotates, the cake pops seem to turn out more perfectly round than the previous model from BabyCakes. This gadget is perfect for a bride planning on making her own cake pops!

BabyCakes MultiFunction Decoration Station
BabyCakes MultiFunction Decoration Station

I saw this Decoration Station and I was in complete neat! You brides who are making your own desserts need to check this product out. Who needs to order from a bakery when you can decorate your Cake Pops beautifully and save a ton of cash while you're at it!

Cheesecake | Source


Offering cheesecake at weddings has become pretty common, but an alternative, nonetheless! Cheesecakes can be arranged in the traditional tiers, or separately in a buffet-like setting. Serving cheesecake won't necessarily save you a lot in the budget department as the cost can run between $2-$4 per slice, however, your guests will love you for it!

Some Reasons to Choose Cheesecake

  • Less Sugar. Cheesecakes generally have less sugar than most wedding cakes, especially those that are decorated with fruit instead of frosting or sweets. This can be a healthier option for your guests, especially those with diet restrictions.
  • Tradition. If you don't want to stumble too far from common tradition, a cheesecake buffet is a wonderful option. The bride and groom still have the opportunity to cut the cake and you can choose to have this delectable dessert displayed in large tiers, if that is your preference.
  • Novelty. Cheesecake tends to be a richer, more decadent dessert than average cake, for most people. Serving cheesecake at your wedding will be a novelty for your guests and they will enjoy it immensely. Many brides report that there are fewer leftovers when serving cheesecake.

Money Saving Tips

  • DIY Cupcakes. Homemade cheesecake cupcakes are much easier to make from scratch than an entire cheesecake. Plus, you would save a ton of money by making these little morsels yourself or getting help from friends or family.
  • Buffet Style. Serve your cheesecake in a buffet-style. This will save on decorating costs from the bakery and other extra charges associated with decorative wedding cakes.
  • Non-Wedding. When ordering your cheesecakes from a bakery or other venue, don't order for a wedding. Some places will then charge per slice, rather than give you a price per entire cheesecake.

Ice Cream Buffet
Ice Cream Buffet | Source

Ice Cream Buffet

If you really want your wedding to go down in history, choose to serve ice cream sundaes! You can create an ice cream buffet with a variety of toppings for your guests to choose from. If you really want to add to the novelty, you can hire Cold Stone Creamery to cater your ice cream buffet with their signature, high quality ice creams.

Some Reasons to Choose an Ice Cream Buffet

  • Unexpected. An ice cream sundae will be an unexpected, yet happy surprise for your guests when they realize they get to make their very own sundae!
  • Unique. An ice cream buffet is a very novel and unique idea for dessert at your reception and isn't done all that often. Your guests are sure to enjoy this experience; some because they love ice cream, some for the experience itself.
  • Healthier. With an ice cream buffet, you have the opportunity to offer some healthier options, such as frozen yogurt, fresh fruit toppings, or other low sugar goodies.

Money Saving Tips

  • DIY. Rather than catering your ice cream buffet, rent a cold buffet station and buy all of the ingredients yourself. While gourmet flavors of ice cream are fun, guests would still be happy a choice of with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, since they are going to be adding toppings anyway.
  • Favors. Kill two birds with one stone and give guests a cute dessert bowl as a wedding favor. Then you are not renting or purchasing bowls to use for your buffet AND favors, creating a nice savings for your budget.
  • Bulk. Places like Sam's Club and Costco offer ice cream and toppings in bulk, for less money. Visit one of these places for your supplies to save a little cash.

eBay Offers Tons of Adorable Ice Cream Buffet Utensils and Favors

After doing some research, I have found that eBay offers some really great deals on bulk orders of ice cream buffet supplies and ice cream wedding favors. I would definitely check out eBay to get the best "bang for your buck!"

Dessert Buffet
Dessert Buffet | Source

Dessert Buffet

Are you a lover of ALL desserts and can't make up your mind on which route to go at your wedding? Feature a dessert buffet and enjoy all of your favorites! The best feature of a dessert bar is that you can offer as many or as few selections of your favorite treats as you like. A table full of delectable desserts can also be arranged in a very elegant and appealing way! Best of all, this option can be a lot easier on your pocket book.

Some Reasons to Choose a Dessert Buffet

  • Inexpensive. When ordering desserts from a bakery, the cost for normal desserts are A LOT less than the cost of a wedding cake. Depending upon your dessert selections, you can expect to pay less than $1 to $2.00 per serving of dessert.
  • Creative. Since the idea of a dessert buffet is so vague, you can let your creativity run wild with the styles and types of desserts you choose to offer. So instead of creating another planning headache, the planning of a dessert buffet can actually be fun for the bride and groom!
  • Crowd Pleaser. By offering a variety of sweet treats in different flavors, shapes, and sizes, even the pickiest of your guests are sure to find a dessert they enjoy.

Money Saving Tips

  • Ask for Contributions. Ask your friends and family that have an apptitude for baking to each bring a tasty dessert to your wedding, instead of a gift. This will cut down on your budget by hundreds of dollars. (I had a friend who did this for her wedding and everybody raved about the desserts!)
  • Local Grocery Store. Visit your local grocery store's bakery. Often times, a grocery store's bakery will offer some really tasty treats that will cost less than an official bakery charges.
  • Choices. Make your dessert choices wisely. Choose to feature lower cost desserts, such as cookies, which you are normally charged by the dozen, rather than per item. There are also many other low cost dessert options, just talk to your baker and they will steer you in the right direction.

Which Option is Your Favorite?

Out of all of the options featured, which would be YOUR preference?

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I LOVE Your Feedback!

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    • profile image

      sybil watson 

      6 years ago

      I went to a wedding once where they served a delicious, gourmet carrot cake with cream cheese frosting - it was wonderful. I'd much rather have a small bite of something really tasty than one of those giant mass-produced cakes.

    • writerkath profile image


      6 years ago

      Outstanding ideas! I love this! I think more and more people will be steering away from the massive traditional cakes and going the alternative route. Much more interesting, and I think portion control is easier too.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens and good ideas! Thanks for sharing them. When I grow up and get married I think I might want to make and decorate my own cake. It would cost less money than ordering a cake and I could choose any kind, flavor and style I wanted. That would be fun. :)

    • Rosaquid profile image


      6 years ago

      You have some lovely, thoughtful ideas here. Your wedding will be perfectly scrumptious, I am certain! I can see that whatever you choose will be in good taste and your guests will feel well cared for and honored.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      7 years ago

      I like the idea of the dessert buffet.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent lens! For my wedding, my fiancé and I will most definitely have an alternative cake to match our unique personalities. White cake is so bland and boring. :)

      Thank you so much for sharing this lens!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image


      7 years ago

      I adore just about every kind of cake there is. I attend weddings for the cake the way some people attend them for the open bar. If seedy late-night establishments sold cake, I'd be partying till 2am daily. That being said, I think the idea of a wedding sundae bar is just awesome. I prefer a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, especially when celebrating a happy day, and find many weddings overly formal. I think an ice cream buffet adds just the right touch of cheerful, casual grace.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens, but I am at a loss after reading the comments. I never released that wedding cake had fallen so low in the ranks at a wedding. That what happens when you get older. Thanks for this lens, gee how times are changing. Blessed.


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